University of Fashion Blog

Category "Current Topics in Fashion"

Posen Shutters His House As the UoF Opens Doors for Future Designers

Fashion times, they are a changin’.

In just the past few weeks alone, once fashion darling Zac Posen has closed his doors and the iconic retailer Barneys has closed its remaining doors, two more signs that fashion design and retail operations as we’ve known them for so many years are in fact yesterday’s news.

To Posen’s credit, he can claim the story many emerging designers have aspired to. With semesters spent at Parsons and Central Saint Martins, a long line of celebs who have worn his gowns on the red carpet and fame as an expert judge on Project Runway, some would claim that Posen’s run in the fashion world is the stuff an emerging designer’s dreams are made of. And truthfully, Posen lasted much longer in a crumbling model than most. He even starred in his own documentary, House of Z, detailing the behind the scenes successes and struggles over the years.

In 2008, when my fellow fashion school graduates and I landed in NYC after graduating from the Academy of Art in San Francisco, several of us were overcome with jealousy when one of us scored an internship with Zac Posen. It was a tough economic time in which fashion companies were laying off employees, and so many of us had given up on the thought of getting a “real job” in fashion and instead were fighting for unpaid internships with the hope that they would lead to paid positions.

Even then, I can remember the bright fashion stars I had in my eyes beginning to dim as I watched my talented classmate drape his heart out for Posen, often leaving our apartment at 6:30 am to make it to the studio by 7:00 am, not to return until well after 7:00 pm (and without pay). When one of my classmate’s creations ended up on Posen’s runway, we thought for sure, this would be his big break. But as was (and may still be) commonplace with companies headed by a singular famous face, my classmate’s “internship” was over once the season was over and Posen’s runway show was complete. Posen was on to the next group of eager “interns.” And my classmate? He was left with crippling student loans to pay and still, no job.

I share this story because it illuminates the reasons why we are finally seeing a real shift in the fashion industry. And why we’ve got to let go of what has been been considered success in the fashion industry in the past (fame, celebrity, elaborate shows season after season) and instead look toward a more sustainable future in fashion for emerging designers. Posen himself (guided by his mother) saw how unsustainable the fame-party-celebrity red carpet style of designing and running a business was back in 2010. Posen’s decision to branch out into collaborations and more affordable mass market options in order to keep the sought after design dream alive was detailed in WSJ. And yet even with this forethought, Posen’s high end business ultimately couldn’t survive.

Fast forward to today and even educators from top fashion schools (in fact, my former director, Simon Ungless at the Academy of Art in San Francisco), have started to question their own fashion programs, wondering if they are in fact preparing their students for what the fashion world holds. Ungless recently suggested that fashion schools are preparing students for an industry that doesn’t exist (read Ungless’ full interview here) and that if students aspire to celebrity as a fashion designer, they should “make a sex tape.”

Aside from the fact that today’s students in traditional fashion design programs are still striving for that final fashion show in hopes of being noticed by industry professionals (which ultimately may happen to a select handful of graduates), the college debt load students are accumulating is real. A single semester at Parsons, including tuition, books, room and board is approximately $60,000 and at FIT, around $45,000. Multiply that by the number of semesters it takes to graduate and we are talking upwards of $200,000 spent on an education that may or may not pay for itself.

And while we will never say “we told ya so,” the University of Fashion was conceived and developed years ago as a direct response to the issues we are seeing today, including:

• the prohibitive high cost of a traditional fashion education
• the lack of jobs/opportunity in the fashion industry to make a high-cost education pay off
• the changing skills/mindset needed to “make it” as a fashion designer in today’s fashion landscape

Maybe Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, et al. have a point—forego college and invest that money in your own start-up. Learn fashion design at UoF, get your technical skills and then use your money to launch and advertise your own brand. Imagine the possibilities when you let go of the idea that you must have a degree from Parsons, an internship with Marc Jacobs and celebrity status as a 20-something designer with a Hadid wearing your brand on Instagram.

There are so many ways for emerging designers to “make it” in the fashion industry of tomorrow, because the industry is yours to create. Instead of aiming for super stardom and spending a fortune on a traditional fashion education, get creative with different ways to break into the fashion industry. Use online resources to create a niche design item and learn how to market yourself via social media. Follow a path that feels authentic and genuine to you and think outside the box. We truly believe designers CAN make a living at what they love through research, social media savvy and creative thought. How about a new young designer pop-up store collective? Already paving a new path forward in the fashion industry? We want to know about it! Inspire others by sharing in the comments below.

3D Revolution: Part 2

Alvanon Virtual Fit Form Avatar –Under Armour shirts

In our previous blogpost, 3D Revolution- Part 1– we explained how legacy processes ingrained in the fashion industry have been key factors in why the industry has been so reluctant to introduce new technologies. Some of their concerns center around whether they can trust what they see on-screen. Most have spent their entire career using old methods of design and pattern making, which ensures that they can touch, modify and fit garments before the approval and manufacturing processes. Other concerns are whether digital fabric libraries are accurate and robust enough, ROI (return on investment) i.e. the cost of integrating 3D vs the benefits and the learning curve involved in implementing 3D, are all factors.

Despite these concerns, we are seeing an increase in the number of brands who are integrating 3D technology into their workspace. According to Motif (an industry learning platform in partnership with Alvanon), “It’s not a matter of ‘if’ digital is going to be a part of your corporate strategy, but ‘when’.”

In this, the second part in our 3D series, we will:

  1. Explore types of avatars and their role in 3D fashion design software
  2. Identify key 3D software companies & industry groups that support the advancement of 3D
  3. Provide the ABCs of 3D

 

How & why are 3D avatars used in the fashion industry?

In Part 1, we learned that the first step in the process of integrating 3D technology into the workplace is to obtain customer data through body scans, to understand not only the ‘size’ of their customer but also their ‘shape.’

Avatars created from body scans in various sizes and shapes are then used in computer aided design (CAD) software. The fashion industry uses two types of avatars: Virtual Fit and Parametric. There is also an ISO standard for the digital fitting of clothing. According to ISO 18825-1:2016, Virtual fit is called a Virtual Clone and Parametric is called a Virtual Twin.  A scan from a person who is not moving is called a static scan. Adding motion to create a dynamic Virtual Clone requires a 4D scan (like 3dMD), since everyone moves slightly differently.

