Essays, Fashion

The Role of a Fashion Critic

I have been reading a lot about fashion criticism and the role that it plays in the industry nowadays. Are critics important? Do they still have a voice? Do they even fit into the ever-changing world of fashion? Honestly, I have no idea. In my opinion, as long as there are people who care about more than clothes, but about the sociological and historical context of fashion, then critics are needed. If there’s nobody like that left, then they’re redundant. Thankfully, there’s still some people who care (even if it’s a shrinking group).

In the clickbait heavy world of fashion journalism critics are being overshadowed by shopping listicles and selfies. Most online publications would prefer to post 5 short articles filled with fluff that doesn’t really make a point or leave a memorable impact instead of 1 high quality review or in-depth story. Discussing fashion in an intellectual way is increasingly rare nowadays, but fortunately there are still some outlets which quench my thirst for this format. Quartz and Racked are two online publications that I’d recommend, along with all of the big newspapers for their critics (The Washington Post and Robin Givhan, The New York Times and Vanessa Friedman etc.).

The general consensus on why fashion criticism doesn’t matter as much anymore is that it has no impact on a business’ sales. Fashion designers don’t need critics on their side, they need the masses. Social media has let everybody become a critic by sharing their opinion online. You don’t need to be educated or informed to say your thoughts on a collection, but your voice does matter. Olivier Rousteing’s high at Balmain directly coincided with when the brand was at the height of fame on social media and was being posted by people across the globe. It didn’t matter that the critical reviews of the collection touched on the repetitive nature, as long as the public still liked it. Social media buzz doesn’t always translate into sales, but it certainly helps.

A celebrity/influencer-filled front row at Cushnie et Ochs SS17

I think the more accurate reason why fashion criticism has fallen by the wayside is because people simply don’t want to read anymore. I know this for a fact. Even just by looking at “fashion” bloggers who have huge followings and infinite views, you can see that the content they post is more image-heavy instead of words. When online, people don’t want to be confronted with huge blocks of text, especially on a topic thought to be as trivial as fashion. I can even tell this with my own blog. I know it would be bigger in terms of numbers if I tried to just post outfit pictures and click-baity articles, but that wouldn’t be fun for me so I choose not to. The digital presence of major fashion publications gives weight to this theory. On Vogue.com, the average article is short (maybe three or four paragraphs) and has at least two images or tweets included. Most of them focus on gossip or shopping guides. The reason why is that people want to read this kind of thing. Writing is all about garnering the most traffic nowadays. If a publication can gain thousands of views on an article that took 30 minutes to write, why would they waste their time getting potentially less views on something that took multiple hours to fine tune and perfect? If a writer is freelance, the more stories they write, the more they get paid. Say the base rate for an article is $500. Would you rather write 2 articles in a day and make $1000 or 1 article in the same day and make half?

If fashion criticism were to become relevant once again, it would take a major change from readers in terms of their behavior. For one, we would all collectively have to reject all clickbait. This includes commenting on articles via social channels, which still contributes to their statistics. The more comments something has, the higher it gets pushed in people’s feeds, the more likely they are to click on it. If outlets started to see a major drop in engagement in their current preferred format then perhaps they would invest in long-form journalism and criticism. However, until then I am happy to support the few remaining critics who still have a platform.

For further reading on this topic:

The Importance of Being Earnest” – Style Zeitgeist

Little impact, lots of prestige: A look at the role of fashion critics today” – Digiday

“Kelly Cultrone: What Happened to All the Fashion Critics?” – The Fashion Spot (from 2014)

