1 June 2021

For anyone who doesn’t know Halston’s story: poor Iowa-born boy becomes milliner to Jackie O., transitions to legendary fashion designer, conquers NYC, revolutionizes luxury fashion.  One of the first to understand and use the extraordinary influence of celebrities he develops friendships with Liza Minelli, Elsa Peretti and Andy Warhol.

A symbol of the extravagance of the 70’s and 80’s, his ascension is cut short by multiple excesses, bad business decisions and questionable taste in men. A Faustian deal offers money but dilutes his brand. Another business deal leads to the loss of the asset that he valued the most: his name. He dies young of AIDS without ever regaining the rights to use his name.

While Halston asks himself “Am I a businessman or an artist” Ryan Murphy, the producer seems to have decided that neither options were very important for the designer and presents him mainly as a 70’s gay icon. Roy Halston Frowich’s family called the show an “inaccurate, fictionalized account” of the designer’s life.

For fashion lovers this show is a joy and a disappointment.  Watching Ewan McGregor chain smoking, wearing those stylish black turtlenecks as he drapes models is such a powerful image I will forever associate it with bias cut long dresses. But fashion is rather atmospheric and not the main theme of the show, which is a shame, because Halston’s deceptively simple dresses were after all the quintessence of the flamboyant 70’s.

Fashion lovers will particularly appreciate the episode named Battle of Versaille, the fundraising event that had American designers compete against French counterparts. The event gave American fashion an international recognition and transformed the industry forever.

Halston, the show, is also a cautionary tale for creative people who consider bringing in investors. “Am I a businessman or an artist” will be asked again and again by designers slowly sacrificing creative control for financial independence.

Yes, it’s not a great show, the image is beautiful but the dialogue is predictable and the peaceful “walk into the sunset” doesn’t quite match such a turbulent life. And yet, we’ll watch it, probably more than once, because Halston story is not unique to him.

Image credit: “Halston & Models 1977” by Sacheverelle is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Posted by Mirela Gluck at 02:14 PM
A FASHION , The City |

19 January 2021

A Requiem for the Fashion Industry - Part Two

If you expect me to tell you what the future holds, prepare yourself to be disappointed. Sorry, no crystal ball here.  However, I do recommend you read “The State of Fashion”, a study published annually by The Business of Fashion in collaboration with McKinsey & Company. While I don’t know if it’s an accurate prediction of the future, it certainly explains quite well where the fashion industry wants to go.

What they know

According to “The State of Fashion” this year, “fashion companies will post approximately a 90 percent decline in economic profit in 2020, after a 4 percent rise in 2019”.

What to look for in 2021

There are 10 themes that factor into calculating the agenda for fashion in 2021, according to The Business of Fashion study:

1. Living with the Virus
2. Diminished Demand
3. Digital Sprint
4. Seeking Justice
5. Travel Interrupted
6. Less Is More
7. Opportunistic Investment
8. Deeper Partnerships
9. Retail ROI
10. Work Revolution

How to succeed in 2021

Although 2021 will be a hard year for most fashion enterprises, Business-of-Fashion-identified players will most likely benefit from it as “a brighter future lies ahead for companies that are heavily indexed in digital channels and the Asia-Pacific region.”

Why am I worried for fashion?

Let me clarify our position here at TSC. We are fashion lovers, bargain connoisseurs, and conscious consumers. We hate waste and we are painfully aware of the predicament most workers in the fashion retail value chain find themselves in. Having said that, we worry when Business of Fashion concludes that “a brighter future lies ahead for companies that are heavily indexed in digital channels and the Asia-Pacific region.” It looks like fashion’s survival depends exclusively on its success to partner with China’s e-commerce platforms. I think everyone knows that it is mandatory in 2021 to have an online presence. The question remains: how many companies can afford the marketing costs associated with having one? As far as the gold rush to China goes, if I were a fashion company I would stop and ask myself the following questions:

1. Do I really trust the Chinese government?

Large fashion companies put all their efforts right now into getting a slice of the “largest luxury market”. Louis Vuitton picked Wuhan in China for its first global exhibition according to South China Morning Post as “a sign of confidence in [the] world’s biggest luxury market”.

Some say it was a sound economic decision; others say it was just a necessary move to appease the Chinese government.  Either way, it is a signal that they have enough trust in the system.  But have these companies not heard of the predicament Jack Ma is in after criticizing the Chinese Communist Party government? Have they not heard about Covid 19 and the successful Chinese state controlled media efforts to quash any negative information and rewrite the narrative?

2. Am I honest in what I stand for?

Nike got very political in an ad declaring, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” However, Nike is—according to the New York Times—”among the major companies lobbying Congress to weaken a bill that would ban imported goods made with forced labour in China’s Xinjiang region.” So, Nike, I ask you: did you lie in your ad or do you stand for Chinese forced labor?

So what does this all mean?

The future is unclear, and I am having a hard time reconciling what Business of Fashion thinks will set the fashion industry agenda in 2021 with what they think will make a fashion company successful. I do hope this is not a requiem after all, and that fashion will find a way to survive this as well—maybe despite industry’s effort and not because of it.

Image credit: B.Zhou via Shutterstock, Svetlana Lukienko via Shutterstock

Posted by Mirela Gluck at 07:27 AM
A FASHION , Fashion News |

11 January 2021

A Requiem for the Fashion Industry - Part One

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.

Image credit: Debby Wong via Shutterstock, 80’s Child via Shutterstock

Posted by Mirela Gluck at 06:12 AM
A FASHION , Fashion News |

30 October 2020
Why AOC's interview in Vanity Fair sent mixed messages

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, our own NY fiery US Representative, attracted controversy again, this time for donning a $14,000 gob on the cover of Vanity Fair. While the outfit was "borrowed", according to AOC, the visuals remain problematic for the self proclaimed Socialist.

Posted by Staff Writer at 01:22 PM
A FASHION , Other People's Style |

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