University of Fashion Blog

Posts Tagged: "designers"

The Future of Fashion: Power in Numbers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Imagine pooling resources as you build a fashion business.

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

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

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

The team at Colville Image: www.drapersonline.com

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

The team at Commission Image: @commissionnyc

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Wedge, column, pear and hourglass: 4 body types to know

- - Trends

The “real woman” challenge on Project Runway draws a distinctive line between designers who are adept at working with actual clients and those who design on a standard size 6 dress form. Often design students, through no fault of their own, spend their design education creating on a dress form, which does not necessarily reflect the “real” woman they will one day dress.

For emerging designers who have yet to make their passion a business, it is important to consider who your client will be and how your designs will fit her body type. Or, if you are designing for only a specific body type, it is important to consider how that might affect your business’ bottom line.

At latest report, the average American woman is 5’4”, 166 pounds and has a waist size of 37.5 inches. This is a stark contrast in size to the typical size 6 or 8 dress form most fashion design students use to design. But these are important statistics to take into account when it comes to selling your designs and making sure the women who want to wear your clothes can.

BodyShapes

Regardless of height and weight, standard sizing or plus size, there are four body types designers should be familiar with: the wedge, column, pear and hourglass. Over the course of fashion history, there are many examples of designers who have been known for specific silhouettes that mirror these four body types. Take a look at the following:

Claude Montana and Thierry Mugler, famed French designers of the 1980s, were well known for their broad-shouldered silhouettes. Notice how this silhouette gives the appearance of the wedge body type and a great silhouette to minimize the waist and hips by broadening the shoulders.

Look no further than the 1920s to find designers who embraced the column silhouette, as in the Paul Poiret illustration above. Other designers to research include Madeleine Vionnet and Madame Grés. This silhouette is great for women who don’t have a defined waistline and whose shape is less curvy.

Screen Shot 2017-01-15 at 12.04.54 PM

Yves Saint Laurent’s trapeze silhouette of the late 1950s is a good example of a silhouette that follows the shape of the pear body type. Narrow at the shoulder and more voluminous at the hip, this silhouette was also made popular by Pierre Cardin and Rudi Gernreich in the 1960s. This silhouette is popular with girls whose waists and hips are larger than their bust.

And most famous for the hourglass silhouette is Christian Dior and his New Look, as seen above. Nipped in at the waist, and balanced at the shoulder and the hip, many designers have worked to achieve this ideal including Charles Frederick Worth, Azzedine Alaia and of course, Alexander McQueen. Girls with this body shape, accentuate the appearance of a smaller waistline with belts and body contoured clothing.

Understanding the four body types is just the tip of the iceberg for designers today. As the market shifts to accommodate a growing plus sized industry, many designers are shifting their offerings to support both their clients and their businesses. As recent as 2014, the British design collective of Clements Riberio, Giles Deacon, Hema Kaul, Jamie Wei Huang, Lulu Liu and Vita Gottlieb, were the first plus-size brands to show at London Fashion Week.

There has been a growing body positivity movement for some time. In 2004, Dove created their Campaign for Real Beauty which fostered conversations on female self-confidence and self-esteem issues, no matter her size, shape or race. Dove beauty ads featured plus-size women as the “real beautiful.”

However, as recent as last summer, Leslie Jones, star of SNL and Ghostbusters, struggled to find a designer who would design for her due to her size. She took her story to Twitter and her exchange with Christian Siriano made headline news. Siriano, a long time champion of dressing women with diverse body sizes was honored to step up to the plate. Siriano says of his collection in general, “We want to make sure that the collection feels cohesive, but we want to make sure that the models and the women wearing it are just as different as the women that shop in a store.” In fact, Siriano included plus-sized models in his fashion show last September to prove his point. In addition, many designers including Siriano and Isabel and Ruben Toledo, have partnered with plus-size retailer Lane Bryant as a way to make their designs accessible to all women.

We know this is a lot to consider as you are just learning to drape, draw and sew. However, we are dedicated to helping you navigate the fashion industry and its quickly changing trends. Take a look at our recently posted video for more information on body types and the plus-sized market.

Screen Shot 2017-01-15 at 2.22.31 PM

Top 20 Looks from Fashion Weeks for Spring Summer 2017 Ready-to-Wear

- - Fashion Shows

The quickest way to understand the upcoming season’s trends is to take a look at the collections from the international fashion weeks – New York, London, Milan and Paris. The meccas of fashion – they set the mood for imminent style. The fashion weeks just ended, so it comes as no surprise that we pick out our top 20 favorite looks from fashion weeks for Spring Summer 2017 to mark the beginning of conversations about next season.

