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HOW THE FASHION INDUSTRY IS SUPPORTING UKRAINE AS WAR RAGES ON

ALL WE ARE SAYING IS GIVE PEACE A CHANCE…….

It was 1969, in room #1742 of Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel, that John Lennon wrote “Give Peace a Chance“.  The anti-war song, originally meant to be a “revolutionary” song for workers, has once again become the battlecry for our times. When on March 9th, a Ukrainian maternity and children’s hospital in Mariupol, southern Ukraine, was bombed we were all shocked to our core. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said the bombing was “proof of a genocide.” No one could disagree. As the world watches, in horror, the atrocities being inflicted by Putin on innocent civilians in Ukraine, the fashion industry is stepping up, not only by banding together in solidarity, but doing much more. Read on.

An injured pregnant woman leaves the damaged hospital with her belongings. (Photo Credit: AP)

President Zelenskyy and his people are fighting back, a true David & Goliath story come to life. Most of the world is rooting for Ukraine to win, but in war, no one ever truly wins as the death toll is growing daily. As of this writing, over two million people have fled Ukraine and families are being ripped apart as women, children, and the elderly are leaving their loved ones, homes, and all their possessions behind to find refugee throughout Europe and the U.S. Men and many women are staying behind to fight for their land, many untrained, as civilians are given guns and quickly trained to aim and shoot to protect themselves.

For now, the West is aiding Ukraine with weapons, money, and medical necessities. As of March 9th, the U.S. House of Representatives voted with a wide bipartisan majority to pass a ban on importing Russian oil, natural gas and coal into the United States. A move that can further cripple the Russian economy. The bill will also take steps to revisit Russia’s role in the World Trade Organization and reauthorize the Magnitsky Act to strengthen sanctions on Russia for human rights violations.

Protests against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are being held throughout Europe and the United States. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Fashion Industry Responds

When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022 in the middle of Milan Fashion Week, many designers and brands immediately began donating to various charities, as well as temporarily closing their stores throughout Russia.

Protest pictures during Milan Fall 2022 Fashion Week. (Photo Credit: Acielle Tanbetova)

Designers from Giorgio Armani to Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia (who was a child refugee himself as he fled his homeland of Georgia in 1993 at the age of twelve) have been speaking up against the conflict; and numerous international brands and luxury fashion groups, from LVMH and Kering to Prada, Hermès and H&M, announced they were temporarily stopping their commercial activities and shuttering their stores in Russia as a sign of protest against the war on Ukraine.

A man walks past a closed H&M store in a St. Petersburg, Russia, shopping center. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

“We are currently living through a war in the heart of Europe. We strongly condemn it and we are close to the population involved in this tremendous situation,” said Italy’s Camera della Moda in a statement to WWD on the fashion retail situation in Russia. They went on to say that “the temporary closure of the retail stores in Russia is not contemplated by the regulations on sanctions currently in force in Europe, it is a voluntary decision that has been made by many national and international brands that have a direct retail distribution organization. However, we recall that many brands sell their collections in Russia through distributors or dealers and therefore cannot, including from a contractual point of view, close the sales areas in the season, as they already delivered the spring/summer collection in the past few months.”

The statement underscored that the Camera’s “commitment today is aimed at being close to all those who are suffering and this is why we have joined the UNHCR at its side in fund-raising to support the refugees with concrete aid for the people and families forced to flee within the national boundaries or to neighboring countries.”

Protests in Milan against the Russian attack on Ukraine. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Global and wide-ranging sanctions on Russia are bound to drastically impact those brands and businesses with a retail footprint in in the country, but in the humanitarian aspect of the crisis it is vital to take a stand. To that end, the fashion industry has united and is stepping up its efforts during this time of crisis.

Here’s a roundup of the initiatives taken by the fashion industry thus far:

LVMH

LVMH, the world’s largest luxury conglomerate (owning brands such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, and Stella McCartney to name a few) donated €5 million ($5.4 million USD) to support the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) “to help the direct and indirect victims of this conflict.”

In addition, the company stands in solidarity with Ukraine and closed 124 of its stores in Russia. LVMH will still continue to pay its 3,500 employees in Russia.

LOUIS VUITTON

The French luxury powerhouse Louis Vuitton, made an immediate donation of €1 million ($1.09 million USD) to UNICEF, to provide aid for Ukrainian children and families.

“As millions of children and their families are facing immediate danger, the Maison, through the Louis Vuitton for UNICEF partnership, pledges to support UNICEF’s emergency response on the ground, responding swiftly to any emergencies by providing children and families in Ukraine with humanitarian aid including access to clean water, healthcare and education supplies, child protection services and psychosocial care,” the brand shared in a statement.

KERING

Kering, owner of Gucci and Saint Laurent among other brands, said on Instagram that it was making a “significant donation to the UNHCR, the United Nations Refugees Agency,” though it did not specify the amount.

GUCCI

Gucci enacted its global charity campaign Chime for Change and donated $500,000 to the UNHCR.

BALENCIAGA

The French label Balenciaga donated an undisclosed amount to the World Food Program (WFP), which launched an emergency operation to provide food assistance for people fleeing Ukraine and in neighboring countries.

CHANEL

The iconic French fashion house closed its stores in Russia and halted all e-commerce in the country. The brand also donated €2 million (about $2.18 million) to two relief organizations, CARE and UNHCR-UN Refugee Agency, which is “recognized for refugee support at the borders and for the specific care of families and children.”

In an Instagram post, the fashion house also announced that “Foundation Chanel will be working closely with its local partners to provide future critical support over the medium and long term to women and children impacted by this evolving situation.”

GIORGIO ARMANI

After showing its latest collection in Milan in silence, out of respect for the war in Ukraine, the Armani Group announced a donation of €500,000 (about $543,000) to UNHCR “for the assistance and protection of those who have been forced to flee the war in Ukraine.”

The company is also donating clothing essentials to refugees through the Italian nonprofit organization Comunità di Sant’Egidio, which already has a presence on the borders of Ukraine.

FASHION MODELS

Argentine model Mica Argañaraz, a regular presence on almost every major runway, posted on her Instagram story, “I have to say it feels very weird walking fashion shows knowing there’s a war happening in the same continent.” She noted that she would “be donating part of my earnings of this fashion week to help Ukrainian organizations” and called on fellow models to do the same. Supermodel sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kaia Gerber, Vittoria Ceretti, Kiki Willems, Francesca Summers, and Aylah Peterson have also joined the movement and will donate part of their earnings to Ukraine.

L’OREAL PARIS

The cosmetic giant L’Oréal Paris, has teamed up with a number of local and international nonprofits (including UNHCR, Red Cross and UNICEF) to support the growing number of refugees, and people on the ground in Ukraine with a donation of €1 million ($1.09 million) through its L’Oréal Fund for Women.

“We have already made a donation of one million euros and have started to deliver hygiene products to NGOs in Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and in Ukraine itself,” a statement reads on the company’s corporate website. “We will donate 300,000 products over the coming weeks.”

The beauty brand continues: “We strongly condemn the invasion and war in Ukraine, which is causing so much suffering to the Ukrainian people. Our thoughts go out to our 326 Ukrainian employees, their families and the people of Ukraine whose lives have been changed so dramatically in the last eight days. Although some have managed to cross the border, the majority of our employees remain in the country in increasingly harsh circumstances. We are concerned about them and fear for their safety.”

HERMES

Hèrmes announced that it would “temporarily close our stores in Russia and pause all our commercial activities,” where they have three stores and 60 employees.

BURBERRY

Burberry has shut down its three stores in Russia. The British luxury house brand also donated an undisclosed amount to the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal. It also said it would match any employee donations to charities supporting humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.

VALENTINO

Italian luxury house Valentino donated €500,000 (about $543,000) to the UNHCR to provide immediate help to the Ukrainian refugees.

RALPH LAUREN

Given the urgency of the situation, the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation has made an immediate donation to @CARE.org, an organization working with partners to provide critical support and aid to Ukrainian families and is double-matching employee donations to CARE. In addition, it is partnering with its network of international charities to donate essential clothing that will be distributed throughout Ukraine as well as in bordering countries to reach refugees. The company has paused operations in Russia.

TORY BURCH

Tory Burch is supporting World Central Kitchen, which is on the ground in Poland feeding hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees. The company has made a donation and pledged to match any employee donations throughout the month of March.

COACH

Coach’s parent company’s Tapestry Foundation has donated to the United Nations Refugee Agency to provide safety and shelter to those who have been displaced.

MINIMALIST

Tamara Davydova is the fashion designer behind the brand MINIMALIST and was born, raised, and married in Kyiv, Ukraine. She founded the circular fashion brand MINIMALIST last year and is devastated by what’s currently happening in her homeland and affecting friends and family. She’s pledging 30% of the proceeds from sales of her collection to the Red Cross and UNICEF in Ukraine plus offering 10% off to customers using the code TOGETHER at checkout. The collection is available at minimalist.nyc.

ADIDAS

Athletic brand Adidas has suspended its long-term partnership with the Russian Football Union (RFU), the German sportswear company also announced it would be is donating €100,000 (about $108,700) as well as footwear and apparel to organizations helping children and refugees.

H&M

The fast-fashion retailer H&M has currently paused all sales in Russia and closed its 170 stores located throughout the country.

ASOS

Fast-fashion company ASOS said on Twitter that it would no longer be doing any retail out of Russia.

“We’ve been watching the shocking events in Ukraine in horror and disbelief. We’ve concluded it’s neither practical nor right to continue to trade in Russia & today have suspended sales there,” the brand wrote. “We’re supporting the humanitarian effort and our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine.”

MANGO

Mango has halted sales in Russia and donated €100,000 (about $108,700) to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

GANNI

Ganni, the Danish contemporary ready-to-wear fashion brand, donated 100.000 DKK (approx. $14,700) to the Danish Refugee Council, a nonprofit currently on the ground helping the crisis in Ukraine.

 

As governments around the world grapple with how to stop Putin’s war and the needless suffering, we will continue to keep an eye on how the fashion industry, and hopefully soon the music industry, is doing its part. At UoF we are donating to Ukrainian children through UNICEF USA.

Here’s a list of the organizations that the fashion industry is donating to:

International Committee of the Red Cross

United Nations Refugees Agency

Direct Relief

Mercy Corps

International Medical Corps

Save the Children

Unicef USA

So tell us, how are you helping to support Ukraine in these troubling times?

WELCOME TO THE FASHIONVERSE – METAVERSE

- - Technology

Gucci in the virtual game Roblox. Photo (Credit: Vogue Business)

Faithful followers of our blog know that at University of Fashion we love, love. love the history of things. In fact, our founder, Francesca Sterlacci, co-wrote the book, Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. So we thought before we talk about how the Metaverse is poised to revolutionize the fashion industry, we’d take a look back at the thing we love to hate and yet can’t do without…the Internet.

