SPOTLIGHT ON UNIVERSITY OF FASHION SUBSCRIBER: HALLEH ATRI

(Designer Halleh Atri)

In December 2019, UoF did a social media blast offering our subscribers the opportunity to have their work featured on our Instagram and Facebook channels. We proudly posted each entrant’s designs and then picked one designer to be the recipient of a free one year all access subscription to UoF. The lucky winner was Halleh Atri, a 33-year old designer based in Iran. Here’s her story:

Halleh did part of her studies in Australia as a textile engineer, fiber scientist and researcher. Her enthusiasm for fashion started only four years ago when plans to complete her doctorate fell through. To overcome the disappointment of not completing her doctorate, she began taking part in fashion design courses and immediately fell in love with everything related to it. She did a few online courses and during her research discovered University of Fashion.

In Halleh’s own words:

I found University of Fashion the most comprehensive online source for learning. My plan is to keep learning as much as I can…and this subscription is going to help me with that a lot, especially because I am about to start another fashion course in Europe.  Yeah why not? I mean we often think our dreams never change, well I am a living proof that sometimes the only thing that we need is new dreams and mine is creating aesthetically beautiful outfits which bring joy and smile to wearer faces even for a short time.”

(Halleh Atri Sketches)

Halleh’s aunt is a professional dressmaker and also a certified Somebana flower maker (a very old Japanese technique to make flowers usually from very expensive fabrics). She used to watch her aunt working when she was a child and her aunt has certainly been her first inspiration.

(Halleh Atri- Somebana Handmade Flower)

Halleh’s future plans include starting her own business. In the meantime, she is designing, sewing, styling and even flower-making all the time. According to Halleh:

The entire process of creating a look to me is like writing a story and I am still a researcher but here, instead of researching scientific topics, I research fashion. As an engineer the first thing that we must learn is coming up with a solution, as someone who practiced PhD, the most important thing that I learned is never giving up until I find a way out…During creating an outfit, especially the pattern making and sewing process, I sometimes find myself incapable of working out the problem and this is when my past experiences help me and miraculously I find a way out! University of Fashion tutorials help me a lot during these situations. And, now that I have a one-year subscription I am planning to go through draping tutorials and lectures first. I may refresh my drawing skills too. ”

(Halleh Atri-Sketch)

(Halleh Atri – Sketch)

According to Halleh, “Unfortunately we live in an era of climate change and fashion/textile is the second most polluting industry, therefore the future belongs to those who practice sustainable fashion.” We applaud Halleh for her talent and for her commitment to sustainable design.

Join us in wishing Halleh lots of success in her future career as a fashion designer!

AUGMENTED REALITY (AR) FOR FASHION RETAILING

AUGMENTED REALITY (AR) FOR FASHION RETAILING

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, what color looks best for the ball?”

MemoryMirror (Photo credit MemoMi Labs)

What exactly is AR? Per Wikipedia, Augmented Reality is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information. Augmented Reality for retail here!

For example, MemoMi Labs offers the MemoryMirror, which enables customers to try products virtually. How does this work?  The mirror is a reflective TV screen linked to a camera and controlled by AR software to create a virtual fitting room.

Per Morgan Drake of X-cart.com, “63% of retail brands plan to use AR in the next two years, however, 52% of retail executives do not feel prepared to support advanced technologies.”  That is, there is a demand for employees trained in AR.

Further info links:

Links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augmented_reality

https://www.x-cart.com/blog/augmented-reality-retail.html

https://memorymirror.com/

AR TRAINING

(Photo credit: Fashion Institute of Technology)

How does one train for this soon-to-be required skill? 

The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) will be offering an AR/VR course in their Content Design Certificate Program as of Summer 2020. The course will focus on using 360 photo/video, Unity (cross-platform game engine), WebVR, and A-frame (a web framework for building virtual reality experiences) to build experiences for the web. The content includes AR/VR tools, creating 360 content, creating 3D animated models, and other content.  Enrollment require a basic understanding of coding, such as HTML and CSS.  Experience with basic JavaScript is preferred. HTML and CSS are coding languages used in constructing web sites. Check the links below for more details.

