University of Fashion Blog

Posts by: Antonia Sardone

Antonia Sardone

Antonia Sardone is a new contributor to the University of Fashion. She is also a freelance fashion consultant, stylist and writer. Antonia Sardone graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in Advertising Communications, Marketing and Fashion Journalism. She is an industry veteran having worked for WWD for over fifteen years and has strong relationships with designers worldwide. Today, Antonia Sardone continues to write reviews for WWD as well as work with many contemporary designers on a variety of projects from helping to re-launch their websites to writing their brand books. She enjoys raising her children to be creative individuals, as well as styling, writing and traveling.

How Indie Brands are Revising & Revolutionizing Retail

- - Fashion Business

A busy street in NYC’s Soho neighborhood. (Photo courtesy of USA Today)

2020 is here and there’s much to look forward to (and not just the election). Although our beloved Barney’s has shuttered its business and major chains such as The Gap and Victoria Secrets are closing stores across the U.S., and a stroll down Madison Ave., uncovers a retail graveyard of a few dozen empty store fronts, good  things are happening for NYC retail. For years now, we’ve been hearing that traditional retail is dead, but wait…hold the presses….indie brands are starting to open boutiques in Soho! Is this a sign that brick-and-mortar will survive after all? Is it that millennials prefer downtown over uptown for their retail experience?

While many digital native brands, such as Glossier, Warby Parker, and Bonobos, started online. Today, these brands are expanding and opening retail ‘concept’ shops for their clients. “According to real estate experts, digitally native brands are predicted to open 850 brick-and-mortar stores in the next 5 years, with New York being the most popular destination,” according to Tinuiti, a NYC-based marketing firm. Through research and marketing, Tinuiti stated that “most of the digital brands opening stores sell apparel, which makes sense; it’s a category where shoppers definitely benefit from interacting with the product in person. We’re sure to see plenty more storefronts from these ecommerce brands — apparel and other categories alike.”

The outside of Glossier’s store in New York. (Photo courtesy of Glossier)

Another trend that is sure to continue is the rise of omnichannel. Retailers need to offer a consistent buying experience across channels, both online and off. The lines between digital and physical shopping experiences are a blur. Retailers need to be agile and responsive to customer needs with branded touchpoints at all parts of the purchasing journey. According to Ray Hartjen, Marketing Director at RetailNext, “Consumers simply don’t think in terms of channels. This isn’t 1998. No one is sitting around and thinking, ‘Hey, I think I’ll do some online shopping.’ For many years and certainly in 2020, it’s all just ‘shopping.’ Shopping journeys now go through a variety of branded touchpoints, digital for sure, but physical touchpoints too, and they are nowhere near linear shopping journeys. Brands need to be nimble, agile and responsive to shopper needs, and they need to deliver seamless, friction-free paths for their shoppers to navigate.”

Through marketing research, Tinuiti states that retail is in fact in the midst of a Retail Renaissance. A recent study by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) showed that opening a physical store increases online traffic by 36% for established retailers and 45% for emerging brands. According to the marketing firm,” In-Store Purchase Funnel is about to be integrated seamlessly into Unified Commerce. The stores will become Experience Retail. In addition to Interactive Technologies such as Smart Fitting Rooms, watch for more in-store immersive innovations in 3D Printing, Eye-Tracking, and Augmented Reality.”

In today’s retail environment, direct-to-consumer brands are reinvigorating the retail scene in NYC. A growing number of e-commerce brands are opening storefronts to grow their businesses further. “Physical retail embodies a social and tangible experience that America’s Amazon-driven format of online retail has yet to duplicate,” Web Smith, the co-founder of Mizzen+Main, said. And so, “digital-first retailers are … investing in extending their direct-to-consumer relationships by owning permanent storefronts in worthwhile locations.” It’s a theme that’s expected to continue to ring out in retail this year. A study in 2018 by real estate research firm Green Street Advisors found so-called digitally native brands altogether have more than 600 stores blanketing the U.S., and counting.

Rents across NYC have also dramatically dropped and are nowhere near levels seen in the peak of 2014. Even Madison Avenue — known for its prestige and high end boutiques such as Chanel, Prada, and Celine— is not immune to the trend of falling rents.

According to CNBC, “in the second quarter of 2019, average asking rents across New York City declined an average of 4.5% from a year ago to $776 per square foot, according to an analysis by commercial real estate services firm CBRE. It marked the seventh consecutive quarter of declines. Rents along Upper Madison Avenue (57th to 77th Streets) in particular dropped 11.7% from a year ago to $1,042 per square foot.”
Thanks to the falling prices of rents and more flexible lease terms, its open the possibility for smaller brands to open shop. At some point, landlords had to budge. A lot of these new retailers weren’t going to pay sky high rents. “If someone was renegotiating a lease today, it’s a very different market than it was 10 or 15 years ago,” said Nicole LaRusso, director of research and analysis at CBRE.

After 2014, as rents started to fall and store closures picked up, “landlords didn’t want to hear it,” LaRusso said. “But most of that lesson has been learned now.” There’s much more negotiating being done today, she said. “I think we are getting to that equilibrium.”

Indie Brand Retail Invasion 
“Meatpacking today is what I would call New York’s ‘it’ neighborhood,” said Jared Epstein, developer at Aurora Capital Associates. Epstein worked on RH’s roughly $250 million deal for a 15-year lease in the area. An RH hotel is also set to open in the Meatpacking District next fall.

“New York has a certain resiliency that is proven time and time again,” Francis Greenburger, founder and CEO of real estate developer Time Equities. “I would never doubt New York resiliency.”

And as a resilient city, here are a few indie brands that have opened retail shops in NYC and across the United States.

Glossier NYC Boutique. (Photo courtesy of The New York Times)

Beauty brand Glossier is a direct-to-consumer label founded by Emily Weiss in 2014. In 2018, her small business surpassed $100 million in revenues. Weiss opened her flagship boutique in Soho, in November of 2018. The store is such a hit that you can find shoppers lining the sidewalk streets to get in, whether it’s to shop or pose in front of the companies signature millennial pink-covered walls. Glossier also has a store in Los Angeles and is experimenting with pop-up locations.

Rothy’s San Francisco store. (photo courtesy of Rothy’s)

Rothy’s, a woman’s shoe label, opened its first brick-and-mortar store in San Francisco in 2018. The label was launched in 2015 in San Francisco by Roth Martin and Stephen Hawthornthwaite, the direct-to-consumer brand created and sold shoes that ranged from ballet flats to loafers for women and kids that are made out of recycled plastic bottles. The brand decided to open its first store so customers can see the shoes in person and try them on before making a purchase. In 2018, Rothy’s gained a $35 million investment from Goldman Sachs and has raised over $42 million to date. Rothy’s booked a little more than $140 million in revenue for 2018.

The outside of Koio’s store in Venice, California. (Photo courtesy of Koio)

Koio, a high-end sneaker brand, was launched in 2014 by Chris Wichert and Johannes Quodt. In 2018, the brand has already raised $5.1 million and opened a handful of stores throughout the United States, including, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles and are planning to open more in the near future. The brand creates sneakers for both men and women, but the men’s category outperforms women’s. Wichert and Quodt are already creating new silhouettes to keep up with the growing ‘designer’ sneaker category which has exploded in popularity.

Outdoor Voices Boston Store. (Photo courtesy of Outdoor Voices)

Outdoor Voices is a woman’s athleisure brand that was founded by Tyler Haney, the 31-year-old is also the CEO of the brand. Outdoor Voices was started in Austin in 2014 and has raised over 56.5 million to date. The brand has a number of stores throughout the United States, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Nashville, and Boston. Tyler told CNBC in 2017 that in the future she planned on opening at least 50 stores, one in every state. Giving investors a vote of confidence, Mickey Drexler, the former CEO of J.Crew and Gap, serves on its board. Haney said he’s played a key role in helping Outdoor Voices grow offline.

Ganni store in Soho. (Photo courtesy of Ganni)

Ganni, the Copenhagen-based brand, opened its first U.S. store in Soho this past October, followed by one in Los Angeles and Miami.”We always dreamt of opening stores in the U.S.,” explains founder Nicolaj Reffstrup. “We’ve been extremely fortunate to be stocked in some of the U.S.’s finest boutiques and retailers; seeing our U.S. audience connect with our Scandi 2.0 sense of style has been incredible and we’ve resonated well with the market. This next step of having our own physical stores means we can welcome our community into our universe and experience Ganni in real life. It just made sense. There’s been so much talk of the death of retail, but I don’t think retail is dead, it’s just entering a new phase. It’s about figuring out how you give your community a unique real-life experience, a high level of service, interesting interactions with real people and an easy, effortless shopping experience where your community feels welcome.”

Self-Portrait Boutique. Courtesy of Flaunt Magazine

Self-Portrait is a contemporary label launched in 2013 by Han Chong. The London based label is known for its feminine dresses with a youthful twist. In August 2019, the label opened its first brick-and-mortar concept retail space in the U.S. in  Soho; but Self-Portrait is testing out the New York City store-front experience before fully committing, with the concept store set to close in June 2020. “This is a great opportunity to welcome anyone, not only to shop, but also to explore the Self-Portrait experience,” says Chong. “What I’ve seen happening is that stores are now becoming brand ambassadors both online and offline. We want to blend these experiences to create that connection with our clients. We’ve built this amazing community digitally with them since we started the brand and now we get to invite them into our home to get know us more intimately.”

Are you considering opening a pop-up or a retail shop for your brand? Share your thoughts!

ARE FASHION SHOWS STILL RELEVANT?

Louis Vuitton’s spring 2020 show. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

As our industry grapples with the impact of fast fashion on our planet and explores circular fashion concepts, such as ‘fundamental redesign’ (the shift from a ‘take-make-waste’ model towards a ‘reuse-based’ model), while other more responsible brands move to put the health of our planet over profits, we must ask ourselves… are fashion shows still relevant?

Add to these concerns the reality that designers are expected to execute four collections a year (spring/summer, fall/winter, resort, and pre-fall) as well as produce an expensive fashion show twice a year. As the industry once again ponders whether the expense and the number of shows are necessary, especially in a digital, on-demand, eco-conscious environment, the fact remains that consumers are not spending as much money on clothing as they are on technology and vacations. So, is this pace and expense sustainable?  Let’s take a look. But first, let’s explore the origins of the fashion show.