Did you know that January 1, 1983 is considered the official birthday of the Internet, and that it wasn’t until August 6, 1991 that the World Wide Web went live to the world?

Now, more than ever, we rely on technology. With the click of a button, we order our groceries, hold business meetings, learn fashion design online (thanks UoF) and purchase everything from underwear to luxury clothes…even cars! We are so completely hooked on our electronic devices that to be without them even for a day, it’s like the world has come to an end! And now, thanks to the pandemic, we have become even more reliant. Is that even possible?

Through the internet, we maintain social relationships, communicate with family and friends and interact via Facebook®, Instagram® and all of the other social media platforms, incessantly. The Internet has also expanded our vocabulary. We all ‘surf’ the web, use google as a verb, and learned a slew of new acronyms like HTTP, HTTPS HTML, FTP, WWW, and more.

Well buckle your seat belts folks….here comes the metaverse, (with it the fashionverse) and a new set of vocab terms like avatar, blockchain, cryptocurrency, NFTs, burning NFTs, AR, VR, and Web 3.0.

What is the Metaverse, you ask?

When Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s name change to ‘Meta’ in October 2021, tech giants like Google and Microsoft started investing heavily in it, portending the next big tech revolution. The metaverse, now in its beginning stages, is a digital experience that will evolve into something that blurs the lines between the digital and physical world.

According to Michelle Cortese, a virtual and augmented reality designer, artist and author, the metaverse is essentially, “a spectral layer on top of our existence. It is represented by avatar interactions, and constructed experiences, ultimately altering how we interact online, how crypto is adopted, how brands advertise, all while offering a hyper-real alternative world for people to coexist in. The concept that was beloved by tech enthusiasts, a desire for a decentralized virtual world and a place that is aligned with the physical world, has now penetrated the mainstream landscape. Virtual experiences have spiked dramatically with millions of people indulging hours upon hours as digital avatars into virtual social spaces such as Fortnite and Roblox or digital NFTs and cryptocurrencies.”

Michelle Cortese depicts the stages of the Web and the advancements we have endured to reach Web 3.0 more clearly. “When we say ‘Web 3.0’ we refer to the three stages of the Internet: [1] the desktop computer dial-up of the 1990s; [2] the socially-driven mobile Internet of the 2000s and 2010s; and [3] the “Embodied Internet” or Metaverse – this next generation of the Internet anticipates that people will interface with the web in a more embodied, virtual way.”

All sounds like a sci-fi movie right? But advanced technology is making this possible. Using a combination of technologies and incorporating virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), users can actually “live” inside a digital universe. In the metaverse, users are part of the action.

What does this mean for the fashion industry?

Think of the possibilities for brands to reach potential customers in the metaverse. The fashion industry is already evolving in this advanced digital world and the pandemic offered many in lockdown mode the opportunity to explore the gaming world, a perfect intro into the ‘virtual world’. In the metaverse, the user can shop in digital stores and there is even a “try before you buy” feature where the user can take a 360-degree look at an item. They can zoom in and examine all the details of that piece of clothing before they make a purchase.

Consumers now have the ability to virtually try on products by dragging one or more items onto photos of themselves. So the metaverse is literally bringing the fitting room into your home and can offer the consumer the same experience as walking into a brick-and-mortar store.

The metaverse is therefore quickly transforming the fashion industry. Luxury house Balenciaga is at the forefront of the shift into the digital world. The house (known to embrace virtual apparel) announced plans to introduce a business unit specifically committed to exploring opportunities in the metaverse.

Fortnite x Balenciaga, 2021. (Photo Credit: Epic Games)

Balenciaga presented its Fall 2021 collection through a gaming app and famously partnered with the video game Fortnite to create a number of “skins” for the game’s characters. At this point, most of the fashion world’s investments in the metaverse have been through video game skins (cosmetics that customize characters), reports Business of Fashion. These developments provide a peek of what fashion in the metaverse could look like.

According to Business of Fashion, digital environments are increasingly transforming from transaction-focused consumer spaces, to multi-dimensional worlds that foster collaboration and creativity. Naturally, fashion is expected to be key player in this coming era.

The metaverse is a virtual reality that redefines how we use technology, integrating both digital and physical worlds. And it’s not some faraway reality, we’re already there. Nowhere is the crossroads of fashion and metaverse more evident than in the current explosion of fashion related NFTs.

Adidas Originals is jumping into the metaverse. The brand’s entry arrives as part of a partnership with Bored Ape Yacht Club. (Photo Credit: Adidas)

So, what exactly are NFTs?

The simplest way to explain NFTs or “non-fungible tokens” are that they are cryptographic tokens which are stored in a blockchain. These cryptographic tokens allow someone to buy, sell, or trade, ‘real’ items such as artwork or real estate. NFTs are especially suitable when they tokenize items that are collectible and unique. In the fashion industry, NFTs now bring a new level of exclusiveness and an opportunity to turn digital designs and collections into an extremely limited, valuable, luxurious, and unique collector pieces. And labels from luxury to activewear are getting into NFTs.

Burberry releases NFT collection in Mythical Games’ Blanks Block Party. (Photo Credit: Burberry)

Burberry, for example, partnered with Mythical Games to launch an NFT collection in their flagship title, Blankos Block Party. Working with Mythical Games’ Blankos Block Party, Blanko the shark, can be purchased, upgraded, and sold in-game, the brand moved into the digital space after the success of its own game, B Bounce, which launched in 2019.

Dolce & Gabbana, the Italian fashion luxury house, launched its own collection of NFTs on the Polygon (CRYPTO: MATIC) blockchain last August of 2021. Named Collezione Genesi. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana personally designed a 9-piece, one-of-a-kind collection exclusively for UNXD. Collezione Genesi³ that featured hand-made, museum-grade items across Alta Moda (women), Alta Sartoria (men), and Alta Gioielleria (high jewelry). It is digital couture!

UK department store Selfridges has begun selling NFTs and digital fashion in its Oxford Street store in London, bringing digital goods to real-life shopping and broadening their accessibility in fashion. Combining the virtual and physical worlds, Selfridges has a pop-up that will showcase artwork by Victor Vasarely and new physical pieces from the designer label Paco Rabanne inspired by Vasarely’s work. The NFTs, can be purchased via an in-store digital screen using a traditional credit card, and will include digital versions of the first dresses designed by Paco Rabanne.

The Sefridge’s NFT project ca;;ed Universe. (Photo Credit: Vogue Business)

Approximately 1,800 NFTs are dropping between 28 January and 12 March, with prices ranging between £2,000 ($2,709.27) to over £100,000 ($135,456.30); select Paco Rabanne NFTs will be sold with their physical counterparts, and the digital versions can be worn in several virtual platforms. Some items will be adaptations of 1960s archival designs that were never produced. Funds raised will go to the Fondation Vasarely Museum in Aix-en-Provence, the artist’s archive that houses and restores works.

Even Barbie is getting in on the act! Barbie is making a splash into the digital art world as everyone’s favorite doll, dressed in head-to-toe Balmain. The two brands are collaborating with a ready-to-wear collection, an accessories line and a series of NFTs. Executives from both companies say the NFT launch is a historic moment for fashion, tech and toys.

From a nostalgic 1990s Barbie logo to a Barbie pink Pantone, Barbie’s signature color dominates the clothing collection and NFT trio. (Photo Credit: Balmain)

Txampi Diz, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Balmain, is betting on the future of NFTs as a powerful customer engagement tool for high-fashion brands. “I believe it is going to completely change the fashion industry, and it will have the same impact as when social media first started or when the internet first launched,” he says in an interview with Forbes.

“It’s a milestone, it’s the first NFT presentation that the Barbie brand has ever made,” says Richard Dickson, Mattel president and Chief Operating Officer (COO) in an interview with Forbes.

Three one-of-a-kind Balmain x Barbie NFTs are currently up for auction via mintNFT, a new marketplace for NFTs that focus on creative collaborations. James Sun, founder and CEO of mintNFT, says such NFT partnerships redefine the meaning of brand ownership for customers, as it symbolizes a purchase into the company’s ethos. “What’s so beautiful is they’re not just purchasing an NFT, they’re saying, I want to be part of this brand on the blockchain . . . It’s very philosophical.”

Looks from Nigo’s first limited-edition capsule collection for Kenzo.(Photo Credit: Kenzo)

Kenzo just dropped its first limited-edition capsule collection under the house’s new artistic director Nigo, and will feature floral graphic sweatshirts, long-sleeve T-shirts, a jersey cardigan, and nylon jacket. Along with the limited-edition collection, Kenzo released a limited edition of 100 NFTs, each drop will be complemented by a collection of NFTs that unlock exclusive access into the world of Kenzo.

Gucci and Superplastic introduce a three part NFT drop Supergucci. (Photo Credit: Gucci)

Each day, more and more labels are joining the metaverse and offering NFTs. Supergucci is a collaboration between the Italian fashion house Gucci and Superplastic. The “ultra-limited” series, Supergucci consists of a multi-pronged approach to be released in three parts. The first drop was on February 1st, and included ten different limited NFTs that paid homage to Gucci’s storied archives with signature prints, icons, and motifs, all revamped to to incorporate the imagination of Superplastic’s synthetic celebrities and artists. In this instance, they are Janky & Guggimon; virtual “humans” created by Superplastic that have already gained a strong social media following. The launch is also accompanied by ceramic sculptures handmade in Italy and co-designed by Gucci and Superplastic.

“Our collaboration with Superplastic dates back to 2020 when we launched the Gucci Sneaker Garage project in occasion of which we dressed Superplastic’s virtual characters with the Gucci Virtual 25 sneakers,” the brand states. “This project therefore represents the natural development of our relationship with this partner that allows us to experiment with Gucci’s codes through new forms of creativity.”

Supergucci allows the metaverse to come into play, too, where users will accompany Janky & Guggimon to the Gucci Vault, an online concept store created from the vision of Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele. The Vault will also be releasing restored, reconditioned vintage Gucci pieces in tribute of their latest juncture; works hand-picked by Michele and archivists of the House. There will be two more surprise drops coming soon.

Artist Mason Rothschild created the MetaBirkin. (Photo Credit: MetaBirkin)

A “Baby Birkin” NFT, which was an animation of a baby growing in a Hermès Birkin bag, just sold in a Basic.Space auction for the equivalent amount of $23,500. Although this is where it can get tricky, Hermés, who owns the trademark for the Birkin bag, was not involved in the issue of the NFT and has send out a cease-and-desist letter to the creator of the NFT. Recently, Hermès filed the lawsuit in New York’s Southern District Court claiming trademark infringement and dilution. Hermès claims the artist, Mason Rothchild, was ripping off Hermès’ famous Birkin trademark by adding the generic prefix “meta” and calling the NFT “Metabirkin.”