(Photo credit: Kode with Klossy)

Most fashion schools concentrate on technical skills such as draping, sewing, pattern making and fashion illustration. However, in article from the October 2016 edition of Vogue Australia they explain why designers should learn to code. In today’s technological world, this skill set will be required if one wants to remain relevant. In fact, recognition of the need for coding skills has led supermodel Karlie Kloss to set up “Kode with Klossy” coding camps with scholarships for girls age 13-18.

If you are over the age of 18, there are other options to learn to code, such as the Code Academy or other online training programs.

Further info links:

Links

http://www.fitnyc.edu/ccps/designing-tomorrow/arvr-content-design.php

https://www.vogue.com.au/vogue-codes/news/this-is-why-you-need-to-learn-how-to-code/news-story/53362905dad4927674d1a433aae5c699

https://www.kodewithklossy.com/program

https://www.codecademy.com/

DESIGN VISIBILITY USING AR

Many designers struggle with how to get their collection visible to more people without a runway show. 

As Brooke Roberts-Islam noted in Forbes, AR is expanding from pre-recorded content to a live runway show in a customer’s physical location. The London College of Fashion’s Innovation Agency (FIA) partnered with HoloMe to present selected collections from London College of Fashion MA graduates. Viewers were able to watch the show via smartphone in real-time.

The HoloMe website explains the four categories of AR: marker-based, markless, projection-based and superimposition-based.  Superimposition allows the customers to have human holograms model clothing products within their own homes or via another chosen environment.

This technology can be used to generate “buzz” through which customers gain first looks into what is possible. HoloMe states that they are able to provide a real-time streaming experience with their existing hardware kit and mobile platform, which can accommodate up to 1 million users simultaneously.

Further info links:

Links

https://www.forbes.com/sites/brookerobertsislam/2019/03/05/groundbreaking-augmented-reality-fashion-show-streamed-to-global-audience/#25cd5a5b45b6

https://holo.me/

https://holo.me/the-a-r-industry-and-experiential-marketing/

Can you just imagine how great that would be for an upstart designer, a fashion college student’s senior project or an ITAA design competition? Let us know what you think?

WHAT LESSONS ARE YOU CRAVING?

WOW, we’ve received an outpouring of lesson suggestions.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Since we put out our request 2 weeks ago for new lesson suggestions, we have been inundated with responses from students, teachers, industry professionals, home sewers and fashion entrepreneurs from 38 different countries and still counting. It’s been amazing!

THERE’S STILL TIME FOR YOU TO SEND YOUR SUGGESTIONS TO:
suggestions@xemaps.com
by February 1, 2020

Here’s just a sampling of what we’ve received thus far:

Pattern Making  

  • Different pant styles
  • Plus size patterns and pattern grading
  • Various coat styles
  • Half scale pattern making
  • Jumpsuits
  • Box pleats
  • Athleisure: men and women
  • Various skirt styles: layered, tiered, divided
  • Knit garment grading
  • TR & Subtraction Cutting Techniques

Sewing

  • Jacket/Skirt: drafting & sewing
  • Cutting, sewing and invisible zipper-setting on a bias skirt
  • Piping on a notched collar
  • Faced waistband for skirts/pants
  • Collars: drafting & sewing
  • Cuffs drafting & sewing

Draping/Fitting

  • Lingerie
  • Swimwear
  • Corset with cups
  • Wrap dress

Lectures

  • Costing
  • Historical Costuming
  • Fashion vocabulary: types of pockets, lapels, coats pants, sweaters, etc.
  • Sustainable dyeing techniques
  • Design Theory – Clothing that flatters
  • Fitting: bodices, sleeves, dresses, jackets

As many of you already know, our video library has grown over the years from 100 videos in 6 disciplines in 2013 to 500 lessons today in 13 disciplines:

  • Draping, Sewing, Pattern making, Fashion Art, Accessories, Menswear, Knits, Childrenswear, Product Development, CAD Art & Pattern making, Fashion Business, as well as Fashion Lectures that include textiles, trend forecasting, fashion law, fashion history and other fashion related topics.