History of the Fashion Show

According to Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry, written by our founder, Francesca Sterlacci and Joanne Arbuckle, the former Dean of the Fashion Institute Technology:

“The first fashion shows can be traced to Paris, beginning in the mid-1800s, with designers Charles Frederick Worth, Jeanne Paquin and Jean Patou. Worth was the first to design and display his own creations for women to choose from, via a “fashion show” on live models, four times a year.”House-of-Redfern---Galerie-de-vente---Paris-fashion-1910

 

Fashion models and society ladies at a designer salon circa 1910 (Photo credit: Glamourdaze.com)

The Paris salon show schedule would inevitably become the foundation for ‘fashion weeks’ in Milan, London, and New York. These cities became known as the “Big Four,” the largest and most important centers for fashion. In its early days, shows were solely for core customers, buyers and editors. The general public didn’t see the latest designer wares until they were available in stores some four to six months later. Even fashion magazines understood that the latest creations could not be unveiled in their editorial pages until they could actually be purchased by the consumer. A concept that has changed over time but may need to be revisited.

In 1943, New York fashion designers held ‘press weeks’ in fall and spring whereby editors and buyers would swarm to ritzy hotels to view the latest designer runway presentations.  For decades, this is how the system worked. Runway shows offered buyers and editors a chance to see designers’ collection, six months before they became available to the public. This helped buyers plan their “open-to-buy” and advertising budgets, and for editors to plan the trends that they would promote and feature in their editorial pages. Fun fact: American fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert was the first to create fashion shows as charitable events with her March of Dimes shows (1948-1960), that not only raised money but helped promote American fashion design.

Christian Dior Show in 1948 (Photo Courtesy of AP Photo)

 

The Fashion Calendar

With so many fashion shows to coordinate among the “Big Four,”  a schedule was needed to keep shows from overlapping. Enter Ruth Finley and her fashion calendar, known in the industry as the “Pink Bible.”  In existence since the 1950s, the Fashion Calendar still is the” fashion planner for all fashion runway shows and other related fashion events.  In 2014, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) acquired the Fashion Calendar. Today it has six hundred and fifty subscribers and available in digital format only. No serious designer would dare schedule their show without first consulting with Fashion Calendar.

Fashion Weeks: NYFW – LFW – MFW  & PFW

New York Fashion Week (NYFW), as we know it today, began in 1993. Fern Mallis, then executive director of the CFDA, took hold of fashion’s schedule and tried to centralize the shows so that buyers and editors were not shuffling all over the city.  “Organized shows put American designers on the map and changed the fashion landscape forever,” Mallis told Racked in 2015. “Before that, there were 50 shows in 50 locations. Everyone did their own thing without understanding what a nightmare it was to get from one show to the other.”

      “To dispel the myth that U.S. fashion designers were influenced by their European counterparts, in 1998, American designers decided to move their fashion show schedule ahead of Paris, London and Milan and instead of being the last show, they became the first. This has remained the schedule into the twenty-first century.” ~ Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry

Bryant Park, located in mid-town Manhattan, was home to NYFW for 16 years. It was the first time designers were offered the option to present their fashion show without the responsibility of having to produce a fashion show from scratch –  the space, lighting, sound, and security were all handled by a production firm (IMG). That’s not to say it was cheap. According to Forbes.com,  “In 2007, a show at Bryant Park cost at least $50,000 for designers, according to one estimate.” Bryant Park  heightened awareness of NYFW and the fashion game began to change. It also provided an opportunity for designers to invite celebrities to sit front row, next to editors and later led to the rise of fashion bloggers and influencers.

By 2010, and with nearly 300 scheduled shows, the fashion crowd outgrew Bryant Park. NYFW was then moved to Lincoln Center for several seasons, however, as we all know, fashion is fickle. Today NYFW shows are primarily held in spaces along the West Side Highway and at Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, where the spaces are larger and New York City traffic is less of an issue.

Bloggers & Influencers- From left: bloggers Bryanboy, Rumi Neely, Leandra Medine, Natalie Joos, Elin Kling &

Hanneli Mustaparta attend the Phillip Lim Spring 2014 fashion show in New York City. (Wendell Teodoro/WireImage, via Getty)

The Birth of the European Fashion Show Extravaganza

While U.S. designers mostly stayed faithful to the traditional runway show with models parading down a long narrow catwalk or in a passerelle or semi-circular format, their European counterparts favored the extravaganza. For example, Nino Cerutti’s used publicity stunts to self-promote, such as when he painted Lancia convertibles blue, then paraded them down the streets of Rome and onto the runway, where a starlet then broke a bottle of champagne on the hood. Designers Claude Montana and Thierry Mugler staged fashion show “extravaganzas” during the 1970s and 1980s that became media hypes, with fashion models often upstaging the clothes. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, designers John Galliano and Alexander McQueen continued to create some of the most spectacular shows, often with celebrity guests in attendance and sometimes even taking to the catwalk. Viktor & Rolf, Chanel, Rick Owens, Fendi and Ricardo Tisci at Givenchy transformed the fashion show experience for the new millennium by: creating avant-garde conceptual performances, adding plus size models and introducing technology, such as the Fendi show in 2015 that used drones to film and live stream the show.

Broken Fashion Show System

According to the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry, “By 2015, designers, buyers, fashion journalists and fashion organizations, such as the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the British Fashion Council, began to examine the “broken” fashion system as it related to the overcrowded fashion show schedule, the excessive number of shows and the relevance of showing fashion that cannot be immediately purchased; since the traditional fashion show system features merchandise six months in advance of the selling season and live-streamed fashion shows are available to consumers where immediacy is key for consumers in a digital age. Burberry was the first to make the decision to change the model by; showing only two collections a year, combining their menswear and womenswear in the same show, featuring clothes in season and not six months ahead of the season, and making the merchandise for sale immediately afterwards. In 2016, recording artist Kanye West and Adidas made fashion history when, timed to the launch of West’s new album The Life of Pablo, they held the first ever consumer ticket-holder fashion show at Madison Square Garden with tickets for their Yeezy-Adidas show priced at $275 each.”

Today, shows are not only photographed for social media, but they are also live-streamed so anyone sitting at home in front of their computer can tune in. Fashion shows have now evolved into marketing spectacles directed towards a mass audience. Hundreds of thousands attend fashion week, but thanks to today’s digital world, millions of people live-stream fashion shows online. So the purpose of fashion week seems clear; capture the attention of as many people as possible; visibility leads to sales, right? Only to a degree.  Unfortunately, the equation is not so straightforward and for years the question of “is fashion week dying” has been an ongoing conversation among fashion insiders.

“In a world that has become increasingly immediate, the current way of showing a collection four months before it is available to consumers is an antiquated idea and one that no longer makes sense,” designer Tom Ford told WWD in 2016. “We have been living with a fashion calendar and system that is from another era.”

While some may believe the fashion week runway format is archaic, this system still exists, but has arguably lost step in a world where everything is instantly visible across various social media platforms. Today, designers and brands can bypass store partners and sell straight to their customers through their own websites. It has become routine for consumers to stream new products that fast fashion popularized and these forces have transformed the fashion industry.

Enter Instagram

One of the biggest game-changers for the industry has been Instagram. The popular social media platform creates a constant connection between brands and customers and has helped reshape the way brands communicate to potential customers. Designers even create Instagammable ‘moments’ during their runway shows.

Chanel transformed the Grand Palais into a beach scene during Paris Fashion Week in October 2018 (Photo courtesy of Reuters)

And yet, fashion shows and their organizers aren’t disappearing time soon, in actuality, the reverse is happening, as more cities around the world are staging their own fashion weeks including Shanghai, Seoul, and even Canada. Many prestigious designer houses have even opted to show full runway extravaganzas for their resort and pre-fall collections as well. Many brands, both large and small, are joining the fashion week cycle because of the prestige and exposure that comes with it.

But one must ask, is the exposure worth the price tag that goes along with producing a fashion show?

Of course, the answer varies by brand. In 2019, Christian Siriano provided a breakdown of his show cost for Vogue Business that reached up to $300,000. It included models, set design, lighting, sound, and all the elements needed to create a runway show. According to an interview in Vogue, Siriano stated, “I think when our investors go through the numbers, it’s really hard for them to see actual returns, obviously, there are ways to tell if a collection is more successful than another, but that doesn’t necessarily have to do with the show. It has more to do with the timing, or the fabrications we’re using or what’s happening with the seasons.”

Christian Siriano’s spring 2020 show. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

While a six-figure tab will give you a basic fashion show format, there are those designers who go to the extreme during NYFW. In 2011, The New York Times reported that Marc Jacobs (following in the European show extravaganza tradition) spent $1 million to produce his show. While these grand spectacles are a tool to sell clothes, the buyers attending these shows do not buy their collections during the show, but rather sales take place during private showroom appointments. So is it all worth it?

Rachel Feinstein’s set for Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2012 show. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

The reach and cost-effectiveness of having such a show is difficult to determine. Most brands look to Instagram as a tool to determine how many potential customers have viewed their runway videos and images.

To hype their show and encourage sales, some brands have tried to offer customers specific looks immediately after the show, both in their stores and on their website, in an attempt to translate the excitement of the runway moment. Others have opted to live stream their runway show so customers can view the show and then immediately shop the collection. A few designers – such as Gucci and Balenciaga- have taken to regularly dropping new items between shows.

So with a six-figure price tag, many young designers are conflicted and ask the question, “is a fashion show worth the cost?” Well for many, the answer is yes. A fashion show is a great marketing tool. It is a way to get customers to notice your exciting and creative work. For many luxury brands, a show is a marketing tool to sell cosmetics, perfume and accessories. These brands may actually lose money producing clothes, as Exane BNP Paribas and the fashion consultancy firm VR Fashion Luxury Expertise have noted. But runway shows and their creative clothing are valuable to the branding. “Today shows have nothing to do with clothes anymore,” Guram Gvasalia, the CEO of Vetements, told WWD after the brand reorganized the scheduling of its runway shows in 2017. “Most of the looks are not even produced and therefore never get to the shop floor. Shows are there merely to sell a dream and that, at the end of the day, will sell a perfume or a wallet in a duty-free store.”

