Gone are the days when access to designer shows are limited to buyers and editors. In the past few years, brands have decided to go increasingly public. A combination of livestreaming and a front row full of celebrities casting every moment to our screens, makes an invitation to the real thing almost irrelevant. In 2016, we see fashion houses push their commercial strategy one step further, with the likes of Burberry and Tom Ford making their collections available to buy days after unveiling it to the world. Consumers no longer have to wait months on end to buy an edit of what they saw on the catwalk, nor do they have to preview spring clothes as they approach the winter months and fall just ahead of summer. We are entering the era of gender fluid, seasonless fashion, where designers have to compete with the high street to get clothes on the shop floor.
With an increasing strain on designers to produce an unattainable amount of collections per year and the high street ‘dropping’ new lines each week, what is the cost to creativity, economy and our environment?
The last 12 months has been fraught with reports of designers leaving their positions at the helm of some of the most famous fashion houses in the world. Frida Giannini left Gucci, Alexander Wang from Balenciaga, Alber Elbaz left a 14 year tenure at Lanvin and Raf Simons departs Dior after a relatively short 3 years with the fashion house. Whilst all left for their own, various reasons, it has been suggested that across the industry, designers are burning out. Most notably, on leaving Dior, Raf Simons released a statement saying: “It is after careful and long consideration that I have decided to leave my position as creative director of Christian Dior’s women’s collection… It is a decision based entirely and equally on my desire to focus on other interests in my life, including my own brand, and the passions that drive me outside my work.”
When designers are expected to work at this pace, creativity is compromised in order to produce more and to a wider market. Where a collection was once created to illustrate a mood or narrative of the clothes, it is now expected to be able to be worn directly from the catwalk, squashing the avant garde and making fashion timid.
Despite this new commercial model being a ‘response’ to how people shop, we can already feel the effects reverse. Seasons used to come with a new set of trends; key pieces that would create anchors for your capsule wardrobe to work around. Where you would once spend months saving to buy those much coveted pair of shoes that would transcend the season, now, the second you buy them something ‘better’ will come along. You become paralyzed in a fast fashion cycle that leaves you wishing you’d never bought something days after handing over the cash.
Trends like ‘normcore’ are a reaction to trends entering and leaving the market at a rate consumers are finding difficult to keep up with. People are starting to realise the value in investing in a more classic wardrobe and perhaps updating it with a show piece every season. It might be more of an economical than an environmental consideration but the way in which we shop is changing none-the-less.
When Anna Wintour said “fashion is a reflection of our times” in the 2009 documentary, The September Issue, she probably didn’t realise how ugly that would look of our current day. Conflicting ideas about how, when, where, what we shop has created a hysterical industry; from designer to editor to consumer. We are being drowned by our own system, unsure of how to step out. But, eventually, when we do come up for air, the change will be profound.
Image Samir Hussein/Getty