We are still accepting suggestions so don’t be shy, send us what you’d like us to shoot. We love you guys!

Please send your suggestions to us at suggestions@xemaps.com
by February 1, 2020

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!

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) FOR FASHION

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) FOR FASHION

What is AI exactly?  AI is the use of algorithms or computer programs to imitate human thought and action by analyzing data and learning to adapt to a variety of tasks. Artificial Intelligence, now part of everyday life, is predicted to increase in the second decade of the 21st century, especially in the design & retail environment within the fashion. Let’s explore how:

(Photo credit: Alexa Echo Dot -3rd Gen)

(Photo credit : Siri)

There are two general types of AI, ‘Strong’ and ‘Weak.’ ‘Weak’ AI is a set of programmed responses or interactions that are merely ‘human-like.’  Alexa and Siri are good examples of these.  When these devices are asked questions or asked to perform tasks, their responses are programmed, and they assess which response is appropriate from their ‘bank of responses.’  However, ‘weak’ AI does not ‘understand’ the true meaning of the commands or who should be giving the commands. So, check your device settings; all devices have Advanced Settings to address this issue. Common examples include parental controls or two-step verification (commonly called two factor authentication).

AI FASHION INDUSTRY COLLABORATIONS – MERGING FASHION & TECHNOLOGY

Fashion Institute of Technology & IBM

(Photo credit: Fashion Institute of Technology)

‘Strong’ AI is used for problem-solving processes.  It’s programmed to use a mixture of logic and trial & error to find answers or to categorize things. This type of AI works by ‘image sorting’ and can help you analyze real-time images and fashion industry trends.

For example, in 2018, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), IBM and Tommy Hilfiger teamed up to evaluate 15,000 Tommy Hilfiger images and some 600,000 publicly available runway images, to understand silhouettes, colors and styles. Another tool was used to analyze nearly 100,000 patterns from various fabric websites to produce novel and unique fabric patterns. This helped eliminate “all-nighters” for design research, since more time was allocated to designing and less time for researching.

This project led to further collaboration between IBM and FIT in 2019.  FIT will use IBM AI for their Fashion Workforce of the Future in their DTechLab. They plan to partner with IBM in retail marketing & merchandising to enhance their curriculum and to perform joint research.

London College of Fashion & Microsoft

(Photo credit: London College of Fashion)

The London College of Fashion’s (LCF) Fashion Innovation Agency (FIA) is working with Microsoft to expand their offerings for advanced research in 3D effects and wearable technology. They are using AI to pinpoint consumer demand and augmented Reality (AR) to revive retail. As noted by Matthew Drinkwater, head of FIA, “We cannot ignore the way that digital has impacted everyday life and completely changed how designers, brands and retailers engage with consumers.”

AI RETAIL

Zalando Research

(Photo credit: Zalando Research)

Zalando Research (a division of Zalando), an online retailer in Europe and the UK, is another company that is developing software for designers. They are developing AI solutions for: the personalization of fit; visual searches for fashion images; determining diversity of design; recommendations for future customer purchases; pricing recommendations; generative fashion design; generative fashion image swapping using avatars, and image transfer.

The first image below left, displays how generative fashion design works. For example, you can change the color, texture and shape of the garment on the left into a very different garment, as you see in the garment examples to the right.  This can be useful in design studies. The second image displays how the same garment can be worn on different people. This could help with grading or designing for size. The third image displays different textures being modeled for the same garment style. Thus, AI can be used in the design & merchandising of fashion.

“Hello Siri or Alexa, ready to help design my new outfit?”

(Photo credit: Zalando Research)

The possibilities are endless for implementing AI in both the design and merchandising of fashion. STAY TUNED!