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Fashion, Weekly Words

Weekly Words: 11th November 2017

This week has been another news-filled saga, with more and more sexual harassment accusations coming out. Kevin Spacey has finally tumbled. I read about him years ago and told many of my friends, but of course his accusers weren’t believed until a week or so ago. It is getting to the stage now where you wonder if there are any stars in Hollywood who haven’t been affected by this kind of behavior, whether they were the victim or the culprit. Fashion isn’t much better, on the modelling side of things, and much of the focus has been on Terry Richardson. Although it is good news that publications are finally refusing to work with him, he is not the only person in the industry who behaves in such ways. Edie Campbell penned a good open letter in WWD on this topic, and her status as an insider can describe the situation a lot better than I can. On a happier note, Edward Enninful’s first British Vogue cover hit the newsstands this week. So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Thankfully, he pulled out all the stops with a Steven Meisel-lensed, Adwoa Aboah-fronted cover. The styling was great, the makeup was memorable, and the overall concept was so retro-glamorous that it could not be faulted. I am going to keep my copy for years to come. I know it will become a real collectors item. Finally, the last big news item of the week is that the Met Gala’s 2018 theme has been confirmed as relating to Catholicism and its depictions in fashion. Not only will it include inspired pieces, but garments worn by the Pope are going to be transported into the museum. Apparently it will be the biggest exhibition yet, but I feel like they say that every year so we shall see. Rihanna and Amal Clooney are the hosts, which I feel is a rather strange choice as neither of them are outwardly Catholic. However, Rihanna is the one Met Gala attendee that you can always count on to show up on theme and try hard so she is always welcome.

British Vogue, December 2017

Reading:

“British Vogue: Why the new issue is so historic” – The Independent

“Edie Campbell Pens Open Letter on Model Abuse” – WWD

“The Costume Institute Takes On Catholicism” – The New York Times

“Kevin Spacey’s Unprecedented Fall From Grace Tests a Stunned Hollywood” – LA Times

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Celebrity & Red Carpet, Fashion

Kanye’s Best Looks

I still love Kanye West. I went through a phase last year where I refused to even think about him because he spoke out in support of Donald Trump. However, after those comments were made he had a bit of a breakdown and disappeared from the public eye. Since then he has periodically reemerged, taking care of his children and hanging out with his wife. He has also been holed up in Wyoming recording a new album. Whilst I don’t think it will be of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy caliber (nothing ever will be), I am excited to hear his new sounds and see what he does.

I have always been a fan of Kanye’s music but more so his style. He paved the way for the high-fashion sartorial choices made by hip-hop artists nowadays. He wore the Givenchy skirt (leather kilt, whatever) back in 2012 and faced ridicule. In 2016, Young Thug wore a dress for his album cover and got nothing but love and some memes. In honor of Kanye’s ever-changing but solid style, I decided to take a look back at my personal favorite looks of his. He goes through various eras style-wise, often related to the current album he is working on. Right now we are still very much in the Yeezy era which isn’t directly linked to an album (it started slightly before TLOP was released) but more so in relation to the Yeezy line he designs for Adidas. Yeezy is now a minimalist lifestyle philosophy for Kanye. It will be interesting to see the next step in his evolution. Will he go for some more maximalist styles going forward?

In a Supreme pull-over and Air Jordans | Paris, October 2012

In a camel coat | Paris, January 2014

In fur and a hoodie | Paris, January 2014

Wearing Yeezys | New York, April 2016

In camel | New York, February 2016

In a custom Saint Laurent jacket | Paris, January 2014

In a blue overcoat | Paris, September 2013

In a Louis Vuitton fur scarf | Los Angeles, December 2008

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Fashion

Weekly Words: 4th November 2017

This week’s news has been about a series of departures, yet again. Fashion’s continuous game of musical chairs claims another participant with Christopher Bailey leaving Burberry after close to two decades. On top of that, the print magazine industry continues to suffer with Condé Nast shuttering Teen Vogue, making it a digital only operation. Ah, yet another week in the tumultuous climate which we call fashion.

“Burberry Plots Life After Bailey” – Business of Fashion

A look from the Fall 2017 see-now, buy-now collection.

Christopher Bailey, most famous for reviving Burberry and changing its image from one giving connotations of “chav check” to British luxury, is departing from his roles at the company. He was one of the first designers to simultaneously be President and Creative Director of a brand, showing that creatives can do the business side of things to – Alexander Wang did a similar thing at his own company. Bailey’s reasons for departing were not clear, besides wanting to pursue new things, and he will remain at the company for a little over a year still whilst they recruit a new Creative Director and undergo a period of transition. The Business of Fashion article linked above is interesting because it presents an analysis of what Burberry could do to grow the business after Bailey leaves. I’d recommend reading it over some other articles on the topic which were more of a news blast.