The psychology of NFTs 

Fashion houses are creating a new world of engagement with a digital experience for its users in the metaverse. Unforgettable items can boost customer loyalty. Consumers may capture, exchange, and appreciate one-off experiences and exclusive moments in time, which is something that all these corporations could use to establish a permanent connection with their clients.

We are living through and witnessing another digital revolution. NFTs and the metaverse are opening up new worlds of economic opportunity and risk. The fashion industry is at the forefront of many of these new developments. As we embark on these exciting new possibilities, some companies are a bit hesitant to rush into the metaverse.

Louis Vuitton gets into gaming with Louis The Game Video Game. (Photo Credit: LVMH)

For example, Bernard Arnault, the chairman and CEO of luxury conglomerate LVMH, has stated that is in no rush to charge into the metaverse. The brands under the LVMH label are performing well in the real world as the company reported record full-year revenues and profits for 2021. Arnault stated to WWD, that while he was curious to explore the opportunities of the hotly hyped digital environment, he was also wary of a repeat of the dot-com bubble (LVMH was, after all, a major investor in the ill-fated Boo.com in the late ’90s).

“Let me start by saying that it’s a purely virtual world and until now, we are in the real world and we sell real products. To be sure, it’s compelling, it’s interesting, it can even be quite fun. We have to see what are the applications of this metaverse and these NFTs,” Aunault said in a videoconference with analysts and reporters. “If it’s well done, it can probably have a positive impact on brands’ activities. But we’re not interested in selling virtual sneakers for 10 euros,” the LVMH chairman and chief executive officer added. “In conclusion, I would just say, beware of bubbles. I remember this from the early days of the internet, at the beginning of the 2000s,” Arnault continued, noting there are a multitude of companies building the metaverse. “There were a bunch of would-be Facebooks back then, and in the end, only one of them worked out. So let’s be cautious.”

Buyer beware – what it means that some brands are ‘burning’ NFTs

To give you an idea of just how complex the NFT world is and why you must really study the particular NFT before you buy it (says our founder’s son who has been investing in NFTs), here’s what you need to know about “burning” NFTs and “creating scarcity”.  According to Maghan McDowell of Vogue Business, “A key feature of blockchains and NFTs is that they can’t be changed, replicated or deleted, allowing for authenticity, ownership and scarcity. So, what happens if a luxury brand — many of whom are now experimenting with NFTs — wants to change or eliminate an NFT they’ve put on the market? They can burn it. Burning NFTs, which are tokens stored on a blockchain, is the process of permanently removing a token from circulation. This can be done to eliminate unsold or problematic inventory from an NFT drop, or it can be used to engage collectors and fans through “upgrades” that replace an original NFT with something else.”

According to Vogue Business, “For fashion and beauty brands, burning NFTs could offer a way to manipulate scarcity, and therefore price. It could also lead to more intriguing NFT projects, in which consumers must weigh risk and reward by burning an NFT in exchange for something else. These scenarios, among others, are already playing out among artists and gaming startups, paving the way for fashion. Already, Adidas is using a burn mechanism to change the state of its NFTs when NFT owners make a purchase. Apparel brand Champion recently partnered with Daz 3D’s NFT collection, Non-Fungible People, and will use burning to enable peoples’ profile picture NFTs to digitally dress in Champion gear, while Unisocks invites NFT owners to burn them in exchange for physical products.

As we all watch and explore the metaverse/fashionverse, the possibilities are endless and so are the pitfalls, so ‘buyer beware’.  

Did you know that UoF has been covering the digital revolution for years? Check out our past blog posts on the topic:

The Future of Textiles – Digital Realm

Gaming & Fashion: Two Aspirational Worlds of Experiences Combine

If you’re interested in exploring a career in this new age technology, check out University of the Creative Arts digital fashion MA program

 

So tell us, is your head spinning right about now? Will you promote your brand in the metaverse?

PRE-FALL 2022: FASHION IS BACK

- - Trends

A look from Moschino’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Let’s face it, the last two years of living in a worldwide pandemic has been tough on everyone. As we rang in 2022, many countries put a stop to festivities as the Omicron variant infected so many and spread so easily, even among the triple vaccinated (myself included). Thankfully this variant seems to be mild and not as deadly as Delta. But as the world watches and waits for life to return to some sort of normal, like the saying goes…the show must go on!

Throughout these past 2 pandemic years, designers and fashion companies have re-evaluated their business strategies and have put a greater focus on sustainability and improving their carbon footprint. In November of 2021, many in the fashion industry ramped up their climate efforts at the COP26 summit. According to the United Nations Climate Change website, “Fashion Charter signatories collectively represent a significant proportion of the fashion industry. There are currently 130 companies and 41 supporting organizations that have signed the Fashion Charter including some of the well-known brands such as Burberry, H&M Group, VF Corporation, Adidas, Kering, Chanel, Nike, and PUMA as well as suppliers such as Crystal Group, TAL Apparel and others.”

However, as the fashion industry tries to come up with solutions to help protect the environment, one thing is for sure, they continue to produce an endless supply of clothes to generate sales (hello, pre-fall and resort collections). For the past 20 years, fashion’s nonstop production cycles have been driven by social media, retailers, the press, and of course celebrity influencers. Celebs sell-out designer looks in minutes. Case in point, Kim Kardashian, who recently elevated Balenciaga’s sales while serving Kanye West with divorce papers dressed in Balenciaga. And, according to Love the Sales (a fashion e-commerce aggregator), the search for Balenciaga dresses increased by 200 percent in less then 24 hours when Kardashian, dressed foot-to-finger in Balenciaga, announced that she had passed the ‘baby bar’ exam. For your info, Kardashian will still have to continue her studies and take a second bar exam. Another influencer opportunity? Stay tuned.

Can’t help but wonder what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wore when she passed her bar exam, LOL.

Kim Kardashian celebrates passing the baby bar exam in Balenciaga. (Photo Credit: MSN)

So, as the industry explores ways to make fashion more sustainable and ‘circular’, enter Pre-Fall. But what is Pre-Fall exactly? For starters, it is the longest-running season open to buyers and press in November and wrapping up on the heels of spring couture week in January. Usually, Pre-Fall collections offer more commercial looks than the major runway seasons, offering retailers the opportunity to showcase new merchandise to their clients in between the Fall and Spring collections. Pre-Fall has become one of the most essential selling seasons, with product sitting on the sales floor for up to six months (usually from June to December).

While the name (pre-fall) refers to autumn, the merchandise actually hits the sales floor in early summer, translating to a hodgepodge assortment of everything from breezy dresses to outerwear.

Looks from Versace by Fendi’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

If this all sounds confusing, join the club. The lingo is perplexing to everyone – designers, retailers, and consumers – so shouldn’t the season be looked at as a transitional one? Shouldn’t it be a season that offers seasonless dressing, pieces that can be layered and worn all year long?

Also, how should designers present their collections? Do they throw a full scale fashion extravaganza like Gucci, Dior, and Chanel, or do they hold private appointments for press and retailers and show their collection via Lookbook images like Prabal Gurung and  Christopher John Rogers?

As our industry continues to contemplate fashion’s impact on climate change, the use of influencers to promote product that will eventually will end up in landfills, and what the Pre-Fall season really means to them, the show must go on, right? Here are some of the trends we’re watching thus far:

VELVET CRUSH

The plush life – for both day and night.

A look from Balmain’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Proenza Schoular’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Roberto Cavalli’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Jil Sander’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Look from Dsquared2’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

UoF subscribers can learn more about designing and working with velvet here: Introduction to Fibers & Fabrics,  Pattern Layout on Napped Fabrics, Rendering Velvet, Blind Stitch – Double Overcast Stitch, Pressing Tools & Techniques,

PLAID TIMES

Check mate! Designers are going mad for plaid from Oscar de la Renta’s mixed patchwork plaid numbers to Christian Dior’s logo-driven tartans. These ultra cool looks are anything but ‘elementary my dear’.

A look from Christian Dior’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from R13’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Roberto Cavalli’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Tory Burch’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Looks from Oscar de la Renta’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

 

To learn more about working with plaid, view our lessons: Rendering Plaid, Pattern Layout of Plaid & Check Fabric, and Matching Plaid.

ROMANCING THE SWEATER

Comfy doesn’t always have to mean casual. For pre-fall, designers looked back to every Y2K girls favorite knit piece and brought back the beloved cardigan sweater. From Gucci’s strawberry motif to Erdem’s crystal button version, these sweaters are the perfect update to transition into cooler weather.

A look from Gucci’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Erdem’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Chanel’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Prabal Gurung’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Ganni’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced knitter, have we got lessons for you! In fact, we have a whole Knit Series.

Start with Introduction to Knit Fabrics and move into our hand-knitting, crocheting and our lessons on cut and sew knits.

 FAIR LEATHER

Real or faux, leather outerwear is all the rage this pre-fall season. From Chloé’s crafty version to Balenciaga’s futuristic coat, this outerwear trend will surely set you apart from the crowd.

A look from Chloé’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Max Mara’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Looks from Brandon Maxwell’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Christian Dior’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

If you know anything about sewing, you know that working with leather and faux leather requires a different set of skills. Let’s face it, the material is unforgiving! Not only did our UoF founder write the leading book on leather, Leather Fashion Design, but has produced a slew of video lessons covering the topic in detail, both faux and real. Start by learning about the different types of leather skins and how they are measured in our lesson, Leather: From Tanning to Types. Then check out: Leather Sewing Techniques, Leather: Sorting & Cutting, Leather: Interfacing & Stabilizing Seams, and then watch and learn how a leather jacket is actually produced (filmed at GIII, the world’s largest manufacturer of leather garments) in our 4-part series beginning with Leather Sewing Techniques-Part 1. Also, check out our lesson on Faux Leather, Suede & Patent Leather Sewing Tips.

To learn how to draw and illustrate leather or any shiny material, view our lesson Rendering Leather.

THE RETURN OF THE MINI

The leg-baring mini trend has made its triumphant return! The mini was first introduced in the ‘60s as a playful and even defiant garment representing a shift in societal dynamics (according to Vogue Magazine). For pre-fall, designers have created mini looks in a variety of ways, from Givenchy’s simple black mini skirt suit look to Balmain’s baroque inspired minidress, one things for sure, it’s time to hit the gym and work on those legs.