For more information on AI:  

Links

https://www.thestreet.com/technology/what-is-artificial-intelligence-14822076

https://www.businessinsider.com/sc/ibm-fashion-fit-design-ai-2018-2

https://newsroom.ibm.com/2019-04-23-IBM-and-FIT-Announce-Collaboration-to-Help-Build-the-Creative-Fashion-Workforce-of-the-Future

https://dtech.fitnyc.edu/webflow/index.html

https://news.microsoft.com/transform/london-college-of-fashion-designers-artificial-intelligence/

http://www.fialondon.com/

https://research.zalando.com/welcome/mission/research-projects/

WE’RE LOOKING FOR YOUR 2 CENTS

 

UNIVERSITY OF FASHION IS LOOKING FOR YOUR FEEDBACK

As the year end approaches, you’ve probably been bombarded with hundreds of fashion recaps, ad nauseum. Here at University of Fashion we thought we’d take a slightly different approach, by looking to the future and reaching out to all of our loyal fans and subscribers to ask this important question…

 WHAT LESSONS WOULD YOU LIKE US TO ADD IN 2020?

Those of you who’ve been following UoF ever since we launched in 2013, know that we’re a company that was founded by a designer for designers. Our video library has grown over the years from 100 videos in 6 disciplines when we launched, to close to 500 lessons today in 13 disciplines: Draping, Sewing, Pattern making, Sewing, Fashion Art, Accessories, Menswear, Childrenswear, Product Development, Cad Art & Pattern making, lessons in Fashion Business and Fashion Lectures that include textiles, color theory, trend forecasting, fashion law, sustainable design and fashion history, as well of lots of other great fashion insider lectures & interviews.

People from more than 177 countries visit our website every year. From high school & college students and fashion college professors, to designer entrepreneurs & individuals who are looking to upgrade their skills. We still maintain our high-quality standards by hiring only fashion college professors from the top schools & fashion industry pros to teach our lessons. All of our videos are professionally shot and edited. Just read our testimonials to see how well we’re doing!

So far, comments that we’ve received from our subscribers and fans include: how to draft & sew a lined skirt with a back vent; waistband sewing techniques; bridal wear draping & sewing techniques; how to draft a coat, wrap dress and jumpsuit; plus-size pattern making; more menswear drafting lessons and advanced draping & drawing techniques lessons. Now’s the time for you get to add your 2 cents as we plan our 2020 film shoot. We’d love to hear from YOU!

PLEASE SEND YOUR LESSON SUGGESTIONS TO US AT

SUGGESTIONS@XEMAPS.COM

BY FEB 1, 2020

 

The Future of Fashion: Power in Numbers

Year 2020 is upon us, and there’s no better time to take pause, reflect on the decade gone by and plot a bright new course forward.

In the past ten years, the fashion industry has seen some major shifts. In New York alone, the home of fashion week has bounced around from Bryant Park to Lincoln Center to the piers and beyond as designers have adjusted to a changing industry. Once extravagant runway shows have turned into presentations, private viewings for buyers in showrooms and studios, if not online iterations designed to showcase offerings. The power of social media and social media influencers have changed how designers market, brand and promote themselves. And the topics of sustainability, slow fashion and increased concern with how, where and by whom clothing is made have taken center stage.

Consumers have changed, too. In response to the fast and furious pace of social media, “I want it now!” mentality has driven designers to a see now, buy now cycle of production and selling in order to get their customers the clothes they want the day after they see them posted on Instagram. But consumers have also become more thoughtful with the fashion dollars they spend, taking into consideration the consequences of “fast fashion” on the environment and the humans behind the sewing machines making 9.99 trend-of-the-moment pieces.

All in all, the age old model of designing as an independent “head of house” designer, showing a collection, hoping buyers will bite, producing orders and delivering garments six months later to retailers has been turned upside down. Today designers are required to innovate, create, collaborate and develop a path in the fashion industry that will keep their design dreams alive.