For smaller labels, branding is also an important opportunity that can benefit their brand. Christian Siriano told Vogue Runway that his shows, which have been praised for his diversity in models, have attracted other business, such as a shoe partnership with Payless. Presenting during a major fashion week also adds credibility and legitimacy to a young label. It can help put their brand on radar of industry leaders. Stylists for example keep an eye on fashion week and pull clothes for photoshoots and celebrity events. A young designer can easily land in an editorial layout or on the red carpet on a major celebrity. Or, catch the eye of a savy store buyer who just might be willing to give them a break.

The fashion industry represents over $2.5 trillion dollars (according to a recent McKinsey report in 2018) and, on average, a 10 to 15 minute fashion show can cost anywhere from $200,000 to over $1 million. With these hefty price tags brands must think, “what is the return on investment?” Is the answer social influence? Is it celebrities and street-style stars wearing the collection? Well, according to data analytics provider Launchmetrics, the answer is more complex.

Launchmetrics’ new “Data on the Runway” report suggests the key is MIV or media impact value – an algorithm which measures the impact of media placements to derive a number for performance outcomes.

Take Ralph Lauren’s 50th year anniversary for example (spring 2019), Launchmetrics’ data analysts found that Ralph Lauren’s widely publicized anniversary show ranked first amongst the brands, with the highest MIV generated over the Fashion Weeks at $38 million.

The star-studded event included Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Robert De Niro, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, and Anna Wintour. Lauren also hosted an extravagant collection presentation and finished with a paparazzi-heavy post-show dinner party.

Left to right: Hillary Clinton, Ralph Lauren, and Anna Wintour. (Photo courtesy of Instagram@Ralph Lauren)

According to Launchmetrics, it is clear that influencers garnered enormous buzz for the brand (taking 46.2% of the pie), followed by Ralph Lauren’s owned media channels (at 29.7%).

Following Ralph Lauren, Launchmetrics estimated Coach ($27 million), Dior ($22.6 million) and Gucci ($19.4 million), followed closely behind and once again, Chiara Ferragni topped the charts as the top influencer voice.

Chiara Ferragani (known as The Blond Salad) led with $18.3 million in MIV; to put that into perspective, she nearly reached the same MIV as Versace ($18.7 million) did for their SS19 show — proving the continual power of influencer investments.

Influencer Chiara Ferragni (right) attends many shows over Fashion Month and is expected to boast $18.3 million in Media Impact Value – Zimbio.com

According to Forbes magazine, “social media actually proved imperative for fashion brands altogether; posts shared by celebrities and influencers represent an impressive 89% of buzz compared to online media’s 11%. Spring/Summer 19’s top-performing celebrity was Nicki Minaj, who generated a total of $11.3 million MIV over the season.”

Alison Bringé, CMO at Launchmetrics, said: “Today, fashion weeks are no longer industry events but are a platform to reach the digital savvy consumer, so brands need to think outside the box in order to transform their 15-minute event into something that lives on, beyond what happens on the runway. The case studies within the report shed light on how brands can generate buzz through activities such as using influencers to create 360° campaigns, changing their location to talk to new consumers and markets, or even by focusing on their own media to increase the share of wallet.”

While the ROI for having a runway show differs for every brand, one point is clear; a fashion show is the best way for a designer to communicate their creative vision. “For me, the show is the only moment when I can tell my story,” designer Dries Van Noten once told The Independent. “It’s the way I communicate my ideas to the world.”

Dries Van Noten’s men’s spring 2019 collection, inspired by the work of interiors designer Verner Panton (Photo courtesy of AP Photos)

“If I couldn’t do my shows, I wouldn’t want to be in fashion,” designer Thom Browne told author Booth Moore in her book, American Runway. “I look at my shows as my responsibility in the world of design to move design forward. I think they are such an amazing way of giving a more interesting context to fashion.”

Thom Brown’s spring 2020 show. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

So in the end, we ask these questions: 1) Are fashion shows still relevant? 2) How do emerging designers afford the fashion show price tag? 3) Will the next generation of designers find an affordable alternative to the fashion show? 4) Will millennial & Gen Z designers find a way to disrupt the status quo and make the fashion show as obsolete as the floppy disk? 5) Will we soon be watching virtual 3D fashion shows with life-like avatars walking the runway?

Share your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Here Comes the Bride…..Fall 2020 Bridal Shows

Monique Lhuillier’s fall 2020 bridal collection. (Photo courtesy of designer)

The whimsical Fall 2020Bridal season has come to an end. And while the runways were filled with gorgeous white gowns, here at University of Fashion, we decided to dig deeper and explore the history of the bridal dress and why ‘white’ would become the ‘go-to’ color for brides.

HISTORY OF THE WHITE WEDDING DRESS

Shocker! Brides did not always wear white. Throughout the 19th century white textiles were impossible to clean by hand, so only the very wealthy could afford such high-maintenance fabrics. Therefore, most women wore their best dress on their special day.

A wedding photo from the late 1800s. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Keys Studio; source BBC)

In many Asian countries, red is the color of choice for brides, as the vibrant hue is a symbol of  luck, sexuality and happiness.

The red Dior wedding dress Priyanka Chopra wore for her Indian wedding reception in Dec. 2018 (Photo courtesy of People.com)

Queen Victoria was a trend-setter when she broke from the status quo with her 1840 wedding dress, by wearing a lace, ivory-colored silk satin gown. Fashion magazines embraced the look, calling ‘white the most fitting hue’ for a bride. The trend caught on and brides to this day have embraced the white gown.

A painting of Queen Victoria in her wedding gown and veil, given to her husband Prince Albert in 1847 as an anniversary gift. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; source Time)

Today, a wedding dress is usually only worn once and is often the most treasured and expensive garment a women will ever purchase. But for centuries women, including Queen Elizabeth, wore their wedding dress on multiple occasions — making alterations to fit with the times or a changing figure.

Queen Victoria re-purposed lace from her wedding gown in the dress she wore to her Diamond Jubilee. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; source BBC)

In the Roaring Twenties, as hemlines became shorter, brides opted for wedding dresses that rose above the knee.

Gloria Swanson in a 1920s wedding dress. (Courtesy of 1920s- Fashion-and- Music.com)

During World War II, many brides could not afford to purchase a new wedding dress; so they borrowed gowns or wore their service uniform on their special day.

In 1944, it was common for women to get married in their service uniforms. (Photo courtesy of AP; source BBC)

Hollywood has always influenced fashion and when Audrey Hepburn wore a demure mid-calf length dress to her wedding in 1954, the dress length became the most popular style for several years.

Audrey Hepburn and actor Mel Ferrer walk the aisle following their wedding ceremony in 1954. (Photo courtesy of AP; Source BBC)

The sixties ushered in a new bridal style – mini dresses paired with knee-high boots. The style reflected the times and was worn by fashion icon Audrey Hepburn during her second marriage in 1969.

Audrey Hepburn and her new husband, Dr. Andrea Dotti, leave City Hall in Morges, Switzerland, following their wedding ceremony in 1969. (Photo courtesy of AP; Source BBC)

The bohemian bride became the trend of the Seventies, as brides wore loose, empire-waisted, velvet dresses with extravagant sleeves.

Princess Anne and her husband Captain Mark Phillips wave from the balcony of Buckingham Palace following their wedding ceremony in 1973. (Photo courtesy of AP; source BBC)

In 1981, Princess Diana married Prince Charles, and suddenly the princess gown became the most popular silhouette of the decade. Brides everywhere wore full skirts, poufy sleeves and a tiara on their head.

Prince Charles kisses the hand of his new bride, Princess Diana, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in 1981. (Photo courtesy of AP)

After all the frou of the ’80s, the ’90s ushered in a clean, modern, minimalistic approach to bridal fashion. Brides opted for fitted sheath dresses that were chic and sophisticated.

Carolyn Bessette marries JFK Jr. in 1996, in a custom Narciso Rodriguez dress. (Courtesy of bostonherald.com)

Throughout the 20th century the majority of brides wore white on their wedding day. But, by the start of the 21st century, bridal designers started shaking up the bridal market by offering brides a range of pretty pastel gowns, tough only 4 to 5% of dresses sold at David’s Bridal  in 2014 were colored.

Gwen Stefani wore an ombre Galliano gown when she married Gavin Rossdale in 2002. (Courtesy of Observer)

BRIDAL FALL 2020

While every decade has had a signature bridal style, today’s bridal designers are offering up a wide variety of options for every type of bride. Here are a few of our favorite looks from the Fall 2020 bridal show season.

Pretty in pink in Monique Lhuillier. (Photo courtesy of designer)

Inbal Dror takes the transparency trend to new heights. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Wes Gordon exemplifies modern day chic as creative director for Carolina Herrera. (Photo courtesy of designer)

Anne Barge celebrates her 20 year anniversary. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Theia’s creative director Don O’Neill took inclusion one step further by including a disabled model in his fall 2020 show. (Photo courtesy of designer)

We’d love to hear from YOU, what is your favorite bridal decade and why?

PARIS JOINS THE MOVEMENT- YOUNG DESIGNERS TAKE CENTER STAGE

- - Fashion Shows

Naomi Campbell closes Saint Laurent’s Spring 2020 show (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

What a great season Spring 2020 has turned out to be. Yes, the old guard and heritage houses like Ralph, Burberry, Versace and Saint Laurent have the funds to create runway spectacles chock-a-block with celebs, BUT for the first time ever, we are witnessing the Big Four- NY, London, Milan and Paris, celebrate new, creative, young design talent. Maybe it’s a sign of the times. With calls for diversity on the runway in terms of ethnicity, gender parity and  body positivity, as well as messages about climate change and sustainability, we can’t help but think that finally…established designers are making room for upstarts. No one could be happier than us here at University of Fashion, whose mission has always been, since 2008, to provide equal opportunity access to affordable fashion education for all.

Let’s take a look at  some of the emerging designers who are fast becoming fashion’s favorites.

Telfar

Telfar’s Spring 2020 show (photo courtesy Vogue.com)

Telfer Clemens is a young NY designer known for creating show experiences that are as energetic and cool as his non-gender fashion label Telfar, which he established in 2005. For his Spring 2020 collection, Clemens’ plan was to “disrupt Paris Fashion Week” (according to his show notes), and Clemens did so with fanfare.

The designer presented a short film entitled, “The World Isn’t Everything,” which he collaborated on with friends such as Moonlight’s Ashton Sanders, Kelsey Lu, Petra Collins, and Slave Play playwright Jeremy O. Harris, who was in the audience in a look from Telfar: a yellow shirt, athletic shorts, and fishnets. The video played at the theater La Cigale, and as the characters appeared on screen, models walked the runway in the exact looks; creating an interesting double affect.