“Condé Nast Kills Teen Vogue’s Print Edition” – The Cut

EIC Elaine Welteroth for the New York Times.

The news that Condé Nast was killing Teen Vogue’s print edition could not be more frustrating or unwelcome, for the reason that Teen Vogue is a much better magazine than many of the titles which Condé Nast continues to publish. Instead of hitting the kill button right away, they could’ve switched it to a bi-annual title like CR Fashion Book and made it a thicker magazine. Since 2016, Teen Vogue’s digital content has gained more and more traction so I understand why they think that this is the best move, but given that millennials have stated time and time again that they like having paper magazines, why cut the millennial and gen-z focused title? It is also sad because star EIC Elaine Welteroth deserves a platform to shine. I wonder where she will go next?

The shuttering of Teen Vogue’s print coincides with a larger restructuring mission within Condé Nast. They are cutting jobs and changing many of their titles’ publishing schedules, with just a few being left as monthlies. I guess we all knew that the rise of the internet would lead to the decline of print media, and that is ok. Some magazines don’t need to be monthly. In fact, quarterly would work for most titles as long as they increased the quality of their content to suit the new format. What is not ok is moving titles to digital only and then not keeping up the quality online. Many magazines don’t treat their websites with the same level of care and attention as they do their print editions. Articles are often click-baity, filler and puff-pieces (especially about Insta-famous celebrities who they think can generate clicks from young, adoring fans), or shopping listicles. At least Teen Vogue has a solid online presence that will continue to define the brand after their print edition ceases to exist.

 

 

 

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Fashion

Read: How Fashion Reflects America

I just wanted to share an article which I contributed to Set My Soul Online, a digital magazine published in New York City. The theme of the November issue was American Beauty with a focus on diversity, in response to the narrowing ideals presented by the current administration. I chose to tackle the idea of how the fashion industry has responded to the election of Donald Trump and what they have done to combat Trumpism. Read the article here and check out the full magazine at setmysoulonline.com

Public School’s “Make America New York” hats, as discussed in the article.

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Fashion

Fashion Flashback: Alexander McQueen SS95

Following last month’s flashback to a John Galliano-era Christian Dior collection, I thought now would be a good time to put the spotlight on an Alexander McQueen collection given that the basis for the previous post was the book that I read about the two designers, Gods and Kings by Dana Thomas. I chose to feature McQueen’s Spring 1995 collection, entitled “The Birds” and themed around the Alfred Hitchcock classic film of the same name. Inspired by the tight, restrictive pencil skirts worn by Tippi Hedren in the movie, McQueen chose to use that silhouette and magnify it to extreme proportions. Dana Thomas, a somewhat expert on McQueen wrote an entire essay on the collection for The Cut which explains everything better than I ever could – read it here. 

“The Birds” was one of Alexander McQueen’s first big collections. It was the third show he ever presented to the public and is extremely impressive for a designer at such a young stage in their career. Of course, McQueen had been working for quite some time before this point, even undertaking an apprenticeship at Saville Row, an experience that shaped his work for years to come. This collection has the sharp tailoring and almost restrictive cuts that he would be known for. It also plays on the themes of destruction and androgyny which McQueen would reference throughout his career.

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Fashion, Weekly Words

Weekly Words: 28th October 2017

I know that last week I said that I didn’t want to spend too much time focusing on the sexual assault discussion that has permeated pop culture over the past few weeks but we are at a stage where it is impossible to ignore it. The fashion industry was dragged into the Harvey Weinstein scandal last week, when model Cameron Russell started the #myjobshouldnotinclude abuse campaign. From the campaign, changes in the fashion industry are slowly starting to occur. According to the New York Times “New York State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, a Democrat from Queens, announced she would introduce an amendment to the state’s current anti-discrimination laws. If passed, it would extend certain protection to models, putting designers, photographers and retailers (among others) on notice that they would be liable for abuses experienced on their watch.”. Basically, a legislation would protect the models in the workplace as the current protections in place are clearly not working. Read the full article here for more information on the topic.