Virtual Fit Standard Range of Motion Avatar (Photo credit: Alvanon)

Parametric Range of Motion Avatar (Photo credit: Browzwear)

 

Virtual Fit avatars are used for design, fitting and pattern making, and are sometimes used for presentation, sales and marketing. Virtual Fit avatars are exact replicas of actual human bodies (though avatar customization options may be limited), but these Virtual Fit avatars do not have the capability for pre-programmed motion, as do parametric avatars.

Parametric avatars on the other hand, offer a better visualization of how the fabric flows and can also be used to identify certain fit issues. However, the software for parametric avatars is limited in that they may not have your consumer’s exact measurements, which makes fit somewhat unreliable. Parametric avatars are most used for presentations, sales and marketing, since their range of motion is very exciting.

For custom fitted clothing, it is important to know if a static virtual twin or a static virtual clone is to be used for garment pattern generation.  A virtual twin may not be sufficiently representative to make custom clothing if a person’s specific shape is significantly different from an avatar, which is representative of a certain population. Technologists currently generate patterns for custom clothing from static scans, not from dynamic scans. In addition, they are looking to automate pattern generation from static virtual clones, such that unique patterns can be generated from the same style to fit differently shaped people.  That is, each person gets their unique pattern for the same style of garment.

 

Mesh Modeling

Mesh modeling is a polygonal model that is used in 3D computer graphics. A mesh is a visualization of point cloud that basically connects the dots to form triangles or polygons.  More triangles or polygons improve resolution but also increases file size.

Photo credit: JoliCode

 

Photogrammetry

Photogrammetry is the process of taking precise measurements by using digital pictures typically used by smartphone apps.

Permission granted from Size Stream

 

ALVANON

Beginning in 2001, Alvanon (makers of the highest quality dress forms in the industry) scanned over 1.5 million bodies. They also collaborated with Under Armour, digitizing size ranges for the purpose of creating a fleet of 3D avatars from Infant size 0 to Men’s 5XL. This allows for the prototyping of all samples (all sizes within a product line) without having to create physical prototypes for every size. Consequently, customers can see how the garment will look, if the garment is set up for material personalization.  The Alvanon Body Platform (ABP) is a new, secure cloud-database offering 3D fit standards for the global apparel industry. Operating on all collaborating 3D software systems, it provides a fast, accurate, and simple way for brands and retailers to implement their 3D fit and core body standards with their supply chain.

“At Alvanon, we believe that the 3D journey begins with the avatar. Not just any avatar, but the fit standard that represents the brand’s target customers’ body shapes and sizes.” – Jason Wang, Chief Operating Officer, Alvanon.

 

TUKATECH

Tukatech, a concept to consumer digital platform, has recently opened their library of over 750 virtual fit models for global brands & retailers and to all 3D users in the fashion industry, regardless of which 3D fashion technology system they use. Their fleet consists of exact replicas of 3D fit models developed from leading brands’ live fit models. Each is a true representation of a real fit model who was body scanned or 3D sculpted using a proprietary measurement engine and digitized for the virtual world, including their measurements, shape, and posture.

The use of avatars in VR/AR can provide the customer with an understanding of how clothing and shoes will look prior to purchase. Or it can provide a personal getaway, anytime, to a virtual universe, as seen on their phone.

Photo credit: Wanna Kicks

Photo credit: Moosejaw

So far, the biggest users of 3D technologies have been brands within the activewear, accessories and footwear industries.  However, momentum is growing in other apparel classifications, as brands assess their own needs to obtain a competitive edge in the market.

 

Who are the key players in 3D CAD fashion software?

The first CAD software company to enter the fashion space was Gerber (1968). A succession of companies followed: Lectra (1973), OpiTex (1988), Tukatech (1997), Browzwear (1999), CLO (2009) and Marvelous Designer by CLO (2012).

CAD software used for design, costing, sampling, merchandising, quality and sourcing is known as Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software. Software that manages product data as it moves through a product’s lifecycle is called Product Data Management (PDM). Software that deals with pattern drafting and marker making is known as Pattern Design Software (PDM).  And 3D Fashion Design Software is used for design, altering patterns and to create visual assets for sales & marketing.

We will go into further detail about the types of 3D features and costs involved in the next segment of our three-part series, 3D Revolution – Part 3.

 

What industry groups are helping to advance 3D technologies?

There are several groups who are focused on interoperability standards (so data can be shared across platforms), updates to technology, innovation, and 3D education.

3D.RC: The 3D Retail Coalition (3DRC), is a collaborative group of global retailers and brands, working together to advance 3D technology. Their sub committees focus on Technology, Innovation and Education. Examples of the webinars on their site include custom avatars, and 3D business processes.

IEEE IC 3DBP: IEEE Industry Connections 3D Body Processing (3DBP) brings together diverse stakeholders from across technology, retail, research and standards development to build thought leadership around 3D body processing technology standards in areas such as 3D capture, processing, storage, sharing and (augmented) representation.      

Photo credit: 3DRC

Photo credit: IEEE

 

ABCs of 3D Technology

Sometimes, the hardest part of understanding a new technology are all the new terms. Here are a few key words for the beginning of the ABCs.

A

Algorithm – A process or set of rules to be followed in a problem-solving method or calculations

Avatar – A graphical representation of a person or target customer. Avatars used in the 3D fashion design are either Virtual Fit or Parametric.

B

Boolean – A system that expresses logical relationships between things.  Search functions use the Boolean operators, such as AND, NOT, OR.  For example, “dress” and “red.”

C

Circular Economy – Products designed with a focus on generating maximum value and one that extends its longevity through reuse at the end of a product’s lifecycle.

D

Digitizing – Process of converting information into a digital format typically used for patterns.

M

Mesh – A polygonal model that is used in 3D computer graphics. A mesh is a visualization of point cloud that basically connects the dots to form triangles or polygons.  More triangles or polygons improved resolution but increase file size. 

N

Noise – The existence of extraneous recorded data within a point cloud. It
can be caused by an object obstructing the sensor or ambient light and reflections into the sensor during the data capture process.

P

Parametric Avatar – A 3D modeling of a human body shape used to demonstrate motion and fabric flow. They are sometimes used for fitting purposes but mostly for presentation, sales and marketing purposes. 