According to Clemens, the collection was inspired by “the customs/security lines at any airport at any given time, anywhere in the world.” So obviously the collection focused on comfort and style. Clemens’s travelers were ultra-cool as they wore cargo pants, utility jackets, asymmetrical tops, and his new take on the tracksuit – with interesting cut-outs. Clemens interlocking T and C bags have become a huge hit, so for Spring, he expanded on his accessories by offering a small assortment of jewelry with his signature logo.

After the finale walk, the models began dancing and Clemens, the filmmakers, and eventually the show attendees, all joined in on the fun.  It was a joyful way to start Paris fashion week.

Rokh

Rokh’s Spring 2020 show (photo courtesy from Vogue.com)

We are living in a global world and Rok Hwang, the designer behind the label Rokh, embodies this concept perfectly. He is a Korean-born designer, based in London, showing in Paris. His collection was inspired by a road trip he took across America with his family when he was only 10 years old. According to Vogue.com interview, Hwang said, “I remember arriving at 8 o’clock in the morning in New York and seeing all these girls walking really fast in sharp suits and checked trenches. That was the memory embedded in me; I wanted to write a visual story of that trip.”

The collection had a fresh take on a Nineties theme, as Hwang redefined a chic, modern sportswear with a dark edge. The designer sliced, diced, and wrapped trench coats, added leather patchwork and plaids, and his slit-hemmed pants gave off an updated twist to the grunge look. With such a polished collection, it’s no surprise that Hwang was a runner-up for the LVMH Prize in 2018, and was one of the founding members of Phoebe Philo’s team, picked for her studio at Céline, straight after graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2010.

Koché

Koché’s spring 2020 show (photo courtesy from Vogue.com)

Christelle Kocher may have only been designing her fashion label Koché for a few years now, but the talented designer is already a fashion darling among the influential crowd. This year’s winner of the ANDAM Prize (Paris’ prestigious fashion award) Kocher one-upped herself by becoming the first designer ever to be offered the Centre Pompidou’s Bibliothèque as a show venue. She even snagged a collaboration with Nike.

Kocher has mastered the ‘high-low aesthetic’ as she mixes streetwear with couture details. Case in point, a sharply tailored trench with intricate embroidery. She is also passionate about sustainability and since the start of her label, has incorporated upcycled materials throughout her collection. For Spring, the recycled fabrics were found on patchwork polo dresses and tracksuits.

Her show had a heavy focus on evening looks with intricate lace dresses, pajama-inspired looks with feather trims and the finale was a spangly cocktail number, the base of which were soccer jerseys cut into embellished florets linked together by strands of tiny beads. This may have been Kocher’s strongest collection yet.

Atlein

Atlein’s Spring 2020 show (photo courtesy from Vogue.com)

Antonin Tron is another young designer who is incorporating sustainability into his collection labeled Atlein. For Spring, he presented a chic and elevated collection. Most impressive was that Tron was able to create 60% of his collection using deadstock fabrics that he sourced from mills and factories across Italy. So bravo to Tron who is elevating the concept of sustainability! The designer is also a member of the Extinction Rebellion, fighting for real action on climate change.

The majority of Tron’s collection is made in his native France, by technicians that have fine-tuned the art of craftsmanship. Tron is quickly becoming known as a master in draping, cutting and manipulating jersey (which has become his signature fabric). On his runway, there were plenty of amazing dresses, most notable were the bias-cut floral prints that where youthful, yet oh so sophisticated. It’s exciting to watch this new crop of designers bring together fashion and sustainability in a modern way, and Tron was able to execute this blend perfectly.

The Old Guard

We would not want to end our coverage of PFW without a shout-out to Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent who recruited supermodel Naomi Campbell to close out his show, held under the Eiffel Tower. Remember when fashion show finales ended with a wedding dress? Well, it seems that a supermodel or celeb (JLo for Versace) is fast becoming the trend.

At the Christian Dior show, creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri held tribute to nature, with 164 trees lining the runway and that will later be planted throughout Paris. You have to admit, fashion knows how to create buzz, right?

Christian Dior’s Spring 2020 show is #PlantingForTheFuture (photo courtesy Vogue.com)

Meanwhile, at Maison Margiela, John Galliano enlisted male model Leon Dame who shot to fashion stardom with his stomping walk down the runaway.

At Maison Margiela, male model Leon Dame shot to fashion stardom with his stomping walk down the runaway. He even put a smile on Anna Wintour’s face. (Photo courtesy of DailyMail.com)

Of special note and one of the strongest and most exciting shows in Paris was the enchanting collaboration between Dries Van Noten and Christian Lacroix. According to Cathy Horyn, the two masters working together, “was unprecedented. As far as I can tell, no couturier and ready-to-wear designer have ever worked together before on a runway collection. There have been “capsule” collaborations between designers and mass or leisure brands — Karl Lagerfeld and H&M, for example, or Rick Owens and Birkenstock. But from the outset, Van Noten says he didn’t want his project with Lacroix to be seen in that context — as just another marketing opportunity.”

“I started to work on this collection in February,” Van Noten said, explaining what led him to contact Lacroix. “Normally, I try to avoid escapism and nostalgia, but the world is not a very nice at the moment. So many things go wrong, and I thought maybe it would be interesting to do something about escapism.”

Van Noten is known for his exquisite fabrics and Lacroix is a master at over the top romance, so together, they created a magical moment that sent buyers, editors and other designers into a delightful frenzy.

Dries Van Noten x Christian Lacroix’s Spring 2020 show (photo courtesy from Vogue.com)

Care to share with us which aspiring designer from Fashion Week S/S 2020 you think is on track to ‘make it’?

The Trend Continues – Young Designers Take Center Stage in London & Milan

- - Fashion Shows

Burberry’s Spring 2020 Collection (Photo courtesy of Burberry)

The excitement of S/S2020 fashion month got off to a great start with New York being praised not only for its joyful and uplifting collections, but also for nurturing new talent. The trend continued in London and Milan. London, whose fashion industry has a long history of embracing young designers, once again didn’t disappoint and the underlying message (thanks to pioneer Stella McCartney), was loud and clear: climate change and sustainable design. Sure there were veteran brands like Simone Rocha, Erdem, Victoria Beckham and Riccardo Tisci’s Burberry show, which were star-studded extravaganzas, but youth-activated British creativity was front and center, with a cadre of emerging designers who will surely become street style favorites.

MATTY BOVAN

Matty Bovan’s spring 2020 show. (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Matty Bovan presented his first fashion show in September 2016 and has quickly become a fashion darling. Known for his apocalyptic scenarios that reflect the troubling political climate around the world, for spring, he brought us deeper into his catastrophic settings with a collection titled Hope and Fear.

The first model, as well as several others, walked out wearing rectangular lenses fixed on their heads; the device was used to magnify their faces until they looked computer-generated and inhuman, mission accomplished!

As for the clothes themselves, they were charming with a home-made craft appeal. Bovan’s collection was an eclectic mix of motocross trousers, Liberty florals, flight suits and hospital scrubs – all in vibrant hues.

After all, in these agonizing times, what good is fashion if it’s not a fanciful escape from reality?

MARTA JAKUBOWSKI

Marta Jakubowski’s Spring 2020 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

In the age of Brexit and #MeToo, British designers are using the runway to get their message across, and for Marta Jakubowski her message was loud and clear. In her show notes, the feminist designer was inspired by a strong woman striding out with “determination in her step.”

The collection was an ode to the style icon Marlene Dietrich, the glamorous actress who looked stunning in gowns and equally elegant in menswear-inspired suits. For her spring 2020 collection, Jakubowski created power-shouldered suits and multi-draped tailored outerwear that were smart and chic. The young designer also offered lessons in layering with skirt over pant looks, as well as blazers piled over and under trench coats.

For evening, Jakubowski created a few simple, yet fashion-forward draped gowns in various shades of purple, as well as a sophisticated white tuxedo coatdress – perfect evening looks for “It-Girls” everywhere.

PALMER HARDING

Palmer Hardings’ Spring 2020 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

The reoccurring political turmoil theme among the emerging designer set in London was endemic. The label Palmer Harding was no exception, as the label’s designers, Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding stated, “There is a lot of balance between optimism and pessimism, working to find a balance between not being naive about all the troubling uncertainties of now and not allowing them to jam you up.”

Luckily for the duo, the clothes themselves were not as bleak as their inspiration – dilapidated Soviet-era Russian bus stops. This inspiration translated into architecturally inspired looks with innovative folds and pleating details, most notably on crisp white shirts.

The designers also played with optimistic prints and colors that were influenced by William Eggleston’s photography, best known for his play of vivid hues against mundane subjects.

There was a nod to a red, white and blue color story with a cool twist on the notion of classic Americana, as well as a khaki denim jacket with beaten bottle-top buttons that could be thrown over just about anything.

Milan Fashion Week

Prada’s Spring 2020 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Next stop on the fashion month whirlwind was Milan; where of course, leave it to Miuccia Prada, to kick off the week with an understated elegance that was Prada at its best. But while The National Chamber of Italian Fashion heavily champions Italy’s established designers, this season there were a few emerging designers that are breaking down the barriers.

I’M ISOLA MARRAS

I’m Isola Marras’ Spring 2020 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Fashion runs through his blood! Efisio Marras, the son of the whimsical designer Antonio Marras, presented his label, I’m Isola Marras, and it was absolutely delightful. The young designer was inspired by Diana Ross and Warhol’s muse Edie Sedgwick. According to Marras, “They were both groundbreaking personalities in their own right. They both broke social and racial barriers: Edie was an upper-class girl meddling with the Factory’s downtown artsy milieu; Diana became a superstar despite the social hostility towards her black heritage.”

The light-hearted and spirited collection was filled with Warhol-inspired, oversized floral prints in bright hues that made their way on everything from maxi dresses to minis. Marras also showed his sport side, creating sweatshirts and hoodies with brocade details for a feminine touch. These charming looks are perfect for young women who want to show off their flirty side.

ZANINI

Marco Zanini’s Spring 2020 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

It’s easy for young designers to get caught up in growing their businesses too quickly, but not Marco Zanini. He plans to expand his business slowly, focusing on real clothes that are beautifully made for his namesake label Zanini. The young designer stated, “I need to focus on quality, to show something I believe in.”

