Trend observations with a sociological eye from afar...
by DSWarren in Vancouver
On the whole it seems more utilitarian and that is to be expected; this is a “season” that serves a dual purpose of having essentials available at a time they are likely to be purchased and worn now plus a testing ground for rolling out hints of what is to come when Fall/Winter comes out a few months later. The wearablility comes across strongly in the more classic framework of the clothes with many falling into very utilitarian lines (Clover Canyon, Leila Rose, Reed Krakoff, Sonia by Sonia Rykiel, Veronica Beard) and 90s modernity (Adam Lippes, Akris, Altuzarra, Belstaff, Burberry Prorsum, Fendi, Rag & Bone, Reed Krakoff, Sonia by Sonia Rykiel, Tory Burch) hasn’t really left since the decade first emerged. The clean sensibility and practical overtones that put money in the bank for Helmut Lang serves a buying public that wants to be current yet hesitates to venture too far with clothes that are so unique as to limit dollar/wear.
The creativity is in the details, of course. The materials hover between the comfort we ask our clothes to provide, swaddling us in slouch (Alexander Wang, Calvin Klein Collection, Sachin + Babi, Thakoon Addition) and layers and the armour when comfort isn’t enough in the form of structure (3.1 Phillip Lim， Adam Lippes, Altuzarra, Proenza Schouler, Zac Posen). This consistent oscillation has been underway for a few seasons; the materials are the language of our feelings and reflect our need from a reactive place as unpredictability that tempers with our sense of security is met with less zeal. The colours show our energy (Diane von Furstenburg, Just Cavali) as still strong and vivid, with print reflecting our hardness and our increased attention on our tech world (3.1 Phillip Lim). Meanwhile, with regards to cut, we continue to look to our environment for relatable inspiration of how we fit in our world. Art can carry our imagination, but the architecture is what we can more readily identify with, and the sweeping architectural swaths of textile, dramatic hard cuts plus use of sheer insets and clever slices (Altuzarra, T by Alexander Wang) or revealing vents (3.1 Phillip Lim ) to bring a nod towards dimension that we find ourselves more fixated on as our news talks more and more about everything 3D. Here, designers continue to incorporate this in varying approaches, with each season finding new aspects of dimension to explore beyond texture and embellishment play.
The acknowledgement of our order possibly coming undone isn’t escaping our media, and as such elements of a more polished deconstructive expression come into play (3.1 Phillip Lim, Alexander Wang, Belstaff, Calvin Klein Collection, Sachin + Babi, T by Alexander Wang). It will be interesting to see how many designers are tapping into this awareness that good PR can no longer mask.
All this is under an umbrella of recognizable and wearable cuts and shapes. In a way, this is much like what is happening today; to glance at the surface at what is occurring in our world seems like business is usual, but further examination of the details reveals a deeper story with a way more complex undercurrent that will shape us and our eventual future, much of it that may require more stamina than we choose to devote for now. Much of what is happening is the world is packaged with our tolerance in mind so that we as a society can carry on as if everything is status quo. It’s the most we can ask of us for now until we are ready to accept the inescapable and inevitable change that is our future. At the very least, it’s just enough.
That is not to say that this aspiration was less apparent or absent in other decades in the last century, for the availability of mass-produced fashion has increased the possibilities overall of access to levels of quality that can support competition into such aspirational efforts…or preventative presentation so as to prevent ostracization by a population that has long stigmatized any signs of poverty as a contagion to be avoided. But the recognition of this long-ingrained fear and the awareness of its power has driven markets to appeal to these and our dreams in clever marketing made to fuel sales. Thus, luxury always has a place as a vehicle for enhancing status.
Sometimes it’s more sophisticated, involving knowledge of materials, construction and craft. But the post-war mid-century simplification of status via labeling has transcended, rising to an almost gauche level of ostentation in the 80s with labels being worn with pride. It clearly spoke to the simplest of people that the garment was expensive and exclusive, made obvious to all.
As logos and brand emblems rose in popularity, the awareness of this ridiculousness coincided with the emergence of flash pop sensation Sigue Sigue Sputnik, who went as far as to rent space of their albums for commercial ads and sold advertising space on their wardrobes. Everything was for sale, and everything became advertising, playing into the logo craze. The vulgarity was comically absurd and oddly embraced as the logo obsession showed no signs of abating.
When the economy started to waver and the rise of counterfeiting diminished the efficacy of the label, logos became out of fashion. No longer was it acceptable to flaunt wealth, particularly when there were too many suffering economic misfortune. The return of demure appreciation lasted for a while until the turn of this century, where logos have gradually returned.
Within the past couple of weeks, a couple of the heavyweights in media such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal featured articles on an observation made recently , speaking of the re-emergence of logos in design expression. Some of the spring/summer 2014 collections from designers such as Alexander Wang, Christian Dior, DKNY, Fashion East’s Ashley Williams, Missoni, Viktor & Rolf and VFiles all featured logos in various forms ranging from badges and patches to patterns involving the label itself. Ashish didn’t have its own label but it had many others as some of its garments were coated with corporate logos in the same manner as a Nascar uniform.
