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WILL FASHION SHOWS EVER LOOK THE SAME AGAIN?

- - Fashion Shows

Erdem’s resort collection draws on the juxtaposition of Regency dress and the 1960s. (Photo Credit: Erdem)

COVID-19 has changed the world, no doubt about it. This deadly pandemic took many innocent lives and toppled global economies in just months. It is unfathomable how every industry has been affected and how each is racing to adapt to a new way of doing business. The fashion industry is no exception. As our industry grapples with millions of dollars in losses, stockpiles of unsold merchandise, and store closures and bankruptcies that resulted in thousands of people being furloughed, the industry is also grappling with the future of the fashion show.

You may remember our blogpost back on November 18, 2019, we covered the topic of whether fashion shows are still relevant. Well, who knew back then that a deadly pandemic would help make the decision for us.

As we wait for scientists and doctors to advise us on when it will become safe enough to gather in large groups, the idea of presenting and attending live fashion shows seems far off. Though LVMH just announced that their brands will produce a live show this fall, most designers are getting creative with new ways to showcase their collections. Here is a rundown of what the new fashion calendar will look like.

RESORT/CRUISE 2021

On March 27th, the CFDA announced the cancellation of the official New York Fashion Week Resort 2021 schedule of presentations, which had been planned for the week of June 6. According to a statement by the CFDA, “The decision was based on the current global situation, the ongoing uncertainty regarding its impact on retailers and their open-to-buys, and designers’ challenges in producing collections at this moment,” the statement read. “We strongly recommend and urge designers not to show their resort spring 2021 collections. The news followed similar announcements by the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana in Milan and the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode in Paris to postpone or cancel their respective spring 2021 men’s collections, as well as the fall 2020 haute couture shows.”

The resort 2021 season would have been in full swing by now with many of the bigger brands holding mega-shows in exotic locations, while the majority would hold intimate shows or appointments in New York City. As a result of Covid, many designers chose to skip the season altogether citing worldwide factory lockdowns, huge sales losses on spring merchandise and the inability to receive the fabrics and trimmings needed to create a collection. However, a few designers did opt to present their collections, through videos and lookbook images. Here are a few ways designers became creative with presenting their latest collections.

CHANEL

A look from Chanel’s Resort 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Chanel).

Click link to Chanel’s video presentation:

The Chanel cruise 2021 collection was originally intended to be shown onto Isle of Capri, the mythically beautiful Italian island a ferry ride from Naples, a place that Chanel’s creative director Virginie Viard still has yet to visit. But while on lockdown, Viard traveled there ‘in her mind’ and created a collection labeled Balade en Méditerranée (A Mediterranean Jaunt). Viard, along with photographer Karim Sadli, created the illusion of a Caprese sunset in Chanel’s Paris photo studio.

As for the clothes, Viard created a destination wardrobe of effortless pieces, which were sophisticated yet oh so cool. The designer focused on swimsuits that were worn – every which way – as under-pieces to cardigan jackets to tops paired with wide-legged trousers. Viard also updated the classic Chanel suit, opting for vibrant little jackets and miniskirts – all in cotton tweed. The collection was injected with a youthful appeal with a maxi cardigan paired with micro shorts, a collarless jacket paired with denim pants with tweed insets, and a bandeau top paired with a handkerchief skirt. Overall the collection was the ultimate vacation wardrobe.

BALMAIN

A look from Balmain’s Resort 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Balmain)

The Eighties made a major comeback at Balmain, as creative director Olivier Rousteing created a fun and cheeky collection for both his woman’s resort collection and his menswear spring 2021 line up. The designer invited a handful of his “Balmain army” friends to style themselves in his latest looks. Clearly Rousteing has spent his quarantine time watching 80s films and television shows; the collections were filled with Miami Vice inspired jackets, polka dot dresses inspired by Pretty Woman, graphic t-shirt mash-ups with a nod to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, while heavily encrusted bustiers and exaggerated shoulder pads were straight out of Dynasty’s wardrobe. With all the turmoil in the world today, Rousteing’s collections were a throwback to happier times.

TANYA TAYLOR

A look from Tanya Taylor’s Resort 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Tanya Taylor)

Being on lockdown brought out many innovative ideas and designer Tanya Taylor came up with a very creative way to showcase her resort line-up. Taylor sent her latest collection to a handful of artists, stylists, and friends, with instructions that each one was to style themselves in one of here looks and then photograph themselves. The results were a lookbook come to life. In an interview with Vogue, Taylor stated, “I’ve never loved styling our customer. I prefer seeing what they do with our clothes and how they add their own personal twist. That’s where the lookbook came to life. It felt like these women were telling us how they want to feel in their clothes.

As for the clothes, they were infused with Taylor’s signature feminine charm. There was a vibrant fuchsia jumpsuit, ruffled trim wrap skirts, playful print dresses, flirty dot motifs and for evening, a pleated lame one-shoulder dress..

GANNI

A look from Ganni’s Resort 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: Ganni)

The husband and wife team behind Danish brand Ganni, Ditte and Nicolaj Reffstrup, literally designed their resort collection in their home kitchen, so it felt only natural for the duo to shoot their lookbook in the kitchen. The collection focused on the foundation pieces that have made Ganni such a coveted brand among the “It-Girl” set. There were pilgrim collars, bubble sleeve mini dresses, striped tops and party dresses to dance the night away once a coronavirus vaccine is found.

RAG & BONE

A look from Rag & Bone’s men’s resort collection. (Photo Credit: Rag & Bone)

A look from Rag & Bone’s woman’s resort collection. (Photo Credit: Rag & Bone)

Marcus Wainwright of Rag & Bone, focused on pieces that make their customers feel good. The collection was filled with classics with a modern twist. These are pieces that you can live in and wear all winter long.

DAVID KOMA

A look from David Koma’s Resort 2021 Collection. (Photo Credit: David Koma)

David Koma is known for his glamourous collections and for resort he did not shy away from his campy aesthetic. The collection was filled with sexy crystal embellished dresses, body-con neon dresses, patent leather biker shorts and plenty of corsets. Koma’s girls are ready to step out into the world of cocktails and celebration.

LONDON MEN’S SHOWS

Natasha Zinko x Duo Spring 2021 Menswear Collection in London. (Photo Credit: Natasha Zinko x Duo)

Right around  now, Europe would have held their menswear fashion shows in London, Milan, and Paris. In lieu of traditional shows, Industry leaders came up with creative solutions. The British Fashion Council hosted a three-day coed digital week, which took place from June 12-14. This event brought together British brands that shared creative content that varied from podcasts to photo diaries. “By creating a cultural fashion week platform, we are adapting digital innovation to best fit our needs today and something to build on as a global showcase for the future,” Caroline Rush, the chief executive of the British Fashion Council, said in a press release.

E. Tautz’s spring 2021 menswear collection in London. (Photo Credit: E. Tautz)

However, many British coed brands like Burberry are holding off on showcasing their spring collections until September. It will be a runway show, outdoors with no audience, following social distancing guidelines. The only people in attendance will be the models and members of the Burberry team.

PARIS’ NEW SCHEDULE

Hermès will be livestreaming a digital experience tied to its spring 2021 collection, slated to go live on July 5th at 8 a.m. ET.

The Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (FHCM) will host the first-ever virtual couture fashion week. The three day event will take place from July 6-8th and accredited couture maisons will present videos and complementary content that will go live on a preset show schedule, replicating the format of a physical couture fashion week. Although Giorgio Armani will skip out of showing his couture collection this season, the Italian designer will host a seasonless Privé show at the Palazzo Orsini in January. Joining Armani, Chitose Abe of Sacai will debut her couture collection for Jean Paul Gaultier as his first guest designer in the New Year. Meanwhile, Balenciaga has not yet officially confirmed a new date, but the French house has likely postponed Demna Gvasalia’s couture debut until 2021.

The FHCM has also announced that the men’s spring 2021 collections would evolve into a video-only format this season and will be held from July 9-13th. The digital week schedule will run like a live fashion week with organized time slots, allowing for back-to-back streams on one central platform. “Digital is clearly part of the shape of fashion to come and we will take it as an opportunity for innovation to complement tradition,” Ralph Toledano, the president of the FHCM, told Vogue. “This being said, [in the] last weeks behind our screens, we all felt that a dimension was missing: the sensorial one. This has tremendously reinforced our position that nothing will ever replace the unity of time and place. Shows are a major component of the fashion industry, and this will remain…. Physical events will always have our preference, but as long as there is uncertainty, there should be flexibility.”

A portrait of Anthony Vaccarello, the creative director of Saint Laurent. )Photo Credit: W Magazine)

Anthony Vaccarello, the creative director for Saint Laurent, announced the brand’s departure from this year’s preset schedules and beyond. “Conscious of the current circumstance and its waves of radical change, Saint Laurent has decided to take control of its pace and reshape its schedule,” Vaccarello, wrote in an Instagram post published in April. “Now more than ever, the brand will lead its own rhythm.”

Meanwhile, German-based streetwear blog, media brand and production agency Highsnobiety hosted a digital fashion event known as “Not in Paris,” which brought together luxury, streetwear, art, music, architecture and even fine wine, under one digital roof. The online exhibition project —which debuted on June 24 and will run through July 2nd — is a direct response to the Highsnobiety audience’s continued zest for fashion storytelling.

“Not In Paris” presented by Highsnobiety. (Photo Credit: Highsnobiety)

So many of the events we write about have been canceled, so we’ve had to think of ourselves as cultural producers in our own right,” said Thom Bettridge, the publication’s editor in chief, in an interview with WWD. “We basically thought, let’s set our own calendar and become this project-based media brand. If there isn’t anything going on in the world, let’s just make it happen.’”

According to an article published in WWD, Highsnobiety is bringing together everyone from Berlin-based company GmbH, which is shooting a film in Berlin exclusively for the online event, to up-and-coming stars like Wales Bonner and Marine Serre, as well as luxury megabrands including Bottega Veneta, Dior, Fendi and Hermès. The latter let the Highsnobiety team loose into its archives to narrate the history of its famous silk scarf.

MILAN’S NEW SCHEDULE

Italy’s Camera della Moda team also announced a cyber-focused men’s and women’s fashion show format which will take place from July 14–17th. The four day event will be known as Milano Fashion Week Digital and consist of panel discussions on social media to virtual showroom appointments, giving designers a chance to showcase their latest collections in a new and innovative way. “Everybody can decide their own message. The advantage is that in a digital world, you are completely free. You find your way of expression. We said to everybody, you have from one minute to 15 minutes, and you decide what you want to show,’” Carlo Capasa, the president of the Camera della Moda, told Vogue.

Ermenegildo Zegna will stage an innovative-slash-intimate hybrid event that will feature the brand’s spring 2021 collection and will also celebrate the label’s 110th anniversary.

A portrait of Alessandro Michele, the creative director for Gucci. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Gucci is confirmed to premiere its men’s and women’s resort 2021 collection in the form of a digital fashion show on the final day of Milano Digital fashion Week.  This will be Gucci’s last pre-collection; on May 25th, Creative Director Alessandro Michele announced that the house will only hold two coed shows a year (one in the spring and one in the fall) instead of the five seasonal runway spectacles a year.  “I’m passionate about fashion shows, but maybe we can be open to seeing them in a different way,” Michele said.

SEPTEMBER SHOWS

September’s Spring 2021 NY Fashion Week also has plenty of shakeups. Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss is staging a full-fledged drive-in fashion experience tour to showcase his new film American, Also. Jean-Raymond is slowing down the speed of how much he produces and is focusing on improving the quality of what he produces. This may be a popular mindset for many designers moving forward – quality over quantity.

A portrait of Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss. (Photo Credit: Hyperbeast)

Jean-Raymond is not the only New York–based designer planning something big in September. While many designers had to cancel their resort seasons due to factory closures and shelter-in-place orders, some labels, such as Proenza Schouler and Collina Strada, have refocused their efforts on New York Fashion Week, a strategy that is gaining momentum in Milan and Paris too.

A portrait of Virgil Abloh, the creative director for Off-White. (Photo Credit: High Museum of Art)

While the majority of designers are set on staging something in September, there are a few who are altering the fashion calendar to fit their needs. Virgil Abloh is holding out until 2021 to present his own women’s and men’s spring collections for his label Off-White. Abloh’s decision to wait until January means Off-White is officially experimenting with the see-now-buy-now calendar.

A portrait of Alexander Wang. (Photo Credit: W Magazine)

For the past few years Alexander Wang has been presenting two seasonless collections a year, one in June and one in December, that were in sync with the fashion calendar’s pre-collections.  However, Wang opted out of showing last December and instead planned a bigger event for 2020 to celebrate his labels 15 year anniversary.

Michael Kors on the runway. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Michael Kors announced he would be stepping back from New York Fashion Week for the Spring 2021 season due to unsold inventory and Fall 2020 production delays due to Covid-19. Instead, the designer will present his Michael Kors Collection line sometime between mid-October and mid-November. “I have for a long time thought that the fashion calendar needs to change. It’s exciting for me to see the open dialogue within the fashion community about the calendar — from Giorgio Armani to Dries Van Noten to Gucci to YSL to major retailers around the globe — about ways in which we can slow down the process and improve the way we work,” he said in a statement. “We’ve all had time to reflect and analyze things, and I think many agree that it’s time for a new approach for a new era.”