Photogrammetry – the process of taking precise measurements by using digital pictures typically used by smartphone apps.

Point Cloud – The computer visualization of the XYZ coordinates that describe a physical object. Each point represents an actual point on the object and collectively describes its shape and measurements.

R

Rendering – The graphical representation of a computer model. Characteristics and effects can be added to its surfaces and features.

Resolution – The spacing of points in a grid. The higher the resolution, the more
data that will be captured. Likewise, the lower the resolution, the “flatter” the detail.

S

Spectrophotometers (can be multi angle) – A device that allow measurement of color, sparkle and coarseness to measure effect finishes.

Surfaces – Refers to the part being scanned or to the computer file from the scanner

T

Texture Mapping – is the graphic design process in which a two-dimensional surface is wrapped around a 3D object.  Texture maps can be used to add colors, displacement, normal (used to simulate details on the surface), specular (how light reflects) and other effects.

Technical Fit – Fit of a garment that determines how the garment is made which includes: balance, function, sizing and comfort.

Tech Packs – Details of a product: flat sketch, specification measurements, and other technical details that are issued to a vendor or supplier as a guideline for sample development.

V

Virtual Clone A virtual human body that is created from a 3D body scanned point cloud using surface modeling processesThe virtual clone is identical to the body shape of the customer. (Also called Virtual Fit).

Virtual Fit Avatar – A 3D model of a human body shape used to for design, fitting and pattern making, and are sometimes used for presentation, sales and marketing.

Virtual Twin – A morphed virtual human body that can be altered by entering parameters retrieved from a population database. The virtual twin is not identical to the body shape of the customer. (Also called Parametric).

MORE 3D TO COME…

This blogpost introduced you to 3D avatars, the key players & groups that are helping to advance 3D technology and the ABCs of 3D terminology. Our final segment, Part 3, will be devoted to key 3D software companies, the brands who have already adopted 3D technology, the costs of 3D, and how to assess your needs when choosing a 3D technology company.

Let us know if you have experimented with 3D design software and what you think of it?

3D Revolution: The Future is NOW – Part 1

(Image Courtesy Alvanon)

This is the first in our three-part blog series on how 3D technologies are impacting the Fashion, Apparel and Footwear Industries. At last…the fashion industry is finally catching up to the automotive and architecture industries. Some early adopters brands are taking a giant leap away from their ‘legacy’ way of doing things and stepping into the world of 3D technologies for the design, production and marketing of their apparel, accessories and footwear. Not since 1826 and the invention of Elias Howe’s sewing machine have we witnessed such disruption in our industry. Hold on to your hats… the Future is NOW!

(Permission granted from SolidWorks)

 

The Focus of Our Three-part 3D series:

  1. Part 1 –The meaning of 2D, 3D and 4D; the history of 3D body scanning; how body scanning is used in the fashion industry; the key players that are driving 3D scanning technology.
  2. Part 2 – 3D CAD technology; the role of avatars in 3D software; the key 3D software players and industry groups that support the advancement of 3D technology; 3D terminology.
  3. Part 3 The benefits of 3D, the cost of 3D technology; how brands use 3D technology and how to choose a 3D design software platform.

Is the fashion industry ready to take the 3D Plunge?

The fashion industry has been notoriously resistant to new technologies in favor of ‘legacy’ ways of doing things (i.e. pre-computer methods of design, pattern making, manufacturing, marketing & sales).  They have long held on to the old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” We all can agree that a solid foundation in the disciplines of draping, pattern making, fashion art and product development, etc. (like the one we provide at University of Fashion) is mandatory, otherwise you will sink like a rock. But today’s fashion brands are recognizing that they can actually build upon those legacy processes and are implementing 3D technologies. Why the sudden change? The main reasons are both financial and cultural:

  1. With the advent of internet shopping, brands have been struggling with the staggering number of online ecommerce returns. According to the new book by Dana Thomas, Fashionopolis, that rate is a whopping 52%. Brands are realizing that if they can better understand their customers’ body shapes, they may be able to create better-fitting products, thus reducing the number of returns.
  2. A new, young and tech savvy generation of consumers expect ‘on-demand’ everything. Brands using 3D technology gain a competitive edge by adopting faster turn-around times from design to delivery.
  3. The sample making process for brands is quite costly and time consuming. By utilizing 3D design software, brands are able to reduce the sample process down to weeks instead of months. And using avatars for design, pattern making, presentation and sales & marketing purposes not only reduces the number of samples being made, but can facilitate on-demand manufacturing options.
  4. By embracing on-demand manufacturing, the concept of  a circular economy and using sustainable materials, brands can reduce their carbon footprint; a key driver in today’s consumers’ demand for full transparency. In addition, 3D technology is a source for greater efficiency, speed to market, sustainability & innovation, supply chain optimization and the ability to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.

What exactly is 2D, 3D and 4D?

2D – Everyone in the fashion industry is quite familiar with the concept of  2D,  for example, a sketch, a textile or a paper pattern.

 

(Fashion Illustration & Pattern – Courtesy University of Fashion)

3D – When we speak of 3D, we reference the draping process, where fabric (2D) is manipulated around a dress form to create a 3D pattern. Or, a 2D piece of paper that is folded to create a 3D form, such as origami.

(Draped Skirt – Courtesy University of Fashion)

 

(Permission granted from The Origami Paper Shop)

4D –  4D, a mathematical extension of the concept of 3D.  Sometimes 3D becomes 4D when motion (a way to represent time) is added (for example, a video). to learn more about 2D, 3D and 4D, click on this link. 

 

What is 3D Body Scanning?

(Image Courtesy of Alvanon)

For the past 15 years, the general public has become more acquainted with the concept of body scanning, the 3D method of scanning the human body to capture various body measuring points. 3D body scanning actually dates back to the 1960s, but didn’t break into the engineering field until the 1990s. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, 3D scanning expanded to include applications for medical, biometrics, human factors, high-end fit apparel and anthropometrics. The fashion industry came to learn about body scanners when in 1997 Cyberware introduced their WB4 scanner, which was used to scan U.S. soldiers for the purpose of creating better-fitting uniforms. Previously, Cyberware’s body scanners were mostly used for special effects by the movie industry (as in the film Terminator) and in hospitals.