“Terry Richardson Banned From Working With Vogue And Other Leading Mags, Leaked Email Shows” – The Telegraph

Lady Gaga shot by Terry Richardson

British newspaper, The Telegraph, got its hands on a leaked email from Conde Nast’s COO and Executive Vice President informing all publications that they were no longer to work with famed photographer Terry Richardson. The move was to be effective immediately, with any work of his that hadn’t gone to print to be killed and any future work to be cancelled. For some context, Terry Richardson is to fashion who Harvey Weinstein is to Hollywood. He is a notoriously creepy photographer who has been accused of sexual assault for almost a decade. However, he has managed to dodge any real scrutiny from the brands and publications that he works with because he has always managed to have an air of credibility due to the big names he has photographed; Terry Richardson has even shot Barack Obama. Although there have been rumors swirling around Richardson’s behavior for years, the rumors never seemed to stick. However, right now we are in an exodus period where anyone who has been sexually assaulted by a public figure is finally getting their voice heard. Since the Telegraph article broke, Valentino and Bulgari have announced that they are no longer working with Richardson (he shot both brand’s recent campaigns). Other brands will surely follow suit, although many don’t have to specifically announce that they are not using him as many haven’t booked him for years. Many of his close collaborators like Carine Roitfeld (whose magazine, CR Fashion Book, frequently features his work) haven’t spoken out. Business of Fashion did a good summary on why the latest moves to block Richardson’s work are “too little, too late”. I agree with what they say because the belated condemnation of Richardson makes it seem like his accuser’s words were thought to be invalid until enough people stepped forward so they couldn’t be ignored. It’s not like the Terry Richardson rumours are anything new, but then again, neither were the Harvey Weinstein ones. Weinstein seems to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“Let’s Face It, Buying Sneakers Has Become Way Too Complicated” – High Snobiety

I enjoyed this article from High Snobiety on sneaker culture. Sneaker culture itself is fascinating to me because I am so far removed from it. I’ve never tried to buy a pair of sneakers because of the hype surrounding them, nor have I ever waited in line for a drop. For that reason, I may not necessarily be the typical High Snobiety reader. This article basically discusses how sneaker culture is broken in a way, because it is all about reselling. People use bots to hijack shoe releases, causing them to sell out almost instantaneously and leaving everyone who actually waited on their computers and tried to shop like a regular person without the merchandise. The internet and online drops was meant to make sneaker culture more inclusive and bring it to an audience who may not live in a large metropolis like New York City. However, as with most things, there’s always people out there who like to ruin it for everyone. Those who use bots often resell their picks online (using Grailed, or similar services) which pushes the cost up, meaning that kid who lives in the Mid-West and wanted to get his hands on a pair of sneakers that originally would’ve paid $120 now has to pay $400. It’s lame. I noticed a similar situation myself one time when I tried to shop at Kith. I thought this was a timely story to tell given the drop of their second installment in the Bergdorf Goodman collaboration (which I love, by the way). It was the Coca-Cola collection which I’d read about online and seen on Emily Oberg’s Instagram. Some of the pieces were actually super cute so I thought I’d log on and buy some. I went on the site at 11am (the minute it dropped), added the styles directly to my basket, and by the time I hit checkout and went to enter my card details I got an error message saying the styles had sold out. I was disappointed and discouraged, and I have yet to try and shop a Kith drop online again, because I really feel like there is no point. Until retailers find a way to beat the bots, the only way regular people can get their hands on the product is to camp out in line. I sure as hell have never wanted any product that badly, but I know plenty of people who do.

“Diet Prada Is The Instagram Account Calling Out Copycat Culture In Fashion” – High Snobiety

I remember following this account on Tumblr back in the day when the #fashun community on the site was at its peak. It has since declined in favor of other social networks like Instagram. Diet Prada, it seems, has successfully made the switch. The premise of Diet Prada is calling out designers for copying one another, in a fun meme-like way. To see that it has hit the mainstream with coverage in various online news sites is so cool to me. We are at a stage in fashion where copying is so common that it can no longer go unnoticed. Brands get called out for their foul play regularly now. Diet Prada is good at creating the memes that go viral and often lead to change. After Gucci copied Dapper Dan, they agreed to fund his business re-opening and featured him in a campaign. What makes Diet Prada stand out from the rest of the fashion accounts on Instagram is the depth of their fashion knowledge. They can find references to collections from decades ago. It is a level of expertise that I hope to possess myself one day. Until then, I can rely on Diet Prada to do the job for me!