The upside of this upheaval is that a bold new day in fashion is upon us—a future that is less about ego and more about educated decisions, less about opulence and more about open conversations about the real challenges our industry is facing. Running a profitable fashion business is a multifaceted operation, with more roles that need to be filled than any one human can possibly sustain.

In our opinion, the path forward will be paved with groups of designers and experts coming together for a common goal. Think of creative factories where there is no singular Marc Jacobs or Ralph Lauren, but instead a group of people, each with a particular talent, banding together as they work toward a common creative vision.

Consider for a moment the power of putting together a team of the following:

Sustainability Expert – Someone who can focus on making affordable and sustainable decisions in terms of materials and processes used. A sustainability expert may also focus on in house sustainable labor practices and options, think creating structure so that all involved enjoy a work/life balance and a healthy environment while at work.

Innovator – A designated innovator is one who can research new methods, ways of producing, materials, structures that support the efficacy of the the team’s common vision. An innovator is focused on the next step of the group’s progress.

Designer(s) – This individual or group of individuals set the aesthetic vision for the group. Imagine bringing together a team with specializations in womenswear, menswear, accessories, etc.

Pattern Maker(s) – Pattern maker(s) carry out the technical aspects of the groups vision, whether by traditional flat pattern or using 3D software, pattern makers create a library of patterns for the group.

Social Media Guru – Someone who thrives on the fast paced, changing world of social media and understands which channels appeal to the group’s customer as well as when and how frequently to release content plays a key role in any successful business today.

Influencer – An influencer who has a significant social media following and who aligns with the vision of the brand can truly alter the course of brand awareness and sales.

Brand Manager – Someone who acts as a liaison between photographers, a social media guru, designers, etc. and makes sure messaging is consistent. A brand manager may also seek out partnership opportunities that support the group.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive…there are models, photographers, and so on to consider. However, just imagine as an emerging designer, dedicating as much time to finding your tribe of like minded people with strengths different from yours as you do to learning how to draw a croquis.

Imagine pooling resources as you build a fashion business.

Imagine having emotional and professional support as you go through the typical ups and downs of any business venture.

And imagine not feeling the weight of an entire fashion brand on your shoulders as well as having a supportive team around you to celebrate the successes you will experience.

This notion of “better together” is already starting to take shape. In a recent WWD article, 7 New Designers to Watch for Spring 2020, you’ll notice only a couple of independent designers. The rest are brands made up of two, sometimes three designers under a common label.

The team at Colville Image: www.drapersonline.com

For example, in Milan, Colville is made up of Lucinda Chambers, Molly Molloy and Kristin Forss, three designers that met 15 years ago while working at Marni. Collectively, they share experience in styling, journalism (Chambers is the former British Vogue fashion director) as well as both menswear and womenswear. They speak to this idea of power in numbers when they say, “We are surrounded by amazing people who have become our mentors and influencers, friends, colleagues and each other. We involve friends to work and collaborate with us, we are building a Colville community, the collection isn’t just one voice and not even three but many, it’s an inspiring way to work.”

The team at Commission Image: @commissionnyc

In New York, Commission, a brand by designers Jin Kay, Dylan Cao and Huy Luong, is a great example of a tribe of designers with a common creative vision. All three designers are first-generation immigrants from Asia and inspired by their mothers’ style. They share an impressive collective resume of experience. Kay has designed for Gucci, Narciso Rodriguez and Prabal Gurung. Cao has taken turns at Alexander Wang, 3.1 Phillip Lim and R13, and Luong is a photographer with a background in visual communication design. Not only does this tribe of artists share an extensive list of strengths and a creative vision, they are also tied to a greater purpose of combatting the stereotypical and literal translation of “Asian” beauty and culture in the fashion industry.

It’s been a decade since I showed my graduate collection for the Academy of Art at NY Fashion Week (in Bryant Park!) and I never could have predicted how fashion would change. But now, ten years later, I am inspired by the thought of future designers banding together for the ride. Fashion is such a wonderful world of creativity, passion and excitement and it’s meant to be shared. In 2020, my wish for you is to honor and recognize your own strengths and seek out your tribe for the rest!