In 2001, [TC]2 body scanners were used to conduct Britain’s first national sizing survey called SIZE UK. In 2002, the same scanners were used to scan 10,000 Americans (SIZE USA), which was the first major study of the size and shape of Americans since the ASTM study during WWII.

By the mid 2000s, body scanning booths began appearing in stores like Bloomingdales and Gap as a way to get consumers into their stores to buy merchandise.

Today, smartphone apps like Naked Labs, Netvirta , 3DLook, mirrorsize  and others, are trying to break into the body scanning market, but with varying degrees of accuracy and success.

When a fashion brand is considering 3D software for design, product development, sales and marketing, their first priority is to perfect a virtual fit avatar (as a technical fitting tool) and a parametric avatar (for presentation & marketing purposes).  

 

Who are the key 3D body scanning players?

Each of the companies listed below have in one form or another been active in 3D scanning.

How is 3D body scanning used in the fashion industry?

3D technologies encompass both 3D scanning & 3D software. 3D scanning is used to: 1) obtain customer data (body scans), 2) to evaluate properties (textures for textiles) and 3) to understand how the product was formed (reverse engineering).

Body scans of customers provide data that brands use to understand not only the ‘size’ of their customer but their ‘shape.’ Better garment fit can be achieved by expanding beyond a standard fit model. Avatars of their generic customer in various sizes and shapes can be created and later used in computer aided design (CAD) or as input to Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality (VR/AR) scenarios.

For custom-fitting in clothing, avatars within the CAD software can be modified to reflect a person’s actual measurements. Sometimes, custom avatars are created for specific customers. These are known as Virtual Fit Forms.

Designers use avatars during the design process in an attempt to reduce the high cost of sample making. Marketers use Virtual Fit avatars and Parametric avatars (those that have more motion, such as avatars that can walk, run and jump) to help sell/market product to potential buyers. We will go into depth about 3D CAD software and these types of avatars in our next blog.

 

Our 3D series continues…

As a fashion education resource, we at the University of Fashion are committed to delivering the latest news in the fashion industry. This blog post focused on 3D scanning technology, the first step in the process of ‘going 3D.’ As more and more companies adopt 3D technology, just as the sewing machine revolutionized fashion in the 1800s, 3D will become a very important component in the design, production, marketing & sales of apparel and footwear.

Next week, in Part 2 of our series, we will discuss 1) the role of avatars, both parametric and virtual fit forms, 2) the key players in the 3D software industry and, 3) explain the ABC/terminology used in the 3D space.

 

CARE TO SHARE YOUR OWN BODY SCANNING EXPERIENCE?

 

Here’s some additional links for 3D Body Scanners

https://floridalaserscanning.com/3d-laser-scanning/history-of-laser-scanning/

http://www.3dmd.com/ http://sizestream.com/ https://www.human-solutions.com/

https://www.tc2.com/ https://texel.graphics/ https://www.artec3d.com/portable-3d-scanners/shapifybooth https://www.styku.com/ https://fit3d.com/

https://nakedlabs.com/ https://www.staramba.com/ https://www.ibv.org/en/

http://bodymetrics.com/ https://3dlook.me/ https://www.netvirta.com/3d-scanning/

https://www.mirrorsize.com/ https://alvanon.com/ http://www.iwl.jp/en/

https://techmed3d.com/

SLOW FASHION & THE CONSCIOUS EDIT – 4 Basic Principles of Slow Fashion

“Slow fashion” is on everybody’s mind at the moment as consumers are becoming more and more aware of the environmental and social impact of their purchasing decisions.

If you are interested in diving a little deeper into this worldwide movement, read on for the four basic principles of slow fashion.

 

1. It is all about mindfulness.

The most crucial aspect of slow fashion is that a consumer works to become more conscious and mindful of what they are consuming. It doesn’t mean that you have to throw out all your old clothes and refill your closet to the brim with ethical brands. Instead, it means switching your mindset about clothing and thinking more deeply about the daily purchase decisions you do (or don’t) make.

When looking to embrace slow fashion, you want to start differentiating between need vs. want. Therefore, before you purchase anything new, have a look through your closet and identify any gaps. Then, you can create a wish list of items that can fill the holes in your wardrobe, as well as a couple of other pieces that’ll add a fresh injection to what you already have (like a pair of Balenciaga shoes).

By being more mindful with your shopping strategy, you will find that you are increasingly rewarded as you become more content with your closet.

 

2. Always opt for quality over quantity.

The second basic principle of slow fashion is to always opt for quality over quantity.

In other words, if you have $100 to spend on clothes this month, don’t buy ten items for $10; instead, buy one high-quality piece that you need (principle #1) for $100. While this may seem like a massive investment at first, what you are actually doing is choosing to appreciate the items that you bring into your life. The well-made item that you select is going to last you a lot longer (years!) than any item you find in a cheap fast-fashion store.

That being said, don’t assume that you are going to have to take out a second mortgage to buy a few quality pieces. Perhaps you can choose to add one or two pieces to your closet each season and slowly grow your collection of high-quality basics.

Generally, sustainable brands offer similar basics each season, so you can take your time when saving up. Additionally, you can also find quality items in vintage and secondhand shops. Keep your eyes peeled for reinforced seams, lining, extra fabric on a hem, and natural fibers  – these are all indicators of quality. Or, find something from Farfetch’s ‘The Conscious Edit’- their pre-owned section on their website. For example:

 

4. Support sustainable slow-fashion brands.

Last but not least, when you do decide to shop, you want to look at the offerings from sustainable slow-fashion brands. The brands that have adopted the “slow-fashion” mantra are conscious about the environment, their social responsibility, and the effect that their business and creations have on the planet. Farfetch offers ‘The Conscious Edit’ a series of designers who are dedicated to taking positive steps across three areas: environmental, social and animal welfare. ‘Positivity Conscious’ Reformation garments are made from eco-friendly materials with sustainability at the core of everything they make. Stella McCartney is known for her uncompromising stance on using cruelty-free, organic and recycled materials in her designs. In fact, her sneaker collaboration with Adidas boasts that more than half of their range of apparel and footwear is made with recycled materials.

By supporting sustainable slow-fashion brands, you are helping to reduce the negative repercussions of clothing and textiles on the environment. Also, you are ensuring that your hard-earned money is going to a company who, in turn, pays fair wages and provides better working conditions for the people who make your clothes.