 

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Fashion, Fashion Week

The Next Insta-Girl

Kaia Gerber, the daughter of the iconic supermodel Cindy Crawford, made her fashion week debut this season. The fanfare surrounding her was inevitable and her buzz has been slowly brewing for months now, starting when she was just fifteen and culminating in a walk down the runway for Calvin Klein, hailing the beginning of Kaia’s reign as the newest Insta-Girl in town. Gerber has her mother’s beauty, a classic All-American look that was re-popularized by the likes of Gigi Hadid who has been playing the role of the quintessential Californian blonde for the past five years. For every runway that Gerber walked down, dozens of Instagram posts were spawned. Kaia Gerber’s name has populated every fashion news outlet since the beginning of September. Her face has been on almost every brand’s social media. Really, her debut is one of the biggest that we have ever seen from an Instagram model who tend to just do one or two shows a season and get all of the attention in a clickbait-like fashion – e.g. Kendall Jenner’s debut season where she walked for Marc Jacobs and generated headlines for weeks to come. Gerber walked for Marc Jacobs, along with Prada, Chanel, and Alexander Wang, to just name a few. This is impressive, but not at all unexpected given her lineage.

at Alexander Wang

Casting Director James Scully, most notable for shining light on Balenciaga’s poor casting practices last season, made some slightly contradictory comments about Gerber to WWD, saying that Gerber is getting many opportunities because she is such a beautiful girl, not because of her mother but later saying “lots of people who normally wouldn’t use a girl like her, they’re all using her. To be quite honest, Raf [Simons] wouldn’t use her. Half the shows she’s done, those people wouldn’t use her if she was just a beautiful girl off the street.”. He then adds “The thing about Kaia is…if Kaia were Kaia Gerber and she wasn’t Cindy’s daughter, I think the industry would be a lot meaner to her than they’re being”. The phenomenon of a nepotism model is nothing new in fashion, which is an industry based off of who you know. If Kaia’s debut season is anything to go by, she will be a supermodel before you know it. She is already being touted as one on Vogue’s YouTube account. It will be interesting to watch her star grow and to see the effect that it has on others in the industry afterwards. If Scully’s words are anything to go by, a new generation of “beautiful” girls are coming in where coolness is no longer a factor. He’s a name to trust and only time will tell if his prediction comes true.

Gerber’s surge into public consciousness coincides with the minor decline of the previous generation of Insta-Girls like the aforementioned Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, and Hailey Baldwin, who have all played a much less prominent role during the four fashion weeks than they ever have since their rise. Interestingly enough, it seems as if the previous generation are actively segueing down new avenues. The same thing happened when Jenner and Hadid became the top models – the previous troupe led by Cara Delevingne began to pursue different things, with Delevingne quitting modelling altogether to focus on acting.