A look from Balmain’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Chanel’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Givenchy’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Carolina Herrera’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Looks from Oscar de la Renta’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

 

For more on the evolution of the mini watch our fashion lectures: 100 Years of Fashion Rebels & Revolutionaries Part 1, and Part 2.

SCARF-OUT

Vibrant scarf prints took over the pre-fall season, from Versace’s baroque inspired prints to Etro’s ‘70s inspired paisley motifs. These scarf inspired patterns will take you from vacation and beyond.

Looks from Versace’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Looks from Oscar de la Renta’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Christopher John Rogers’ Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Gucci’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Etro’s Pre-Fall Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

If the scarf trend has inspired you to re-purpose your old scarves into clothing, then you may need a refresher on how to sew sheer seams and hems. From learning how to sew a French Seam Finish to sewing a Hand-rolled Hem, we have a whole series on working with sheers.

If you are new to cutting sheer fabrics and handling bias, this is the lesson for you: The Art of Fluting. And if you would like to illustrate your sheers and prints, check out Rendering Sheer, Rendering Floral Print and Rendering Zebra.

So tell us, what Pre-Fall trend has most inspired you?

CFDA FASHION AWARDS: FASHION’S OTHER BIG NIGHT

- - Fashion Events

Designer/Stylist Law Roach and Zendaya in Vera Wang, winner of the Fashion Icon Award. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Fashion’s second biggest fashion event (the MET Gala being the first) happened on Wednesday November 10th, the CFDA Awards. Some of the biggest names in fashion attended an in-person extravaganza for industry insiders at the Pool + the Grill, located in the Seagram Building on Park Avenue in Manhattan. The mezzanine, in the back of The Grill, proved the perfect perch from which to ogle the guests. The energy of the night was filled with excitement and awe. All of fashion’s heavy hitters were in attendance, as well as some very well-dressed celebrities.

CFDA Chairman and designer Tom Ford and Dapper Dan, winner of the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award . (Photo Credit: Vogue)

“I’m so happy to be back at a fashion gathering,” said Tom Ford to Vogue Magazine as he stepped away from cocktails for a moment to reflect on the evening. “I’ve been Chairman of the CFDA for almost three years and this is the first CFDA Awards I’ve been able to host. We wanted it to be much more intimate, but still very chic.”

Hostess Emily Blunt in Christopher John Rogers. (Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

The award ceremony, hosted by British actress Emily Blunt (of Devil Wears Prada fame), was held in front of a live audience and a troupe of celebrity presenters (last year’s ceremony was all digital due to the COVID-19 Pandemic). Some of the honorees were announced ahead of the awards ceremony, such as Zendaya winning the Fashion Icon Award, as well as Anya Taylor-Joy winning the first ever Face of the Year Award.

But, let’s face it, if it weren’t for their fashion stylists, would these gals have won these awards? Case in point, this year’s The Hollywood Reporter Top Stylist of the Year Award went to Law Roach (who also works with Anya Taylor-Joy, Kerry Washington, Tiffany Haddish, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Aldis Hodge, Tom Holland and Hunter Schafer). Read about the 12 stylists that you should be following on Instagram: https://www.crfashionbook.com/fashion/a36632100/12-stylists-you-should-be-following-on-instagram/

 

Anya Taylor-Joy in Oscar de la Renta and Gigi Burris hat. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Tom Ford’s mission for the 2021 CFDA Awards was to promote the talent that America has to offer. “I’m excited to show how American fashion has impacted the rest of the world, whether the rest of the world is ready to acknowledge that or not,” he said to Vogue Magazine. “That is my goal, to help the rest of the world understand how much they have taken and how much America has given to fashion globally.”

Demna Gvasalia, the creative director behind Balenciaga, and winner of the International Womenswear Designer of the Year Award couldn’t have agreed more with Ford. “American fashion has had the biggest impact it could have on someone like me. I was a Soviet kid who grew up in a country where people didn’t even know that fashion designer was a profession,” he said, holding his CFDA statuette. “The first time I discovered that you could be a fashion designer was when I discovered Tom Ford, when I was 10 or 11 years old. My dream of fashion actually began with discovering Tom Ford.”

Paloma Elsesser and Demna Gvasalia, winner of the International Womenswear Designer of the Year Award . (Photo Credit: Vogue)

“It’s not something I ever could have dreamt of to be here tonight and to have this kind of award,” Gvasalia continued. “I feel like I’ve been fighting for my place in fashion and to receive this award today, it’s like three years worth of therapy in some way. It’s the most amazing feeling, to feel heard, seen, and understood, and that’s what this award represents to me. It’s amazing. I don’t feel alone anymore.”

Feeling seen and accepted was a common theme throughout the night. Emerging Designer of the Year winner Edvin Thompson of Theophilio stated after his win, “It represents my community, Jamaica, and really carving out a space in the fashion industry to tell our stories.”

Sara Ziff, founder of The Model Alliance, and winner of the Positive Social Influence Award. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Sara Ziff, the founder of The Model Alliance, received the Positive Social Influence Award. The award gave the former model the opportunity to continue the discussion around models’ rights. “It’ll be a decade [since I started the Model Alliance] in February so it’s been quite a long road. Of course it’s nice to be recognized, but I wanted it to be meaningful and that’s why I used the opportunity to ask the industry to step up and do better,” she said of the decision to ask Carré Otis and Beverly Johnson to share their stories of abuse in the modeling industry before presenting Ziff with her CFDA trophy. “What keeps me going is I know that we’re on the right side of history,” Ziff stated.

Aurora James received the Founder’s Award in honor of Eleanor Lambert .(Photo Credit: Vogue)

Aurora James, the Creative Director and Founder of luxury accessories brand Brother Vellies, as well as the founder of the Fifteen Percent Pledge (James became an advocate for Black businesses). After receiving the Founders Award in Honor of Eleanor Lambert from Vogue’s Anna Wintour, James reflected on her award. “I am over the moon to receive this award; it means so much. The amount of emotional capital that I spent over the past 18 months working on the Fifteen Percent Pledge and that my whole organization spent relentlessly day in and day out fighting for economic equality—it just feels so incredible to be acknowledged in this way for all the hard work that we’ve done,” she said.

Iman and Zendaya, the winner of the Fashion Icon Award. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

The winner on the Fashion Icon Award, Zendaya, was nearly speechless after receiving her award from Iman, listing the model, Cher, Diana Ross, and her grandmothers among her own fashion icons. “I’m speechless,” Zendaya said with a stunned smile. “I just got an award and Iman gave it to me! I’m still not over that.”

Emily Bode Aujla is the winner of the Menswear Designer of the Year Award. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

The final two awards of the night went to Emily Bode Aujla who won for Menswear Designer of the Year and Christopher John Rogers for Womenswear Designer of the Year. “It’s so inspiring to see all of the change that all of the people in this room have created,” said Bode Aujla as she revealed that she will be opening a west coast store. “Something that I’ve bet on is retail. Our New York store is surpassing our online right now by 30%,” she added.

Womenswear Designer of the Year winner Christopher John Rogers. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Rogers is also focusing on the future of his brand, “The sky’s the limit. We’re really about intentionality at CJR and about moving with purpose. Whatever it is next will hopefully be as impactful and full as what we’re doing now.”

Below is a list of all the winners of the most fashionable awards show:

American Womenswear Designer of the Year: Christopher John Rogers for Christopher John Rogers.

American Menswear Designer of the Year: Emily Adams Bode for Bode.

American Accessories Designer of the Year: Telfar Clemens for Telfar.

American Emerging Designer of the Year: Edvin Thompson for Theophilio.

International Women’s Designer of the Year: Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga.

International Men’s Designer of the Year: Grace Wales Bonner for Wales Bonner.

Fashion Icon: Zendaya.

Face of the Year: Anya Taylor-Joy.

Positive Social Influence Award: Model Alliance.

Founder’s Award in honor of Eleanor Lambert: Aurora James for the 15 Percent Pledge.

Environmental Sustainability Award: Patagonia.

Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award: Dapper Dan.

Media Award in honor of Eugenia Sheppard: Nina Garcia.

Emily Ratajkowski and Nina Garcia, winner of the Media Award in honor of Eugenia Sheppard. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Board of Directors’ Tribute: Yeohlee Teng.

Yeohlee Teng winner of the Board of Directors’ Tribute. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

So tell us, do you agree with the CFDA’s choice winners? And do you think there should be a Best Stylist Award?

TRICK OR TREAT: HALLOWEEN-INSPIRED RUNWAY LOOKS

- - Fashion Shows

Looks from Richard Quinn’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Children of all ages love the traditions of Halloween, from wearing scary costumes to carving out pumpkins, the holiday is a magical time of year filled with fun festivities. This year, Halloween will be extra special considering the bewitching holiday was pretty much cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. So, if you are still searching for your epic Halloween costume, just look to the runways for inspiration.

A look from Off-White’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

While Halloween-inspired looks have always been an inspiration on the runways. Here are a few blasts-from-the-past costume looks:

Who could ever forget Prada’s creepy 2019 Frankenstein collection with images of the monster himself and his equally spooky bride?

A look from Prada’s Fall 2019 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

And what about the infamous 1997 Comme des Garçon collection that had distorted body lumps reminiscent of Quasimodo from the classic tale, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

A look from Comme des Garçons’ Spring 1997 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Dark magic and enchantresses have always been an inspiration on the runway, one of the best witchy looks was from Martin Sitbon’s 1993 collection.

A look from Martine Sitbon’s Spring 1993 Show. (Photo Credit: Daniel Simon)

Clowns are always a favorite, here are some of our favorite clown looks through the years.

From left, Maison Margiela, fall 2015; Dior haute couture, fall 2007; Alexander McQueen, fall 2001. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

But not all Halloween costumes need to be terrifying. There were plenty of sweet, girlie looks, ranging from princess to Barbie, case in point, Moschino’s 2015 Barbie-inspired collection.

A look from Moschino’s Spring 2015 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

As we get closer to Halloween, fashionistas will be showing off their designer costume-inspired looks ranging from crafty witches to NASA astronauts. So, take a look below, and see the most artistic styles from the 2021 and 2022 runways that’ll have you covered when it comes to costume innovation, while giving you major fashion cred. And the best part? These are all looks that are available in time for your costume parties.

THE GHOST OF ELIZA DOOLITTLE

A look from Comme des Garçons’ Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

One of the most theatrical designers of our time is Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons. The avant-garde designer never disappoints. For fall 2021, Kawakubo created a tight line-up of magnificently Edwardian & Victorian-inspired looks consisting of black cloaks with puffy white linings, ballooning crinolines, and frothy layers of whipped white cotton and black tulle. Stovepipe hats completed the look. The collection echoed a modern variation of Cecil Beaton’s My Fair Lady (1964) Ascot scene.

LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD

A look from Christian Dior’ Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

We have all been told countless fairytales throughout our lives. For fall 2022, Christian Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri layered the collection with fairytale themes centered around the idea of appearance vs. character: Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty and the stories re-recorded by Charles Perrault in Versailles in the 18th century. The tales inspired a whimsical collection suspended between the idea of classic and timeless pieces, juxtaposed against the alluringly dangerous fairytale world.

INTERGALACTIC

A look from Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Marc Jacobs made a bold statement for fall 2021 as he played with dramatic mid-century looks, and yes, Space Age proportions, all filtered through an American sportswear extremism that caught the attention of the Gen Z shopper.

POP PRINCESS

A look from Dolce & Gabbana’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Throughout the ‘90s designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, the geniuses behind the Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana, dressed a multitude of musicians for various award shows and music videos. Their sexy looks are still rocking the runway today and for their fall 2021 collection, the duo threw-it-back to their nineties heyday.

TRAGIC BEAUTY

A look from Alexander McQueen’ Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Alexander McQueen’s creative director, Sarah Burton, has kept true to the houses DNA. The talented designer even managed to capture the founders dramatic flare for storytelling in a dramatically beautiful yet haunting way. For fall 2021 she didn’t disappoint. Channeling the healing powers of nature, Burton was inspired by anemones and water as recurring motifs in that collection. Crushing up photographs of anemones, Burton photographed them again, and transferred the images onto gigot-sleeved poly faille gowns, worthy of Empress Sisi ( The Tragic Austrian Empress Who Was Murdered by Anarchists).

INSPECTOR GADGET

A look from Sacai’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

The beloved cartoon Inspector Gadget came to life for fall 2021 as Sacai’s creative director, Chitose Abe, reinterpreted the classic trench coat into a cool, must have staple.

LET’S GET PHYSICAL

A look from Saint Laurent’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

It’s time to throw on your leotard and start your aerobics class, as Saint Laurent’s creative director Anthony Vaccarello sent out dazzling eighties-inspired looks for fall 2021.

TO INFINITY AND BEYOND

A look from Balenciaga’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Never one to go the traditional route, Demna Gvasalia, creative director at Balenciaga, presented his fall 2021 as a working video game. The fashion-turned-game-designer created the electronic game Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow, an allegorical adventure that showcased his latest creations, including NASA-inspired outerwear.

LITTLE DEVIL

A look from Junya Watanabe’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Rock on! Junya Watanabe’s “Immortal Rock Spirit” fall 2021 show was inspired by true rock bands including Kiss, Aerosmith, AC/DC, the Rolling Stones, Queen and the Who. His classic concert tees were wrapped up, patchworked, and reconstructed into draped shapes, challenging the standard fashion vocabulary. Watanabe was quite brilliant at rocking that aesthetic.

WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

A look from Moschino’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Jeremy Scott, creative director at Moschino, really knew how to have fun with fashion; case in point, a giraffe-inspired dress with headpiece and all.

UNITED NATIONS

A look from Vetements’ Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Guram Gvasalia, Demna’s younger brother and creative director behind the cultish label Vetements, is always courting controversy.  For fall 2021, the differences between observing, commenting on, and simply mocking real political events for profit has become a dangerously blurred line. Guram exhibited flashes of idealism in passing, case in point, the United Nations flag print suit.

WEDNESDAY ADDAMS

A look from Valentino’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

For fall 2021, Valentino’s creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli, added a punk touch to his otherwise chic collection. It was the perfect collection for a modern-day, grown-up Wednesday Addams (circa ’60s TV show The Addams Family and recent animated cartoon movie, The AddamsFamily2) .

WITCHCRAFT

A look from Yohji Yamamoto’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Yohji Yamamoto is known for his hauntingly beautiful collections. His artistic creations for fall 2021 were rendered entirely in black, with the exception of stitching, piping and a single print. The dark yet romantic looks had a witchy aesthetic that was spellbinding.

BOY MEETS GIRL

A look from Thom Browne’s Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Thom Browne, the designer behind his namesake collection, created his fall 2021 collection based on extreme scales that were overwhelmingly delightful. Browne fused black-tie clothing with sport apparel and in one look even added a gigantic couture bow. Beneath all those bubble helmets and big-time bows were models of all genders, but Browne insisted that gender really doesn’t matter. His creatively beautiful clothes are for everyone.

ALIEN NATION

A look from Rick Owens’ Fall 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

The global pandemic has undoubtedly affected everyone’s mental health. So it’s no surprise that Rick Owens’ fall 2021 collection had post-apocalyptic vibes. His girls were otherworldly, like a fashionable parade of aliens who came to earth to party.

So tell us, what will you wear for Halloween?

JE NE SAIS QUOI – PARIS FASHION WEEK 2022 TRENDS

- - Fashion Shows

Models strut the runway at Saint Laurent’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Masks may be an au courant trend (not without controversy), but thanks to masks, social distancing and vax cards Paris Fashion Week roared back to life. The festivities that began on Monday, September 27th wind down on Tuesday, October 5th with major fashion houses opting for live shows such as Dior, Chanel, Hermes, and Vuitton.

Looks from Dior’s Spring 2022 Collection. (Photo Credit: Reuters)

“We are overjoyed at their return and the presence of the other big brands,” Pascal Morand, head of France’s Federation for Haute Couture and Fashion, told AFP, a news network in France. “We feel this appetite for the physical, for the show,” he added.

But we cannot forget that COVID-19 is not yet over and so just like in New York, London, and Milan, face coverings were compulsory at all the shows this week in the City of Lights.

Of the 97 fashion brands showing at PFW, about two-thirds are continuing with online presentations.

A look from Kenneth Ize’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Nigerian designer, Kenneth Ize, a favorite of supermodel Naomi Campbell, kicked off Paris Fashion Week with a show at the Palais de Tokyo.

Then on Sunday evening, Givenchy held its first IRL catwalk presentation by its new American artistic director Matthew Williams, who brought an element of street style to the historic French brand.

Saint Laurent was also back with a live show on Tuesday evening, despite being the first major house to quit the Paris Fashion official calendar when the deadly pandemic hit in 2020. Today it’s obvious that the brand and it’s creative director, Anthony Vaccarello, made the right choice. The historic French house has been protesting the chaotic pace of the fashion calendar, which has led several major brands to rethink their strategies even before the pandemic.

A video of Saint Laurent’s spring 2022 show. (Video courtesy of Saint Laurent on YouTube)

Kim Kardashian’s Met Gala Balanciaga Look rewrote the Red Carpet’s Rules. (Photo Credit: Elle)

On Saturday night the much-anticipated Balenciaga show took place. All eyes were on the brand’s creative director Demna Gvasalia, especially after making waves at the Met Gala when he dressed Kim Kardashian in a controversial all-black, head-to-toe covering (talk about the ultimate Covid mask!).

Balenciaga, which is under the umbrella of the French global luxury group Kering (Saint Laurent, Gucci, and Bottega Veneta to name a few) proved that they are totally committed to the future of fashion. Prior to Paris Fashion Week they announced at their brands would be going entirely fur-free. Balenciaga announced that they had teamed up with the hit cartoon comedy show The Simpsons, and they announced a partnership with Unreal Engine’s popular computer game Fortnite. Keep your eyes on this space and watch for our upcoming blog topic on how the fashion industry is entering the gaming space.

Video about Kering going fur-free. (Video Courtesy of France24 on YouTube)

Although there was plenty of excitement and so many live shows to attend, there were still a few who have opted out of showing during the Paris Fashion Week calendar. Most noteworthy absent brands were Celine, whose artistic director Hedi Slimane has argued that the traditional calendar was “obsolete” in the age of social media. Off-White, the brand of the popular streetwear designer Virgil Abloh, has not appeared for several seasons now, as well as Stella McCartney, although she has not given a reason for skipping out of the fashion calendar.

PFW will end with an homage to Israeli-American designer Alber Elbaz, who died from Covid-related complications in April 2020. The late Elbaz’s company, AZ Factory, planned a tribute show with 44 of the world’s most talented designers, each of whom have created a piece in Elber’s honor. Among the designers participating: Rei Kawakubo, Alessandro Michele, Donatella Versace, and Nicolas Ghesquière, and from the U.S., Ralph Lauren, Virgil Abloh and Daniel Roseberry of Schiaparelli.  The company is calling the event, which will be live streamed on October 5 at 8 pm CET, “Love Brings Love.” I am sure the event will bring many to tears as Alber Elbaz was one of the most beloved and charismatic designers of our time.

While the final stretch of the Spring 2022 shows is still going strong, here are some key trends coming out of Paris so far:

POSH SPLICE

This season, designers in Paris played mix masters with a mélange of luxe and alluring combinations.

A look from Marine Serre’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Sarawong’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Thebe Magugu’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Lutz Huelle’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Isabel Marant’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

TWISTER

Twisted halter tops take center stage this season as the sexy neckline can be found on everything from body-con dresses and jumpsuits to barely there tops.

A look from Courrèges’ Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Issey Miyake’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Balmain’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Saint Laurent’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

JUMP STARTS

No longer the sole domain for dancers and gymnasts, the jumpsuit takes on a racy twist in skintight versions that are oh-so-sexy.

A look from Balenciaga’s Spring 2022 collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Saint Laurent’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Marine Serre’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Acne Studios’ Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Balmain’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

SPORTS CENTER

Getting in shape never looked better. Designers are inspired by the sporty life with chic riffs on everything from cool basketball-style shorts to a full-on boxing looks.

A look from Christian Dior’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Loewe’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Isabel Marant’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Meryll Rogge’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood’s Spring 2022 collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

THE BELT WAY

Cinch it in! Designers are opting for belting looks this season to accentuate the waist.

A look from Dries Van Noten’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Patou’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Andrew Gn’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Christian Dior’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Valentino’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Hermès’ Spring 2022 collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

BARING CONDITIONS

The French have a flare for sexiness and this spring designers are adding an extra dose of seduction with strategically placed  cut-outs leaving very little to the imagination.

A look from Rick Owens’ Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Gauchere’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Coperni’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Saint Laurent’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

YOU’RE A GEM

The collections in Paris were filled with brilliant jewel tone colors – rich magentas, emeralds, and blues – enough to make you sparkle like a gem.

A look from Andrew Gn’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Kenneth Ize’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Issey Miyake’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Christian Dior’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Patou’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Dries Van Noten’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

SHINE LANGUAGE

Metallic hues take a playful turn for spring 2022 as designers show an array of shiny looks from a gold fringe dress to a silver futuristic topper, one things for sure, it’s time to shine on.

A look from Valentino’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Balmain’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Courrèges’ Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Lutz Huelle’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Loewe’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Christopher Kane’s Spring 2022 show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Balenciaga’s Spring 2022 collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Now that we’ve covered each of the major fashion week capitals, which city do you believe has the most creative talent?