PARIS WILL GO LIVE IN SEPTEMBER

The Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode announced on June 24th that the spring 2021 ready-to-wear shows will resume in Paris from September 28 through October 6. Although few details were shared, the FHCM announced that they “will comply [with] the recommendations of public authorities.” Designers will have to limit their guest lists and venue choices, perhaps shows will occur in outdoor spaces, only time will tell how the future of runway shows will takes shape.

So the question remains, will the glamour of fashion shows ever return to its glorious heyday?

THE FASHION COMMUNITY REACTS TO SYSTEMIC RACISM

Protesters gather outside the White House. (Photo Credit: Jim Lo Scalzo for Shutterstock)

A once-in-a lifetime pandemic and a tanking global economy with millions of people out of work provided the backdrop for yet another unthinkable act of racism on May 25th as the world witnessed the senseless killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man at the hands of Minneapolis police. The public’s reaction was swift and decisive. Black Lives Matter!

Despite the pandemic (as of June 11th has caused over 417,829 deaths globally) people took to the streets in the U.S. and around the world in protest of systemic racism. Social media channels exploded and T-shirts were swiftly marketed with the tags:  #BlackLivesMatter, #BLM, #NoJusticeNoPeace, #anti_racist and #icantbreathe.

It didn’t take long for the fashion industry to react, while at the same time, come under the microscope for its lack of diversity and sincerity. Could this moment in history be the  “sea change” that the world and the fashion industry has been waiting for?

Tuesday, June 2nd  became #BlackoutTuesday, whereby all brand/designer social media (SM) users posted a black box and refrained from posting promotional content or selfies, as a way of mourning and calling attention to systematic racism.

On June 3rd, Pulitzer prize winning writer, Robin Givhan of  The Washington Post, herself a woman of colorsent a tweet that reminded the industry of their lack of diversity.

 

Then, on June 4th, the CFDA (Tom Ford and Steven Kolb) published a letter listing initiatives that they planned to create systemic change: 1) create an in-house employment program charged with placing Black talent in all sections of the fashion business to help achieve a racially balanced industry. 2) place Black students in companies for mentorships and internships. 3) implement and make available to their members a Diversity and Inclusion training program 4) make immediate contributions and take up fundraising activities in support of charitable organizations aimed at equalizing the playing field for the Black community such as, but not limited to the NACCP and Campaign Zero – among others.

CFDA supports Black Lives Matter. (Photo Credit: CFDA)

Anna Wintour came out with an apology, for her ‘hurtful’ and ‘intolerant’ behavior at Vogue, (now that’s a first), while Andre Leon Talley challenged Wintour’s statement, citing the news of newly appointed Samira Nasr, the first Black female editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar, as catalyst. In other publishing news, Refinery 29’s founder Christene Barberich stepped down as Editor-in-chief in response to accusations of racism and a toxic company culture, while Leandra Medine Cohen announced that she was stepping back from Man Repeller, after readers called her out for a lack of diversity in content and employees.

A June 10th Diet Prada Instagram post challenged retailer Anthropologie’s reaction to racism as ‘beige.’ The post prompted numerous comments that exposed the discriminatory practice of giving code names to POC (people of color) shoppers and lawsuits that called out certain brands and retailers guilty of the practice, such as Moschino, Versace, Anthropologie and Zara. Looks like Robin Givhan is right, the industry has a lot of soul-searching to do.

In the days following the murder of George Floyd, celebrities, athletes, and politicians all stood up and showed support for the Black Lives Matter movement. But, are these fashion brands and designers really showing their support or is it just a PR stunt? In an industry that prides itself on being global and multi-cultural, the fashion industry has a duty to its customers and society to use its privilege and power to drive systemic change and fight against racism. Right?

Victoria Beckham shows her support to Black Lives Matter. (Photo Credit: Victoria Beckham)

 

Actions speak loader than words. (Photo Credit: Fashion Nova Cares)

Most messages posted on social media were thoughtful and less PR-centric. However, Louis Vuitton was one of the first to come under fire from consumers. The company was criticized for the “tone deaf” launch of their new handbag line in the middle of the Black Lives Matter movement. Three days later, Louis Vuitton uploaded the following statement to the house’s 38.2 million Instagram followers alongside a video commissioned by men’s artistic director Virgil Abloh: “Make a change. Freedom from racism towards peace together. #BlackLivesMatter.”

Virgil Abloh, here at the 2019 CFDA Fashion Awards, has been ridiculed for a ‘measly’ donation to help Black Lives Matter protesters. (Photo Credit: GETTY IMAGES)

But Abloh was not forgiven so quickly. The designer, who is also known as the CEO and brainchild of streetwear giant Off-White, shared on his personal Instagram Stories that he made a $50 donation to Fempower, an organization that is helping arrested Black Lives Matter protesters with their legal expenses.

His followers were outraged. The designer’s estimate worth is over $4 million, and his measly $50 donation couldn’t even buy you an Off-White face mask.

One Twitter user wrote: “So Virgil really donated LESS THAN the equivalent of an Off-White keychain to the bail fund?? Smh wow. Don’t buy his trash, y’all.”

Virgil Abloh, creative director of Louis Vuitton Mens and Designer of Off-White, takes a stand against looters. (Photo Credit: Instagram)

Fashion’s Colin Kaepernick: Designer Kerby Jean-Raymond

Kerby Jean-Raymond, the designer of Pyer Moss has always used his collections as a platform against injustices. Here are the bloody boots in his police brutality collection from his
spring 2016 runway. (Photo Credit: Joshua Lott for Getty Images)

On September 11, 2015 – Kerby Jean-Raymond staged a political commentary on police brutality and racism for his Pyer Moss spring 2016 runway show. His shows are and have been a call to action for the Black Lives Matter movement. In 2017, he focused on depression, both personal and cultural. Erykah Badu helped style that collection which brought to light things that keep us down, set to the sounds of a choir singing Future’s “Trap Niggas” and the Black National Anthem, (Lift Up Your Voice and Sing, written as a poem by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) and then set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954) in 1899.)

Protesters, Looting & Retailers

While most of the protesters were peaceful, there were agitators that caused chaos and the destruction of churches, monuments, car fires, and store lootings, unfortunately were part of it. No store was safe. Looters destroyed little mom and pop shops in their communities, as well as major department stores and luxury retail brands. Manhattan’s affluent Soho boutiques were ravaged. The city looked like a war zone with broken glass everywhere and boarded up storefronts.

Looters hit luxury retailers, like Chanel and Rolex, in lower Manhattan.( Photo Credit: New York Magazine)

But even with the rioting and looting, designers and brands still supported the Black Lives Matter movement; brands like Nike, Adidas, and Michael Kors lent swift public support to the protests. Plenty of other designers followed, although some lagged in their response and consumers took note.

Michael Kors supporting Black Lives Matter. (Photo credit: @MichaelKors Twitter Account)

 

Stylist Law Roach and Zendaya. Roach took action by starting a fund with his own money to rebuild Black businesses that were destroyed in the protests. (Photo Credit: Teen Vogue)

Jon Batiste (band leader for Stay Human & the  Late Show with Stephen Colbert) at the ‘We Are’ March, New York. City (Photo Credit: Stephen Lovekin for Shutterstock)

The protests succeeded in sending the fashion industry a message loud and clear. Consumers, especially Millennials and Gen Zers are the ones to watch. They are faithful to brands that they believe are making a difference. This cohort are focused on movements that work toward the realization of a world where all members of a society, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual preference or religious background, have basic human rights and equal access to the benefits of society. Just as movements of the 20th century spurred change (Woman’s Suffrage, Women’s Liberation, Civil Rights, Anti War, We Are and Gay Rights, to name a few), so too will the 21st century bring change. Movements like Black Lives Matter, Me Too, Times Up, Equal Pay For Equal Work, Gender Equality,  Gun Safety, Marriage Equality, Occupy, Climate Change, Criminal Justice Reform, Indigenous Peoples, Immigration Reform, Pro Life/Pro Choice and the Anti-Racist movement will spur brands into action.

In the world of social media transparency, the fashion industry will have to do more than just speak up for the Black Lives Matter movement. They’ll need to advocate and implement change within their companies and provide support to Black-owned businesses.

Funding opportunities are a great way for the fashion industry to support the movement. Shockingly, to this day, Virgil Abloh (Louis Vuitton) and Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing are still the only Black creative directors at major brands (an abundance, compared to high fashion’s zero BAME CEOs) and Edward Enninful, the only Black editor-in-chief (British Vogue) of a major fashion magazine, until the recent appointment of Samira Nasr announced on June 9th (Harper’s Bazaar).  

Edward Enninful Vogue editor-in-chief (Photo credit: Hypebae)  Samira Nasr editor-in-chief Harper’s Bazaar (Photo credit: The Cut)

On June 10th, Harper’s Bazaar published a list of 10 Black-owned fashion brands to support and invest in.  Other ‘call-to-action’ lists have emerged encouraging consumers on how to support local Black-owned businesses, such as grocery stores, hair salons, clothing stores, etc. Another way to support Back-owned businesses is to write positive reviews of those businesses, follow them on social media, engage in their posts, sign up for their newsletters and tell your friends and family to do the same.

The Industry Puts Their Money Where Their Mouth Is

The trendy direct-to-consumer beauty brand Glossier announced that it would donating $500,000 to organizations fighting racial injustice and another $500,000 to BAME-owned beauty companies. (BAME stands for Black, Asian and minority ethnic).

On the brand’s social media channels, Gucci posted a poem by Cleo Wade, a Black artist who also co-chairs the brand’s Changemakers Council, a group of community leaders backed by $5 million in charitable funding established in the wake of Gucci’s blackface sweater scandal: “We need to end racism. Start by healing it in your own family.”

Gucci has also established a fellowship program which is intended to recruit underrepresented talent from fashion schools for full-time positions. But fashion must make measurable commitments to hire Black people to their senior ranks and not just in their lower-level positions.

Aurora James, a designer and creative director of the shoe label Brother Vellies, created the “15 Percent Pledge,” which calls on major retailers to give that amount of shelf space to Black-owned businesses. (Fifteen percent of the United States population is Black.)

A lookbook image from Brother Vellies. (Photo Credit: Brother Vellies)

James is calling on Whole Foods, Target, Walmart, Sephora, Saks, Net-a-Porter, Barnes & Noble and Home Depot to take part.She hopes that her 15 Percent Pledge will “deliver more money to Black communities.”

Amazon stands with the Black Community. (Photo Credit: Amazon)

Sportswear giant Nike committed $40 million over the next four years to support the Black community in the United States on behalf of its Nike, Jordan Brand and Converse labels. The funds will support organizations focused on social justice, education and addressing racial inequality in America, Nike chief executive officer John Donahoe said in a message to the company’s staff.

Internally, Donahoe said, the priority is to “get our own house in order. Simply put, we must continue to foster and grow a culture where diversity, inclusion and belonging is valued and is real. Nike needs to be better than society as a whole. Our aspiration is to be a leader.”

He added: “Systemic racism and the events that have unfolded across America over the past few weeks serve as an urgent reminder of the continued change needed in our society. We know Black Lives Matter. We must educate ourselves more deeply on the issues faced by Black communities and understand the enormous suffering and senseless tragedy racial bigotry creates.”

Nike and Michael Jordan speak out against racism. (Photo Credit: US Magazine)

In a WWD article, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, founders and creative directors of Proenza Schouler said in a statement, “We unequivocally believe any form of racism or discrimination has no place in our word and we proudly stand with the entire Black Lives Matter movement. We affirm our commitment to supporting the entire Black community, both in terms of what we share with the world externally and how our organization is operated internally.” The designers said they are supporting blacklivesmatter.com, naacpldf.org, blackvisionsmn.org, joincampaignzero.org, libertyfund.nyc, and brooklynbailfund.org/donate.

WWD also reported that PVH took part in the National Day of Mourning, which coincided with the memorial services for George Floyd. PVH North America associates from its retail stores, offices and warehouses were invited to observe eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence Thursday, June 4th at 2 p.m. ET during Floyd’s memorial service. In partnership with BRAAVE (Building Resources for African American Voices and Empowerment), PVH has created a task force inclusive of leadership, HR, Inclusion & Diversity, The PVH Foundation, legal and corporate responsibility teams to ensure they are taking the right steps to make the most impact. The PVH Foundation is donating $100,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, which supports racial justice through advocacy, impact litigation and education and seeks to achieve structural changes to advance democracy, eliminate disparities and achieve racial justice. It is also donating $100,000 to The National Urban League.

The PVH Foundation will also match 100 percent of North America corporate associate charitable donations throughout the month of June. The company has also compiled resources to help educate itself about racism and bias and will be sharing it with its employees. This includes an Anti-Racism Resource Guide, Associate Check-in Guide, PVH U course offerings, videos, podcasts and articles.