What do you think about slow fashion? Is it something that you are looking to incorporate into your life?

Let us know your thoughts and any relevant experiences you have in the comments below!

Props to Bergdorf

Emerging Designer Showcase Event

No one appreciates, more than I, what it means when a major department store decides to showcase your work, because once upon a time, that designer was me. During the 1980s, I was fortunate enough to have my own business, Francesca Sterlacci Ltd., built on a shoestring. I’m proud to say that for 10 years I had the support of many great stores and was fortunate to have my clothes featured in store windows, at  perrsonal appearances and sold in prestigious NY stores including Saks, Bloomingdales, Barney’s, Bendels, Bergdorf’s and Bonwit’s (known in the day as the 5 ‘Bs’). So you can imagine how special it was for me on Saturday September 8, when I took time out to meet a few emerging designers on Bergdorf’s 6th floor Modernist shop. One of the big questions our University of Fashion subscribers ask us is, “will I be able to market and sell my designs to stores?” Well, after seeing and meeting the designers that you are about to read about, and by talking with Madison Nagy, Assitant Buyer for BG’s Advanced Designer department, the answer is yes, but “You have got to be different.”

Let’s take a look at what that means.

 

BODE

 

Bode luxury unisex brand: Designer Emily Adams Bode

Bode (pronounced Bow-Dee) is a luxury unisex RTW brand created by Atlanta-born designer and Parsons grad, Emily Adams Bode. The brand launched in 2016 and Bode took off! The brand began with one-of-a-kind garments composed entirely of antiques textiles and continues to envigorate American menswear through the art of storytelling. Each piece tells a story and is tailor-made in New York. Her work expresses a sentimentality for the past through the study of personal narratives and historical techniques. Modern workwear silhouettes united with female-centric traditions of quilting, mending, and applique shape the collection. The collection is organized around that single simple rule: slow fashion is better.

Bode was the first female designer to show at NYFW: Men’s and had her first runway show in Paris in June 2019. She was named as a finalist in the LVMH Prize for young fashion designers, was recently the winner of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and Emily Bode was even included in Forbes’ 30 under 30 list. Click on the link to see one of Bode’s fashion presentations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmZk8R7zGn0

BERNADETTE

Bernadette luxury RTW brand: Mother & daughter Bernadette & Charlotte De Geyter

Bernadette is luxury ready-to-wear label based in Antwerp by mother and daughter Bernadette and Charlotte De Geyter. Their collections are defined by easy-to-wear silk dresses and refreshing prints, designed exclusively in-house by Charlotte who graduated with a master’s degree from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts. A love of nature and the arts are leitmotifs that run through Bernadette’s aesthetic. Ultra feminine, metropolitan glamour is juxtaposed with a poetic vision of a life somewhere remote and paradisal. Clean lines add a graceful note to the label’s silhouettes while colorful prints echo a timeless and free-spirited allure. Check out their website at https://www.bernadetteantwerp.com

Deveaux New York

Deveaux New York. Designer: Tommy Ton

Deveaux New York was originally formed as a menswear collection by Matthew Breen and Andrea Tsao. In February 2018, Deveaux launched its womenswear collection and announced the appointment of industry veteran, photographer Tommy Ton as Creative Director. Tommy Ton is a Canadian photographer first known for his fashion blog Jak & Jil and his street style coverage of fashion weeks on Style.com and GQ.com.

With an encyclopedia knowledge of what is being worn in the streets, Tommy Ton brings a keen knowledge of the relationship between the runway and the consumer. Together with Andrea Tsao as Head Designer, as well as Matthew Breen, who heads business development, the team is comprised of a unique set of backgrounds that aspires to re-contextualize classic items in the modern world through fit, fabrication and silhouette. It explores the idea of a ‘uniform’ in an effort to make a truly authentic wardrobe. Bergdorf has the NY exclusive distribution of Deveaux for 3 seasons. Check out Deveaux New York’s website: https://deveauxnewyork.com

LouLou Studio

LouLou Studio: Designer Chloe LouLou De Saison

LouLou Studio is a knitwear brand created by fashion influencer/fashion consultant Chloe LouLou De Saison. Her Instagram is a glimpse into a universe which revolves around her vision of the modern Parisian woman. Chloe says of her brand, “I just wanted what I couldn’t find anywhere else: the perfect basic knit with a twist, but also good quality clothes at affordable prices. Everything revolves around well-being. Our pieces are designed to make life easier for women. Putting on a nice sweater in the morning is comforting and reassuring. We want to arouse this feeling with our knitwear collections.” Bergdorf has the NY exclusive distribution of LouLou for 3 seasons. See more of LouLou Studio at https://louloustudio.fr/en/

Also on BG’s Radar

Although the following designers were not on the selling floor while I was there on Saturday, the following brands were also listed among BG’s emerging designers.

Coperni

Coperni luxury RTW designers: Sébastien Meyer & Arnaud Vaillant (Courtesy Coperni Instagram)

Coperni– a luxury women’s wear collection launched by former Courrèges designers Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant on Instagram this Fall – check out the interactive display to watch the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure inspired video series! Coperni takes its name from Nicolaus Copernicus. “He revolutionized astronomy and we were inspired by that,” says Sébastien, who met co-designer Arnaud when both were students at Mod’ Art International in Paris. Their fledgling label, which won the 2014 ANDAM Award, is at once innovative and timeless. “The most important thing for us is to make clothes that are perfectly cut and draped and that women enjoy wearing,” explains Vaillant. “We want our clients to have an emotional connection to our pieces, a real feeling, and we won’t achieve that by making collections that fall out of fashion after a season.” Coperni is currently exclusive to BG in NY.

KHAITE

KHAITE. Designer: Catherine Holstein

KHAITE (pronounced Kate) is a women’s RTW collection that reimagines classic American sportswear for the 21st century. Designed to be cherished, each piece proposes a fresh balance of opposing elements – past and future, masculine and feminine strength and softness, structure and fluidity – while embodying a signature sensuality and ease.

 

Founded in 2016 by Catherine Holstein, New York-based KHAITE evolves with each new season, building upon a foundation of robust and polished items distinguished by exceptional materials and subtle yet striking details. The collection takes its name from the Greek word (xaitn) meaning “long, flowing hair.”