 

 

GOING LIVE IN PARIS: HAUTE COUTURE FALL 2021 SHOWS

- - Fashion Shows

The grand finale of Chanel’s fall 2021 couture show, featuring the actress Margaret Qualley. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Exciting news for fashion insiders, most of the Haute Couture 2021 shows in Paris were IRL (in real life) this season, as runway events began on Monday, July 5th. Haute couture shows are where the most whimsical and fanciful looks are to be found. They are the experimental breeding ground for designers to try out new ideas and design concepts.

These one-of-a-kind custom looks are constructed mostly by hand from start to finish. Each piece is made from high-quality, expensive and often unique fabric and then sewn together with extreme attention to detail, and then finished by THE most experienced and capable of artisans—often using hand-executed techniques.

An haute couture garment is a garment created for an individual client, tailored specifically to that customer’s measurements and will compensate for any body challenges (for example, one shoulder higher than the other, a rounded back, etc.). Considering the amount of time, money and skill allocated to each completed creation, these one-of-a-kind garments have an out-of-sight price tag. If you need to ask the price, you are considered tres gauche.

Haute couture in France, is a protected name that may not be used except by firms that meet certain well-defined standards. Only a select handful of labels can join the French couture calendar and enjoy the privilege of being considered an haute couture house.

A model walks the runway during the Christian Dior Haute Couture Fall 2021. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

For the first time since the global pandemic began, brands were able to host their shows in real life. As a result there was plenty of excitement, beginning with Jean Paul Gaultier’s special collaboration with Chitose Abe, the Artistic Director of the Japanese brand Sacai. These type of designer collabs aren’t new and you can’t help wonder if they weren’t inspired by the music industry who have been engaging in this type of  ‘talent/co-marketing’ for years, such as Micheal Jackson + Paul McCartney, Nelly + Tim McGraw, Rihanna + Eminem and Lil NAS X + Billy Ray. It’s a great way to broaden the fan base.

Models appear on a balcony at Jean-Paul Gaultier’s fashion house after the presentation of his Haute Couture Fall 2021 collection. (Photo Credit: Lewis Joly for AP)

Another anticipated show of this couture season was the welcoming of Pyer Moss to the calendar. The brand’s creative director Kerby Jean-Raymond, is the first Black American fashion designer to be welcomed into the couture fold. Jean-Raymond was officially invited by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture (sadly, the outdoor show was postponed due to the Hurricane Elsa), but the runway extravaganza took place on Saturday in Flatbush, Brooklyn. The show was a fabulous lesson in black invention, black joy and black revolution.

A look from Pyer Moss’ first couture show. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Fashionistas were also anxiously waiting the return of Balenciaga Couture under the helm of Demna Gvasalia. Gvasalia surprised his audience when he chose Ella Emhoff, 21-year-old daughter of U.S.’s Second Gentleman, Doug Emhoff, and budding Bushwick fashion designer and model, to walk his runway.

Ella Emhoff modeling for the fall 2021 Balenciaga Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Balenciaga)

Below, are some of the highlights of most anticipated collections from the haute couture fall 2021 season:

BALENCIAGA

Balenciaga’s Couture Fall 2021 show. Courtesy of Balenciaga on YouTube.

It has been 53 years since the house of Balenciaga presented an haute couture collection, so the anticipation was at an all-time high for followers of the fashion-forward label. Demna Gvasalia showcased his first couture collection at Cristóbal Balenciaga’s original couture salon, which today is fully restored to the original version. Aside from press and couture clients, Kanye West and Bella Hadid were seated in the much sought-after front row.

The collection was a balanced combination of men’s and women’s made-to-measure pieces, and paid tribute to Balenciaga’s respected couture history with a slew of direct references to the house’s founder, case-in-point, the initials ‘C.B.’ were hand-embroidered on silk ties, poplin shirts, and leather gloves. Another heritage look was included in the grand finale; a veiled bridal look which was inspired by one of Cristóbal Balenciaga’s creations, last shown 54 years ago.

JEAN PAUL GAULTIER BY SACAI

Jean Paul Gaultier by Sacai’s Couture Fall 2021 Video. Courtesy of Fashion Feed on YouTube.

Right before COVID-19 brought the world to a halt, the elusive designer Jean Paul Gaultier announced that he would be collaborating with Chitose Abe of Sacai for his fall 2021 couture collection. This genius collaboration will be part of a new and exciting tactic where Jean Paul Gaultier will team-up with a different designer each season. The outcome was met with great success.

This was Chitose Abe’s first time working in the world of couture and she brought her unique and avant garde aesthetic into Gaultier’s archives, breathing new life into some of his most iconic looks. Case-in-point, a corseted trench coat-inspired dress.

FENDI

 

Fendi’s Couture Fall 2021 film. Courtesy of Fendi on YouTube.

Kim Jones’ second couture collection for Fendi was presented through a beautiful fashion film directed by Luca Guadagnino. The film starred supermodel Kate Moss and was a celebration of “the eternal beauty of Rome”. The designer described the collection as “a contemporary connection between eras, cultures and aesthetics“.

Connecting eras, a meeting of the old with the new, the past with the present. The eternal beauty of Rome and its composite history are the protagonists of this haute couture show,” Fendi said.” A collection where nothing is quite as it seems.

ALAIA

Azzedine Alaïa’s Couture Fall 2021 and 2022 Show. Courtesy of Bayoucool2 on YouTube.

For his debut collection for Alaïa, Pieter Mulier – who is known for being Raf Simons’ right-hand man for years – presented a hybrid of couture and ready-to-wear. The collection paid homage to the house’s namesake designer and his original creations, but with a modern twist, turning the houses signature staples into something new and exciting.

The homage to the founder was a roll out of the houses signature pieces including body-sculpting knitwear, multi-strap corset belts, and hooded silhouettes. Mulier also transformed Alaïa staples like the white poplin shirt paired with his showstopping corsets, into his own translation of flowing tops cut away to reveal a triangle of solar plexus and were paired with bubble-hem maxi skirts or pleated minis.

Nine of the looks — including the cutaway tops — were couture, while most of the collection was ready to wear. Although Mulier presented during couture fashion week, the newly minted creative director prefers the two collections co-exist side by side as women might wear it, “without rules or boundaries“.

SCHIAPARELLI

Schiaparelli’s Couture fall 2021 show. Courtesy of FF Channel on YouTube.

For two years, I’ve been saying that I didn’t care about nostalgia,” creative director Daniel Roseberry said ahead of the reveal of Schiaparelli’s new couture collection in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar. “This season, though, it’s where it all started. I found myself wondering, again and again: What if you combined a little Manet; a little Lacroix; a little 1980s; a little 1880s; a little matador; a little space alien; a little Ingres; a little shimmer; a lot of colour? Could I do it? And what would it look like? The answer is this, my fourth couture collection, ‘The Matador’.”

With his haute couture collection – which was presented in a video and lookbook format– Roseberry wanted to pay tribute to the house’s founder, and to celebrate the history, the beauty and the joy of fashion.

The young American couturier for Schiaparelli is the first American designer to hold the helm at a French couture house and is known for creating Surrealist fashion for the modern era.

Here’s what I want: No more cookie-cutter fashion,” he added in his show notes. “No more pieces that look like they could have been made by anyone. No more cynicism. No more irony. No more timidity. No more coolness. Give me more beauty, more earnestness, more romance, more effort. I hope this collection reminds everyone who encounters it of the sheer delight that fashion can bring us in hard times, and with it, the promise of more joy when the clouds part. Give me more fashion. Give me more hope.”

So tell us, what was your favorite couture collection?

GAMECHANGERS: THE RISE OF FASHION VIDEO GAMES

 

Ralph Lauren collaborates with Snapchat. (Photo Credit: Ralph Lauren)

With the holidays just around the corner and our festivities limited to “home pod” celebrations and Zoom events, one thing is for certain, this was a year like no other. As we witnessed a global pandemic, an unprecedented number of deaths, a world in lockdown and a toppling of the world economy, we somehow managed to remain hopeful. With the rolling out a COVID-19 vaccine, we just need to have more patience. This year we learned to appreciate our families, health-care workers and first responders. We also learned that wearing a mask shows you care.

Face Masks have become the most popular accessory of 2020. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Despite the pandemic, this was a year of creativity. Fashion designers went into full scale production of masks and PPE, schools migrated to remote learning, parents threw drive-by celebrations for their kids’ birthdays, schools threw virtual proms and graduations for their seniors and families organized Thanksgiving  Zoom-ebrations.

The fashion industry, once a bastion of tradition, became exceptionally creative as a result of the pandemic, when it came to fashion week. Some brands held virtual audience-less fashion shows, some created short videos and others found artistic ways to shoot their lookbooks.

And now, one of the most inventive ways a designer can showcase their collection is the video game platform. If you are a fervent reader of the UoF blog, you will remember that on April 6th   we predicted this as an innovative way for brands to connect with their customers (Demna Gvasalia, were you listening?)  Here’s the link for reference:

https://www.universityoffashion.com/blog/fashion-computer-game/

BALENCIAGA

On Dec. 6th the video game “Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow” (set in the year 2031) was launched featuring Demna Gvasalia’s main collection for Balenciaga’s fall 2021 season. Enter the world of fashion-tainment!

According to WWD, the allegorical adventure features environments and characters using cutting-edge photogrammetry and the most advanced technology for game hosting, according to the Paris-based fashion house, noting that “Afterworld sets a record for the largest volumetric video project ever undertaken.” For those of us new to digital jargon, photogrammetry is “the science and technology of obtaining reliable information about physical objects and the environment through the process of recording, measuring and interpreting photographic images and patterns of electromagnetic radiant imagery and other phenomena.

Like many designers, Gvasalia must surely miss the excitement of a live runway show, but honestly, the pandemic didn’t stop him from presenting his fashion-forward collection in an avant-garde way. For Paris Fashion Week Spring 2021, Gvasalia was highly praised for his fashion film set to Corey Hart’s “I Wear My Sunglasses at Night,” which showcased Balenciaga’s summer pre-collection with models dashing through rain-slicked Paris streets after dark.

Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow

What better timing to launch a new computer game than the holidays, during a pandemic, with a stay-at-home order in place! Brilliant marketing, no?

So here’s how it works:

“A hero avatar advances throughout distinct zones, motivated by tasks and interactions,” the house said, sharing details of the online game first with WWD. “The narrative of ‘Afterworld’ is anchored to mythological pasts and projected futures with timeless archetypes and speculative imagery.”

Balenciaga’s pre-collection is futuristic and is inspired by what fashion might be like in 2031 in a conceptual way, and the idea carries over into what’s displayed in the video game.

