Of all the things you wake up worrying about, I am sure that the imminent death of the fashion industry is not even among the first ten. And yet, we as avid consumers of fashion are at least partially responsible for its death. We do have some blood—er, buttons—on our hands. We owe it to this fallen comrade (now plunging like its beloved necklines) to at least take the time to understand what happened.
There are some who blame the pandemic for fashion’s demise, but in all honesty, the industry has been acting like an insecure teenager for years. It has been pushed over the edge by nefarious, self-serving bullies long before we got hit by the pandemic. Who are the culprits?
1. Fashion Education
The Business of Fashion asks the pertinent question, “Is fashion education selling a false dream?” It seems that a combination of Project Runway success and the democratization brought by social media has resulted in an enormous growth of demand for fashion education. As Sara Kozlowsky, Director of Education and Professional Development at the CFDA, says “In some cases institutions have experienced enrollment increases tripling student populations.” The result? There are thousands and thousands of designers that leave the schools every year and never find a job or are “unhappy with only making what sells” as one graduate says. Schools teach designers to be head designers and disruptors, but in reality most end up creating only safe, pragmatic stuff that sells. And that’s the best case scenario.
2. Designers who are recycling old ideas
That’s not quite an original idea of my own. I am referencing Li Edelkoort here, a Dutch trend forecaster and absolutely fascinating lady, who doesn’t seem afraid to serve uncomfortable truths to the industry she loves. According to her, “newness is a thing of the past,” and most designers are “simply making more and more ‘garments’ to finally conclude ‘With this lack of conceptual innovation, the world is losing the idea of fashion.’” There is a long explanation as to why designers—pushed by unreasonable deadlines—have given up on being creative and went on to just “create garments” but I am leaving that for another article.
3. The industry that let marketing take control of the creative process
According to Ms Edelkoort, “It is, without doubt, the perversion of marketing that ultimately has helped kill the fashion industries. Initially invented to be a science, blending forecasting talent with market results to anchor strategies for the future, it has gradually become a network of fearful guardians of brands, slaves to financial institutions and hostages of shareholder interests, a group that long ago lost the autonomy to direct change.” She continues, “Marketing has taken over power within the major companies and is manipulating creation, production,
presentation and sales.” Why did the industry put the cart before the horse? I would venture to say that an industry that should be driven by creativity has become strictly a money making machine… with little to no interest in creativity whatsoever.
4. And… Anna Wintour
Yes, you read that right. I blame the soulless fashion queen for the demise of fashion. Some love her and describe “her genius,” which according to designer Marc Jacobs, is “picking people very astutely, whether in politics, movies, sports, or fashion.” Some stopped liking her, like André Leon Talley who says she inflicted “huge emotional scarring” on many. I am with Talley here, because I do believe him when he says that she “was never really passionate about clothes”, and that she cared only about power (her own!). In her 30 year reign of Vogue, she single-handedly decided what we should wear and how. She handpicked and promoted designers that defined a decade of fashion: Alexander Wang, Derek Lam, Zac Posen, and Proenza Schouler. An ultimate dealmaker, she used her influence to exercise her power. When Michael Kors went bankrupt in the 90s, she waved her magic wand and found investors. She is credited for creating the Fashion Night Out and the Met Gala.
Do you know what all these accomplishments have in common? Proenza Schouler has gone from one investor to another and ended up with a firm that specializes in distressed investments. Last year, Derek Lam shut down his high-end line and Zac Posen went out of business. Fashion Night Out was cancelled and so was the Met Gala. It seems Ms. Wintour can do no wrong though as of this past December she got yet another promotion, shortly after acknowledging “hurtful mistakes” and for the treatment of Black talent at Vogue. I guess we wouldn’t be having this “conversation” if the industry was half as resilient as Ms Wintour.
Posted by Mirela Gluck at 06:12 AM
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By BoF Team May 21, 2018 11:40 LONDON, United Kingdom – Starting out in fashion is notoriously hard. Thanks to a stubbornly nepotistic culture and extremely high competition for internships, graduates and other aspiring fashion professionals face an upward battle to secure lasting employment.
Posted by Staff Writer at 12:54 AM
Fashion News , Fashion News , Insights , News: Fashion, Beauty and Retail |
Fashion in its purest form? Love it. Assembling an outfit is an art form. It’s my creative expression of choice. But the industry that surrounds fashion—that packages it, labels it, sells it—is a sick one. Even more so than other creative mediums, the fashion industry is particularly poisoned with intrinsic hypocrisy.
Shocked I’m not here to give you shopping advice today? Hey, sometime I surprise myself. I’m feeling particularly fiery today, so I want to step up on my soap (shoe?) box and state that retail is honest but the fashion industry is not.
The fashion industry doesn’t care about models or influencers or even consumers. Its political views are not spontaneous dialogues but rather carefully curated campaigns that match the societal trends of the moment and are carefully choreographed to lead to money in their coffers.
There are some recent events that led me to this observation… and to binge-watching two seasons of The Good Place. By the way, I really hope with this article I am moving the needle towards guaranteeing me a spot in The Good Place.
Transgender models are the talk of the industry, with some publishers going as far as to say: “The Future of Fashion is Transgender Models.” I am grateful and thrilled for these courageous men and women who fought hard to be where they are. I can’t imagine how much harder life must be for them. On the other hand the fashion industry bigwigs seem so abruptly “woke” that it makes one wonder how selfless their motivation actually is. An industry insider admitted after all “And not to be cynical, being inclusive and being diverse is actually in fashion right now… ” Mm-hm. That’s what I was afraid of.
Terry Richardson is finally cast off by Condé Nast. Now, everybody in fashion knew that “Uncle Terry” was a pervert, the same way everybody in Hollywood knew that Harvey Weinstein was one. Not only have there been countless allegations about Terry but the man himself is pretty open about who he is. Just open his book, Terryworld, and feast your eyes upon full-frontal nudity and (both simulated and actual) sexual acts. The timing of the Condé Nast awaken moment makes me doubtful again of the real motivation behind the industry move. They’ve always known the truth, so why do something about it now? Because it is trendy to do something about it now.
Computer-generated fashion influencers… exist. The latest darling of the fashion industry, Miquela Sousa, or @lilmiquela on Instagram, does what any influencer does: shares her outfit-of-the-day, goes to events with friends, touts her political opinions, and counts her followers—pretty successfully, I might add. She’s amassed over 545,000 followers in a short period of time. Miquela is a 19 year old model and musician, probably well off since her outfits are of the Chanel, Proenza Schouler caliber. And while those labels are real, she herself… is not, at least according to the Business of Fashion. Does it matter? It does to me. Wasn’t it bad enough labels were bribing influencers to wear their frocks and take pictures so we all feel we have to have what the cool kids have? Now they create imaginary cool kids that we have to copy too. They’re not just too cool for school… they’re now too cool for this plane of existence. Um, not cool if you ask me.
What is cool? Well sample sales are good, honest opportunities to bring some guilt-free joy into your life. Here are some you don’t want to miss this week:
Long live fashion. But the industry? Meh…
Posted by Staff Writer at 12:49 AM
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