First memorial service for George Floyd held in Minneapolis. (Photo Credit: Fox17)

On June 4th, Columbia Sportswear temporarily closed 95 of its reopened retail stores from 1:00-3:00 PM CDT during George Floyd’s memorial service. “We stand against racism in all its forms, but in this moment, we want to be clear that we are proud to say black lives matter. George Floyd’s life mattered,” the company said in an internal memo from the company’s executive team provided to WWD.

In addition, Columbia said it will make donations to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Marshall Project “to advance our country’s understanding of racism and its root causes and to promote equal justice and opportunity.” It did not disclose the amount. It also said it will double match employee donations to any non-profits focusing on addressing racism, up to $1,000 through the end of July. It then provided a list of organizations such as,  Black Lives Matter, Color of Change, Equal Justice Initiative and the National Urban League.

Tory Burch is making changes within her company. The designer is offering counseling for Black employees and workshops on discussing race and bias for all employees. The company provided a list of resources to help employees educate themselves and their families about race in our society. The company will also work with outside moderators and continue its public work through the Tory Burch Foundation on unconscious bias. The company’s Embrace Ambition Summit focuses on shattering stereotypes and combatting bias in all of its forms, including racial discrimination, by looking at the impact of unconscious bias.

The Kering umbrella, which owns Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Brioni, Boucheron, Pomellato, Dodo, Queelin, Ulysse Nardin, Girard-Perregaux and Kering Eyewear, have contributed to organizations focused on combating systemic racism and ending police violence toward the Black community across the United States. Kering has also made donations to the NAACP and Campaign Zero, an organization that aims to reduce police violence in the U.S.

And the list continues to grow every day as designers are looking to change the culture of the industry as a whole. By engaging in conversations that address bias and stereotypes in the workplace, by educating employees on how they can support communities and organizations in the fight against racial injustice, by hiring talented Black designers, buyers and CEO’s, as well as supporting businesses owned by Black entrepreneurs. We can all do our part in the fight towards making the fashion industry and the world an inclusive place for all.

It’s time for fashion brands to do more than just make statements. They must commit to doing the hard work it’s going to take to combat racism. Remember, racism is not just an American issue, it’s a global issue.

Juneteenth (Photo credit: mosaictemplarscenter.com) Juneteenth Flag (Photo credit: crreaearch.com)

As we approach Juneteenth (Emancipation Day/Black Independence Day) we will again be reminded of racial injustice. It commemorates the day that Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, and read federal orders that all previously enslaved purple were free (2 year after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation). Maybe the campaign to make this day a federal holiday in the U.S.,  instead of a state holiday in only 46 states will come to fruition? Juneteenth celebrations are also held in other countries around the world, including Ghana, Honduras, Japan, Taiwan and Trinidad and Tobago.

University of Fashion has proudly donated to Black Lives Matter, NAACPLDF, Campaign Zero and the Liberty Fund. We will continue to promote Black fashion, fashion designers and instructors on our site and on our social media platforms. Together we can make a difference.

Black Lives Matter protests in Paris, France. (Photo Credit: Alfonso Jimenez for Shutterstock)

 So tell us, what are you doing to make a difference?

 

 

RETHINKING FASHION AND REDUCING THE INDUSTRY’S CARBON FOOTPRINT

The most memorable eco-friendly Red Carpet looks. (Photo Credit Vogue)

In only a few short months Coronavirus turned the world upside down. Hard to believe this could ever happen, right? Not only were we forced to stay-at-home and students were expected to complete their studies online, but schools and businesses are now having to re-evaluate the way they conducted business in the past and are re-imagining new ways to move forward into the future.

One of the hardest hit industries affected by the pandemic is fashion. To help get through the crisis and to offer some advice, numerous publications including Vogue, are hosting Zoom seminars where editors and designers discuss the future of our industry.

For years the fashion industry has been debating the future of the business; is the old business model still relevant today? Are fashion shows necessary? Well, thanks to COVID-19, the industry to being forced to get off the dime. Among the issues? What is the industry really doing when it comes to the environment in terms of reducing fashion’s carbon footprint, sustainable fabrics and the overstock of garments.

In the mid 2000s, when I was an editor covering fashion designers for Woman’s Wear Daily, I remember Donna Karan complaining about the fashion cycle. Donna was against the concept of ‘pre-collections’ which added additional seasons to an already crowded fashion calendar. And, she would argue that store deliveries made no sense, as in, why are Spring clothes shipped in February, just to be marked down in May when consumers are actually buying spring clothes?

Well, today, finally, this is issue has reemerged as a major point of discussion. Gucci’s Alessandro Michele just announced that he is reducing Gucci’s shows from 5 to 2 a year. Hey Donna Karan, you were years ahead of your time!

Alessando Michele of Gucci is giving fashion a new model. (Photo Credit: Gucci)

COVID-19 is not only causing fashion designers and industry leaders to re-evaluate the fashion calendar cycle and how many collections are needed a year, but the pandemic is also forcing brands to look at their practices and think about how they can do more to protect the environment. In an interview with Forbes magazine, Francois Souchet, who leads the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular initiative, is bringing together leaders from across the industry to create a circular economy for fashion through business innovation and better design. When asked if sustainability initiatives and investment at fashion brands were under threat, he believes that for brands who have adopted waste management and sustainability initiatives at the core of their business, their sustainable transformation plans are secure, post COVID. In contrast, he believes that the brands who have used sustainability as a marketing tool, rather than integral to their processes, that they are likely to suffer. Souchet says, “The closer (sustainability and investment) are to the core and the more integrated, the harder they are to cut off. For some businesses, it will be a question of survival, so it is quite difficult to predict what will happen.”

Echoing Souchet, Dr. Hakan Karaosman, a fashion supply chain and sustainability expert at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe declared, “Sustainability as a marketing tool will go—inherent sustainability will stay.” Also, he claimed the biggest problem in the fashion industry is the “fragmented supply chain,” calling for a “restructuring” across all tiers. Lean, simple and transparent supply chains are proving the most resilient during this crisis, he said, and this is what brands are likely to favor as they emerge from the crisis.

In an interview with Forbes magazine, Karl-Hendrik Magnus, Senior Partner at McKinsey and Company in Frankfurt and leader of the Apparel, Fashion & Luxury Group said that: “consumers have seen how vulnerable the entire world is, and the whole crisis has raised awareness for social and environmental sustainability, even among those that were not previously onto the topic.” Due to the global shutdown, major cities are seeing a reduction in air pollution, and the industries carbon footprint has been reduced, so moving forward, consumers will demand sustainable clothing.

According to McKinsey research, a return to pre-crisis consumer behavior is unlikely. McKinsey collected data from 6,000 consumers across the UK, Germany, France, and Spain. The results showed that an additional 16% would now seek products with sustainable credentials once shops reopen, 20% intend to reduce their overall spending for the rest of the year and 45% would look favorably upon companies that communicate with concern and purpose rather than prices and products.

So, what should the fashion industry change post COVID to protect the environment? Well, according to Céline Semaan, founder of Slow Factory, a sustainability literacy non-profit that hosts global sustainability education summits and works in partnership with global brands, including Adidas, says “Everything. From the fast-paced fashion calendar to the overproduction of goods that encourage (and depend on) overconsumption to sustain its broken economic model; to the exploitation of land, labor, and exotic animals, to the way it capitalizes on movements such as Earth Day and all efforts around that day/month focusing on profit-driven initiatives. Everything.

The fact remains that global brands such as H&M and Zara, to name a few, still create so many garments a year that end up in landfills.  Do consumers really need all these clothes? The answer is NO. Brands need to focus on quality vs quantity, as well as selling garments in the actual season. For example, fall/winter should arrive in stores in September and not get marked down until February.  This will help designers make a profit off their garments at full price and therefore they can create fewer seasons to stay afloat.

According to H&M Group’s CEO Helena Helmersson, “the company recently signed with the European alliance for a Green Recovery alongside Ikea, Unilever and others, who are committed to contributing to the post-crisis investment decisions needed to ‘reboot’ and ‘reboost’ our economy, taking into account climate change and circular economy as key pillars.”

H&M Conscious Collection. (Photo Credit: H&M)

For years, H&M store had a policy that offered anyone who brought in their old clothes for recycling to receive a discount for future purchases. Today, H&M is moving away from its fast fashion roots with their “Conscious” collection, which is completely made of materials like organic cotton and recycled polyester. and by 2030, H&M has set a goal to only use sustainably sourced materials.

And there are plenty of other brands who are trying to do their part to protect the environment and create ethical fashion brands. Let’s take a look:

People Tree was one of the fist sustainable fashion brands. Founded in 1991, this brand was the first to be awarded with the World Fair Trade Organization product label. People Tree invests heavily in sustainable and environmentally friendly practices, such as organic farming. The company also advocates and promotes fair wages, good working conditions, and only works with sustainable materials like organic cotton, natural fibers and chemical free dyes.

Actress Emma Watson and People Tree launched a clothing line together in 2010. (Photo Credit People Tree)

Another pioneer of sustainable fashion and circularity is Eileen Fisher. Every facet of Eileen Fisher’s design and manufacturing process is built to be as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible, from the eco-friendly materials used, to the ethical treatment of all her workers. Eileen Fisher uses creative processes and innovative techniques in order to limit textile waste. The company also initiated a program to buy back used items and to recycle them into new garments or their Waste No More team transforms used garments into one-of-a-kind art, pillows and wall hangings. To further reduce the brand’s carbon footprint, Eileen Fisher avoids air shipping.

Eileen Fisher’s Waste No More team transforms used garments into one-of-a-kind artworks, pillows and wall hangings. (Photo Credit: Eileen Fisher)

Tentree’s clothing is made entirely from ethically sourced and sustainable materials including cork, coconut and recycled polyester, all  produced in ethical factories.  The company is also committed to planting ten trees for each item purchased. To engage their clients, after each purchase, the customer receives a code so they can monitor the growth of their trees. Tentree is on track to plant one billion trees by 2030.

Tentree’s marketing initiative. (Photo Credit: Tentree)

Sustainability is key at Everlane as the brand recently launched a clothing line made from recycled plastic bottles and other reused materials. The brand also focuses on transparency to their customers, as they offer an exact breakdown of the cost of each item, as well as showing the factories where those garments are made. Everlane has built strong relationships with factory owners to guarantee that the employees and production meet Everlane’s high ethical standards.

Saitex jean production for Everlane. (Photo Credit: Saitex)

Denim is one of the harshest fashion items on the environment, but many denim brands are looking for ways to make sustainable denim. Huge amounts of water are needed to create only one pair of jeans, but now Levi’s has introduced a new collection called Water<Less; which uses up to 96% less water to create a garment. Across the board, Levi’s is committed to sustainability through the entire design and manufacturing process, including working towards 100% sustainably sourced cotton. Levi’s has also initiated recycling old jeans into creating home insulation.

Levi’s Waterless Campaign. (Photo Credit: Levi’s)

Reformation has become a cult favorite among the fashion “It-Girl” set. Not only are the clothes trendy and fun, but the brand is also environmentally conscious. Each look is created using upcycled and sustainable materials in fair wage markets; also, every item comes with a description and score of its environmental footprint to help customers understand the impact of their clothing. Since 2015, Reformation has been carbon neutral and the brand helps to protect deforested regions to offset its manufacturing. The company has also implemented a recycling program that their customers can sell their old clothing to Reformation to earn credit for future purchases.

Reformation’s recycling program campaign. (Photo Credit: Reformation)

Patagonia is known for its durable outerwear, but did you know that it also helps customers repair their clothing instead of buying new items? Their products are so indestructible that customers are encouraged to recycle their old Patagonia pieces and purchase only items second hand. In addition to using sustainable materials in each new garment, the company also follows fair-trade practices and strictly monitors its supply chain to make sure they are safe for the environment, workers and consumers. One of Patagonia’s main goals is to find solutions to environmental issues without causing unnecessary harm to the world.

Patagonia’s Campaign. (Photo Credit: Patagonia)

Contemporary fashion label GANNI has quickly become the go-to brand for street-style stars world-wide. Nicolaj Reffstrup, co-owner of GANNI, is implementing strategies to become an environmentally-friendly brand. One strategy is that the brand’s Denmark stores are combining fashion rental, an outlet to test resale of older styles, samples, and prototypes called Postmodern (which they intend to take online), and a re-structured merchandising strategy, which will downsize their collections by offering less styles, so the store will hold less volume, but there will be more drops.  In addition, Reffstrup said that every fourth drop of products will be “made of recycled or deadstock fabric,” and this is being built into their range planning and material ordering processes.

GANNI Repeat, A new sustainable rental service. (Photo Credit: GANNI)

Footwear & Carbon Footprint

According to Adidas, the footwear industry emits 700 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, every year. That’s equivalent to 80,775,444 homes’ energy use for one year. For a single pair of running shoes made of synthetic materials that translates to having a carbon footprint of somewhere between 11.3 and 16.7 kilograms of CO2. To change this, Adidas and shoe brand Allbirds have teamed up to make the first net zero carbon shoe. Adidas with their End Plastic Waste initiative and Allbirds’ Tread Lighter Together initiative marks the first time in history that Adidas has collaborated with another footwear brand not under its own umbrella. To quote Tim Brown, co-founder and co-CEO of Allbirds, “Our hope is that the future is more about collaboration than it is about competition.”