Are you inspired by other design teams? Please share below in the comments.

 

 

 

 

3D Revolution – Part 3

FROM PAPER SKETCHES, PAPER PATTERNS, & HAND-SEWN SAMPLES TO TRUE-TO-LIFE 3D

(Photo credit: Optitex)

This is the third in our series covering the fashion industry’s use of 3D software. As we discussed in 3D Revolution: Part 1 and 3D Revolution: Part 2,  fashion companies are expanding their workspaces by moving away from paper sketches, paper patterns & hand-sewn samples to true-to-life 3D in the areas of design, product development, sales & marketing.

In this blog we’ll cover the industry’s most popular 3D software providers, the benefits of 3D design and the brands that have integrated 3D into their workspace. In addition, we will announce a course that explores how to evaluate whether 3D is right for your brand, 3D software costs and how to choose a 3D software package no matter the size of your company.

It is important to note that all of the brands and 3D software providers interviewed for this 3D blog series underscored the importance of possessing strong foundational ‘on-the-table’ skills before moving into digital. Each emphasized that a thorough understanding of textiles, pattern making, fit (a key part of the draping process) and garment construction, as well as ‘by hand’ and digital drawing acumen are all critical to the process. They agreed that even the best computer skills in the world are no substitute for firsthand knowledge of the key design disciplines when navigating the 3D software space.

According to Amy Sperber, a CLO 3D user and Assistant Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology:

Foundational knowledge of grain, fabric behavior and construction variations are essential at being a competent 3D fashion design software user. The challenge for fashion designers with little digital background is that the interfaces may be intimidating at first. Those with a working knowledge of Illustrator will find familiar tool experiences  in the 2D pattern making portions of 3D software. The next generation of fashion designers will need to be technically creative and digitally fluid.”

 

3D BENEFITS

DRIVES SUSTAINABILITY – CREATES EFFICIENCIES – REMOVES SOURCES OF INACCURACY & WASTE

(Photo credit: Classic Cotton)

According to McKinsey & Company, 60% of clothing ends up in incinerators or landfills within a year. Savers Thrift Store reports that Americans throw away 81 pounds of used clothes on average per year. And every second, enough textiles to fill a garbage truck is burned or landfilled according to Circular Fibres Initiate. The fashion industry is credited with being the second-most polluting industry in the world. However, brands are now actively seeking solutions for how to reduce their carbon footprint and many see 3D as the answer.

3D is going to be the most sustainable workflow for future fashion development as it eliminates unnecessary sampling and lets you see finished garments before spending exorbitant amounts on sampling budgets, trying to get a sample right.” –  Amy Sperber

 

FASTER TURNAROUND TIME

(Photo credit: Atacac)

Brands using 3D technology gain a competitive edge by adopting faster turn-around times from design to delivery. On-demand manufacturing is possible when brands are able to test clothing concepts (using avatars) on their website before going into production.

According to Amy, “Currently, brands of scale like Nike use this software in design development and for product visualizations for sale on their website. High concept brands like Atacac sell from 3D models and give away the patterns in open-source platforms.”

 

FEWER PROTOTYPES & SALES/MARKETING BENEFITS

Hugo Boss 3D virtual retail space (Photo credit: Hugo Boss)

Hugo Boss is another brand that is able to produce photorealistic 3D images that eliminate the need for numerous physical prototypes, enabling the creation of more new designs in less time. In this way, both Nike and Hugo Boss are using digital samples to shorten design times, cut costs and increase development speeds. Brands are now able to integrate their virtual collections into innovative 3D virtual retail spaces that allow users to walk through and fully interact with garments.

 

KEY 3D SOFTWARE COMPANIES

EFI OPTITEX provides end-to-end fashion design software that includes 2D CAD/CAM pattern design & 3D prototyping for fashion, apparel, automotive & upholstery. Their software combines powerful 2D design and true-to-life 3D visualization in a single platform, to create products that better fit customer’s needs.