Zanini starts with the fabric, as all the textiles he used were specifically developed for him, and ends with all the little details that make his collection stand out. Key looks ranged from a black cotton shirtdress with white buttons,  white topstitching and ribbons at the hem; trapeze dresses with plissé accents at the shoulders; effortless smock dresses; and perfectly slouchy blazers and outerwear that every modern girl will want in their wardrobe rotation.

These were real clothes for real life but with a cool girl attitude.

LA DOUBLEJ

La DoubleJ’s Spring 2020 Collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

JJ Martin launched her label La DoubleJ for the fall 2018 season, but the writer-turned-designer has already established a strong brand identity. Martin is known for her playful and flirty retro prints and vibrant use of colors on everything from dresses and swimsuits to separates and homeware. Her prints are sourced from vintage fabrics and wallpapers, but her collection is all produced in Italy with the highest level of craftsmanship.

For spring 2020, Martin did not disappoint. She built on the silhouettes that worked best for her last season and expanded them further this season. There were charming tent-like shapes in dresses and tops, while her swimwear collection has grown into one-shouldered and long sleeve styles. The young designer also began incorporating new fabrics into her collection, such as Sangallo lace (which was over-printed of course), feathers and paillettes.

The designer also worked on a shoe collaboration this season with Fabrizio Vito, bringing her playful prints and feathers to sandals and clogs. The vignette, which was held in a garden at the Four Seasons Hotel in Milan, also featured La DoubleJ pillows, which were exquisite additions to her beloved prints.

BREAKING THE INTERNET

Jennifer Lopez wearing the iconic Palm leaf Versace dress to the Grammy Awards on Feb, 23, 2000

Who can ever forget the 2000 Grammy Awards when Jennifer Lopez showed up in a plunging , green leaf print Versace dress. Donatella Versace could have never imagined the publicity that moment would get, literally causing so many searches on Google that the company had to create Google Images. No, this is not a joke.

The dress went viral before viral was a thing. Fast forward to almost 20 years later and the genius Versace created a sexier version of the iconic dress, and who else would she have strut down the runway in this sizzling number, no other than Jennifer Lopez.  The star literally brought down the house as she closed the show and caused a frenzy that literally broke the Internet.

Jennifer Lopez brings down the house at the Versace spring 2020 show in a sexier version of the leaf print dress she wore to the Grammy’s 20 years earlier.

Stay tuned…Next stop Paris!

FOR ALL OF YOU ASPIRING AND EMERGING DESIGNERS, THESE ARE REALLY EXCITING TIMES. WHILE THE WORLD MAY BE SEEM TO BE IN CHAOS, THIS IS THE TIME TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOME UNIQUE OPPORTUNITIES. WHETHER YOUR DESIGN PASSION IS FOCUSED ON WOMEN’S RIGHTS, GENDER EQUALITY, CLIMATE CHANGE, SLOW FASHION, SUSTAINABLE DESIGN OR ALL THE ABOVE, THE FASHION COMMUNITY IS READY FOR YOU AND YOUR MESSAGE. 

At The University of Fashion we love promoting young designers, so tell us, who are your fav up-and-coming designers?

 

 

Young Designers Are Finally Taking Over New York Fashion Week

- - Fashion Shows

TOMMYXZENDAYA Fall 2019 block party at the Apollo Theater in Harlem (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

The excitement and thrill of New York fashion week has come to an end, and while all the names we know and love have put on fabulous shows and parties, such as Prabal Gurung’s chic 10th Anniversary showing, Tommy Hilfiger and Zendaya’s block-party show at the Apollo Theater in Harlem (see image above), and Tom Ford’s subway tunnel show, we are finally getting to see some new ‘fashion blood’ getting attention.

Unlike any other city in the world, New York has always been a melting pot of diverse cultures and ideas, so fittingly, the city that kicks off fashion month has embraced a handful of CFDA-approved emerging designers that are about to take off.

TELFAR 

Telfar Clemens, right, at Telfar’s Spring 2020 NYFW party (Photo courtesy of WWD)

Telfar Clemens, known for his non-gender collections,  launched his namesake brandin 2005, however, he finally received recognition in 2017 when he became the winner of the coveted CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award.  For Spring 2020 he will be showing in Paris on Sept. 24th, but Clemens did not forget about the city that launched his career and hosted two parties, one with the beloved retailer Opening Ceremony, and the second, a party that doubled as a screening of his film.

According to WWD, “Guests got their first glimpse of the designer’s new collection in a six-minute clip of a film scripted by “Slave Play” writer Jeremy O. Harris and artist Juliana Huxtable that will be shown in Paris as part of the show.”

“Are you a citizen of united communities?” was one of the questions posed in the dialogue as characters walked through airport security, or stood on buoys in open water with the Manhattan skyline behind them.

As for the clothes in the film, there were plenty of utility-inspired looks, thigh-hole track pants and Budweiser silk printed shirts alongside Telfar’s new jewelry range that plays on his initials “TC,” and popular logo-embossed tote bags.

PYER MOSS

Pyer Moss’ Spring 2020 runway look (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Another CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner is Kerby Jean-Raymond, the designer behind the label Pyer Moss. The young designer has become a storyteller. Season after season he creates a collection based on the history and popular culture within the African American community. For spring 2020 he did not disappoint and his show was one of the most buzzed about shows of the week.

The show took place at the King Theater in Brooklyn, titled: Sister, the third and final chapter in the Pyer Moss trilogy, inspired by Sister Rosetta Tharpe. A singer-songwriter who rose to popularity in the 1930s and ’40s, Tharpe is considered to be the godmother of rock and roll, though her legacy has been diminished. “I think relatively few people know that the sound of rock and roll was invented by a queer black woman in a church,” said Jean-Raymond backstage during a Vogue interview, moments after the show. “I wanted to explore what that aesthetic might have looked like if her story would have been told.”

The show opened with a powerful sermon delivered by writer Casey Gerald, who is known for his incisive social commentary, it was both uplifting and unapologetically political, referencing the anniversary of slavery in America.  Then a choir of about 70 voices broke into song and the show began. The musical references were loud and clear with a guitar motif that was threaded through curvy lapels of satin overcoats, and the most literal reference was a novelty guitar-shaped handbag, as well as the keyboard print trim on a puff-sleeve blouse.  Jean-Raymond also gave a shout-out to the hip-hop era, which is not surprising considering his new role as artistic director at Reebok.

 

TOMO KOIZUMI

Tomo Koizumi’s Spring 2020 creation (Photo courtesy of designer)

Last winter, Tomo Koizumi’s frothy confections caught the attention of stylist extraordinaire Katie Grand. She quickly contacted the avant-garde designer and had him flown to NY to debut his creations during the Fall 2020 shows.  For his sophomore collection, Marc Jacobs has once again graciously lent his atelier for Tomo Koizumi to use, as well as his Madison Avenue boutique for Koizumi to present his latest innovative pieces. It’s so refreshing to see designers who have made it, help and embrace the newcomers.

Tomo Koizumi’s clothes are far from the ready-to-wear looks that NY fashion week showcases; his pieces are costume pieces that provoke and inspire the audience. Koizumi casted 18-year-old trans model Ariel Nicholson for his one-woman show. The presentation showcased Nicholson dressing and undressing in seven garments as she twirled around center stage. Each frothy look was made of hundreds of meters of ruffled Japanese polyester organza that utilize only one zipper. The construction is spectacular, as ruffles and bows cascade over each other like cupcake frosting.

In an interview with Vogue the designer said, he chose the bow motif because he wanted the collection to represent his gift back to the people who made him. “I just want to bring joy,” he said simply. Mission accomplished.

KHAITE

Khaite’s Spring 2020 runway look (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

There are very few young designers who can balance retail success with being an editorial favorite, but Catherine Holstein, the designer behind the coveted Khaite (pronounced Kate) label has managed to do both. The core of her business, or as Holstein refers to them as “cherished items,” are in her jeans, shirtings and knits. And yes, Holstein in responsible for the internet frenzy of Katie Holmes’ $520 cashmere bra and cardigan; both items which immediately sold out on Khaite’s website.

For her spring show, Holstein showed a few of Khaite’s cult favorite lux basics, but, rather than playing it safe, Holstein opted for experimental pieces that were charming and at times, flashy.

Holstein’s collection was inspired by her childhood summers at her grandmother’s house in Woodstock, Vermont; so fittingly there were plenty of plaids and florals that were reminiscent of the home’s late 60’s furnishings, but with a modern and cool twist.  Key looks included a suede fringe jacket, peplum tops over denim, a deconstructed suit, and a corset top over a satin sarong.

Let’s give the fashion industry and the CFDA a round of applause for finally stepping up to the plate to support emerging designers. Not only have the shows included a full range of diverse models on the runway (ethnic, size, and gender diversity) but they are demonstrating an ‘all inclusive’ range of designers into their ‘club.’ A nice message especially in such divisive times. Let’s see how responsive brands across the pond respond in kind.

So tell us, who’s your favorite up-and-coming designer and why?

 

 

Making Fashion without Making Waste-Amazing Textile Innovations Made From Food By-Products

Food Waste takes over the fashion industry (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Saving our planet has been a major talking point not only in politics, but in our everyday lives as well. We should all be trying to reduce our carbon footprint and make our planet a cleaner place for future generations. At University of Fashion, we are committed and continue to focus on promoting sustainability in the fashion industry by highlighting innovative ways to create garments in an environmentally safe way.

For centuries, designers have been using the same fibers: cotton, silk, wool and linen, and other materials such as leather and synthetics. But the overwhelming surge in garment manufacturing has placed an enormous strain on our planet’s natural resources.

Cotton in particular has been linked to soil erosion and water contamination due to pesticides, as well as the 20,000 liters of water it requires to produce just one kilogram of cotton, enough to make a single t-shirt.

Synthetic fabrics also have had a negative impact on the environment. Polyester is known to produce carcinogens, such as terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol in its production, with every wash hundreds of thousands of plastic microfibers enter our water supply.

According to fibre entrepreneur Enrica Arena of Orange Fiber, existing textiles such as cotton, rayon, polyester and wool will not be able to satisfy the increasing demand in quantities and quality going into the future. The solution, she believes, lies in re-purposing the byproducts of food production that would otherwise head to landfill.