Sies Marjan

Sies Marjan. Designer Sander Lak

Sies Marjan (pronounced seez mar-john), is a luxury designer label established in 2016 and based in New York City. Designed by Dutch Creative Director Sander Lak, the brand evokes a narrative of color, proportion and subversive fabrication. The name Seis Marjan, signifies the first names of his father Sies, and his mother Marjan. In 3 short years, Sies Marjan has developed a strong multi-category business to include Women’s RTW, Men’s RTW, footwear and handbags soon to come. The brand has 150+ global luxury stockists including Bergdorf Goodman, MatchesFashion, Sssense and Net-a-Porter.

Sander was nominated for the CFDA Swarovski Award for emerging talent in 2017 and won the prize in 2018. He was also a nominee for the CFDA 2019 Womenswear Designer of the Year. Check out his Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/seismarjan/ 

ROTATE by Birger Christensen

ROTATE by Birger Christensen

ROTATE is a Copenhagen-based brand designed by Danish stylists and influencers Jeanette Madsen and Thors Valdimars. Birger Christensen, the parent company, boasts a 150-year-old history, having opened its doors in the heart of Copenhagen in 1869. Finn Birger Christensen, a third-generation furrier, built the company by offering a well-curated collection of luxury names alongside its own brand of fur and accessories. When Denise Christensen joined the family business as chief executive officer in 2017, she initiated a new chapter in the brand’s history by opening Rotate, featuring bold prints and textiles in 80s inspired silhouettes with an emphasis on party dresses.

Check out Rotate at https://rotatebirgerchristensen.com

As NYFW marches on this week, it is nice to see attention being paid to emerging designers. Stay tuned….

All Hail the Queen of Raw

Nothing makes us happier at the University of Fashion than featuring power players who are making positive change in the fashion industry. And little did this designer realize I would have my design and production mind blown by the incredible woman you are about to meet.

Enter Stephanie Benedetto, self-proclaimed Queen of Raw.

This former corporate attorney on Wall Street and descendent of an Austrian immigrant turned Lower East Side master furrier is realizing her mission of turning pollution into profit. And maybe more importantly, she’s contributing to a world in which her son can grow up and thrive by breathing in clean air, enjoying access to clean water and wearing non-toxic clothing.

Benedetto suggests turning our traditional design process on its head in an effort to make design sustainable by powering design with dead stock fabrics.

Benedetto explains: Pen to paper or stylus to screen, designing a garment can be one of the most special and intimate experiences an artist can have. It’s no mystery why designers want to start their process with this creative expression. But it’s taking its toll on our world. Where is the business or environmental sense in designing a garment with a fabric in mind without having secured the specific material, figuring out the quantity available, knowing where it’s located, and the ethics in its production? The funnel is broken. Starting with design leaves the rest of the battle uphill.

Have you ever had one of those designer a-ha moments, where everything you’ve been taught somehow goes out the window, and suddenly you see your craft in a new light? Keep reading…

The Queen of Raw continues: The back and forth of swatching and communicating shipping, confirming color, managing orders, the possibility of the material becoming unavailable in the midst of communication – it happens all too often. What if (just trust me for two seconds), what if we started with a material? What if there was a way to see that something was already manufactured and ready to go?”

Once again, a-ah. I’ve faced this production quandary and it wasn’t pretty. On the flip side of things, as an emerging designer with only small orders to fill, I found myself wanting to use fabrics that I could only get by meeting the manufacturer’s minimums. This unfortunate situation left me with all kinds of extra fabric for some garments in my collection and running out of the right fabric (as Benedetto describes above) for others. Had I of started my design process with specific, available fabrics in mind, oh my, how things would have turned out differently.

As if reading my mind, Benedetto continues: You have all the information on where it’s [fabric] coming from, how much is available, how it was made, and it’s cheaper at the same quality you’re used to because it’s “dead stock.” What if designers began with what’s available instead of creating all the problems (for themselves) that slow production down by using/creating new? 

Benedetto will tell you exactly how a fledgling (or seasoned) designer’s business could benefit from this fabric-first design model, and this designer will concur.

Bottom lines would improve.

Price points on finished goods could be more accessible with production costs severely lowered.

Billions of gallons of water would be saved in using already existing excess (700 gallons per yard repurposed).

And fashion could move to the forefront of the sustainable mission instead of being the second biggest contributor to climate change.

Take in those last few words…fashion is the second biggest contributor to climate change. As responsible designers and global citizens, it’s important for all of us to consider all the design and production resources (and options) we have at our fingertips, thanks to thought leaders like Benedetto. If sourcing existing fabric options first makes sense to you, waste no time visiting Queen of Raw. As a bonus benefit, Queen of Raw will calculate the environmental impact of your order free of charge and you can pass the good news (and the savings) on to your customers.

Finally, we couldn’t write a post on responsible design and sustainable uses of fabric without giving a shout out to our friends at FabScrap. This incredible resource transports unused fabric from designers’ factories and warehouses to its sorting location. Then FabScrap either recycles scraps or prepares them for sale at a lower cost for designers and crafters. FabScrap even offers fabric sorting volunteer opportunities where you can earn fabric in trade. If you are in NYC, take advantage of one of two FabScrap locations!

If you have sustainable resources of your own to add, please don’t hesitate to comment and share what you know with our community below!

WE JUST GOTTA BRAG

FEELIN’ THE LOVE

As the University of Fashion, the world’s first and largest online fashion education video library, enters its 11th year in business, we thought we’d devote this week’s blog to why our subscribers love us so much. Besides the hundreds of great lessons that we offer, our subscribers have told us how much they love our super-directional Pinterest boards, as well as our Facebook, Instagram and Tweets, which provide up to the minute fashion event coverage, inspiring quotes and feature our new lessons. Oh yeah, and they love our You Tube channel. Our free sleeve sloper lesson on YT has remarkably hit an all-time high of 837K views, yikes!  But, let’s not forget other UoF freebies – our set of mens, women’s, children’s and plus size croquis give-aways which, drum roll please…have had more than 400K downloads and are still going strong!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with us, well then please, come out from under that rock and check us out!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpETLHSVxsU&feature=youtu.be&t=6

 