As consumers are focusing on more environmentally friendly fashion product, every brand should look at ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Even small improvements can help protect the Earth. Every little bit helps!

Resources to Help Designers Become More Sustainable-Minded

As part of the CFDA Sustainability Initiatives’ ongoing commitment to sustainability through education and professional development, they have created a  sustainability-centered resource hub designed to provide open access resources and information specific to fashion design and business sustainable strategies. These resources are intended for everyone- for CFDA Members, educators, students, professionals, designers, and anyone in our community interested in learning more about sustainability and sourcing relevant contacts. An annex to that initiative is a Guide to Sustainable Strategies Toolkit which helps map and frame sustainable priorities. Also part of the initiative is the CFDA A-Z Materials Index  and, in partnership with NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business, their KPI Design Kit, a Sustainable Strategies Playbook for Measurable Change.  A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives.

 

Re/make, is a community of millennial and Gen Z women whose mission is to put an end to fast fashion by training women leaders around the globe to: host workshops, panels, and webinars to educate, inspire, engage, and uplift the voices of their community. In turn, the community hosts film screenings, clothing swap parties, and educational panels to mobilize others in the fight against fast fashion. The organization offers documentary films, fact-filled stories, campaign assets, and workshop materials to empower the community and recruit more women to the movement. Re/make drives transparency and accountability with their Seal of Approval process. They call out greenwashers and they push brands to disclose better information publicly. How are they making a difference? “Our mission is to make fashion a force for good.”

Ethical Fabric Suppliers

If you are a designer who is interested in moving into more sustainable, ethical fabrics and notions, then check out the directory on the website Change the World by How You Shop. 

Queen of Raw is a marketplace to buy and sell sustainable and deadstock fabrics and textiles, for students, clothing manufacturers, and designers. Using a technology engine to build a supply-chain management service, owner Stephanie Benedetto, started MateriaMX (short for Material Exchange) so monthly subscribers can map, identify, measure and trace waste throughout their supply chains in real-time, ultimately allowing them to minimize their excess fabric, water and other waste streams. The online platform uses blockchain and machine learning to find and track excess fabric— post-consumer waste, fabric on rolls, you name it—and then match it to factories, retailers, designers and other buyers looking for that material.

Fabscrap is another deadstock fabric resource.  According to info on their website, “each pound of waste from apparel production is associated with 2.06 pounds of CO2-E. In New York City, if 10% or more of your commercial waste is textile material, you are required to recycle itExtended Producer Responsibility polices for textiles are on the horizon. Fabscrap provides reports enumerating tonnage diverted from landfill and CO2 emissions saved. When disposed in landfill, the dyes and chemicals in fabrics can leach into the soil, contaminating local water systems.” Fabscrap claims that, “In the U.S., 48% of customers check tags for sustainability information. Brands that market their eco-conscious efforts and corporate social responsibility practices show increased sales.

Swatchon.com is an eco-friendly, recycled, organic wholesale fabric marketplace based in Korea with 3 yard minimums and free shipping.

Nature’s Fabrics is another great resource located in Pennsylvania with a very nice selection of organic fabrics to choose from.

Retail Consignment Resources

As a result of store closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, shoppers have rediscovered the online consignment clothing market that had its start in 2012. Companies like the The RealReal, Tradesy, Poshmark and ThredUp (who recently partnered with Walmart) and the resale handbag company, Rebag are making secondhand clothing not only affordable but ‘cool.’ As climate change concerns grow, especially among millennial and Gen Zers, according to the 2019 ThredUp Resale Report, “secondhand items are expected to occupy one-third of people’s closets by 2033.”

Macy’s, Madewell and Nordstrom, have all added secondhand clothing to their merchandise line-up. According to a January 31, 2020 article in The Washington Post,  “As resale goes mainstream – the resale market is expected to triple in three years – department stores have become an unexpected next step to woo young shoppers.”

So tell us, what steps are you taking to reduce your carbon footprint?

FACE MASKS: FASHION STATEMENT VS SURVIVAL STATEMENT

Fashion vs Survival. (Photo credit: The New York Times)

Express yourself. Protect yourself. And look fashionable while you’re at it!

As states across America and countries around the world slowly begin to re-open after being closed for months due to COVID-19, we all still need to be reminded to follow safety guidelines. One of the easiest ways we can protect ourselves, besides washing our hands constantly is to wear a face mask, especially when we are closer than 6 feet from another person. Show respect to others…wear a mask!

Living in an apocalyptic world that more resembles a sci-fi thriller than real life, we need to protect each other. Right now, the best way to do that is to wear a face mask and social distance. And, if you are lucky enough to have Covid & antibody testing in your area, then you should also get tested!

By now, everyone that owns a sewing machine has watched YouTube mask tutorials, including the one the UoF produced on Facebook. However, since March 15th, there have been many changes to non-surgical mask-making and we thought we’d start this blog post by sharing what we’ve learned so far. After all, we are a fashion education website!

It didn’t take long for fashion designers across the globe to get into the face mask act, after all, it’s an accessory, right? But are designer face masks really safe? Will these designer masks really protect from COVID-19?

We all know that the coveted N95 is the gold standard, however, we still need to reserve those for hospitals. 

Here’s a handy graphic that compares the N95 with the common surgical mask used in hospitals. The latest buzz about that little valve button on the N95 illustration below left, is that it is not ideal. The valve will protect YOU, but does not protect the people around you from YOUR breath. Some cities have actually banned them, like California’s Bay Area. One way around the valve issue is to wear a cloth mask over this mask, but then it makes it harder to breathe. Not ideal.

The blue and white surgical masks on the right are currently the most accessible personal protective equipment and available in most pharmacies. Inexpensive, effective and disposable.

Face mask protection efficiency infographic. (Photo credit: Vector illustration)

If you are making your own non-surgical masks, here are some tips to consider:

  • 100% cotton  is preferred
  • 2 or 3 ply, dense weave is best so you can’t blow out a candle while wearing the mask
  • pre-wash your fabric
  • you could add a pocket or opening on the bottom to insert a removable coffee filter, AC filter or paper towel for added protection
  • you could sew a layer of chiffon for added protection
  • it’s best to hand wash your mask in antibacterial soap & let air dry

Mask History

In East Asia, citizens have been wearing surgical masks outdoors for years. In a recent article in Slate magazine, journalist Jeff Yang explained that following the influenza bout in the 1900s, “[T]he predilection toward using face-coverings to prevent exposure to bad air is something that predates the germ theory of disease, and extends into the very foundations of East Asian culture.” Yang predicted the multiple rationalizations for using them could lead to global “face mask fashion.” And, now they are!

The New York Post knighted masks, the “must-have accessory” in February at London Fashion Week, where some ‘early-adopters’ wore creatively decorated surgical masks. It will of course be the biggest fashion trend for 2020/2021.

Fashion to the Rescue

Marc Jacobs and Richard Princes Nurse series for Louis Vuitton’s spring 2008 collection. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

In early April, brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Brooks Brothers announced that they would be re-purposing parts of their factories to make masks and hospital gowns. Instantly the memes and comments went wild.

One Twitter user joked and sent out the following tweet:  “Breaking News from the world of haute couture: Since humans on Earth will be wearing face protection masks against Covid-19 pretty much EVERYWHERE over the next year, they’re bound to become the hottest new fashion accessory. Ready for the Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Armani and ….”?

Miley Cyrus in a Gucci face mask. (Photo credit: Page Six)

Katie May disco ball mask. (Photo credit: Katie May)

And, now brands at every price point are offering non-surgical masks to the public; even Vogue posted a story on their website “Masks To Shop Now.” People are choosing masks based on their outfit and whether they are suitable for day or evening, casual or dressy. They have definitely become a personal style item!

One of the best retail deals out there are 3-ply 100% cotton masks sold by Old Navy at 5 for $12.50 available in kids & adult sizing. As part of its efforts, Old Navy will donate 50,000 masks to the Boys & Girls Club of America.

While many brands are now selling their masks, many are  donating a portion of their mask sales to various charities dedicated to helping those effected by COVID-19.

A mask created by designer Collina Strada. (Photo Credit: Collina Strada)

According to Edited, the digital retail tracking service, there has been an almost 40 percent increase in the number of masks offered by companies in the first quarter of 2020, compared to the end of 2019. In a blog post earlier this month, Josh Silverman, chief executive of Etsy, reported that in a single weekend, buyers searched for face masks on the site an average of nine times per second and the number of face mask sellers had grown five times, to almost 20,000.

Experts are increasingly suggesting that masks may need to be worn for at least a year, until a vaccine is developed. And trend forecasters are predicting that, as a result, they may become a fact of daily life, donned by all of us with the same unthinking passivity as a coat and sunglasses when we leave the house, according to an article in  The New York Times, published on April 22, 2020.

Flames face mask by Guy Fieri flames. (Photo credit: Claudio Lavenia for Getty Images)

Off-White face masks. (Photo credit: Hyperbeast)

In a recent WWD article, Christian Siriano, (one of the first designers to start making masks when Governor Cuomo asked for help), told the publication that he made “this fully encrusted pearl mask because I just needed a breakIt’s actually pretty fabulous.”

Christian Siriano’s pearl encrusted mask (Photo credit: Christian Siriano)

Maskies, Selfie Masks & the Reactivated PPE Portrait Project

The Maskie

Selfies are now passé. The new hot Instagram trend is the #maskie. Posting pics of yourself wearing your mask ‘du jour.’

Photo credit: Olsonmask

Check out #Olsonmask to see how many people are getting in on the action. Whether you choose the pleated or the molded version, who says you can’t still be fashionable?

The  Selfie Mask

OR….How about a ‘selfie mask,’ a mask that shows the part of your face that is usually covered by a mask? Since one of the negatives of  wearing a traditional mask is that you can’t tell if someone is smiling or frowning, you can now create your own selfie mask (click to find out how) by taking a selfie of the lower portion of your face, printing it on computer printable fabric and sewing it into a mask. Viola!

Rachel Maddow showing her selfie mask (Photo credit MSNBC)

PPE Portrait Project

Face coverings can be intimidating and downright scary, especially if you are being treated in a hospital. But, Mary Beth Heffernan’s PPE Portrait Project, initiated during the Ebola crisis, whereby the face of that particular doctor or nurse is affixed to their hospital gown, is offering some relief. Accordingly to Heffernan, “At a moment when patients are already experiencing abject physical suffering, the isolation, facelessness, and lack of touch make them feel abandoned by humanity.”

Stanford research scientist Dr. Cati Brown-Johnson was moved to replicate the project for the Covid-19 pandemic and is expanding to non-COVID wards, including inpatient palliative care.

 

University of Fashion Face Mask Contest

Calling all Mask Makers! Are you making masks to donate, or making and selling them with a portion of the proceeds donated to charity? Or, are you just crazy bored and are making outrageous masks just to keep up your creative edge?

At UoF, we’re still making non-surgical face masks for our local nursing homes and are so happy to apply are sewing skills to a good cause.

If you are in mask production, we want to hear from you. Send images of your masks to CS@UniversityofFashion.com. Tell us what they’re made of and where you’re from. We’re offering 5, full access one-year subscriptions to the UoF website. With over 500 fashion educational videos all taught by fashion profs and industry pros, it’s worth $189! Offer ends July 1, 2020

 

Introducing our 1st Face Mask Winner: Jennifer Coffman 

                                                                           
Jennifer Coffman and her daughters (Photo credit Jennifer Coffman)

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are proud to award our 1st face mask prize to Jennifer Coffman.

“My name is Jennifer. Ive been making masks since March and donating them my local organizations in Pulaski, TN, and Huntsville AL. I’ve donated to local  nursing homes, hospitals, health care facilities, shopping centers and friends. I’ve donated 225 mask between March and April. I’ve used cotton fabrics from my own collection of fabric and I’ve purchased some cotton from a local quilting shop to help support her business. I would love  to win the contest to work towards perfecting my dressmaking skills and my goals of being a professional dress maker. I’m really excited to study the classes. I can sew from patterns but I’m  excited to learn to drape and draft my own designs and learn to draw my ideas on the croquis! Huge Thank you!! I will be happy to share the skills I’ve learned from the courses and promote University of Fashion!!” – Jennifer Coffman

Face masks made by Emily Coffman and donated to Huntesville Hospital, Huntsville, Alabama and therapists at BenchMark Physical Therapy, Pulaski, Tennessee

 

Be sure to send your face mask images and your story to us at CS@universityoffashion.com !

HOW THE FASHION COMMUNITY IS AIDING IN THE FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19

Billie Eilish in a Gucci mask pre-pandemic at the 62nd Annual GRAMMY on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles. (Photo credit: Jon Kopaloff for FilmMagic)

The Covid-19 pandemic is turning out to be a wake up. The lack of domestic manufacturing has definitely caught us unprepared and as a result, we will surely be seeing an increase in the number of new factories, not just for building up bigger, better stockpiles of the things we need in a pandemic (masks and other protective gear for hospital workers), but also for manufacturing fashion apparel.