Nina Marenzi, founder and director of The Sustainable Angle, who organizes the Future Fabrics Expo, told Forbes magazine, “The over reliance on conventional cotton and virgin polyester, both reliant on finite resources and polluting in its production, needs to change. Sourcing materials from a wider variety of fibers, including innovations appearing now made from food waste, algae, regenerated cellulose, a recycled source, is the way forward.”

Future Fabrics Expo, THE SUSTAINABLE ANGLE (Photo courtesy of Forbes magazine)

The innovative technology used to create textiles from agricultural waste is exciting and groundbreaking in our fight to protect our planet. These unconventional fabrics are solving two problems in one, these fabrics are solving wastage caused by our food consumption and turning it into natural, resourceful fibers for the fashion industry.

At University of Fashion, we hope young and aspiring designers will embrace these sustainable textiles and hopefully we’ll all be walking around in food waste clothes in the future! Remember – make Fashion not Waste !

Qmilch

Clothes made with QMILK fibres are biodegradable, natural and have a silky touch. (Photo Courtesy of QMILK)

German-based company Qmilch has been creating textiles out of casein, a by-product of commercial milk production that is not allowed to be sold as food in Germany due to health regulations.

According to their website, “for the production of 1 kg of fibre we need only 5 minutes and max 2 liters of water. This implies a particular level of cost efficiency and ensures a minimum of CO2 emissions.”

Not only does the production of this textile reduce our carbon footprint, the fabric is also biodegradable, meaning your favorite dress will become worm food when it reaches the end of its natural life cycle.

Piñatex

Fashion designer, Laura Strambi has picked up on the wave and designed a coat made of Piñatex’s metallic range of textiles. (Photo courtesy of designer)

Liselore Frowijn (Photo courtesy of the designer)

Dr. Carmen Hijosa is the founder of Ananas Anam, the company behind Piñatex. This doctor’s background in the leather industry was the inspiration behind the change to a more sustainable alternative.

Piñatex produces one of the most famous fruit-based vegan leathers today. The textile is made from pineapple leaf fibers; by turning the part of the fruit that cannot be eaten, it provides an additional income for farmers and is a cruelty-free option for shoes, bags and clothes.

Designer Liselore Frowijn, works closely with Ananas Anam fabrics. According to Frowijn, “I am proud to work with Ananas Anam who are helping to build a more sustainable textile industry with their unique Piñatex product. Substainability in fashion is no longer a choice, but a pledge of responsibility undertaken by a new generation of designers.”

Orange Fiber

A look from the Orange Fiber capsule collection by Salvatore Ferragamo (Photo courtesy of Salvatore Ferragamo)

Orange Fiber produces soft and silky fabrics that are created by discarded orange peels. The Italian textile is perfect for creating dresses and tops since it is similar to viscose in that it is made from cellulose, and it can also can be blended with silk and cotton, but doesn’t involve the cutting down of trees.

In 2016,  Salvatore Ferragamo created a capsule collection using the material which has a premium finish to it, making it an ideal fit for the Italian luxury brand. Ferragamo asked architect and designer Mario Trimarchi, to create exclusive prints with a Mediterranean feel that would be in sync with the origins of the fiber. This resulted in designs inspired by Sicily, the island’s nature and fruits and drawings of floating clouds and flowers, at times in an abstract version.

Parblex

Parblex is steadily gaining traction in the fashion world and is being prototyped as buttons and glasses frames. (Photo courtesy of Parblex)

 

 

Chip[s] Board®  manufactures a wide range of materials that were created from potato waste that are perfectly suitable for the interiors and fashion markets.

The company’s second material, a bioplastic called Parblex, is steadily gaining momentum in the fashion industry and is being prototyped as buttons and eyeglass frames. Parblex has a beautiful textured finish and is available in three colors: smoke, tortoiseshell and snow.

Agraloop Biofibre

An H&M look using Agraloop Biofibre technology. (Photo courtesy of Circular Systems)

In 2018,  the cutting-edge corporation Circular Systems won the H&M Foundation’s Global Change Award for their Agraloop Biofibre technology. This innovative technology turns otherwise forgotten food waste into fiber for high-quality garments, which Circular Systems boasts are able to be created in a “cost competitive and scalable way.” The technology uses hemp seed, flax seed, pineapple leaves, banana tree, and cane bagasse (bagasse is the dry pulpy fibrous residue that remains after sugarcane or sorghum stalks are crushed to extract their juice) to create these new fibers. Along with clothing, Agraloop Biofibre can turn waste into packaging, organic fertilizer, and bio-energy. The possibilities seem to be only growing for this new product.

Vegea Textile

Vegea Grape dress (Photo courtesy of The Industry)

Vegea is another vegan alternative to leather; creating a leather like textile from grape marc (the skins, stalks and seeds discarded in the winemaking process). The result, a rich and beautiful wine hued leather-like textile; without the need for killing animals or toxic tanning. Vegea will continue to research and grow its business thanks to funding from the EU.

The fabric is so avant garde that a couture dress made from Vegea by designer Tiziano Guardini was recently exhibited at the V&A Museum’s Fashioned From Nature exhibition in London.

According to the Vegea website, “Sustainability is one of the pillars of our social responsibility policies and is based on production processes that use vegetable raw materials, recycled materials and bio-based polymers.”

So tell us, how will you reduce your carbon footprint when you are ready to produce your collection?

STAYING SILENT IS OUT – FASHION ACTIVISM IS IN

Prabal Gurung created political statement T-shirts that were worn by social media influencers and street style stars during NY Fashion Week 2017.  From Left to right: Shea Marie, Caroline Vreeland , Bryanboy, Tina Craig, Irene Kim,  Aimee Song  and Chriselle Lim . (Photo Courtesy of Forbes.com)

The Men’s Spring 2020 shows have just wrapped up, and while the runways were filled with plenty of notable trends, such as soft suiting at Givenchy, gender bending at Comme des Garçons, nautical looks at Prada, and romantic prints at Louis Vuitton  – the one trend that has been gaining momentum is the “designer as activist.” Fashion activism is nothing new. In the 1930s the Keffiyeh became a symbol of political uprising and rebellion. In the 1960s, designers gave us peace symbol T-shirts in protest of the Vietnam war,  and mini-skirts, which became the symbol for women’s rights and sexual liberation. In 2017, Cosmopolitan listed 22 designers who used their runway shows to promote a particular cause or in protest of global injustice. From pussy hats to white bandanas with the hashtag #TiedTogether (a symbol of inclusivity and acceptance), according to designer Talbot Runhof, “If you have a platform to say something and you don’t, then shame on you.” In the age of social media and the internet, where opinions and messages are delivered in lightning speed, designers, actors and other influencers feel duty-bound and a certain responsibility to bring attention to the relationship between fashion, politics and social change.

Here are a few noteworthy designers who have shown more than just clothes on their runways, past & present.

OFF-WHITE

Virgil Abloh has developed a cult following with his collections for Off-White and the brand is worn by street style stars around the globe. For his men’s Spring 2020 show, Abloh focused on the negative effects of plastic and saving the environment. According to Abloh, “Plastic: once hailed as a miracle material, now condemned as a major pollutant — and possibly about to be considered a work of art.” The show’s invite was a clear plastic invitation with the words “plastic” printed on it.  Abloh believes plastic can be recycled and used to create something beautiful, such as art. Plastic even made its way in the collection with plastic rain gear and a hazmat suit.

As for the clothes, Abloh looks to street art for inspiration and tapped Futura, a contemporary of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, for the prints in this collection, case in point, a hand-painted white coat, top and pant look.To address his environmental concerns, Abloh featured an aquatic theme throughout the collection with shades of blue tie dye prints and amoeba-shaped appliqué motifs on knits.

The show ended with the models stomping through a beautiful field of white carnations that was created for the show. Abloh’s message was load and clear, we must protect our environment.

Virgil Abloh at his men’s Fall 2020 Off-White Collection. (Photo courtesy of theguardian.com)

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney has been one of the biggest advocates of the environment, a pioneer of sustainable fashion and an animal rights activist, since the creation of her namesake label in 2001.  McCartney Men’s 2020 collection was presented in a lush garden in Milan’s city center. According to Vogue.com, McCartney stated, “Let’s just forget fashion for a moment and savor all the natural beauty around us and talk about flowers!”

McCartney focused on playful tailoring, hand-printed silk shirts, ties and shorts with horse motifs, lightweight dusters and loose-fitting jumpsuits with satellite Earth prints and of course a collection that was fur free. McCartney kept the collection light and humorous, but her fight to save the earth is a serious one.

Stella McCartney’s Fall 2020 Men’s Collection. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Pyer Moss

Herby Jean-Raymond launched his menswear label Pyer Moss in 2013 and followed up with a women’s collection shortly thereafter. In the few seasons Jean-Raymond has been presenting, the designer has quickly become known for his social activist stands. Most notably, he is inspired by the heritage of African-Americans, as well as social issues that this community faces today.

Pyer Moss Spring 2019. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Dior

In July 2016 Dior announced that Maria Grazia Chiuri would be the first female creative director at Dior. Chiuri has been making political statements ever since.  T-shirts screen printed with “We Should All Be Feminists” and “Dio(R)evolution” were sold with proceeds going to Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation, which fights against injustice, inequality & poverty and promotes access to education.

Christian Dior Spring 2017 Collection. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Women’s Rights

Fall 2017 was a big season for designers to speak out about social injustice. Attendees at Missoni’s Fall show each received pink pussy hats (madefamous by the Women’s March on Washington in January 2017). Guests proudly wore the hats, as did the models during the finale.

According to Angela Missoni, creative director for the label, their message for Fall 2017 was all about “femininity in our times, prepared to confront the conflicts and dilemmas of our contemporary society: the conditions, needs, and rights of all women and minorities.”

Missoni’s Fall 2017 Show. (Photo courtesy of DailyNation.com)

Rio Uribe, the designer behind Gypsy Sport, gave a passionate speech before his show which focused on homelessness and refugee tent cities. “I wanted to talk to you guys a little bit about my show,” he said from a mic backstage. “The Fall/Winter ’17 collection was inspired honestly by people who live on the street and just don’t have much fashion in their life or any of the luxuries that we take for granted. … I don’t want anyone who is gay, or Muslim, or disabled, or mentally ill, or a veteran, or a drug addict, or a runaway to have to live on the street just because someone’s not willing to give them a chance.”