Some of the looks were about redefining everyday things. Let’s see two such looks by Alexander Wang and Versus Versace. The former look has pajama stripes and collar style to create an asymmetric wrap dress with a thigh-high slit. The dress is paired with white fringe sneakers, which the brand designed in collaboration with Adidas. The latter look is all about brazenness and shock. An orange bandeau top is designed like a belt, and paired with a matching jacket and pants.

Alexander Wang

Alexander Wang

Versus Versace

Versus Versace

This trend brings us to the topic of athleisure. This look from Mugler SS17 RTW collection gives a party dress the cut of a sports-bra, mixing the theme of 70s glamour with it.

mugler

Mugler

The other athleisure look is by Versace. An asymmetric skirt held together with a buckle is worn over an energetic mesh and ultra-lightweight nylon dress, paired with heel-socks.

versace-ss17-spring-summer-2017-collection-dress (48)-blue-full-sleeves-sheer-side-slit

Versace

Emporio Armani paired blue track-pants with a matching plunging-V-neck top, a red bag and earrings for a fun yet comfortable look.

Emporio Armani

Emporio Armani

Art was another theme we observed in the SS17 collections. In a dress by Alice+Olivia, a painting depicting Italian towns and landscape takes center-stage.

Alice + Olivia

Alice + Olivia

Another gorgeous dress is this one by Valentino. Inspired by Italian medieval art, the gown has sketchy painting all over its white and pale pink fabric.

valentino

Valentino

Rahul Mishra’s novel machine-washable hand-embroideries feature flora and fauna. The black cotton dress with patchwork birds on it, paired with a zipper jacket with three-dimensional floral applique on the shoulders.

rahulmishra

Rahul Mishra

Another look by Fendi pairs a floral patterned ruffle-neck bodysuit with a sheer organza skirt.

Fendi

Fendi

Some of the collections had specific themes. Moschino, for example, had models dressed as paper-dolls. In this unmissable look, a crop top with a bra-print is paired with a pencil skirt that has prints of logo-waistchains, complete with paper-doll-like hair and makeup, and folding tabs.

moschino

Moschino

Dior had a feminist message in its collection. Maria Grazia Chiuri, the fashion house’s new Artistic Director made headlines with the tee shirt that proclaimed “We should all be feminists” – one of Paris Fashion Week’s most talked-about looks.

Dior_RTW-SS2017_Look 18

Dior

Dolce & Gabbana took the theme of tropical Italy, focusing on Italian foods and music. This look is royal with a younger taste. An embellished black hoodie is paired with a tiara-like embellished headband and sheer knee-high socks.

dolce-and-gabbana-summer-2017-women-fashion-show-runway-16

Dolce & Gabbana

Gucci’s 18th century-inspired look with ostentatious earrings, large Colonial hat and a floral silk coat and a bag with a contrasting message – Future!

gucci

Gucci

On the other hand of the spectrum, Chanel, with its data-center themed show, catered to the millennial generation with its candy-colored coordinated set and matching baseball cap.

Chanel

Chanel

In this tropical forest themed look by Max Mara, a forest-like skirt with large leaf print is paired with a fuzzy sweater that has a large lemur-motif.

max-mara-ss17-collection-spring-summer-2017-dress (41)

Max Mara

Gowns and evening dresses came as pretty, shimmery and embellished as ever. Our top three include this one by Alexander McQueen – an unconventional gown with a wave of silver sequins rising up from sea-foam-like train, and going up to the neckline.

alexander mcqueen

Alexander McQueen

This Marchesa gown is similar, but more red-carpet-suitable. Silver sequins cover the top half of a tulle gown that creates an uneven artistic texture, leaving the bottom-half sheer.

marchesa

Marchesa

The third one is a Monique Lhuillier gown in mint-blue that comes with a rose-creeper embroidery on shoulders and sleeves.

monique-lhuillier

Monique Lhuillier

This Elie Saab mini-dress has a 70s theme to it, but presented with a modern taste –pockets and full-slashed sleeves rolling up into the belt.

elie saab

Elie Saab

This Zuhair Murad cocktail dress in petal-pink is urban-royal with every inch embellished and three-dimensional rose-shaped sleeves.

zuhair murad

Zuhair Murad

Image Credits: Versus Versace, Alice+Olivia, Rahul Mishra