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06-09-2013
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Does the wheel of fashion spin too fast?
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Does the wheel of fashion spin too fast?

A recent article about the relentless fashion calendar has highlighted just how unforgiving the industry is to its designers and producers. Suzy Menkes, fashion editor of the Herald Tribune, noted: The fashion industry is broken in more ways than one: runway shows don’t match retail expectations; designers can’t keep up with demand; and customers can’t buy a coat in winter. So who’s to blame?

For many designers, the calendar is an ongoing treadmill, a machine that is constantly trying to speed up, yet one can run only so fast. If we look at the demise of John Galliano, the death of Alexander McQueen and so many other designers who end up in rehab (Marc Jacobs, for instance), it seems a very high price to pay to deliver fresh collections season after season, year after year.

Catwalk collections are no longer the most profitable
Because the problem is retailers are not content with two collections a year. In fact the most important delivery for store profitability are not the clothes seen on the catwalk, as these are only in shops for about 8 weeks. The most profitable collections are pre-fall and resort.

If we break it down by season, clothes for summer and winter and now interspersed with delivery drops in spring and autumn, along with Resort in November and Pre-Fall in May. If you are an established house, you may have two couture shows, menswear twice a year and perhaps a diffusion line. On top of that you may have promotional shows in Hong Kong, Singapore or Moscow - markets who have the buying power - and you are easily at 10 collections a year. If you show each of these that is practically one show a month. There is nothing glamorous about this calendar, it's relentless fashion that is taking its toll on the industry.

Designers don't have time to stop, reload and recharge before they embark on their next collection and are pushed to perform on a very intense, demanding and unforgiving treadmill.

As Menkes stated, we must accept the pace of fashion today was part of the problem behind the decline of John Galliano et al. The strain on both budgets and designers is enormous. While only the large corporations can really afford to put on the mega ready-to-wear shows, it forces smaller labels and brands to perform on a similar level.

How to make sense of this endless rush for the new when there are no longer any simple seasons? During the summer, when you are shopping for vest tops and maxi dresses, the fall wool coats are hanging on the rails. Come early November, they will have vanished in favor of resort.

So who is to blame? Is it the never-ending public demand for new fashion? Is it the media and fashion magazines? The Internet which make everything available to everyone at all times? Or is it the industry itself? Is the only true luxury today the ability to buy new and exclusive clothes every microsecond?

Traditionally it takes six months for a designer to order fabrics and produce the catwalk collection clothes before they are delivered to stores. Sadly the designer collections are easily outpaced by the fast fashion chains like H&M, Topshop and Zara, Target and J. Crew, who produce their collections in factories in Bangladesh and China where the hourly wage for workers costs the same as buying a button or zipper in Europe, and who can have their versions for sale before the designer looks hit the stores.

So while the wheel of fashion is spinning faster and faster, there seems to be no slowing down for anyone. Stores require fresh product and fashion house's must stay on top of the game. It's inevitable there will be a good deal more crash and burn among designers in the seasons to come.

fashionunited

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06-09-2013
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Yes, but it is in line with the way culture is going in general. Culture has become disposable and instantaneous and fashion as followed suit. I would imagine that for creatives the pace is difficult, not to mention the heightened levels of attention.

The pace is ridiculous and for all but a few it isn't exactly necessary. Consumers are calling out for more options and more pieces, but it let's be real - how many people really need a full set of new clothing every four months? How many labels really need to show full collections and pre-collections. How many people with legitimate buying power really give a damn about fashion week and the manufactured trends that are churned out?

These are rhetorical questions and I'm rambling, but the wheel spins too fast and the end result is detrimental to everyone. Just personally, but for me sometimes fashion no longer feels like artistic expression, it feels like the ultimate experiment in free market capitalism and in a situation like that, there is no room for anything but the relentless progression of the machine. Forget people, forget art, this is all about money.

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06-09-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luxx View Post
Just personally, but for me sometimes fashion no longer feels like artistic expression, it feels like the ultimate experiment in free market capitalism and in a situation like that, there is no room for anything but the relentless progression of the machine. Forget people, forget art, this is all about money.

This. Fashion has never been as boring as these past three years. Everything feels so passion-free. I don't see 'fashion' in the catwalks anymore. Look at the beginning of NYFW S/S 14, it's everything the same... I can’t stand it!

You can also sense the urge to make money in the crazy changes of Creative Director that happen within the fashion houses. They stay one year and get fired. They aren't able to create an identity or develope a direction for the brand... It's really sad. Besides, CEOs go cheaper and cheaper when hiring new designers; it’s evident they just want 'too' marketable products... and anyone can do that.

And I will always say that aside from Chanel and Dior, the rest of the fashion houses shouldn't even show Resort and Prefall collections.


Last edited by Creative; 06-09-2013 at 02:11 PM.
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07-09-2013
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I believe the wheel is definitely spinning too fast, but as presented earlier I think it is an attempt to satisfy the customer. With the countless media outlets constantly presenting the new "it" product, the consumer feels they must always have something new. Eventually that becomes an expectation.

Regarding the resort and per fall collections mentioned by Creative, I think they were initially conceived to provide the customer living/visiting in exceptional temperatures, etc. After a while those lines became more popular as they were less expensive and not necessarily featured on the runway so they had a longer shelf life. (Sn: Creative, I would love to hear why you think only Chanel and Dior should do prefall/resort collections.)

I would love for luxury and percieved luxury brands to realize they have more power than they think and trying to replicate with the constant flow of new merchandise from an H&M will ultimately make them competitors. The reason why Zara can churn out new merchandise in a couple of weeks is because their products don't have the same life expectancy (due to quality and flow of new merchandise) as one would think a Gucci dress might. Not to mention Zara is more affordable and can be bought in large volumes and/or discarded without a second thought, Gucci not so much.