TOP 10 REASONS WHY PEOPLE LOVE US

  1. Learn from Industry Pros and Top College Professors
  • We recruit only the best people in the fashion industry to teach our lessons. Each teacher is selected because they’re considered an expert in their field.
  • Our college instructors are selected for their particular area of expertise and based on their college peer and student evaluations. We interview hundreds of teachers before we choose.
  1. Lesson Satisfaction 8.97 out of 10
  • Before deciding on which lessons to film, we do research. We interview and survey hundreds of our customers to find out what they would like to learn.
  • We poll our high school and college students and teachers, our industry customers and our home sewers. Each plays a huge role in the lessons that we choose to film.
  • An outside firm recently surveyed 500 of our customers and asked them to rate the lesson that they most recently completed. On a scale where 10 is the “most satisfying”, the U of F scored an average of 8.97.
  1. Founded by a Designer for Designers
  • UoF was founded by Francesca Sterlacci, a former designer/entrepreneur, author and college professor from FIT and AAU. As chair of the Fashion Dept. at FIT, Francesca learned that high school students interested in fashion college needed help with their portfolios. Current fashion college teachers & students desperately needed tutoring, especially in the disciplines of draping, patternmaking, sewing and fashion drawing. While some colleges offer tutoring to their students, none have on-call, 24/7 service. Enter UoF.
  • Fashion industry professionals looking to upgrade their skills can’t find time to go back to school and so for them, UoF is the perfect solution.
  1. Enjoy College Courses in the Convenience of Your Home or Office
  • Subscribers choose from over 450+ lessons at a level that suits their particular skill level, whether they are a beginner, intermediate or advanced student.
  • Subscribers get to watch, replay and access our lessons from a computer, tablet or smart phone as many times as they wish.
  1. Videos that Keep You Stay Engaged & Visually Stimulated
  • To reinforce and add to the learning experience, our video editors have added state-of-the-art motion graphics to help the viewer get a better understanding of the material.
  • Each lesson is broken up into modules with music transitions so the viewer can take breaks in between each module or conveniently play back a module for further clarification.
  • Our videos are easy to follow, never boring, and move at a pleasant pace. Viewers have the option to rewind and review as many steps as necessary, which, is another benefit of learning by video.
  1. Find Everything You Need to Get Started
  • For beginners, UoF starts out by teaching how to create a portfolio for fashion college application.
  • UoF offers 13 fashion disciplines: draping, pattern making, sewing, fashion drawing, CAD art & pattern making, accessory design, knits, childrenswear, menswear, product development, fashion business and a fashion lecture series with lessons covering textiles, color theory, trend forecasting, fashion history and prominent fashion luminaries.
  • In addition to a resource library of suggested books, museums, schools and fashion terminology, we are also a one stop shop marketplace for the tools, supplies, machines, fabrics, dress forms, trims and art supplies that you will need for our lessons.
  1. We Keep You Connected to the Fashion Industry
  • Whether you are a working professional, a student, a teacher, a home sewer or one of the fashion curious, you will be able to access lectures including how to choose a dress form, how to pad a dress form, lectures by fashion book authors, and other topics such as textiles, the state of the fashion industry, current fashion trends and much, much, more!
  1. Schools & Companies Get Expert Help
  • We help colleges strengthen their existing curriculum with expert tutorials in all of the major fashion subjects and in the creation of hybrid classroom learning. In addition, we offer online licensing options for schools to create their own online degree programs.
  • High schools get the benefit of expert teachers without having to spend money on recruiting teachers with specific skill sets. And, access to our video library  is a great way to start a fashion club!
  • Companies use UoF to assist their employees in keeping current with fashion industry best practices.
  1. We are Affordable
  • Whether you are an individual subscriber who chooses a monthly or yearly option, or you are a high school, college, public library, group or organization, a subscription to UoF enables you to access all of our website and video content as well as our transcripts, 24/7 for the duration of your subscription. And…all of our lessons are now closed-captioned.
  1. We Now Have Books to Complement our Beginner Videos
  • As of January 2019, we offer, for purchase, a Beginner Techniques book series in Draping, Pattern making and Sewing. This reinforces the learning process and is a great way to learn, since the books follow the videos step-by-step, frame-by-frame. Don’t take our word for it, check out our Amazon reviews!
  • And, speaking of reviews…check out our industry, subscriber and academic testimonials and our press reviews to see why people in 177 countries love us. And thank you…WE FEEL THE LOVE!

Let us know which lessons are your favorite and what lessons you would like to see on UoF’s site!

To sell or to rent? A sustainable business model for independent designers?

Via Bag, Borrow or Steal Instagram Account @bagborroworsteal

The buzz phrase “ethical fashion” has been tossed around for some time evoking concerns regarding fair labor practices and wages, processes that take the preservation of our environment and animals into consideration and supply chain transparency.

Often ethical fashion is confused with sustainable fashion, and yet there is no doubt the two are interrelated. Ethical practices lead to more sustainable processes which in turn mean healthier workers, an environment that can support generations of fashionistas to come and of course, clothing consumers can feel good about wearing.

But what if emerging and independent designers could take all that we’ve learned about both ethical (and sustainable) fashion and roll it into a business model that is growing in popularity and in my humble opinion, might be a way for young fashion businesses to stay afloat?

Hear me out…

The other night I was at a dinner party where several of the guests were talking about how much they loved their clothing subscription/rental services. The conversation went like this:

“I love your skirt.”

“Thanks! It’s from Le Tote.”

“Le Tote? I’ve never heard of that store. Where is it?”

“Oh, no! It’s not a store, it’s a subscription service, you know, like Rent the Runway. If I stay on top of wearing items they send and sending them back, I can get up to 4 new pieces a week. And if I really like something, I can keep it, pay for it and it’s mine. Otherwise, I wear it once or twice and send it back for the next person to try!”

Via Le Tote’s Instagram Account @letote

As the two talked, I started thinking of all of the sustainable advantages of renting a wardrobe. On behalf of the consumer, subscription services mean fewer unworn clothes packing closets and eventually ending up in landfills. And by giving clothes a “test run” and only keeping those items that the consumer is partial to (or as one guest mentioned, “get a lot of compliments from others”), more thoughtful purchasing choices can be made. Then, of course, there is the option to rent special occasion garments you may only need to wear once…

As a subscription service retailer, there are fewer risks of unsold inventory (and therefore waste in terms of dollars and garments), not to mention real time data revealing what consumers want which can guide future purchasing, order by order. Like the consumer, the retailer enjoys a more thoughtful way of approaching buying and selling in the fashion industry.