Gypsy Sport Fall 2017 Show. (Photo courtesy of cosmopolitan.com)

Prabal Gurung created “The Future is Female” T-shirt for his Fall 2017 show. According to Gurung, “So to me feminism is not just a trending topic. It’s the only way I’ve known, even before I knew what [feminism] was.”

Bella Hadid sporting Prabal Gurung’s feminist T-shirt at his Spring 2017 show. (Photo courtesy of Forbes.com)

“All-inclusive” hit an all-time high in Fall 2017 as Christian Siriano enlisted models of all sizes to walk his runway show, from plus-size & petite to curvy, as well as plenty of racially diverse women. The 2008 Project Runway winner consistently speaks out against fashion magazines’ unrealistic body standards that are set by the modeling industry. He believes designers have the power to change this by adjusting their hiring process and sizing.

A plus sized model walks Christian Siriano’s show during his 2017 fashion show. (Photo courtesy of cosmopolitan.com)

During Tommy Hilfiger’s 2017 extravaganza in Venice Beach, models strutted down the runway wearing white bandanas as part of Business of Fashion’s #TiedTogether initiative. According to Business of Fashion founder and CEO Imran Amed, this campaign encouraged people to wear the colorless handkerchief “to make a clear statement in support of human unity and inclusiveness amidst growing uncertainty and a dangerous narrative peddling division.”

#TiedTogether Bandanas Hit Runway for First Time at Tommy Hilfiger. (Photo courtesy of Hollywoodreporter.com)

Also in 2017,  The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) partnered with Planned Parenthood to launch the “Fashion Stands With Planned Parenthood” campaign to raise awareness about women’s health care during New York Fashion Week.

Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour sporting a Planned Parenthood badge. (Photo courtesy of 14urban.com)

At the New York Spring 2018 shows, a “Get out and Vote” message dominated in advance of the U.S. mid term elections.

Prabal Gurung walks the runway in a Vote T-shirt show during New York Fashion Week Spring 2018. (Photo courtesy of Glamour.com)

Going Fur Free

While Stella McCartney has been creating fur-free and leather-free clothes for years, many designers have now jumped on the bandwagon.

As of September 2018, Burberry announced that it would also be going fur-free, a big move ever since Riccardo Tisci became the creative director for the label. The brand will no longer be using rabbit, fox, mink, and Asiatic raccoon fur, though they will still feature angora, shearling, and leather.

Burberry goes fur free as of Sept. 2018. (Photo courtesy of teenvogue.com)

Shockingly, in March 2018, Donatella Versace announced that she would no longer be using fur in her collections. “Fur? I am out of that. I don’t want to kill animals to make fashion. It doesn’t feel right,” she told 1843 magazine.

Versace goes fur free. (Photo courtesy of teenvogue.com)

In June 2017, protesters interrupted a live interview with Michael Kors at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, with signs that read “Michael Kors has blood on his hands.” This prompted Michael Kors to announce that his company would be going fur free as of December 2018.

Michael Kors goes fur free. (Photo courtesy of teenvogue.com)

In October 2017, Gucci announced it would be going fur-free as well. Alessandro Michele is opting for sustainable alternatives to create his “grandma-chic” vibe. Prada also added their name to the fur-free list as of 2020.

Gucci goes fur free. (Photo courtesy of teenvogue.com)

Following in the footsteps of San Francisco and Los Angeles, New York is now considering a ban on fur as well, however, there is a lot of push back. One of the oldest industries in New York City dating back to when Henry Hudson explored the region in 1609 and found French traders bartering for furs with Native Americans. New York became a thriving trading post of beaver and other skins that traveled through New York Harbor and to Europe. In fact, the official New York crest includes beavers, whose valuable pelts helped fuel the early fur trade. Stay tuned!

Designers with a History of Rocking the Boat

English fashion designer Katherine Hamnett is best known for her political T-shirts and ethical business philosophy. In 1983 she stated, “If you want to get the message out there, you should print it in giant letters on a T-shirt.” Celebrities such as George Michael (who was part of Wham at the time) wore one of her “Choose Life” tees in a music video for “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” Roger Taylor of Queen, wore her “WORLDWIDE NUCLEAR BAN NOW” T-shirt during Queen’s historic appearance at the first edition of the Rock in Rio festival in Rio de Janeiro.

Political T-shirts by Katharine Hamnett. (Photo courtesy of lovewildlivefree.com)

Vivienne Westwood is another British fashion designer and businesswoman, who was largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave fashion into the mainstream. Westwood has retail shops worldwide and sells a variety of merchandise; some of it linked to her many political causes, such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, climate change and civil rights groups.

Vivienne Westwood Red Label SS14 fashion show. (Photo courtesy of Alan Davidson/The Picture Library LTD.)

In 2000, John Galliano created one of the most controversial fashion shows ever. For his Christian Dior Haute Couture collection, Galliano was inspired by the Paris homeless. As a master of shock value, his message rang loud and clear in a city of beauty and glamour. The show created such controversy that homeless activists picketed outside the Dior headquarters and riot police had to be called in to deal with the protesters. As a result, Dior’s flagship was closed for two hours and Galliano had to issue an apology statement,  “I never wanted to make a spectacle of misery.”

Christian Dior by John Galliano, spring/summer 2000 haute couture show. (Photo courtesy of newyorktimes.com)

Alexander McQueen’s inspiring showmanship is greatly missed, ever since his suicide on February 11, 2010. For the late designer’s Fall 2009 collection, McQueen took an environmental stance on the runway as his models dressed in fiercely tailored coats, boxy jackets and airy gazar dresses walked around a heap of trash. McQueen even referenced trash in some of his looks such as aluminum can accessories.  It was all so hauntingly beautiful.

Alexander McQueen’s  Fall 2009 ready-to-wear women’s collection during Paris Fashion Week. (Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol)

Karl Lagerfeld is another designer who is greatly missed for his theatrics. The late designer passed away on February 19, 2019 in Paris. For his Spring 2015 collection, Lagerfeld took a feminist stance and created a playful protest for woman’s equality. According to Vogue.com, “ Cara Delevingne and Caroline de Maigret had megaphones in hand as a parade of models including Kendall Jenner, Georgia May Jagger, Edie Campbell, Joan Smalls, and even Gisele Bündchen, brandished signs that read “History is Her Story,” “Feminism Not Masochism,” “We Can Match the Machos” and “Ladies First.” Even male model Baptiste Giabiconi waved a “He For She” banner, which just might be our favorite nod to Emma Watson’s global UN campaign yet. Perhaps the “Free Freedom” sign was a winking nod to Free the Nipple, the cause du jour for models like Delevingne, who opened the show and Kendall Jenner, who Instagrammed about it post show. “I’m Every Woman” blared from the speakers, and everyone danced in their seats.”

Chanel spring 2015 collection. (Photo courtesy of elle.com)

While some fashion critics predicted a worldwide boycott of Nike products after their controversial “Just Do It” campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, they were proven wrong when the company reported a 10 percent jump in income. It turns out that millennials expect companies to take a position on social and political issues.

TELL US, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO YOU THAT BRANDS TAKE A STAND ON SOCIAL, POLITICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ?

RESORT 2020 TAKES OVER SOCIAL MEDIA

Valentino’s Resort 2020 Collection (Photo Courtesy of Valentino)

It’s the time of year when glamorous resort shows are flooding social media channels. And, while some designer’s whisk their clients and the press off to exotic locations around the world to witness their show, but what does this season actually mean for retailers and us as consumers? In the age of transparency, social justice and a world in flux, how are these issues reflected in the resort collections at some of the world’s major famous houses?

By definition, “resort,” (also known as cruisewear), was a season originally targeted to affluent customers who spent their post-Holiday/New Year’s weeks in mostly warm weather climates. However, due to a better economy and easy access to flights, more consumers have the income and the ability to  travel. As a result, cruisewear has become a major category for the fashion industry. It has also become a season for designers to try out new ideas ahead of their Spring collection.

Resort has also become a favorite for retailers, after all, it’s the longest selling season, hitting the floor around November and selling, at full price, until May when spring collections hit the stores. Today, brands at all price points create resort collections to satisfy their customers who crave a new purchase.

Burberry’s Resort 2020 Collection (Photo Courtesy of Burberry)

With concerns about global corruption, transparency, climate change, inequality and the need to escape or get way from the world’s craziness, it’s easy to see why consumers, with a simple click of a button, are enticed to make resort season purchases.

Resort season went from APRIL 29 – MAY 30, 2019. Here are a few designers that have created social media spectacles with their elaborate shows.

Christian Dior

Christian Dior’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Maria Grazia Chiuri, the designer behind the luxury powerhouse Christian Dior, presented an elegantly chic collection in Marrakesh for her resort 2020 collection. The collection was an homage to 1960s Yves Saint Laurent and featured rich textiles and intricate prints on everything from boyish outerwear to feminine frocks.

Prada

Prada’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

All glitz and glam aside, Miuccia Prada showed her low-key, understated resort collection in her company’s West 52nd Street Piano Factory headquarters, but nonetheless, the event was filled with a star-studded front row. Prada went back to the paired down 90s aesthetic that made the designer a household name, but this time with a pretty, feminine twist. Prada worked primarily with cotton this season with sweet calico-prints, charming hand embroideries and smart striped shirtings in intricate shapes.

Chanel

Chanel’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

In her debut collection at the helm of Chanel, Virginie Viard kept true to Karl Lagerfeld’s grand showmanship. Viard recreated a pre-war train’s dining carriage  a la a Belle Epoque café  resembling Le Train Bleu at the Gare de Lyon.  The show came complete with potted palms and paintings suggesting the many glamorous destinations that the train might take you (all of them settings for past Chanel collections).

As for the clothes, Viard brought a new effortless ease to the Chanel silhouette with mini-skirted classic Chanel suit, tiered chiffon dresses and wide legged cropped pants paired with frothy blouses. It was exciting to see Viard stay within the DNA and house codes of Chanel and yet give the label a youthful twist.

Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Anyone who has followed Nicolas Ghesquière’s career knows that no one designs wearable, futuristic-inspired looks better than him. For his Louis Vuitton resort collection, the creative director held his show at the historic TWA Flight Center, designed in 1962 by Eero Saarinen. The space is reminiscent of a landed UFO in the middle of New York’s JFK airport.  Although the space has been closed for almost twenty years, it has now reopened as a luxury hotel and Ghesquière’s show was its unofficial opening party. Quite the ‘get’!