As of May 2, 2020, there are 3.4 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, with 1.07 million recovered and 242,000 deaths.

New Vocabulary

Phrases like “stay-at-home,” shelter-in-place,” “flatten the curve,” “contact-tracing,” “PPE,” “herd immunity,” “surgical & non-surgical face masks,” “antibody testing,” and “social-distancing” are now part of our vocabulary.

As some states and countries are better than others at taking the proper precautions to slow the spread of this deadly pandemic, at University of Fashion, we are promoting ‘stay-at-home’ to help stop the spread and we’re using this opportunity to make hundreds of non-surgical face masks and donating them nursing homes.

University of Fashion non-surgical face masks donated to nursing homes

 

And, as some employers allow their employees to work from home, almost all schools have all closed for the term. Because teachers were asked to complete their academic term online and many struggled due to the lack of accessible content, at UoF we are proud to say that as of March 10th (and continuing into the fall), we initiated a free, full access give-a-way to any and all schools for 30 days to help teachers & students get through their term.

More than 100 schools (and growing) have taken advantage of our offer, those included in that number are Parsons, Cornell, Duke, University of Texas Austin, Virginia Tech, UNC Greensboro, Baylor, College of Fashion Design Dubai, Columbia College of Art & Design, Otis School of Art & Design and more as well as numerous high schools. It has been our honor to help! We are here for you! Teachers/schools can still request access, just write to us at CS@UniversityofFashion.com.

In addition, Laurence King Publishing is offering a 40% discount on all 3 UoF companion books through May 31, 2020. Use this discount code: FRIENDS40 and the links below per book:

Draping: Techniques for Beginners         Pattern Making: Techniques for Beginners                                             Sewing: Techniques for Beginners

 

Face Mask Contest 

If you are making face masks and donating them to a good cause, let us know at CS@UniversityofFashion.com. Send your info on how many face masks you’ve made & donated for a chance to win a 1-year subscription to UoF.

Fashion Hits the Pause Button

The fashion event of the year, the Met Gala, will be postponed indefinitely. Though @theebillyporter and @voguemagazine just launched the #metgalachallenge, with winners to be announced May 3.

Photo Credit  @aili_in_town version of @janellemonae inspired Siriano piece

Numerous fashion weeks have been canceled, including those in L.A., Shanghai, Melbourne, Beijing, Seoul, Moscow and Tokyo. May and June, when many designers show their resort/cruise lines, have either been cancelled or postponed.

Men’s Fashion Week for the spring 2021 season will be cancelled in Paris and London, while Milan will postpone their Men’s Fashion Week until September and will merge it with their women’s runway presentation. New York Men’s Fashion Week always takes place in July, but this year it is postponed, though a date has not yet been released.

In Paris, the haute couture shows (which would have included the highly anticipated return of Balenciaga) were scheduled for July, but are also being canceled by the Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode. In a statement, the Federation announced, “In light of the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic worldwide, strong decisions are required to ensure the safety and health of houses, their employees and everyone working in our industry.”

Fashion Delivers

But with all the sadness and despair that COVID-19 has caused, there have been moments of joy in watching fashion people come together. Instead of creating next season’s looks, many designers are keeping their employees working by creating protective gear such as hospital gowns, masks and scrubs. Others are donating proceeds from their online sales to various charities.

Fashion companies are helping to make masks all over the world. (Photo credit: Quartz)

Here are a few designers who are doing their part to help their cities, states and the world.

GIORGIO ARMANI

Giorgio Armani. (Photo credit: WWD)

Giorgio Armani was one of the first designers to understand the danger of the Coronavirus. During his Milan Fashion Week show held on February 23rd, the designer alerted his guests beforehand that his show would be closed to an audience and would be live-streamed.

In addition, Giorgio Armani is utilizing all four of its production sites to manufacture protective gear for healthcare workers. What’s more, the luxury house has already pledged 1.25 million euros to donate to Italy’s Civil Protection and a slew of Italian hospitals, including Luigi Sacco and the Istituto Lazzaro Spallanzani in Rome. Armani also bumped its donation up to 2 million euros by supporting Italy’s Bergamo and Piacenza hospitals.

AMERICAN GIANT

American Giant is part of a coalition of 11 brands that include Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, and Los Angeles Apparel. They have begun manufacturing personal protective equipment for healthcare workers who are on the front line.  Over the years, the majority of U.S. apparel manufacturing moved off shore but a small number of brands had chosen to produce their products locally. Thanks to these brands and their coalition, they are able to shift their production and deliver much-needed gear to hospitals quickly. The coalition companies are making a million masks a week and all have been certified by the Department of Health and Human Services.

RALPH LAUREN

Ralph Lauren’s generous donation. (Photo credit: Ralph Lauren)

Ralph Lauren released the following a statement:

“In response to the global pandemic, Ralph Lauren’s corporate foundation announced a $10 million commitment to help, outlining that the funds would be spent: to provide financial grants to Ralph Lauren colleagues facing medical, eldercare or childcare needs; contribute to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 response fund; continue its support to cancer care; and commit an inaugural gift to the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) fund for COVID-19 relief.”

In addition to this most generous donation, Ralph Lauren will also produce 250,000 masks and 25,000 isolation gowns with their U.S. manufacturing partners.

“Our hearts and thoughts are with the global community. Our hope is to be a beacon of optimism and unity as we navigate this unprecedented time. It is in the spirit of togetherness that we will rise. With warmth and gratitude, Your Ralph Lauren Team” was issued on the Ralph Lauren website.

BROOKLYN NAVY YARD

Crye Precision and Lafayette 148 have teamed up to make reusable PPE gowns for NYC hospital workers. (Twitter Photo credit: Freddi Goldstein from NYC Mayor de Blasios office)

At New York’s Brooklyn Navy Yard two fashion companies have come together to help make protective gear for New York City’s healthcare workers as NY became the epicenter of COVID-19 in the United States. Crye Precision, a body armor company and the upscale fashion company Lafayette 148 are making surgical gowns for hospitals.

What we see today is truly inspiring,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said after touring the facility.”Two companies here in the Brooklyn Navy Yard are creating a product they’ve never created before to help health care workers,” he added.

Greg Thompson of Crye Precision and Deirdre Quinn of Lafayette 148 are honored to be working to continue to help front line workers. By the end of April, 320,000 reusable  personal protective equipment (PPE) gowns will be made.

Lafayette 148 will also be donating 20% of their sales, between April 12-30, to the Brooklyn Hospital Center, supporting NYC’s heroes on the front lines.

LOUIS VUITTON

Model Jessica Hart in a Louis Vuitton face mask. (Photo credit: Dailymail.com)

Louis Vuitton announced it will re-purpose its American workshops in Piscataway, NJ, Ontario, CA, Johnson County, TX, San Dimas, CA, and Irwindale, CA to produce non-surgical face masks.

The face masks Louis Vuitton will produce will be made of cotton cloth so they can be re-used, washed and adjusted to better fit users. Masks will be donated and distributed in vulnerable states heavily impacted by Covid-19 and Louis Vuitton will partner with local organizations in each state to give support.

LVMH

LVMH joins the fight against Cornavirus. (Photo credit: LVMH)

Louis Vuitton falls under the LVMH umbrella, and even though Louis Vuitton is making a generous contribution to the fight against COVID-19, LVMH is also making donations on behalf of all the brands they own (Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Fendi, Kenzo, Loro Piana, and others). LVMH is using its Chinese suppliers to provide 10 million surgical masks to France. The brand announced that it will reorder masks for the next few weeks in similar quantities.

In order to secure this order during an extremely tense period and to ensure that production begins today, Bernard Arnault arranged for LVMH to finance the whole of the first week of deliveries, amounting to five million euros,” LVMH said in a statement.

BVLGARI

Bvlgari is making hand sanitizer. (Photo credit: Bulgari)

Bvlgari (Bulgari) is another brand owned by LVMH. Bvlgari announced that it will manufacture thousands of hand sanitizers to be distributed to medical facilities throughout Italy. The hand gels will be created in 75ml recyclable bottles with plans to produce more in the upcoming months.

I believe as a major economic actor and symbol of Italy, Bvlgari has a responsibility to contribute to the national effort to help prevent, fight and eradicate Covid-19. Thanks to our fragrances expertise we have been able to develop together with ICR a ‘hand cleansing gel with sanitizer’ which will be manufactured in our Lodi Factory already making our high-end perfumes and hotel amenities,” Jean-Christophe Babin, Bvlgari CEO, said in a statement. “Aware of the difficult situation we are experiencing, we believe it is our duty to contribute with our know-how and production facilities.”

LOEWE

Workers make masks at the Loewe factory. (Photo credit: WWD)

Loewe, also owned by LVMH, will be donating 100,000 surgical masks to the Spanish Red Cross and non-surgical masks to volunteer workers, Loewe employees and their families. In addition, high-end Spanish fashion brand will be donating proceeds from every product in its Paula’s Ibiza collection. For every product sold, Loewe will donate 40 euros to support educational projects for kids, starting with an initial donation of 500,000 euros. “To achieve this, Loewe is collaborating with Plataforma de Infancia — a Spanish alliance of social organizations that works to protect children and adolescents’ rights — to launch a series of educational programs this summer in Spain which aims to reduce inequality and school dropouts,” the brand said in a statement.

YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP

Net-A-Porter closes their e-commerce site and using their delivery vehicles to deliver food. (Photo credit: Fashionweekdaily)

Yoox Net-a-Porter Group is known for delivering their high-end fashion goods to their customers by personal vans. In March, the company stopped this exclusive service and began using their vans to deliver food to those in need. They are now teaming up and volunteering their vehicles to non-profit God’s Love We Deliver to support its Emergency Shelf-Stable Meal Drive. The charity has already delivered over 140,000 meals, containing 14 days’ worth of non-perishable food, to vulnerable communities and people living with severe illnesses across all five boroughs of New York, in Hudson County, and Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties.

In London, the Yoox Net-a-Porter Group have been utilizing their company vehicles to deliver food and supplies to seven charities in London. The vans will read, “Fashion that delivers” and will also deliver to the elderly people throughout London.

Now, more than ever, the primary focus of our colleagues and customers is the well-being of relatives, friends and communities. Reflecting our core sustainability priorities, the group hopes that the redistribution of these resources will help to make a difference in London,” the company said, per WWD.

AMERICAN EAGLE/AERIE

American Eagle and its sister brand, Aerie, have committed $1 million to COVID-19 relief efforts. The brands will also donate more than one million masks to public health workers in vulnerable communities and have joined forces with America’s Food Fund (AFF) to ensure that people have reliable access to food.

UGG

Ugg pleged $1 Million to Covid-19 relief. (Photo credit: Fashionista)

Deckers Brands, the parent company of UGG, launched a new initiative Better Together, where the brands will donate more than $1 million to the COVID-19 relief efforts through monetary and product donations.

Our hearts are with our friends, colleagues, customers and those on the frontlines during this pandemic. The newly launched Better Together initiative aims to deliver relief, support and comfort to those most in need. We are in this together,” Dave Powers, president & CEO of Deckers Brands, said in a statement.

Ugg will also be partnering with select hotels that have opened their rooms to frontline workers and first responders. UGG will supply cozy robes and slippers so first responders can get comfortable after working a long hospital shift.

DAVID YURMAN

The Yurman Family Foundation announced they will donate $1 million to COVID-19 related causes. Also, David Yurman promised that their furloughed employees will continue to receive their health benefits until they can come back to work.

For us, jewelry has always been a way of connecting with other people and expressing our feelings. Sybil, Evan and I, along with the design team, continue to collaborate on new collections with a heartfelt message that we hope will express comfort and beauty,” David Yurman said in a statement.

KATE SPADE

Tapestry’s generous donation. (Photo credit: Tapestry)

On March 28, Kate Spade announced on its Instagram that the brands at Tapestry, through the Coach Foundation, would be donating $2 million to New York City’s small business continuity fund. The post added that the money was “for all the small businesses in NYC that make our hometown so incredibly special, and right now need some extra love and support. We appreciate each one of you, we’re here for you and we can’t wait to see you again soon.

The Kate Spade New York Foundation will also be donating $100,000 to their partner Crisis Text Line, a program that provides mental health counseling and emotional support to doctors and nurses as they grapple with the ongoing effects of the pandemic.

THIRD LOVE

Doctors, nurses and healthcare workers have been working tirelessly on the frontline battling COVID-19. To keep them comfortable, ThirdLove donated 1,000 sets of bras and underwear to workers at the University of California San Francisco and several hospitals on the east coast. In addition, the brand has already donated 2,000 surgical masks to UCSF in response to the virus.

TOMS

As of April 1st, Toms began donating one-third of its net profits to the COVID-19 Global Giving Fund. The fund was created to support Giving Partners currently on the frontlines of the health crisis. The Global Giving Fund currently supports Americares, Crisis Text Line, International Medical Corps, Partners in Health, and WaterAid.