Functions of the software include drafting pieces, editing, and finalizing digital patterns. It is also capable of adding various elements, such as pleats, darts, seam allowance, notches, buttons, and much more. It can grade with maximum accuracy and can generate measurement charts.

(Photo credit: Optitex)

Optitex’s true-to-life virtual samples help visualize and make quick alterations. It can also customize the intensity of lighting and shadows for a realistic view of your creation.

(Photo credit: Optitex)

The design team can style colorways and define print placement for fabrics, textures, stitches, buttons, and logos, with limitless virtual samples. They can also Inspect simulated cloth using a tension map to view the exact value of tension, distance, and stretch between the cloth and the avatar.

(Photo credit: Optitex)

Optitex offers an all in one avatar solution, i.e. adjust morphs, create sizes, add accessories, and visualize your garment in various poses. 3D parametric avatars enable designers to create tailored outfits for remote customers. When done right, this innovative technology can easily replace physical changing rooms and prevent fit issues early in the design process.

(Photo credit: Optitex)

The Optitex 3D technology is especially significant when it comes to specific items, such as bras, which have particular fitting standards or active sportswear to visualize placed logos and prints. 3D prototyping is also very suitable for the leather goods and luggage industry. The simulation of materials, such as leather, as well as the import of metal accessories such as buckles and clasps, enables the generation of incredibly photo-realistic 3D virtual prototypes.

In today’s social climate, offering outfits that fit everybody, shape, and size is essential for global brands. Using 3D avatars can ensure that customers will never shop for outfits that create disappointment and frustration and allows brands to accommodate to their needs based on accurate measurements. This is not only great for business in the practical sense of boosting sales, but also improves the brand’s image among Gen Z shoppers who look for an inclusive experience. The data collected from these avatars can also help brands prepare in advance and offer garments that fit a broader spectrum of sizes and shapes.

 

CLO 3D

(3D avatar – Photo credit: CLO 3D)

CLO 3D FASHION DESIGN SOFTWARE is cutting-edge 3D garment visualization technology     with a true-to-life a 3D garment simulation solution. Fashion designers find CLO extremely user-friendly, in fact, friend of UoF Amy Sperber (and FIT Assistant Professor), actually used CLO to complete her master’s degree thesis!

CLO is very student and budding entrepreneur-friendly. Subscription plans, payment plans and special pricing are available for freelancers, small and medium businesses, along with special educational pricing. Pricing for each of their plans can be found here. Note that students get a discount if they sign up with their university email. If you’d like more info about CLO and their software, you can request more information here.

Among major brands that use CLO 3D are Adidas, Arcteryx, Brioni, Emilio Pucci, DSquared2 and Hugo Boss. For all of our 3D computer geeks out there, you might be interested to know that Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Science and Technology) is using CLO for the Virtual Thermal Modeling of Garments.

 

BROWZWEAR

(Photo Credit: Browzwear)

BROWZWEAR 3D brings the power of 3D to fashion design with a comprehensive suite of easy-to-use solutions to get your creative designs to the market faster than ever before. With Browzwear, designers digitally create any apparel in true-to-life 3D and take them to the next level with a true-motion fit, pattern modification and grading, to a production-ready tech pack.

Leading companies using Browzwear’s software are Nike, PVH, Adidas, VF, Walmart and more. While Browzwear does not have public individual pricing, they do collaborate with higher education institutions and indie designers. Contact them at sales@browzwear.com to learn more. At the 3D Body Tech conference, Vital Mechanics (BC Canada) announced a plugin to Browzwear for soft tissue modeling so when designing bras designers can properly model the compression of the garment on the bust.

 

TUKATECH

Tukatech – last but certainly not least, is UoF’s CAD pattern making partner, Tukatech. Our collaboration with Tuka over the past few years has assisted many of our ‘on-the-tablers’ to ease into the world of computer pattern making at a super discount!  Thanks Ram and the entire team at Tukatech!