“A theme of Balenciaga fall 2021 is human destiny, as seen by an interactive, gamified journey,” the house said. “The world may appear to be decaying at first, but it is far from a dystopian view, showing instead the slow return to a healthier balance of nature and industry.”

If you’re a true gamer with quick skills and can beat the game, the reward is “A real-life breathing exercise set in a virtual utopia. In the end, the hero has finally becomes (as it is referred to in Hero’s Journey analysis) a ‘Master of  Two Worlds’,” Balenciaga told WWD, apparently alluding to studies of archetypal heroes by the late American academic Joseph Campbell.

Gvasalia has been breaking the traditional fashion industry rules and they seem to be working to his advantage. Last September the designer revealed that he would show Balenciaga’s pre-collections during Paris Fashion Week, and his main collections for the house in June and December, reversing his previous show order.  The unconventional designer also stated in past interviews that he wishes to break away from the hamster wheel of doing runway shows every season; although he hasn’t ruled out runway shows in the future. Gvasalia is already planning to stage a show next July for Balenciaga’s much anticipated return to haute couture.

Demna Gvasalia, the Creative Director for Balenciaga. (Photo Credit: WWD)

“Fashion has become such a checklist. And I feel like I personally want to try to do it differently,” Gvasalia said in an interview with WWD.

 

OTHER FASHION COMPUTER GAMES

Balenciaga’s timing to release an online video game comes at a pinnacle time in the crossover between gaming and fashion, a relationship that has been progressively developing.

Animal Crossings designer collaborations. (Left) Looks from Valentino. (Right) Looks from Marc Jacobs. (Photo Credit: AllGamers HyperX)

Since lockdowns began, fashion lovers have been playing Animal Crossing, a Nintendo-created game (launched in 2001), but since May, designer brands such as Marc Jacobs and Valentino have created “New Horizons” looks and the game’s popularity took off.  Suddenly, the Nintendo Switch and Switch Light, the game system to play Animal Crossings on, were on everyone’s wish list and they became hard to find. Even Instagram accounts like Animal Crossing Fashion Archive, Nook street Market, and Animalcrossfits became a craze. 2020 has brought in a new area in fashion and gaming, and it’s so much more than just picking out your favorite color for a character’s t-shirt.

Across the board, luxury fashion houses are collaborating with the video game industry, as this promises to be the future of marketing and retail as Generation Z and Alpha are incredibly tech driven.

Gucci unveiled a series of new app features including the Arcade App, inviting customers to play with popular house motifs and characters, plus AR technology allowing them to virtually “try on” sneakers and watches. The Italian luxury brand also launched a collaboration with The Sims and a tennis-themed outfit game, Tennis Clash.

K slash DA in Louis Vuitton. (Photo Credit Louis Vuitton)

Louis Vuitton launched its League of Legends capsule collection last year, in partnership with Riot Games. Meanwhile, Burberry collaborated with Snapchat and created Animal Kingdom, an in-store gamified experience in which Snapcodes transport shoppers to a Burberry world. Snapchat also teamed up with Ralph Lauren to create virtual clothing for personal Bitmojis.

“With confinement, we started the year 2020 to wake up into 2025,” describes Christian Louboutin of such acceleration in an interview with Nylon magazine. “I’m not a gamer myself — I can barely switch on the TV — but I’ve observed in the last few years more and more people, especially at the airport or in planes, playing on their phones.” Just this past October, the footwear designer presented his Spring 2021 collection via the app Zepeto, enabling users to create personal avatars and discover his latest creations.

In an interview with Nylon magazine, “Our social lives are now predominantly playing out online. Therefore, our main channel to present ourselves and shape out identity is digital,” says Rachael Stott, futures analyst at strategic foresight consultancy the Future Laboratory, which estimates that when it comes to in-game spending, U.S. gamers each spend on average $229 on digital purchases. For comparison’s sake, the new stand alone XBox Series X and Sony PlayStation 5 both retail for $499, while the Oculus Quest 2 all-in-one virtual reality headset retails for $399.

According to the trend forecasting agency WGSN, gaming has an estimated global reach of 2.7 billion; and ‘skins’, virtual items that change the look of a character, accounted for 80% of the $120 billion spent on digital games in 2019.

“Fashion working with gaming is kind of the next obvious step in the evolution of fashion,” says Erin Wayne, head of community and creator marketing at Twitch (in an interview with Nylon magazine). The live-streaming platform launched in 2011, now boasts 26.5 million daily visitors. In September, Burberry became the first luxury fashion label to partner with the service and stream its Spring 2021 show, and in July, the UK-based university Ravensbourne streamed its graduating fashion students’ collections, which had been presented via a digital avatar project.

“Gen Zers are digital natives. They don’t want content pushed at them,” says Adam Harris, global head of brand partnership studio at Twitch. On Twitch, you can find anything from cats sleeping to ASMR to gaming to chatting. Teens today will seek out the content they are interested in, case in point, Fortnite’s Travis Scott spectacular in April: 12 million players logged into the concert. Meanwhile, Lil Nas X’s recent stint on gaming platform Roblox drew 33 million views.

“Fashion brands are primarily infiltrating gaming as a marketing tool,” points out Stott. With doors to physical stores shuttered, gaming devices have the potential to build communities. “Spending hours crafting a digital replica to show your peers currently makes sense,” she says.

The Puma X Tabitha Simmons Collection on Drest. (Photo Credit: Drest)

There are a handful of other fashion video games as well. “Drest” an interactive styling game, that was launched towards the end on 2019 now carries over 200 brands. The video game was founded by Lucy Yeomans, a former magazine editor-in-chief of Net-a-Porter and editor of the fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar in the UK. Another popular fashion game is DressX, which was founded by Daria Shapovalova and Natalia Modenova. They are a retail platform for digital fashion, carrying over 30 brands, mostly URL only, some IRL, too, sell between $25 and $200. It’s like digital couture.

“Gaming is starting to become such a cultural force. Our mission is to become one of those brands like the Dickies [of the world] or whoever was at the beginning of that culture,” Simon Brown, product director of Fnatic says in an interview with Nylon.

 

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THAT’S A WRAP: THE SPRING 2021 SHOW SEASON COMES TO AN END

- - Fashion Shows

A golden look from Paco Rabanne’s Spring 2021 Runway. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Paco Rabanne)

It’s a wrap! The Spring 2021 Fashion Season has officially come to an end. Now known as Phygital Fashion Month, a hybrid mix of digital and physical fashion presentations, Paris officially closed the season with a bang on  Tuesday, Oct. 7th. Some of the heavy hitter brands, Chanel, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Miu Miu, and Louis Vuitton turned video into an art form, while others chose to show their collection in the old-fashioned traditional runway format. Either way, it was a great season.

Sporty chic at Miu Miu’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Miu Miu)

While many have debated how can the industry go forward with fashion presentations in the middle of a global pandemic, many designers responded with whimsical collections giving us all hope for a brighter and happier future. After all, the purpose of the runway to give us an escape from reality and transform us into the designer’s fictional collection world. Here are a few collections that ended Paris Fashion Week with bravado and excitement.

A Goth inspired wedding at Maison Margiela’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Maison Margiela)

BALENCIAGA

Hope is the last thing to die” is an old Russian saying that inspired Balenciaga’s creative director Demna Gvasalia to move forward with creating his latest collection. Always one to defy fashion norms, Gvasalia and his husband created a music video to present his spring 2021 Balenciaga collection. In an interview with Vogue Runway, the creative director stated, “You know, I couldn’t wait not to do a show. It didn’t feel right with the way things are. So we’ve made a music video. My husband recorded that ’80s track by Corey Hart, ‘I wear my sunglasses at night’—because you know, is there anything more absurdly fashion than that? It’s also allegorical. You know, where is fashion going? It’s out there, searching in the dark at the moment, not seeing…

In the middle of  pandemic and global unrest, the video might have sounded like an apocalyptic film; but thankfully that was not the case as the video was a tribute to Balenciaga’s nighttime people; each subject was captured walking Paris’ dark streets to a purposeful destination, all dressed in Balenciaga’s latest looks, complete with sunglasses. The video captured the essence of Paris’ nightlife and glamour as each model strutted the streets heading to see friends – an activity we all long for as we’ve spent months in quarantine. The video was upbeat, alive and oh so clever. Streets as the runway. Brilliant!

Gvasalia has always been an activist for the environment and being in isolation only strengthened his passion for sustainable fashion. In a press release, the house released specifics: “93.5% of the plain materials in this collection are either certified sustainable or upcycled. 100% of the print bases have sustainable certifications.” With the resources of the Kering Group at hand, Gvasalia said, “we discovered we could do it quite easily, with the exception of the fibers that are in some of the existing fabrics. There are solutions if you look for them. There’s a need to revise things. To start a new chapter.” He believes in the future consumers will be reusing the clothes they already own. This begs the question: how will your favorite pieces stand the test of time?

For spring Gvasalia hopes to answer that question by creating a timeless collection of great pieces that ranged from terrific outerwear to cozy knits and cool athletic wear. While most of the collection was genderless, such as the oversized outerwear, the distressed hoodies, classic denim, plaid shirting and oversized tailored suiting. The designer also created a few effortless wrap dresses for day, but for evening, he opted for casual glam with a metallic lingerie inspired top paired with drawstring trousers. These are real clothes that are meant to be lived in and loved.

THOM BROWNE

Inspired by a childhood trip to Montreal to attend the 1976 Summer Olympics, Thom Browne can still remember Caitlyn Jenner winning the gold medal in the decathlon, that moment in time has stuck with him as he subtly references sport motifs in many of his collections. So, for his spring 2021 collection, Browne transports us to the future of the 2132 Olympics in a humorous video, which featured comedian Jordan Firstman and model Grace Mahary bantering like sports commentators on the moon, as models and flag bearers descend the stadium steps of the Los Angeles Coliseum; the location hosted the 1932 Olympics and was chosen for its Art Deco architecture.

While the video is set to take place in the future, the collection itself was inspired by the past, as Browne reinterprets the silhouettes of the ’20s and ’30s with plenty of drop waist dresses that were long and chic. The Deco silhouettes stole the show as Browne resumed his quirky experimental fashion that shifted the position of garments on the body, case in point, jackets worn as skirts.

Browne’s designs may at times be unconventional, but one cannot deny that he is a master craftsman. His his couture-like techniques were perfection: seersuckers made of cashmere, embroidery so thick it’s almost quilting, cable knits, intarsia suits, and trompe l’oeil dresses—all accentuating the intricate texture of each design. The collection was created in various shades of white as a Browne calls the hue, ‘a symbol of hope.’ In addition to traditional models, Browne also used actual Olympians in his video, suggesting that his quirky fashion can be worn by those brave enough to wear them.