Toms has always been in business to improve lives. That mission is important to us and our community everyday. Now, more than ever, we are honored to apply what we have learned over the past 14 years of giving to address this global health crisis,” Amy Smith, Toms chief giving officer, said in a statement. “We know the best way to help is to use our resources and the power of our customer’s purchase to invest in our giving partners who are on the frontlines directly addressing this pandemic. We are grateful for these deep partnerships and are eager, together with our customers, to continue to support their efforts to combat COVID-19.”

LA LIGNE

La Ligne is a contemporary label known for their terrific stipes. The label recently launched its Giving Back initiative, which will offer customers 15% off site wide and will donate 15% of total sales to a different charity each week until the quarantine ends. The initiative kicked off its first week with Baby2Baby and its second week with World Central Kitchen, which launched their initiative #chefsforamerica to provide fresh meals to communities that need support, feeds frontline healthcare workers, and more.

TIFFANY & CO.

Tiffany & Co. Foundation’s generous donation. (Photo credit: Tiffany & Co.)

Tiffany & Co. Foundation announced it will be committing $1 million to COVID-19 relief efforts.  $750,000 will be donated to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization; while the other $250,000 will be given to The New York Community Trust’s NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund. In addition to its own donation, the New York-based company will be matching employee donations, dollar for dollar.

During this global health crisis, we must all be responsive to the urgent needs of our global communities,” the brand said in a statement. “We are proud to support organizations providing immediate relief for communities impacted by COVID-19, including our hometown of New York,” Anisa Kamadoli Costa, chairman and president of The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, said.

LEVI STRAUSS AND CO.

Levi’s has been doing its part to help fight against COVID-19 by hosting its virtual concert series on Instagram Live; some artists who have participated are Snoop Dogg, Sigrid, Kali Uchis, Burna Boy and more.  Levi’s is donating $10,000 per performance to a charity picked by the artist. The company is also donating $3 million to communities that are vulnerable and at-risk. “There’s been a real rush for emergency support on the front end of this,” Jennifer Sey, chief marketing officer of Levi Strauss & Co., told WWD. “We want to make sure we’re addressing some of the midterm and long-term impacts that could go unaddressed by supporting our existing community partners.”

KENNETH COLE

Kenneth Cole is working with the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund. (Photo credit: Kenneth Cole)

Kenneth Cole is donating 1% of the net sales on KennethCole.com to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund in support of those severely affected by the coronavirus. The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund was launched by the World Health Organization and is being managed by the United Nations Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation.

According to Kenneth Cole, donations will be used for the following:

Ensure that patients can access the care they need and that frontline workers can get supplies and information.

Support efforts in tracking and understanding the spread of COVID-19.

Accelerate the development of vaccines, tests and treatments.

ALEXANDER WANG

Alexander Wang’s charity for COVID-19. (Photo credit: NY Post)

On April 6, Alexander Wang launched its Alexander Wang vault shop, a curated collection of Wang’s archived pieces selling for up to 80 percent off in celebration of the brand’s 15th anniversary. Opened in response to COVID-19, Wang donated 20 percent of sales to The United Nation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

CAPRI HOLDING

Michael Kors gives back. (Photo credit: Fashion United)

Capri Holding, the luxury fashion company that owns Michael Kors, Versace and Jimmy Choo, joined the fight against coronavirus by donating $3 million across all three brands. The $3 million donation will benefit organizations from each brand’s home cities, New York (Michael Kors), London (Jimmy Choo), and Milan (Versace).

Our hearts and souls go out to those who are working on the front lines to help the world combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” John D. Idol, chairman and chief executive officer of Capri Holdings Limited, said in a statement. “We thank them for their remarkable dedication and courage and want to support them and the hospitals where they work. We also aim to strengthen organizations dedicated to helping the community.”

In addition to Capri’s donation, Michael Kors announced on his Instagram that he and Capri Holdings CEO John Idol will also be making personal donations of $1 million each.

Among the many things that I love about New York and New Yorkers is their strength and unwavering resilience in times of crisis. For a city as big as it is, there’s always been a strong sense of community,” Kors wrote in an Instagram post. “It’s heartbreaking to see what is happening here in my hometown, which is currently an epicenter of the virus, and the impact this outbreak is having on people in our city and around the world. I commend everyone working on the frontlines in our health care centers and thank you for your dedication to helping others.

PVH CORP

PVH Corp, which owns Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, is donating $1 million toward COVID-19 relief, plus another $100,000 donation to the Solidarity Response Fund’s COVID relief efforts.

As I work with our global leadership team to address a responsible plan forward for our business, how we execute it as good corporate citizens is an important part of our discussions,” Manny Chirico, Chairman and CEO of PVH, said in a statement posted online. “There is no roadmap for this crisis, but I know that at PVH we have strong values and connections to our communities.

The company announced over Instagram that it will be sending out over two million Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – which include masks, gowns, and face shields – to healthcare workers in New York City. The first shipment has already been delivered to the Montefiore Health System.

CHANEL

Chanel face mask.( Photo credit: Forbes)

As the spread of the virus intensifies throughout France, Chanel has pledged to produce over 50,000 face masks and gowns for healthcare workers, police, and other essential workers in France. What’s more, the fashion house is also contributing €1.2 million to French emergency services.

SAKS FIFTH AVENUE

The Saks Fifth Avenue windows. (Photo credit: WWD)

The Saks Fifth Avenue Foundation has committed to donating $600,000 to coronavirus relief efforts split across three organizations: NewYork-Presbyterian COVID-19 Patient Care Fund, Bring Change to Mind, and Girls Inc. “Now is the time to stand together to support our community, our customers and all those affected both physically and mentally by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Marc Metrick, president at Saks Fifth Avenue, said in a statement. “Whether it’s medical workers on the frontlines, hospitals that require more essential supplies and resources, or those experiencing stress or anxiety about the virus, we know donations through the Saks Fifth Avenue Foundation will provide vital relief to those in need during this challenging and uncertain time.”

CALDEZONIA

The Italian luxury legwear and beachwear brand Caldezonia is converting it plants to produce medical masks and gowns using special machinery the brand purchased. The brand predicts it will be able to produce up to 10,000 masks per day, with that number increasing in the coming weeks.

REVOLVE

Revolve donates masks to two Los Angeles Hospitals. (Photo credit: Revolve.com)

Revolve announced on its Instagram that it will donate 10,000 N95 FDA-approved face masks to two Los Angeles hospitals. The brand also procured 20,000 additional masks to put aside for other healthcare workers, and called upon its influencers and followers to spread the word to frontline workers in need of protective gear.

Our doctors and nurses are on the front lines risking their lives to save ours, and are often doing so without adequate protective equipment,” the brand said in a statement. “Revolve’s mission for this initiative is to do anything we can to support our sisters and brothers, and hope to be able to make donations in the future.”

NORDSTROM

Nordstrom is sewing over 100,000 masks for medical personal. (Photo credit: Footwear News)

Nordstrom is teaming up with Kaas Tailored, to have members of its Nordstrom Alterations teams in Washington, Oregon, Texas, and California produce 100,000 masks to be donated to Providence Health & Services in Washington. Nordstrom will also offer additional support to Seattle Foundation, YouthCare, and Hetrick Martin Institute (HMI).

Also, by purchasing a gift card, Nordstrom will donate one percent of the sale to “annual community cash grants and support organizations that provide basic necessities for kids and families which includes things like access to health care, housing, food and education,” the company said in a press release.

SANDRO

Sandro will 10,000 cloth masks using excess fabric from past collections to help support hospital workers in France and around Europe. On March 30th, Sandro delivered 1,000 masks to the Aulnay-sous-Bois French hospital with an additional 2,000 masks to be delivered in early April. Sandro will deliver the remaining masks to other hospitals throughout Europe and 3,000 masks to the New York City hospital NYU.

VERA BRADLEY

Vera Bradley is producing protective gear such as masks and scrubs for essential workers. (Photo credit: News Sentinel)

Vera Bradley is known for their playful prints in handbags and accessories, but the brand is halting production of their accessories and will now use their own fabrics to produce masks for essential workers, and work alongside its supplier to procure protective gear such as masks and scrubs.

Our Company and Associates are honored to be able to contribute to the cause during this difficult and challenging time,” Rob Wallstrom, CEO of Vera Bradley, said in statement. “Our hearts go out to all affected by COVID-19 and to the courageous people serving on the front lines in our communities. We’re proud to be able to pivot our operations, lend a helping hand, and create a product with so much purpose.”

 

ATSUMI FASHION

Atsumi Fashion pivoting production from bras to masks (Photo credit: Fast Company)

 

Intimate apparel company Atsumi Fashion has been making masks out of bra lining material. A throwback to the 89s, wearing inner wear as outerwear (think Madonna wearing Gaultier’s bra).

BURBERRY

Burberry is making hospital gowns and face masks. (Photo credit: Metro News)

On the company website, Burberry announced that it would be dedicating significant time, money, and resources to helping with the COVID-19 global pandemic. The company said in a statement that it is going to “retool” its Yorkshire-based trench coat factory to make non-surgical gowns and masks and is facilitating the delivery of more than 100,000 surgical masks to U.K. National Health Service (NHS) staff. The company also said it is donating to charities across the country and funding University of Oxford research for a single-dose vaccine.

In challenging times, we must pull together,” Burberry’s CEO, Marco Gobbetti, said. “The whole team at Burberry is very proud to be able to support those who are working tirelessly to combat COVID-19, whether by treating patients, working to find a vaccine solution or helping provide food supplies to those in need at this time. COVID-19 has fundamentally changed our everyday lives, but we hope that the support we provide will go some way towards saving more lives, bringing the virus under control and helping our world recover from this devastating pandemic. Together, we will get through this.”

KERING

Kering Group steps to the plate to help with Covid-19. (Photo credit: Forbes)

Kering, the luxury goods giant behind Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta, Gucci and more, will supply three million surgical masks to French health services. Taking it a step futher, Kering brands Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga are also manufacturing “masks while complying with the strictest health protection measures for their staff members, with production getting underway as soon as the manufacturing process and materials have been approved by the relevant authorities,” Kering said in a statement.

GUCCI

Gucci’s “We’re all in this together”. (Photo credit: Gucci)

While Gucci is part of the Kering umbrella, Gucci also pledged 2 million euros to COVID-19 efforts that will be divided in two different donations. Gucci will donate 1 million euros to the Italian Civil Protection Department and another million euros to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

This pandemic calls us to an unexpected task, but it is a call to which we respond decisively, advocating the selfless work carried out by health workers, doctors and nurses on the front lines every day in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, in Italy and in the rest of the world,” Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele and Marco Bizzarri, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement, per WWD. “Their generosity and courage light our way forward in these difficult days. By supporting each other and helping those who are most vulnerable among us, we will be able to overcome this crisis: united, even more than before.”

SKIMS

Kim Kardashian West donates $1 Million under her label Skims. (Photo credit: Buzzfeednews.com)

Kim Kardashian West is using her upcoming Skims Solutionwear restock to support corona relief. Skims pledged to donated $1 million to those affected by the virus.

To support mothers and children in need during this time, SKIMS is committed to donating $1M to families affected by COVID-19,” KKW said in a press release. “On Monday, we’re restocking the collection we first launched with, and in doing so, are able to help bring relief to those affected by this pandemic. I am so grateful to all of you who have supported SKIMS since we first started 6 months ago. It’s been a dream of mine for so long, and has only been possible because of your love for what we do. Our six-month anniversary has fallen in the middle of a Global crisis so more than ever, it’s our responsibility to give back and do what we can to help others.”

UNIQLO

Uniqlo has partnered with its manufacturing companies in China to procure 10 million masks to donate to high-priority hospitals around the world. One million masks will be donated to Italy and another million will be donated to Japan. In addition to the masks, Uniqlo is also providing healthcare workers with their signature Heattech and Airism clothing. “The company will continue to give assistance where needed, and as the situation evolves,” the brand said in a statement.

H&M GROUP

H&M will use its facilities to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) to be donated to hospitals and health care workers working on the frontline.

The Coronavirus is dramatically affecting each and every one of us, and H&M Group is, like many other organizations, trying our best to help in this extraordinary situation,” Anna Gedda, head of sustainability at H&M Group, said in a press release. “We see this is as a first step in our efforts to support in any way we can. We are all in this together, and have to approach this as collectively as possible.”

GAP INC.

Gap, Old Navy, Athleta, Banana Republic, Intermix, Hill City, and Janie and Jack all fall under the Gap Inc. umbrella, which announced that they will be using its factories to produce protective wear for healthcare workers.

An update on our #COVID19 response: Our teams are connecting some of the largest hospital networks in Calif. w/ our vendors to deliver PPE supplies while we pivot resources so factory partners can make masks, gowns & scrubs for healthcare workers on the front lines,” the Gap Inc. brand wrote on Twitter.

MICHAEL COSTELLO

Michael Costello with a face mask that he designed. (Photo credit: Michael Costello)

Michael Costello announced he’ll be collaborating with his Calabasas-based manufacturer to create 20,000 surgical masks to distribute to hospitals and first-team responders throughout the Los Angeles area.

For the first couple of days of this emergency I, like many others, felt frustrated and helpless just sitting at home. I realized that even if I couldn’t do what I wanted as a Designer, I should do what I can to help others that keeps our community safe,” Costello said in a press release. “While I’m not a nurse, doctor or first responder, I knew I can give the one thing I know best, which is fashion, and help design masks that will be crucial for preventing exposure.”