When it comes to ethical standards, it is still up to both rental services as well as the consumer to find out how the clothes they rent out (or in) are produced. After my subscription service curiosities were peaked, I did a bit of research only to find companies that curate plus sizes (Gwynnie Bee), bags (Bag, Borrow or Steal), just about any fashion item your fashion-loving heart desires from a wide variety of designers.

Via Gwynnie Bee’s Instagram Account @gwynniebee

But what I did not find is an independent designer who follows this model.

What if (on a smaller scale) independent designers could create a scenario where they could design and produce adhering to their own ethical standards and then rent their pieces in a way that is not only environmentally sustainable, but spares their business from the pitfalls that often cause independent designers to close their doors?

Feeling like I had to be missing something, I tried to create a real life scenario using the wide variety of samples I’ve created and are now tucked neatly away in my storage unit. I could photograph them, write product descriptions and create a website, but instead of selling these samples, I could rent them, earning income, while I designed additional styles. True, I would have to figure out shipping and how to protect myself against damaged garments. I’m sure I might get some pushback for not having a full size range in most styles, but wouldn’t it be amazing for these styles that I still love to see some light of day?

I wouldn’t have to worry about retailers placing an order for my most current (hypothetical) collection and subsequent production, and with the power of a social media following, I could advertise availability of garment rental to those who I already know are fans of my work.

I’m a firm believer that good design is timeless. Just the other day, I was admiring how Thom Browne posts pieces from collections past periodically on Instagram and I can rarely decipher which suit is from 2014 and which suit is from his most recent collection. Does this make me a bad fashionista? Probably. But I believe that we as a culture are trending away from the incredible amount of stress put on designers to produce season after season. Instead, wouldn’t it be incredible to generate revenue, which for a new designer could mean designing and producing the next collection, from styles past that we still love through a rental option?

Emerging designers, I’d really love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Are there additional benefits of this model you can think of? Perhaps pitfalls that I haven’t considered? I’d love to know…

Keeping Fashion Real in a Virtual World?

Balmain Campaign featuring Virtual Models Courtesy of The Diigitals

Keeping it IRL, I’m a little bit torn on this topic.

There’s no denying that technological advancements in fashion have advanced our experiences as consumers.

Just last weekend, I stopped into a Fleet Feet with my fiancé to take a look at new running shoe options. The sales associate immediately had Jen step into a 3D fit id foot scanner to guide his decisions about shoes that would best fit her foot. Within minutes, a 3D scan of Jen’s feet popped up on the sales associate’s iPad. He disappeared into the stockroom to retrieve shoes with a fit that would complement Jen’s high arch and supinating feet (in case supinating is a word new to you, too). The result? Jen is killing her workouts in her new kicks! Really, she has commented, “The fit of these new shoes is making all the difference!”

This real life scenario is just one more example of how 3D scans can enhance the fit of our clothes and help designers get the kind of fit that will best serve their customers. But take yourself out of your IRL body for a moment and imagine this process in reverse. Now that we’ve figured out how to use technology to fit the actual human body, photographers, influencers, brands and designers are creating a virtual fashion world from scratch in which we all may be living in one day.

Meet Shudu.

 

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🍊🍊🍊 . . 📸@cjw.photo . #fenty #fentybeauty #mattemoiselle #sawc #3dart

A post shared by Shudu (@shudu.gram) on

She’s approaching 175,000 followers on Instagram. She walked the red carpet at the Baftas. She’s the face of the likes of Fenty and Olivier Rousteing’s Balmain army. And get this, Shudu is the 100% virtual creation of photographer Cameron-James Wilson.

Shudu is the world’s first virtual supermodel and she’s part of a growing trend. In fact, she is one of 6 virtual supermodels now “signed” to an all digital modeling agency, The Diigitals. According to Wilson, creator of Shudu and her agency,

“Here at the Diigitals, we are utilising the rising accessibility of new technologies and taking the first steps into a new frontier of digital exploration. Within this collaborative hub, we will demonstrate the potential of 3D fashion modelling and showcase its applications for innovative brands. Acting as both a showroom to illustrate possibilities and a gallery where a portfolio of diverse digital identities can be appreciated, The Diigitals erases the boundaries between reality and the digital.”

                           Virtual models signed to The Diigitals agency

And here is where I become torn on the topic of “erasing the boundaries between reality and the digital.”

On first thought, I love the idea of visually creating anyone or anything (clothing included) our minds can dream up. But as I start to think about Shudu’s rise in popularity, I can’t help but think of how her existence might affect the fashion industry at large one day. While a human is responsible for Shudu’s existence, Shudu had started to take on a life of her own, which could cost IRL models, marketers and designers their jobs.

Virtual models don’t have bills to pay or need travel arrangements and accommodations to take part in a photoshoot. In other words, booking a virtual model may be a cost effective option when it comes to marketing campaigns. But at what cost? Real models lose out on opportunities for work, not to mention the risks we run in reversing all the progress we’ve made in terms of celebrating real bodies.

When it comes to selling clothing, the fact that many live their lives virtually as social media influencers is beginning to change the way clothing is designed, sold and worn as well. Designers have started to create virtual collections, perfect for those influencers who have built their brands based on “outfits of the day.” Rarely repeating a look becomes much easier when you can send a designer a photo and have an outfit designed digitally to be worn the next day (and at a fraction of the cost of IRL clothing).

Take Swedish brand Carlings, for example. For the low cost of $10 – $30, you can send a photo, select a Carlings design and it’s yours to wear on Instagram. Here’s how it works:

On the upside, think of how this type of clothing reduces IRL waste from the fashion industry, a cause Carlings stands firmly behind. And just imagine…those who covet brands usually far out of their price range, may be able to afford a virtual piece of Balmain, Chanel or Prada, etc.

But as educators who see such value in the art and craft of clothing made to fit on actual human bodies, we will always advocate for valuing both the technological advancements in our industry as well as the irreplaceable contributions of the makers in fashion. We value all designers’ work whether conceived on a dress form, pattern table or in Photoshop. We also advocate for discussion and thought around the ethical decisions we will make as the world around us changes, so please feel free to share your comments on this topic below. We look forward to hearing from you.