Seemed only fitting that Ghesquière was inspired by 1960s airline stewardess’ with short dresses and a nod to TWA’s iconic flight bags. New York City was also a point of reference for Ghesquière with his Wall Street-inspired pinstriped suits, while crystal embellished bustier tops and geometric metallic embroideries referenced Art Deco inspired skyscrapers, most notably the Chrysler Building. Overall, the Vuitton resort collection was dramatic and fun, one that will be worn by plenty of Hollywood starlets on the red carpet and beyond. Thanks Nicolas for your nod to the Big Apple!

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio Armani’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Giorgio Armani’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

For years, designers have staged over-the-top shows and traveled to exotic locations around the globe to present their pre-collections. But Giorgio Armani has always shunned that notion. And so it came as a complete surprise to press and buyers alike, that this season the designer decided to show his resort 2020 collection in Tokyo, as part of his grand store reopening. In a press conference before the show, Giorgio Armani stated, “I do not agree with this. Resort collections are mainly commercial; they have to be salable and appeal to buyers.” Armani speaks his mind and does things his own way.

Armani showed his collection at Tokyo’s National Museum, which is home to the most precious and rare Asian art collections. The glamorous affair was filled with Japanese and international celebrities, including Uma Thurman.

As for the clothes, they were Armani at his finest, with so many variations of the pantsuit – for both men and women – that there was literally an option for every customer. Now that’s business savvy!

Gucci

Gucci’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Gucci’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, has truly revitalized the label since taking over the house in 2015 and his momentum is only growing stronger. The designer staged his resort collection in Rome at the Capitolini Museum as a “hymn to freedom” that allowed him to express his belief in the idea of self-determination and gender equality.

According to an interview with Alessandro Michele, published in WWD, the resort collection” is empowering freedom of expression and, in particular, freedom of choice, supporting sexual and reproductive health and rights.” Illustrating this message, Michele posted feminist slogans like ‘My body, my choice.’ as well as ‘Chime for Change’ on  T-shirts. In addition, he embroidered an image of the female reproductive system on a gown that was embellished with flowers. Some looks also displayed ‘May 22, 1978,’ the date that the Italian law for the social protection of motherhood and legal abortion took effect. In terms of style, the designer’s wink to the Seventies was apparent, since it was a crucial time in history for the women’s lib movement.

While Michel’s collection featured both men’s and woman’s looks, many looks were gender neutral. There were plenty of his signature magpie layered looks that have really struck a chord with millennial influencers and celebrities, as well as kitsch Mickey Mouse printed looks.

Feel free to chime in on whether you think more designers should be using their brand status to promote social justice, just as  Alessandro Michele and other designers have done in past seasons. And if so, who are your favorites?

GOING GREEN, HOW DENIM LABELS ARE EMBRACING SUSTAINABILITY

M.i.h. Jeans practices denim sustainability. (Photo Courtesy of WWD)

Climate change, global warming, plastic in our oceans, these are all real threats that have not just Millennials and Generation Zers worried, but should be a concern for people of all ages. As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” is receiving plenty of publicity, we as a design community must realize that we are among the top polluters of our planet, actually, according to Ethical Unicorn, we rank #5. Not a number that we should be proud. So, what can we do as an industry to lower our ranking? Who are the brands who are leading the way?

Well, while there are literally thousands of fashion brands and companies around the world, there are not as many as there should be in our industry moving towards sustainability and who are consciously making an effort to reduce waste and pollution that our industry causes.

We’d like to give a shout-out to two ‘green’ advocates, Stella McCartney and Christopher Raeburn. These designers were among the ten fashion companies that have recently received the inaugural CO10 Leadership Award, an award that recognizes companies that have set down a pathway towards sustainability.

Christopher Raeburn fitting a model in one of his looks. (Photo Courtesy of WWD)

The award is presented by Common Objective, a network that connects more than 10,000 professionals in the fashion, retail and textile industries that share knowledge and best sustainability practices. Other companies that were honored were, Osklen, Bottletop, Indigenous, Outland Denim, Mayamiko, Sonica Sarna Design, Ethical Apparel Africa and The Rajlakshmi Cotton Mills.

“The industry has seen an incredible amount of traction over the past year, from increased consumer demand and government engagement, to the abundance of new entrants that focus on sustainability,” said Harold Tillman, former chairman of the British Fashion Council. The overall CO Leadership Awards are given to fashion brands that champion innovation in sustainability.

On December 10, 2018, Stella McCartney launched a program during the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland, which addressed various issues in the fashion industry, such as pollution, deforestation, low carbon production methods, and toxicity in products. Another goal for McCartney is to create awareness among students and designers that there are more environmentally-friendly ways to create collections. Today, more than ever, customers are aware and looking to purchase from brands that are focused on sustainability.

Stella McCartney at the Katowicw Climate Change Conference in Poland (Photo Courtesy of WWD)

Denim Sustainability News

While the majority of the population would love to purchase clothing that is environmentally-friendly, let’s face it, many cannot afford Stella McCartney’s hefty price point. But environmentalists will be happy to hear that everyone’s favorite closet staple, denim, is helping to lead the way towards sustainability.

Denim is one of the most popular fashion items around the world, but the mass production of this wardrobe staple has turned into an environmental nightmare. Remember the footage from China when a river turned blue from a nearby denim factory? Clearly denim dyes and water consumption are both harmful to the environment. However, today, the industry is searching for ways to help clean up the process and build a more sustainable supply chain. The denim industry is slowly joining together to create an ecosystem focused on sustainability practices.

Denim dyes damage the environment (Photo Courtesy of Forbes)

This past February at the Première Vision Textile Trade Show in Paris, a group of experts from the denim world gathered together for a panel hosted by Isko, a leading Turkish denim mill. The topic… the “Unlimited Possibilities of Responsible Denim.” Panelists included: Ebru Ozkucuk Guler (CSR executive at Isko), Miles Johnson (designer at Stan Ray denim and and previously at Patagonia and Levi Strauss & Co.), Rachel Pearce (director of denim consultancy firm Denimhand) and François Girbaud (owner Marithé + François Girbaud).

Isko’s sustainable denim panel Première Vision Textile Trade Showin Paris. (Courtesy Photo WWD)

Consumers today are intelligent. They want more transparency about the clothing and products they are purchasing. According to Miles Johnson, “it is high time, with all the confusion over certification, for governments to start implementing standards.”

The panel was in agreement that the idea of phasing out cotton was not realistic, but embracing new approaches to the cotton supply chain and implementing dye and waste management practices are vital for the industry’s survival.

Here’s what the panelists said: 

“We’re not going to stop doing cotton jeans, so let’s just do it better. But you have to have a big idea for 25 years down the road that everyone signs up for, and then we can all start trekking toward the same spot. Unfortunately we’re not there yet, and it’s all still a bit scattered,” Johnson said. Adding that “Cotton now has a bad name, like plastic. If people hear plastic now they go, ‘Ooh, bad.’ It’s not bad, the world just isn’t set up so that we can handle recycling, because we haven’t invested in waste disposal, so we’re not catching plastic at the end and turning it back into fiber.”

Pearce added, “We can grow cotton better, we can be more responsible with cotton, but our biggest enemy is the amount that’s going to landfill, to waste. But the cotton that’s going to landfill, it’s going to biodegrade; it’s the polyester we should be worried about, it currently stays in our environment for up to 120 years before breaking down.”

“We are in an incredibly wasteful industry, [but] I do commend everyone in the denim industry because at least we’re a step ahead of the sportswear industry,” concluded Johnson. “People are having these conversations a lot more in denim than they are in anything else.”

Blue + Denim practices denim sustainability. (Photo Courtesy of WWD)

 

Here are some possible solutions: 

Case in point, this past October in Amsterdam at the Kingpins Fair Trade Show, sustainability in denim was a key issue being tackled by experts. Posters detailing water-saving processes, potassium permanganate-free finishes and recycled fabrics were in front of most stands, and they were easy to spot from afar thanks to their symbolic green and blue hues.

M&J Group, a Bangladesh-based manufacturer, added green tags to each garment, that labeled the level of water, gas or chemicals used for the conception of each denim piece. Meanwhile, at Global Denim, the manufacturer promoted EcoloJean technology. Their posters illustrated a regular pair of jeans next to a pile of water bottles, explaining that it takes 20 liters of water to dye a single pair of jeans. The EcoloJean technology, said the poster, boasts zero water discharging.

Another big initiative in going green is fabric made from recycled plastic bottles.  “We’ve just sourced a fabric called Repreve, made from recycled plastic bottles,” said Tara Jessop, who was attending with Rebekah Hough, a fellow designer at Fundamental, a British denim manufacturer that counts the Arcadia group among its clients. “We’ve just sourced a fabric called Repreve, made from recycled plastic bottles,” said Tara Jessop, who was attending with Rebekah Hough, a fellow designer at Fundamental, a British denim manufacturer that counts the Arcadia group among its clients. “We keep seeing the green plastic bottle tags on every stand. They are an amazing marketing tool; they help the customer understand the process,” she added.

(Photo courtesy Reprove.com)

(Photo courtesy Reprove.com)

Thankfully, more affordable denim mills are now taking steps towards sustainability.  “We’ve been going round to each stand to ask them what they’ve been doing from a sustainable angle,” said Lee women’s designer Natasha Goforth, who added that the brand was looking to make its carryover fabrics more sustainable. “But we’re looking at every single element: fabrics, trims, finishes. It’s not just about the sustainability of the fabric itself, but rather how we can bring in more elements of sustainability to our brand,” she added.

DL 1961 Denim practices sustainability when producing denim. (Courtesy Photo)

Australian’s Outland Denim is facing challenges managing sudden rapid growth due to the brands ethical focus, The brands founder James Bartle stated “Integrity is everything to us as a business. The goal is to be a big part of changing the fashion industry for good. Our strategy is to be product-focused, to not be a charity and to create a genuinely sustainable business model that changes people’s lives and the environment at the same time.”

Outland Denim (Commercial Photography Cambodia)

ABLE Denim has adapted to sustainability practices. (Photo Courtesy of WWD)

TO ALL OF OUR UOF DESIGNERS AND MANUFACTURERS – HOW ARE YOU MAKING A DIFFERENCE TO BECOME MORE SUSTAINABLE? WE’D LOVE TO FEATURE YOU IN OUR BLOG. LET US KNOW