CHRISTIAN SIRIANO

Christian Siriano is helping to make masks. (Photo credit: The New Yorker)

In late March, After Andrew Cuomo revealed that New York is facing a surgical mask shortage, designer Christian Siriano came to the rescue.

If @NYGovCuomo says we need masks my team will help make some,” he tweeted, tagging New York governor Andrew Cuomo. “I have a full sewing team still on staff working from home that can help.”

Shortly after, Siriano posted a short clip of what his masks will look like, writing, “We will be making a few versions of this in order to help as many people as we can. Here is the process so we can get a perfect fit. More to come thank you everyone we hope to get these to the right people ASAP.”

REFORMATION

Fashion brand Reformation is teaming up with Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti to produce protective face masks for not only health care professionals, but grocery store associates and food delivery workers as well. Garcetti hopes the initiative will create more jobs for people. Manufacturers or businesses that are interested in participating can learn more about the initiative at laprotects.org.

Fashion companies are helping to make masks in the USA. (Photo credit: Jurgute/iStock)

While the fashion industry is doing its part to help Coronavirus relief efforts, not every brand can afford a $10 million donation, like Ralph Lauren, or to turn over its design studios and factories to produce supplies, like Christian Siriano. But we can all do our part. Whether its staying at home to stop the spread or making face masks in your studio, tell us, How are you helping to stop the spread of COVID-19?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STAYING SILENT IS OUT – FASHION ACTIVISM IS IN

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

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

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

OFF-WHITE

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

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

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

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

Stella McCartney

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

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

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

Pyer Moss

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

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

Dior

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

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

Women’s Rights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Going Fur Free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Designers with a History of Rocking the Boat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESORT 2020 TAKES OVER SOCIAL MEDIA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christian Dior

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

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

Prada

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

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

Chanel

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

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

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

Louis Vuitton

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

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

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

Giorgio Armani

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

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

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

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

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

Gucci

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

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

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

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

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

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

WORKING GIRL CHIC RULES THE RUNWAY IN MILAN & PARIS

Saint Laurent (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Saint Laurent (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

It may be the Year of the Pig, according to the Chinese zodiac, but 2019 is turning out to be all about Female Power! Thanks to feminist movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, and of course the Woman’s March that started as a worldwide protest against Donald Trump the day after his 2017 inauguration (and that has continued every year since), women are taking center stage around the world and demanding equality in every way. In 2018’s U.S. mid-term election, a record 117 women were elected to office. Finally … it looks like the tide has begun to change for women.

Rolling Stone's March  Cover featuring: Jahana Hayes, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, and Ilhan Omar

Rolling Stone’s March Cover featuring: Jahana Hayes, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, and Ilhan Omar

With extraordinary women being elected to powerful positions, designers are stepping up to the plate and creating powerful looks for these new high-profile women. The Fall 2019 collections saw the return of the “Power Suit” (remember your fashion history? Gaultier, Montana and Armani – circa 80s?). And, while the 80s versions consisted of exaggerated shoulder pads, wide belts, slim midi-skirts and bow blouses, all in traditional menswear inspired fabrics and colors, designers are putting a new slant on what a powerful woman in the 21st century should look like. Who could ever forget Melanie Griffith in the 1988 film Working Girl. Every young girl starting her career aspired to be Melanie’s iconic character, Tess McGill. Well, move over Tess, today’s woman is independent, outspoken, confident, diverse, opinionated, political, empowered and socially-conscious. These are the new role models for Millenials, Gen Zers and all those other generations to follow.

Check out Anthony Vaccarello’s collection for Saint Laurent, a 1980s redux, complete with shoulders that extended two whole centimeters beyond the natural shoulder and updated the looks by introducing a neon color palette.

Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl

Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl

And alas! Thirty years later, the power suit is back, but this time around, the suit is soft and feminine.  According to an interview by Olivia Stren, for FashionMagazine.com (September 17, 2018), designer Joseph Altuzarra stated, “I think that the suit, for a long time, was trying to emulate a menswear staple when women were wearing it to work. It was about hiding your femininity. With so many strong women today embracing a more tailored, feminine pantsuit silhouette, I think it has emerged as a symbol of female empowerment and strength. In our case, the tailoring is always about celebrating femininity and a woman’s strength.” Altuzarra  claims that tailored ‘workwear’ is at the heart of his brand and credits his mother, who clocked in at a bank every morning, as his inspiration.

With “women power” in the air, it was no surprise that power dressing and chic workwear were key trends on the Milan and Paris Fall 2019 runway. While many of the designers who embraced this trend were women, there were a few ‘woke’ men that embraced the movement as well. Namely…Karl Lagerfeld. Although Milan kicked off with the tragic news that Karl Lagerfeld has passed away on February 19th, his legacy lived on in his last collection for Fendi. And you just got the sense that, as always, Karl got the memo – Women Rule.

FENDI

Fendi (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Fendi (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

He used to call me ‘la petite fille triste,” remembered Silvia Venturini Fendi, in an emotional backstage scene at the elegiac Fendi show, the last designed by the late Karl Lagerfeld, whom she first met when she was four years old. “Now is not the time to be sad,” she added, noting that Lagerfeld supervised every look in the focused collection that revealed what she called “those facets of himthe signatures that he had embedded into the brand’s DNA since he first met the quintet of Fendi sisters, including Venturini Fendi’s mother, Anna, in Rome in 1965.” Silvia Fendi stated to Vogue.com.

The collection included plenty of sharp tailoring paired with crisp shirts that added a refined, yet flirty, twist to office dressing.

MAX MARA

Max Mara (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Max Mara (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Who could forget Nancy Pelosi in her Max Mara coat on her way to meet with Donald Trump in December regarding border wall funding – this moment was the inspiration behind creative director Ian Griffiths Fall 2019 Max Mara collection. Ms. Pelosi was front and center on Griffiths’s Fall mood board as he made a strong connection between power and glamour. Griffith played with sharp tailoring, in head to toe monochromatic colors that ranged from soft camel to bold blues.

PRADA

Prada (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Prada (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

As one of the most politically-articulate designers in the fashion industry, having once been a member of the Italian Communist Party and an ardent feminist, the fear of war and the political turmoil worldwide has been a constant worry on Miuccia Prada’s mind. So, for her Fall collection, the designer was inspired by “romance and fear,” in of all things…a nod to the Bride of Frankenstein. For her romantic girls, Prada showed plenty of delicate lace capes, 3-D floral skirts and glittery red shoes, but these feminine gestures stomped their way into an army of utilitarianism looks that ranged from uniform military jackets to combat boots. The collection embraced the Prada woman; she’s smart, worldly, and understands the turmoil around her, yet she still really loves fashion.

SALVATORE FERRAGAMO

Salvatore Ferragamo (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Salvatore Ferragamo (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Just days before the show, Salvatore Ferragamo announced Paul Andrew’s promotion to creative director, overseeing all design operations for the company. For Andrew, it all starts with ‘the shoe.’ Case in point, a Ferragamo multicolored patchwork shoe that was created in 1942, which provided the collection’s color palette and patchwork prints. Andrew also showed a more refined side with a chic belted pantsuit and lots of tailored outerwear.

GIORGIO ARMANI

Giorgio Armani  (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Giorgio Armani (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

No one, and I mean no one, does tailoring better than Giorgio Armani. And for his Fall 2019 unisex show, the designer titled his collection “Rhapsody in Blue.” Although the collection was overwhelming dark (a sign of the times?), there were plenty of interesting details. Armani showed jodhpur pants paired with tailored jackets for day, while for evening he created a beaded floral shrunken jacket that was paired with velvet trousers for a relaxed take on eveningwear, as only Armani knows how.

GUCCI

Gucci (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Gucci (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Okay, so you see the image of this houndstooth suit and you say, gotta be Chanel right? Well…wrong! It’s Alessandro Michele. Known for his eclectic, magpie collections for Gucci that often blast gender norms and historical mash-ups, for Fall 2019 he delivered a powerful collection filled with the treasured pieces you would find in your grandmother’s closet. With a nod to the 40s, Michele created tailored jackets that were cut to perfection for both men and women, as well as wide leg cropped trousers, Pierrot collar shirts and anything but basic outerwear. While this may have been a tamer Gucci collection, Michele infused plenty of eccentric touches – such as the fetish masks and metal ear coverings.

CHRISTIAN DIOR

Christian Dior (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christian Dior (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Among the designers that have truly taken their causes to the runway is Maria Grazia Chiuri, the creative director for Christian Dior. Season after season Chiuri takes a stand on women’s rights and equality. For Fall 2019, Chiuri channeled Italian conceptual artist Bianca Menna, who in the 1970s signed her work pseudonymously as Tomaso Binga, a man, to cunningly protest male privilege in the art world. The artist read a poem about the promise of a feminist victory at Chiuri’s show. As for the clothes, Chiuri was inspired by England’s “Teddy Girls” – 1950s working class girls who had a love of Rock & Roll and clubbing – as well as Dior’s  optimistic creations of the same time period. The collection was sportswear at its best! Chiuri layered rompers, skirts, coats, trousers and bustiers in a modern and fresh way.

DRIES VAN NOTEN

Dries Van Noten (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Dries Van Noten (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Dries Van Noten is known for his bold prints and unapologetic use of color, but let’s face it, today’s state of the world is a bit darker so Van Noten turned out a hauntingly beautiful show. While his signature floral prints are traditionally romantic and vibrant, this Fall the floral motif took a somber turn. In an interview with Vogue, Van Noten stated “We picked them from my garden last October and photographed them. I wanted roses but not sweet roses—roses with an edge, roses for now. Flowers can be romantic, but this I wanted to take out, because the times are tougher than in the past. So you see the diseases, the black spot, the imperfections.

Van Noten opened the show with a lineup of polished gray pantsuits, perfect looks for the office (political or business), case in point, a pinstripe belted pantsuit with a matching puffer stole. How incredibly chic! Can you just imagine Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in this?

CHLOE

Chloé (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chloé (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chloé paid a touching tribute to Karl Lagerfeld, the late designer who designed for the house  from 1963 – 1983. When the fashion crowd arrived, they found placed on their seats postcards that featured images of Lagerfeld’s past collections, as well as his own comments about his work. One particular quote from 1975 still resonates today, “The essence of modern dressing—unstructured, weightless, [and] totally feminine.”

Fast forward, forty years later, and this is still the Chloé aesthetic; upscale bohemian in the chicest and most sophisticated way. For her Fall 2019 collection, Natacha Ramsay-Levi found her stride at the house. There were an abundance of breezy but polished dresses that every “It Girl” will crave. Ramsay-Levi paired these effortless frocks with mid-heel boots to complete the effortlessly cool look.

Sure Ramsay-Levi nailed the boho look, but she also showcased her talents as a great tailor with Prince of Wales trousers and skirts, military-inspired trousers and plenty of outerwear,  cut to perfection.

Balmain (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Balmain (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Meanwhile at Balmain, Olivier Rousteing went full-out 80s biker chic. Big shoulders, biker chains, black leather moto jackets and power suiting on steroids was his vision of the modern woman. But, not so sure about whether this through-back look will help women in today’s day and age like it did in the 80s. What would Nancy Pelosi or RBG say?

So tell us, where do you stand on power-dressing in the 21st century?  

WHAT TO EXPECT IN FASHION 2019

Team Maison Martin Margiela (Courtesy:Edward Enninful Instagram)

Team Maison Martin Margiela (Courtesy:Edward Enninful Instagram)

Diversity and inclusion have not always been synonymous with the fashion industry, but in 2018 fashion finally “got woke.” Millennials and Gen Zers, the industry’s new generation of consumers, are much more politically active and brands are now realizing that to stay relevant, they need to take a stand on racism, gun control and socio-political issues. The age of ‘corporate neutrality’ is over.

Watchdogs like Diet Prada have become the fashion police, calling out brands for their missteps. With one million Instagram followers (and growing), the duo of Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler are a force to be reckoned with.

Nike’s decision to take a stand, using Colin Kaepernick in its 30th anniversary ad campaign, turned out to be a one of its smartest marketing moves yet. Gucci, who has been taking a stand on issues since 2013 with their ‘Chime for Change’ campaign (advocating for women’s rights and anti-poverty efforts), took on gun control in 2018 with a $500,000 donation to March for Our Lives, in support of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Other designers have supported gun control over the past few years too, including Kenneth Cole, Tom Ford, Christian Siriano and Zac Posen.

For those brands who are clinging to ‘neutrality’ for fear that they’ll alienate their customer base, we offer this information, because learning from past mistakes is one thing, but putting what is learned into practice is another. So, let’s reflect back and then take a peek into the future of where fashion has been and where it hopes to go (and grow).

LOOKING BACK TO MOVE FORWARD

Historically, fashion as an industry has primarily catered to a “rich, thin and white” demographic. Think Charles Frederick Worth (1856) and all of those lovely French aristocrats, and the birth of haute couture. It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution, the invention of standardized sizing followed by the concept of ready-to-wear, that fashion’s demographic expanded. However, fashion marketing and advertising lagged behind in terms of diversity and inclusion, especially within fashion magazines, runway models, and even among fashion designers.