Tukatech offers programs that cover: CAD room engineering, virtual 3D design & fit, garment manufacturing solutions, on-demand manufacturing and eco fashion technology. In fact, by using TUKAcad, US Apparel (a product dev company) increased their sample approval rate with H&M from 93% to 99.8%. High approval rates mean that the first sample sent to a brand is usually accepted without corrections. Eliminating the need for a second or third sample saves time in production, fuel for shipping and fabric for sample sewing – truly providing eco-friendly fashion product development.

In addition to Tuka’s computer-aided pattern making design solutions is their open systems for pattern making and 3D virtual sample-making power. Their system also offers digital fabric printing and laser cutting. The flexibility of this fashion technology allows the microfactory model to work in businesses of all sizes, from on-demand manufacturing to rapid prototyping.

 

ATTENTION ALL ASPIRING DESIGNERS & ENTREPRENEURS

If you are an aspiring designer looking to start your own line or an existing small fashion business, well then you may want to consider 3D software, it just might be the answer to shaving off the high costs of samplemaking and taking your product to market!

Independent designers utilizing these types of tools have enormous potential for direct to consumer sales. A collection will be able to be sold from digital visualizations across omni channels and social media; no longer keeping designers in one physical location – design can happen anywhere your computer can go.” – Amy Sperber

 

ALVANON’S LEARNING PLATFORM: MOTIF

The University of Fashion has always been proud of our partnership with Alvanon (the most fabulous dress forms in the market) and we use their forms almost exclusively for our lessons. Alvanon has also been collecting 3d body scan data in over 30 global markets across the women’s, men’s and kid’s market for decades. They partnered with various Sizing Research Organizations, National Size Surveys and academics globally, such as ASTM International, Shape Great Britain, Hohenstein, Size Mexico, BodiData North America, North Carolina State and Cornell University among others, to become the world’s expert on body types & shapes and has created the most inclusive avatar library on the planet.

Whether you’re a manufacturer or an individual interested in integrating 3D fashion design software into your workspace, you will want to know about Alvanon’s partnership with a new learning platform called Motif, an apparel knowledge hub that connects professionals around the world. Their course entitled, “3D Transformation: The Why, What and How” is a great way to explore the challenges and benefits involved in moving to 3D.

Black Friday – Cyber Monday ++ Fashion Education Savings Spectacular

Fans & friends of University of Fashion have been waiting all year for this…our Special, Limited-Time Holiday Offer!

Got a budding fashionista in the family who aspires to a career in fashion? Or a current fashion college student who could use some extra help? Or maybe you’re already a designer or an instructor who could use some upskilling? Move fast…this offer expires 1/1/2020

We’re offering two special deals:

  1. Get $40 off a new Yearly subscription. That’s quite a savings compared to our usual $189 rate! Click here to order now.
  2. Get $5.00 off the first month of a new Monthly subscription. That’s more than 25% off our ongoing $19.95 monthly cost! Additional terms apply. Click here to order now.

Here’s what you get when you subscribe:

  • Unlimited, online, on-demand, 24/7 access to hundreds of lessons taught by industry and fashion college professionals
  • Learn at your own speed, without pressure. Stop, rewind and re-watch any part of our many step-by-step demonstrations as many times as you want, until you can do what we teach, yourself
  • All our lessons come with a list of the tools and supplies you’ll need, plus step-by-step written transcripts so you can read exactly what our instructors say in each lesson
  • Many of our lessons provide FREE downloadable slopers, croquis & measurement forms when necessary to make learning even easier

Are you already a Monthly subscriber or a Free Member?

Just log in to your account as usual. You’ll see a “Special Holiday” upgrade offer on your left. Click the upgrade offer you want and fill out the order form that pops up next. Your newly upgraded subscription will use your current account’s same username, password and email address!

Offer expires 1/1/2020 so get on it!

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!