^^Meg....you've stumbled upon a good point! I think Belgiums are the best example of the shift described in the article because Belgium labels like Dries Van Noten and Ann D. have been established since the nineties and been slowly building up profile and in sales. Obviously the same can't be said for for independent, smaller labels in London for example - the collections still lack maturity and weight (Not criticising as ppl know I'm a champion for many many London based labels!) but this shift could offer hope and present a good example to many independent labels.
On a side note.... Kuran...I am coming to Antwerp for the Mode Show in June....do you think stocksales will be on during that period? Or am I hoping too much........
Meg,I think it's because,like I said,they've got a great balance and also alot of nuance. I mean,they don't alienate people. They can do some incredible experimental pieces which is attractive to one and they can do some really easy things. All in one collection. And quite consistenly,at that. I think Belgians are realistic. They don't have the lofty,archetypical fashion ambitions to be a mere establishment. They're honest and genuine in what they do.
Of course,you're point being that it's generally associated with Belgians...there are others,for sure,in other cities but I don't think it has the collective strength as Antwerp does. Seeing as maybe 98% of the designers in that lone city have a similar approach in being integral and focusing purely on the work they do. And of course,one has to remember Antwerp is small...London,Paris and NY is so tremendous with the fashion world they often overlook their great talents.
But what creates that do you think? The royal academy or is it just being belgian? lol. I consistantly say that I'm a belgian avante garde fan but can't identify with the japanese avante garde and i think the alienation is a key point there. To me at least, all the clothing feels a lot more accessible
I actually think it's a little bit of both,really. That school has helped alot in that but also Belgians in general are actually,extremely down-to-earth. Actually,it's probably in all their personalities but spurred on by attending that school.
glad you guys enjoyed reading this article..
here is part three, credited as before
Belgian designers have long invested their profits and energies in aspects of the business invisible to the media: supporting their retail clients.
That means everything from ensuring good finishing and complete deliveries to feeding buyers well in the showroom. Van Noten's chef, for example, travels with the collection to Milan and New York to whip up healthy meals for those writing orders.
But several smaller designer firms have downsized recently, finding it too risky to carry a huge design staff. They're also recognizing they can't be rigidly conceptual but need to put the focus back on product to better service retail clients and compete in a crowded market. Raf Simons, for example, had at one point employed 15 people at his eponymous men's wear label. Recently, he switched to an arrangement in which he operates a small "creative office" that controls his name and design, with all other functions handled by various distribution and production partners.
"I do zero investment in my own brand, so I don't carry the risk but I do control my image," Simons said in an interview, noting, however, that he recently expanded his creative staff in Antwerp now that he also does double duty as creative director of Jil Sander in Milan. "Keeping your own independence has to be linked with more commerciality," Simons stressed. "At a certain point, you have to deal with fashion and its economic laws. I'm working in a more product-oriented way now. In the first years, I was very conceptual."
Simons and Branquinho both recently added a second label, but neither characterized it as a marketing ploy or equated it with the brand segmentation employed by American and Italian designers. Simons said Raf by Raf Simons allows him to continue addressing the young customers he's always attracted, while exploring more grown-up looks in his main collection, which doubled its sales for fall-winter 2006. Branquinho said her new Complice line was a way to maintain timeless and essential items like trenchcoats and blazers as part of her universe. But she shows and sells Complice along with her men's collection, allowing her to deliver some women's styles earlier. AF Vandevorst also readies its collection in tandem with the men's calendar, in January and July, which has boosted business. Last season, the company had 35 percent of orders in hand at the moment of its fashion show in Paris. "This season we tripled our business in America," said Filip Arickx, who now runs the business, leaving his wife, An Vandevorst, to concentrate fully on design. "France is doing very well again, too."
AF Vandevorst also streamlined its staffing and production, for example, concentrating the manufacture of all woven designs in one factory instead of 15, as it had previously.
Loppa acknowledged that tough times in fashion have prompted many young Belgian designers to go work behind the scenes at large brands in France and Italy. But she pointed to promising independents like Kris Van Assche, Peter Pilotto, Bernhard Willhelm and Bruno Pieters as a reason to be optimistic.
"That's the strength of Belgian designers. They want to be in charge," Loppa said. To wit: Her school will turn out 18 fashion graduates this year, with one in five likely to launch a label.
"They're great designers. They're very professional and a few are extremely good," said Loppa. "I don't have to worry for the future."
My question is "who is making a fragrance?" :-) It must be very very interesting!
I have seen an interview with Christian Wijnants, and he talked quite a while about the fashion school in Antwerp. It is interesting that the students are given historical projects... to do and those are then published in their website. Every student is presented. It's cool:-)
^ it is in the first Lena's post Scott. I heard about Margiela's scent quite a time ago but nothing has happened still.
But now, with sober clothes coming back into fashion and Belgian companies operating more leanly, most designers are optimistic about their business prospects for the first time in years. Some are even contemplating retail stores, or expansion into new categories like men's wear or fragrance.
it definitely must have something to do with that school..
which must teach them to be creative and practical at the same time....
to work hard and work smart...
this is a very telling statement -
"They're great designers. They're very professional and a few are extremely good," said Loppa.
because they aren't just talented designers....but they all run a good business as well...
which is what i think is lacking in many of the designers in other cities...
too many young designers want to be the next john galliano or tom ford and just be fabulous and go to parties all the time...
these folks don't go to parties...
they just put their heads down and go to work..
here is some evidence at least, that hard work does sometimes pay off......
looks like that new investor in ann's company is doing wonders..60% increase?...not bad...
but it WAS an exceptionally good couple of collections too......
*same with vandervoorst...
but come fall 06-those figures will drop back down because the collection was not good..
nqth- i bet it's margiela..he's got renzo behind him now....he's been expanding like crazy!!
"It is not money that makes you well dressed: it is understanding."