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07-09-2013
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This is understandable but there is a simple solution.

Instead of having the star designer design F/W, S/S, Resort, Couture, Cruise, Pre-Fall, Pre-Spring etc etc etc - why not just have the star designer design F/W, S/S and Couture (where applicable) and he can have one or two younger designers who he works with, but who are responsible for all the rest and who gets credit for the rest?

Surely, in practice I guess it must work like that? It doesn't really seem like it, though...with all these burn-outs.

Why does there have to be one single auteur?


Last edited by iluvjeisa; 07-09-2013 at 10:16 AM.
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24-09-2013
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Simons marvels at the speed of things. "I'm very scared sometimes that fashion might attack its own magic by the amount of exposure," he says. "Is this normal, the speed of fashion? They say there are too many shows, but the nature of fashion is to have it exposed in that moment of ecstasy.

"In the '90s, when a designer showed something, you had the patience to wait until it was in the stores," he continues. "That had a lot of romance and mystique to it. If you want something and you have to wait for it, you enjoy it, probably, longer. If it's just thrown at you the moment you like it, how much are you going to still desire it?"

Raf Simons - Harper's Bazaar

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24-09-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bernadette View Post
"In the '90s, when a designer showed something, you had the patience to wait until it was in the stores," he continues. "That had a lot of romance and mystique to it. If you want something and you have to wait for it, you enjoy it, probably, longer. If it's just thrown at you the moment you like it, how much are you going to still desire it?"
Raf Simons - Harper's Bazaar
I completely agree with what he said. I think fashion has been forgettable real fast since people started to wear the clothes that just showed in the fashion weeks a few weeks before. For example, in the Versace spring 2014 show, Selena Gomez was wearing one look in the collection which was supposed to appear off-the-runway 6 months later.

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24-09-2013
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I, personally, wouldn't mind if there was only 2 shows a year. Christmas wouldn't be as great if it came every month

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25-09-2013
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^Completely agree you eizhowa, even as someone who doesn't celebrate the holiday. For me, one of my problems with the 'wheel of fashion' is that it is incredibly unsustainable. It isn't really ethical to make clothing this quickly, the quality often isn't that great (not to mention the conditions the clothes are made in since high quantity and quick return create such labor violations). Another issue I take with this method is the creativity levels seem quite sub par, if designers only worked on two (maybe three) collections a year, I feel like we'd have more revolutionary designs and ideas being expressed. Designers are expected to churn out so many collections and it just becomes a rat race rather then a process to create art. Often great art takes time, so wouldn't you think great design would be the same?

Maybe it's just me, but I also have a hard time keeping up with the collections and I do not find as much enjoyment in looking at them as I once did. Of course their are some designers I continue to love watching their process but I can't be bothered to look at all the brands because it is to overwhelming now. Since there are so many collections it becomes hard to process ideas, I'm still thinking about a previous collection when a new one is shown. Don't get me wrong, I love fashion, but I don't always love the crazy fast cycle it is currently in.

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26-09-2013
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I agree with the sense of being overwhelmed. Most designers now present four collections a year (SS, Prefall, FW, Resort - not including couture houses) and it is such a sense of inundation that I think a lot of the clothes lose their magic. It's harder to remember the gorgeous pieces from a FW show, for instance, because a month later those will be gone and replaced by resort pieces. It doesn't leave time to savor the designs and it can't be good for designer's creative muses, right? They must always feel stretched thin, creatively.

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31-10-2013
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Of course it does. Churning out more products a desire in the consumer, which means more money for those labels. Fashion has always been fast, and it's always been for the same reason - money.

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27-11-2013
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A friend pointed out to me that pre-fall means Summer. She wouldn't accept anything else Fashion has apparantly nothing to do with the natural world to do any more

Why can't they do just spring, summer, fall and winter? Why pretend thats not what is going on anyway?


Last edited by eizhowa; 27-11-2013 at 07:29 PM.
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23-12-2013
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pop will eat itself...

this is the name of a band but i always thought that it was a great line and very apropos in this context...

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30-12-2013
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I think it does.

I find the real problems are that the creativity level has dropped tremendously, and that's why fashion looks like one big thing at the time more than ever before. There's one or two "leaders" of the pack at the time (for example Phoebe Philos Céline for a prolonged period of time now) and that is what majority of the designers imitate simply because they have no time to sit and think themselves. Also, ecologically thinking it's alarming to think what avalanche of production can one innocent small-scale resort or pre-fall collection create when all the high street chains copy them at the scale of 100 compared to the original collection. If there's four or six show seasons to copy per year we can all imagine what amount of clothes are produced per year, luxury market and high-street combined. And clothing production from scratch is a big, BIG factor in pollution and natural resource consumption.

I think Raf Simons is spot on when he talks about appreciation of clothes today. Internet for the most part is one to blame for this phenomenon, as we can see everything right the second they're shown, and next week we are already bored with it. And it's dizzying how all this has happened in the last 8 years. Come to think of it, living in the 90's I didn't even know when exactly fashion weeks were happening and what was shown there. Maybe French and other fashion capital people saw a couple of pictures in the newspaper next day, but I had to wait for Vogue catwalk issue for several months after the collections had been shown. There was real magic there. I'm not sure if we will ever get back to those days Raf was talking about, internet is here to stay.

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05-01-2014
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the rhythm of mechanical production, even speedier tempo of circulation,
ceaseless upheaval and false novelty as only a disguise for unanimous exclusion of the new - for perpetual sameness, the stone of the stereotype, a new kind of barbarism,
these are a few of adorno/horkheimer's unfavorite things, a curse of decay.

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