With everyone spending quarantine time transfixed to their screens, Brown’s video has undoubtedly ushered in a new era in the fashion industry, “fashiontainment.” An interesting combo of fashion and entertainment. Watch this space.

GIVENCHY

A women’s look from Givenchy’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Givenchy)

In June, Givenchy’s social media blew up when it featured a photo of the house’s new creative director, Matthew M. Williams, shirtless and tattooed in the house’s introduction of their new young designer. So naturally, Givenchy was the most anticipated collection of Paris Fashion Week. The collection was a perfect balance between the houses’ signature DNA and Williams’ elegant goth aesthetic, devil horns and all.

The debut collection was an edgy twist on established dress codes. There was no one theme per se, just simply great wearable pieces that Williams said he would personally wear. Digging into the archives of Givenchy, Williamson was inspired by the horn heels that were created during the Alexander McQueen’s era. There were also nods to Hubert de Givenchy: perfectly tailored suits with architectural-inspired details for both men and women, a basic denim jacket updated with unique reflective embroideries, tank tops with asymmetrical draping that were minimalistic perfection.

A men’s look from Givenchy’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Givenchy)

For evening, Williamson continued with the bold, yet rich, aesthetic that he is known for. Key looks included: a geometric square shaped cape for both men and women, intricate ring and crystal embellishments found on delicate mesh dresses and hooded sweatshirts, a laser-cut bustier gown and plenty of backless evening dresses. It is clear that Williamson’s vision of the Givenchy woman is a modern and powerful one.

CHANEL

Even in a global pandemic, the House of Chanel managed to serve up glamour, in the most ostentatious way. The full-fledged show was held in Paris’s soaring Grand Palais with the runway backdrop spelling out, in huge letters, “CHANEL,” reminiscent of the iconic Hollywood sign. Chanel’s creative director Virginie Viard seemed to be inspired by the modern life of actresses from their glamorous red-carpet moments to their daily coffee runs and everything in between. Her collection was a perfect combination of Parisian cool mixed with L.A.’s laid-back style.

Viard’s marriage of these two worlds worked like charm. She paired her classic Chanel tweed jackets with petal pushers or stone-washed denim jeans or with tiny miniskirts in pastel colors, all reminiscent of the excess of the 1980s, The hybrid mix of these two cities came in the form of an elongated, robe-like, pink cardigan with black piping, paired with a multi-charm necklace and a logo tiara headband. Other key looks ranged from graphic black and white floral dresses; neon colored billboard-inspired prints on t-shirts and day dresses;  a sequin pantsuit for evening; and plenty of red-carpet feathered looks.

While many red carpet events have been put on hold due to COVID, it’s clear that Viard is looking ahead to brighter days.

LOUIS VUITTON

Louis Vuitton’s show was the official end to Paris Fashion Week and leave it to Nicolas Ghesquière to deliver the virtual reality experience we’ve all been waiting for.  The live show was held at the newly remodeled-by-LVM, La Samaritaine department store. Sprinkled among the audience were state-of-the-art 360-degree cameras that allowed spectators at home to pivot in their chairs, to watch models coming and going. It was almost like you were actually there!

My question this season was less about one theme; it was about this zone between femininity and masculinity,” Ghesquière explained in an interview with Vogue Runway. “This zone is highlighted by nonbinary people, people that are taking a lot of freedom dressing themselves as they want, and, in turn, giving a lot of freedom to all of us. I found it inspiring to explore what the items are that represent this wardrobe that is not feminine, not masculine. I wanted to zoom in on that section in between.”

The show opened with a “Vote” top (a statement tee that many in the fashion industry are making) paired with pleated chinos cinched at the waist with a black belt. This relaxed street-ready look set the tone for a wearable collection that we all want to own right now, such as duster coats, mini dresses, and khaki suits. Ghesquière also showed skater-inspired tees that were spliced into elaborate techno patchworks. The designer showed off his technical skills by creating expandable jackets that were built with panels, so that the customer can wear it either fitted or oversized. He also used this same technique for trousers giving the wearer the freedom to style them as he or she chooses. It was all a fresh approach to Ghesquière’s beloved ‘80s silhouette with a genderless concept.

Do you have a fav collection, now that the spring 2021 season has come to an end?

 

How Millennial Culture Is Driving the Luxury Kidswear Market: Welcome to the age of the mini-me

- - Childrenswear
Jason and Amanda Harvey with their twins at the Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2017 show (Photo courtesy of designer)

Supermodel Amanda Harvey and husband Jason with their twins at the Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2017 show (Photo courtesy of designer)

Thanks to millennial culture and an addiction for posting every move they make across several social media platforms, the rise of influencers and celebrity dressing has brought high end fashion to the masses. These fashionistas save every penny to be able to purchase the latest Gucci sneaker or Balenciaga hoodie. Staying ahead of the fashion flock has become a job in itself, as fashion darlings post their OOTD (outfit of the day) looks on Instagram and Snapchat. But now, having the latest “It” bag or shoe is not enough. For those wanting to ‘break’ the internet, the new ‘must-have’ accessory is a child. And as if that weren’t enough, you need to dress them in the same outfit as you!  Your own personal ‘mini-me.’

Kim Kardashian and North West in matching Vetements dresses  (Photo courtesy of Getty)

Kim Kardashian and North West in matching Vetements dresses (Photo courtesy of Getty)

With the help of celeb parents such as Beyoncé/Kay Z and Kim Kardashian/Kanye West, the tiny doppelgänger trend is growing in popularity. Fashionable parents everywhere are posting  their matchy-matchy looks all over social media. But this growing trend straddles that fine line between fashionably cute and obnoxious. And worse, it’s the blatant exploitation of children in order to increase social media likes and build a bigger brand for monetary gain. In 2015 Anna Wintour (according to Radar Online on Feb. 23, 2015) staged a fashion intervention with Kim, advising her  to swap her daughter North’s (a toddler at the time) dreary wardrobe for pastels.  The Vogue editrix couldn’t understand why KKW dressed her in all black. In fact, Winter thought it inappropriate for children to be dressed in dark colors at all.

Kim Kadashian, North West, Kanye West and Anna Wintour during Fashion week in 2015 , (Photo courtesy of  AP)

Kim Kadashian, North West, Kanye West and Anna Wintour during Fashion week in 2015 , (Photo courtesy of AP)

While many agree with Wintour, that children should look like children, there is no denying that the designer childrenwear business is rapidly growing. A report by Global Industry Analysts, entitled Children’s Wear: A Global Strategic Business Report, predicts that the childrenswear market will be worth $291 billion (US) by the end of 2020. The report cited the increasing number of luxury labels catering to this segment as a key growth driver. High-end labels such as Gucci, Givenchy, Balenciaga, Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry, Stella McCartney and Christian Dior are cashing in on the children’s market, driven in part by what the report describes as the “growing exposure of children to media and the ensuing rise in materialism.”

Beyoncé and Blue Ivy in matching Gucci  Source @beyonce

Beyoncé and Blue Ivy in matching Gucci Source @beyonce

North West (daughter of Kim/Kanye) and Blue Ivy Carter (daughter of Beyoncé/Jay Z) have become key players in the mini-me trend, the pint-sized fashionistas and their moms wear matching designer looks often from labels such as Gucci, Vetements, and Balmain. It’s even rumored that Kim/Kanye’s son Saint is already wearing custom-made Lagerfeld. But it’s not only celebrity kids donning these pricy labels. The luxury childrenswear market is forecast to reach $6.6 billion in 2018, up by 3.8 percent year-on-year, according to Euromonitor, presenting ample growth opportunities as spending power increases and parents dish out upwards of $500 for a pair of miniature Gucci loafers to match their own.

@coco_pinkprincess  Source Instagram

@coco_pinkprincess Source Instagram

The growing popularity of the mini-me childrenswear trend is fueled by the allure of capturing that perfect Insta-moment. Fashionable Instagram kids are taking over and have a better sense of style than some adults.  There is an Instagram phenomenon for the under 10 set. Take Coco (@coco_pinkprincess), a child from Tokyo, with over 674,000 followers on Instagram, who is regularly dressed up in designer looks from Gucci, Moschino and Balenciaga. Or there’s Ivan (@thegoldenfly), who is the son of designer Natasha Zinko, who made his street style debut at Paris Fashion Week Feb. 2017. His profile reads “I dress to depress” and his street style game is on-point as he’s regularly photographed in Supreme, Comme des Garçons, and Vetements.

Designer Natasha Zinko Introduces Her Son Ivan to the Street Style Crew at Paris Fashion Week (Photo courtesy of Vogue)

Designer Natasha Zinko Introduces Her Son Ivan to the Street Style Crew at Paris Fashion Week (Photo courtesy of Vogue)

According to an article that ran in BOF on Oct 14, 2017, “People want to dress up their children to keep them fresh. Social media is making it easier to show pictures of your children, and parents and fashion labels are taking this demographic more seriously,” says David Park, an illustrator at Complex magazine, who launched a graphic alphabet book titled ‘ABC’s for the Little G’s’ earlier this year. Dedicated to ‘all the sneakerhead parents in the world’, Park’s book teaches toddlers their ABC’s via sneaker graphics: A is for Airmax, G is for Gucci, Y is for Yeezy… The book emphasizes a shift in perception: childrenswear is now cool. The market is currently worth $1.4 billion, according to Euromonitor, and the value of childrenswear in the U.S. is estimated to grow 8 percent by 2021, to $34 million. Luxury brands from Oscar de la Renta to Dolce & Gabbana have long produced childrenswear, but the category is booming with launches from labels like Givenchy, Yeezy and Balenciaga, giving it an extra level of street cred.

Givenchy Debut of Kids Collection (Photo courtesy of Givenchy)

Givenchy Debut of Kids Collection (Photo courtesy of Givenchy)

Balenciaga Kids fall 2018 (Photo courtesy of Balenciaga)

Balenciaga Kids fall 2018 (Photo courtesy of Balenciaga)

The childrenswear market has become increasingly trend-oriented and at UoF, we are on top of the childrenswear trend as we offer an assortment if  childrenswear lessons on the  UoF website, ranging from drafting children’s pattern making slopers to how to draw children’s figures. Click of the link below to learn more about our childrenswear design lessons.

https://www.universityoffashion.com/disciplines/childrenswear/

Coolest Kids at Seoul Fashion Week spring 2018 (Photo courtesy of Buro 24/7)

Coolest Kids at Seoul Fashion Week spring 2018 (Photo courtesy of Buro 24/7)

 Do you find dressing a kid like a mini-me is cute or obnoxious?

 

 

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