So what will happen to the original Insta-Girl generation? Let’s look at the leaders of the pack. Gigi Hadid, having secured a lucrative and seemingly restrictive contract with Tommy Hilfiger, has taken a step back from the craziness of fashion month, choosing to walk in only a select few shows per city, skipping many of the major names that she is usually seen at. Instead she has been promoting the Tommy Hilfiger line which bears her name. During Milan Fashion Week, she was visiting Tommy Hilfiger’s Amsterdam HQ. Hadid’s line with Tommy has done wonders for the brand and has a high sell-through rate. The brand name is on the lips of teenagers across the world in a way that it hasn’t been since the 1990s. The demand for anything Gigi Hadid related is high, given her 35.9 million Instagram followers, many of whom have purchasing power that Tommy Hilfiger has chosen to tap into. As for Hadid, the collaboration with an iconic American brand gives her prestige, credibility, and a day-job besides modelling – an important asset when it comes to career longevity. In recent months, Hadid has also collaborated with Vogue Eyewear for a line of sunglasses and eyeglasses, in which she played a large role in the design process. Conversely, her sister, Bella, has chosen to attack this past fashion month with full force and shows no sign of an intent to slow down. Hailey Baldwin, crowned Maxim’s Sexiest Woman for 2017, is still modelling frequently, shooting editorials and campaigns left, right, and center. However, it also appears that she is looking to become a true household name via her new vocation as a television presenter. Baldwin has taken up the Chrissy-Teigen-on-Lip-Sync-Battle role on the new TBS show Drop the Mic, hosted by rapper Method Man. With this show being broadcast in the homes of millions of Americans, it is likely that Baldwin will reach an even broader audience than her Instagram allows her to and will perhaps lead to non-modelling opportunities like more television appearances and can help her build her own personal brand outside of the brands that she is already the face of. And as for Kendall Jenner, she has been lying low since the Pepsi debacle earlier this year, choosing a lingerie contract with La Perla over the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Jenner also spent most of fashion month outside of Europe, walking in only a handful of shows. Instead she remained in Los Angeles, where she and her family reside, in what seemed like a self-imposed exile. Judging by the coverage of her in comparison to this time last year, Kendall’s star is fading. Or could it be that she is simply being eclipsed by the breakout star of fashion month, Kaia Gerber? Kendall Jenner herself joked in Love Magazine earlier this year that everybody needed to get in all their work before Gerber turned 16 or they’ll all “go broke!”. It seems as though her joke may ring true.

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Fashion, Weekly Words

Weekly Words: 21st October 2017

For this week’s edition of Weekly Words, I read through various articles on the internet about fashion and related topics and struggled to find anything that I could really share my opinion on, or even add to the conversation. The fallout from the Harvey Weinstein scandal has dominated the news cycle, and his involvement in the fashion industry and how that crossover works has emerged and is deeper than initially expected. Furthermore, the sexual assault / harrassment issues in Hollywood have permeated the fashion industry. Model and activist Cameron Russell started a hashtag on Instagram (#myjobshouldnotincludeabuse) where she shared stories of sexual abuse experienced by models, gathered through DMs which she kept anonymous. It seems like the floodgates have opened and the entertainment industry (fashion now included) cannot ignore it anymore. Check out Cameron Russell’s Instagram to read the stories in full. All are horrific, with many including underage models. Now non-famous people have gotten involved with #metoo being used to share stories of sexual assault. As the internet has been a dark and depressing place recently, I decided to try to keep this post a little more lighthearted (as some escapism almost).

“Naomi Campbell Recounts A Week Spent Doing Community Service—Wearing Dolce & Gabbana—In 2007” – W Magazine

Somehow I stumbled across this article from W Magazine’s archive this week and I’m so glad I did. Basically it is just Naomi Campbell’s diary from her time doing community service. She shares her experience with the Sanitation Department, the people she encountered, what she actually did, and explains the logic behind wearing the insane outfits that she wore. The supermodel’s community service week became a media sensation and it is hilarious reading about it now, ten years later, because it all just seems so ludacris.

“Azzedine AlaÏa Invents The Future: Alexander Fury Meets The Master” – 10 Magazine

Alexander Fury is my favorite fashion writer of all time. He has such a deep love for fashion, the whimsical nature of it, and the craft behind the clothing. This adoration manages to seep into his work, especially when he is writing a piece about somebody who he admires. His interview with Azzedine Alaia, friend of the aforementioned Naomi Campbell and one of the most revered fashion designers of all time (anyone who loves fashion loves Alaia, I promise), was truly heartwarming and it is a great profile of the designer who is famously media-shy. An Alaia show has no external photographers (he employs his own) and doesn’t stick to the traditional show schedule for the seasons. He makes couture-level pieces but doesn’t call them couture; Alaia refused to join the official couture group of France since the 1980s and shows no signs of succumbing now. It was just lovely to read a piece full of genuine admiration and respect for somebody who is truly a great artist. Everybody should know a little more about Azzedine Alaia so I encourage you to read this beautifully written interview!