 DIVERSITY: IN MAGAZINES

 Donyale Luna, Beverly Johnson, Naomi Campbell (Courtesy: Pinterest)

Donyale Luna, Beverly Johnson, Naomi Campbell (Courtesy: Pinterest)

The first black woman to grace a fashion magazine cover was Donyale Luna, who appeared in British Vogue in March 1966, shot by photographer David Bailey. The iconic cover image showed Luna covering most of her face, which was allegedly a request of the magazine’s editors to help mask her ethnicity. At the time, it was not popular to put a colored woman in a high-level fashion brand, nor on a luxury fashion magazine cover. Donyanle Luna, an American, is known as the first black supermodel.

It took 8 more years for U.S. Vogue to feature a woman of color. In 1974, Beverly Johnson broke America’s glass ceiling with her Vogue cover photographed by Francesco Scavullo. Johnson’s blackness was not itself the subject of the cover. Instead, Vogue presented a vision of elegant beauty that was relatable, real, and totally about the times. But as Johnson said herself, it was not easy to get there due to her race.

It took 14 more years for French Vogue to feature a woman of color on their cover. In 1988 Naomi Campbell became the first colored woman in the magazine, even though she had been working with renowned designers. In fact, Yves Saint Laurent threatened to take away their magazine advertising in order to make this happen.

Gemma Ward & Du Juan (Courtesy: Pinterest)                    Fei Fei Sun (Courtesy: Vogue)

Gemma Ward & Du Juan (Courtesy: Pinterest) Fei Fei Sun (Courtesy: Vogue)

The lack of diversity in magazines was not exclusive to Afro descendants. The Asian community only got its first model cover in 2005, shot Patrick Demarchelier for French Vogue.  However, Chinese model Du Juan had to share the cover with Australian supermodel Gemma Ward. It would take another 8 years for an Asian model to get a solo cover, this time Fei Fei Sun for Italian Vogue in 2013.

These examples of models from diverse backgrounds were more often treated as tokens or novelties, rather than representing a real market demographic. Fashion brands didn’t see the need for including these and other diverse populations and therefore neglected a broader share of the market. By placing importance on ‘exclusiveness’, rather than realizing and embracing the idea of diversity and inclusion, brands actually missed a major opportunity for increased profitability.

DIVERSITY: ON THE RUNWAY

Eleanor Lambert’s Battle of Versailles 1973 fashion show

Eleanor Lambert’s Battle of Versailles 1973 fashion show

Diversity on the fashion runway was non-existent until 1973 when American publicist Eleanor Lambert introduced American fashion to Europe at the Palace of Versailles. Lambert was the first to use 12 black models in her fashion show. However ground-breaking that 1973 show was, several decades would pass with predominately white models walking the runway, featured in advertising campaigns and on magazine covers.

HOW GLOBALIZATION AFFECTED THE FASHION INDUSTRY

By 2008 things began to change in fashion as a result of globalization. An increase in international travel and intercultural exposure, a high volume of migration and mass movement of consumers, as well as the rapid growth of information and communication though social media platforms, were all catalysts for change. Society was evolving, and this was no better reflected than in the election of the first black U.S. president, Barack Obama, followed by the first woman chancellor elected in Germany, Angela Merkel. Increased visibility for the LGBTQ movement around the world, social responsibility and the sustainability movement all came together to awaken the world and the fashion industry.

 

(Courtesy:Vogue)

(Courtesy:Vogue)

In July 2008, U.S. Vogue published an article entitled, Is Fashion Racist? The article addressed the elephant in the room. It spoke to how fashion runway shows concentrated on a single homogeneous look, “the same procession of anonymous, blandly pretty, very young, very skinny, washed-out blondes with their hair scraped back.”  This acknowledgement, in such a highly regarded publication, forced the industry to rethink their strategy. The problem was not only a lack of diverse models on the runway, but also in magazines, in fashion campaigns and other related fashion branded products. This marked a long overdue turning point in the industry, one that had taken more than 35 years to get to, ever since the first British Vogue cover featuring Donyale Luna in 1966.

FASHION ‘GOT WOKE’ IN 2018 

As millennials and GenZers became important market cohorts, a more socially-conscious fashion industry began to emerge. Words like ‘transparency,’ ‘carbon-footprint’, ‘fair trade,’ ‘gender equality,’ ‘androgynous,’ and ‘gender-binary,’ as well as movements like “MeToo’ and “Time’s Up’, did much to change the conversation, especially between 2016 and 2018. We finally began to see the fashion industry’s positive response to diversity, inclusion and other issues.

Dolce & Gabbana 2018 (Courtesy: The Fashion Spot)

Dolce & Gabbana 2018 (Courtesy: The Fashion Spot)

According to the The Fashion Spot, the fall 2018 fashion campaigns were the most diverse in terms of race with 35% of the models in the campaigns were non-white and it has been an upward trend since 2016. In addition, runway shows for Spring 2019 were the most racially diverse ever with 36% of all castings across New York, London, Milan and Paris went to models of color compared to 17% in 2015.

Diverse magazine covers 2018 (Courtesy: Pinterest)

Diverse magazine covers 2018 (Courtesy: Pinterest)

The 2018 September issues of fashion magazines, which are the most anticipated and that sell the most copies with the highest number of pages and advertisements, were also the most diverse ever. A total of 16 magazines brought their A game, featuring Afro descendants on their covers, something never before seen in the fashion industry.

Courtesy of the Cut (Yalitza Aparicio)

Courtesy of the Cut (Yalitza Aparicio)

And let’s not forget the spectacular cover of Vogue Mexico for January 2019, which featured Yalitza Aparicio, a Mixteco indigenous descendant actress from the movie Roma. It is the first time an indigenous descendant was featured in the magazine.

March 2017 Vogue’s “Diverse Cover” (Courtesy: Vogue)

March 2017 Vogue’s “Diverse Cover” (Courtesy: Vogue)

And although Vogue’s March 2017 ‘diverse cover’ was slammed for not being diverse enough, we saw a range of models that included Chinese model Lui Wen, American plus-sized model Ashley Graham, American model Kendall Jenner, American model Gigi Hadid (Dutch and Palestinian descent), Dutch model Imaan Hammam (of Egyptian and Moroccan descent), British model Adwoa Aboah (British and Ghanaian descent) and Italian model Vittoria Ceretti.

DIVERSITY IS MORE THAN COLOR

During the past few years, we have also learned that diversity is not only about color, it is also about body size, ethnicity, gender and age inclusivity and therefore the definition of what it means to be a ‘diverse’ model has changed. Since 2017, The Fashion Spot has included age, size, transgender to measure diversity on the runway.

Ashley Graham plus-size model (Courtesy: The Fashion Spot)

Ashley Graham plus-size model (Courtesy: The Fashion Spot)

We have seen the popularity of plus size models increase. In 2016, Ashley Graham became the first plus-size model to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and in January 2017, had her first British Vogue cover. Graham has been part of major fashion shows, from Dolce & Gabbana to Michael Kors and Christian Soriano, and has landed important jewelry campaigns, such as David Yurman Fall 2018.

73-year-old model Betty Catroux (Courtesy: The Fashion Spot)

73-year-old model Betty Catroux (Courtesy: The Fashion Spot)

Age barriers were finally torn down in 2018, as models over the age of 50 were chosen for runway shows and advertising campaigns at luxury fashion houses. In fact, Saint Laurent announced 73-year-old Betty Catroux as the face of creative director Anthony Vaccarello’s Fall 2018 ad campaign. Eighteen women over the age of 50 starred in a total of 11 campaigns for Fall 2018, not including 44-year-old supermodel Amber Valletta, who, with seven campaigns to her name, was one of the season’s most-booked model.

Adut Akech (Courtesy:Pinterest)

Adut Akech (Courtesy:Pinterest)

And let’s not forget my favorite model of the year, Adut Akech, a South Sudan refugee, that since her debut in 2017 at Saint Laurent, has robbed the hearts of the most acclaimed fashion houses, including Chanel and Valentino, and is disrupting the meaning of beauty in fashion today. Diversity and inclusivity are definitely on the front row of fashion and are here to stay.

DIVERSITY BEHIND THE SCENES

I have always been interested in fashion, ever since I was 9 years old. As an Afro-Latino woman, I always wondered why models on the runway didn’t look like me. Curves and color were not exactly popular in the industry as I was growing up in the 1980s and 90s. So, you can imagine how exciting this moment in fashion is for me. However, I am still concerned about things that happen (or don’t) behind the scenes.

I started working in the fashion industry in 2005, and I can assure you that corporate positions at internationally acclaimed fashion houses are not very diverse. In 2017, Business of Fashion examined 15 of the largest public companies in fashion. They concluded that, “the vast majority (73 percent) are led by white male chief executives. On average, men and women of any ethnic minority represented only 11 percent of the board of directors at these companies.”

This is an extremely low statistic. Brands cannot adopt a language of inclusion and diversity in their marketing campaigns without extending this inclusivity to the boardroom and to the business branch of a company. According to a McKinsey & Company report entitled, “Delivering through Diversity”, companies with the most ethnically/culturally diverse boards are 43% more likely to deliver higher profits, because they are more likely to attract and retain talent, as well as improve customer service decisions.” So, why are fashion’s corporate offices not more on board with diversity when it benefits everyone? Hopefully, that will begin to change.

We not only need representation of ethnically diverse people at magazines, on runways, and in ad campaigns, we also need fashion managers of different cultures, color, size, age and gender. Choosing people who represent the world in which we currently live, and who understand, first hand, the needs of different types of consumers, has proven to be more profitable for those brands who have become more inclusive.

So, here’s my 2019 wish list for the fashion industry, in terms of diversity and inclusion:

1.     Appoint more designers with cultural and color diversity at major fashion houses, following the example of Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton, who perfectly understands emerging subcultures.

Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton (Courtesy: BoF)

Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton (Courtesy: BoF)

 

2.     More cosmetics and lingerie brands, such as Fenty, that are color and size inclusive and that think about the real customer.

Savage X Fenty (Courtesy: Getty Images)

Savage X Fenty (Courtesy: Getty Images)

 

3.     More influencers of ethnic diversity used for fashion brand campaigns that include a broader representation of the consumer market.

Influencers (Courtesy: BoF)

Influencers (Courtesy: BoF)

 

4.     More high-profile advocates like Beyoncé, who can help other minorities gain exposure in the fashion industry. Beyoncé created history by appointing the first black photographer, Tyler Mitchell, to shoot her 2018 September Vogue cover.

Courtesy of Instagram

Courtesy of Instagram

 

5.     More powerful Caucasian advocates who call out the lack of diversity in the fashion industry, such as Ellen Pompeo, with her Porter Magazine team.

(Courtesy: Porter Magazine)

(Courtesy: Porter Magazine)

 

6.     More important fashion magazine appointments, such as Edward Enninful, editor-in-chief of British Vogue, who has given the magazine a fresh and diverse viewpoint and who has transformed it into a more inclusive magazine that better represents the global audience it seeks to serve.

Edward Enninful – editor British Vogue (Courtesy: The Washington Post)

Edward Enninful – editor British Vogue (Courtesy: The Washington Post)

 

7.     And finally, more fashion companies that give opportunities to ethnic and culturally diverse managers who can bring a different perspective to the brand, to better serve the final consumer.

 

So, as we begin 2019, let’s hope that the fashion industry’s New Year’s Resolution will become the definition of the word ‘diversity’:  

Diversity: “the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization.”

———————————————————————————————————————————————————

And, another thing we are excited about at the University of Fashion is the launch of our new three-book beginner series on Draping, Sewing and Pattern making techniques which launches on January 8, 2019.

DRAPING                        https://www.amazon.com/Draping-Techniques-Beginners-University-Fashion/dp/1786271761?tag=univeoffash00-20

Draping (Courtesy Photo)

Draping (Courtesy Photo)

 

PATTERN MAKING             https://www.amazon.com/Pattern-Making-Techniques-Beginners-University/dp/1786271966?tag=univeoffash00-20

Pattern Making (Courtesy Photo)

Pattern Making (Courtesy Photo)

 

SEWING                            https://www.amazon.com/Sewing-Techniques-Beginners-University-Fashion/dp/1786271982?tag=univeoffash00-20

Sewing (Courtesy Photo)

Sewing (Courtesy Photo)

 

 

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?

 

 

And just in time for the holidays, UoF is offering some amazing savings

on a Yearly or Monthly subscription. 

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Two Holiday Subscription Deals
  • Get $60 off a new Yearly subscription here!
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  • Offer Only available for new Yearly subscribers. Current Monthly subscribers or Free Members, see below.

  • Get $5 off your first month of a new Monthly subscription here!
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  • Offer only available for new Monthly subscribers. Current Free Members, see below.

  • Current Free Members and Monthly subscribers: Log in as usual, then look to the left and click “Upgrade to Monthly [or Yearly] Subscription (Special holiday rate)”.


  • All subscriptions give you unlimited access to every lesson on our entire website!