“Where ‘Hitler’ Doesn’t Mean Anything” – The Outline

This piece was just strange because it was so absurd. Apparently they have no idea who Adolf Hitler is in Pakistan. The ignorance runs so deep that one of the most popular menswear lines in the country is named after one of the most deadly dictators in modern history. The thought of seeing storefronts with Hitler on the sign is certainly a jarring image. What’s more crazy is that when the writer asked people in Pakistan what they thought Hitler meant they said that all they knew was that he was an army general who was very disciplined. That’s it. Wow. You need to read the piece because it is really fascinating.

 

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Fashion

A Take On “Fashion’s Gossip Addiction”

Vanessa Friedman wrote an interesting essay for The New York Times about fashion and the culture of gossip that has permeated the industry in an unmistakeable way. Friedman argues that because everybody spent so much time gossiping throughout fashion month rumors were started that were likely false (some widely, obviously unsubstantiated) and people failed to pay attention to the clothes. If a designer produced a good, almost daring collection, it was “a final collection”. People assumed that if a designer took a risk, they were on their way out. People speculated that designers were getting fired, that they were unhappy in their jobs, that they were being replaced by another big name – all for no reason.

Friedman argues that the reason for the surge in gossip is the ever-changing creative direction of brands. Started by Alexander Wang at Balenciaga, a three-year tenure tends to be the standard for designers at a brand. Raf Simons lasted for just over three years at Dior, too. It is not like the past where designers would stay at the helm of a brand for decades, like Karl Lagerfeld at both Chanel and Fendi. Riccardo Tisci, who spent twelve years at Givenchy, was rumoured to be headed to Versace. Those rumours were eventually squashed, now to have been replaced by rumours that Kim Jones of Louis Vuitton menswear is headed there. The hysteria over who is going where, and who is staying put, has overshadowed the actual creations in many instances, with designer debuts happening each season.

However, this gossip culture isn’t totally unfamiliar given that, as a society, we thrive off of gossip. It is like a poison that we keep going back to – the forbidden fruit. Anytime a celebrity does anything, there is a news article about it. We are people who like to know every little detail of a person’s life. If a celebrity posts something mildly cryptic on social media, there will be numerous fan-accounts dissecting the meaning, plus a DailyMail article (featured on Snapchat for maximum exposure, of course) recapping it all. Think of all of the controversy surrounding the alleged Kardashian-Jenner pregnancies – only one of three have been confirmed, yet every outlet is on bump watch, closely monitoring each sister’s goings-on. To think that the fashion industry has been polluted with the same poison makes a lot of sense.

I particularly liked Friedman’s analysis of why fashion may just be lacking that little something nowadays. She says it is because, paraphrased, that designers, due to their lack of commitment to the brand they are working at, have a lack of commitment to “vision”. Everything is just temporary. Brand codes aren’t getting made and long-term impact has been traded in for a short-term boost via social media impressions. This makes it harder for anybody to be invested in the brand, whether that be department store buyers who are choosing where to spend their open-to-buy each season (Is it worth investing heavily in a line that may go a completely different direction the next season, thus confusing their customers?), shoppers choosing where to spend their money (Are buzzy items really worth it? Often, no.), and the actual staff who work for the company, from the corporate side of things like the merchandisers and the sales team all the way down to the people who work on the design side of things in the ateliers. It must be hard to be heavily invested in your job and the company’s vision just to have it change again and again. That’s why after a designer leaves a brand, often many of the staff do too. The commitment isn’t to the brand itself but to the designer. The loyalty lies with the person, not the corporation that pays the bills. When Alber Elbaz was fired from Lanvin, the team was angry and disappointed. Having an unhappy workforce can’t be a productive environment.

All of this links back to the increasing pace of the fashion industry. Things are going at an unsustainable speed. People are getting burned out earlier than before. Too many people are quitting whilst they can. Furthermore, the fashion cycle is going quicker meaning that designers have to innovate season-upon-season (which have gotten closer and closer together) meaning that there is no time to conceptualize new ideas and build a real brand. The pace of fashion is killing creativity which in turn is leading to boredom. And do you know what bored people do? They gossip.

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