While some houses were looking to approach it seriously, some of the others were doing it tongue-in-cheek, barraging the garment with logos to diminish rather than enhance its power and meaning. And depending on who is looking at the logo will depend on that perspective. Business of Fashion recently featured an article discussing the rejection of brad names by the Millennials dues to economics, similar to the 90s. this contrasts with those supporting the return who tend to have more of a nostalgic connection to the go-go 80s, a decade that has been getting a lot of exploration over the past few years.
The diversity of inspiration from both decades simultaneously reflect the divergence of appreciation or disdain for logos. That we have such a supersaturation of brands presented in the collections shows the room for supporting various schools of thought, and the tribalism that trending companies have been exploring over the past few years are showing that the logomania is rooted in a different approach. Rather than merely demonstrating a level of affluence, the wearing of brand loyalty is taking on a new sense of belonging to a perspective, be it the irony or the affinity of philosophies that go beyond what it used to mean.
How this will carry out in the pre-fall 2014 collections is too soon to say. At time of writing this article, very few houses were showing, although the parade of fashion is starting again and DKNY was the only one so far to carry forth its logo embrace while Akris and Tory Burch did not. Or at least did not do so in their presentations, as anything can happen in their boutiques. And anything can happen in the next few weeks, not just in the collections but in the economies of the world. And we’ll see just how many designers have a perspective that supports, diminishes or even rejects the fixation of brandishing a name as an economic badge of honor.
From the level of AI algorithm sophistication that is coming closer to mimicking the intricate understandings of the human mind to the race for incorporating technology into everywhere our clothes, accessories and even our bodies can accommodate, we are seeing amazing technological marvels that also serve to create unease as the pace of its growth and evolution is far outstripping our normal ability to adapt to change.
The technological evolution is even transcending from wearables to embedded technology, such as Motorola’s experimentation and patenting of tech incorporated into tattoos for augmentation of its wireless tech for conversational clarity. Culturally, this sophistication is finding inspiration with other sophisticated expressions. For example, amidst the current buzz concerning 3D printing, dimensional play with plot and story structure was recently undertaken by a Doug Dorst/JJ Abrams collaboration for a book.
The fashion industry of course has been inspired by the marvels of everything 3D. In the mid-90s laser etching on PVC brought some interesting holographic treatments to the fore. As 3D television was experimented with in the very late 90s, the more 50s conventional 3D was played with by Stephen Sprouse, who utilized Mars rover images with 3D treatment as prints.
Although 3D television was pushed to the masses and 3D films proliferated in theaters , that alone did not affect design as much. It was the emergence of 3D printing being redesigned for the masses in recent years that, on the heels of our entertainment going 3D that has pushed us towards the obsession with dimension, something covered in prior articles (“Comin’ At Ya!”, January 21, 2012; “What Our Beacons Reveal “, January 27, 2013; and “It Depends Where You’re Looking”, July 6, 2013).
Our technological prowess has afforded us the ability to explore working with more complexity, from 3D body-scanning for clothing fit that was flirted with as early as in the mid-90s by Cyberware to recent efforts by Matt Hornbuckle and Kirk Keel to crowdfund a design approach for custom fit shirts via the same tech.
Indeed, the fashion industry itself is soon facing an evolution of its own as 3D printing becomes more sophisticated. Of course Iris van Herpen has been all over the technology to create incredibly complex 3D printed garments. But already 3D printing is moving towards the masses, such as with Neiman Marcus selling 3D printed jewelry. More recently, Tamar Giloh’s brainchild Tamicare came out with a new 3D printed textile to roll out disposable undergarments for mass production next year.
Futurists are predicting the end of conventional manufacturing as we know it within a few decades as such advances coupled with accessible technology render orthodox processes obsolete as eventually people will be able to produce and recycle their own clothes with more sophisticated printers
Ironically, the very industry that could find itself rendered obsolete has taking the design approach to by playing with dimension as well. While the more conventional manifestation has been to pay with texture, something more prominent in designs these days, dimension has also been played with by layering in conjunction with sheers, solids and cut portions to play with and illustrate the focus on dimensional appreciation. Architecturally structured materials add to this as we appreciate dimensional form in design as recent collections demonstrate an understanding of our interest in the direction design has taken in the face of new technology and the creativity it has spawned.
The eventual transformation of manufacturing of course will not mean the end of fashion. How the industry chooses to evolve is a chapter that has yet to be written, but you can be sure smarter designers are looking to see how to fit within this inevitable advancement of fashion itself. It may be made at home, but so much can be from other minds that we draw upon, all in a multi-dimensional collaboration in the name of personal expression.
Regardless, the perspectives that designers bring to the table come from places where their means allow for the luxury of information abundance, and these creatives aim to dress the population that is at the higher end of the economic chain where cumulative data is more accessible, allowing for a better bird’s eye view of what is happening in the world. That is, the first world where technological connectivity is a given.
Looking at the vast range of news and data is akin to having access to the world’s collective thoughts. It is mind-boggling how much we can access and the sheer volume is enough for one to come undone if not keeping things in perspective.
And that is what we are trying to do amidst the inescapable truths that we face. The recent horrific storm in the Philippines may be post-collections, but there were other never-before experiences that we are waking up to that cannot be ignored. The industry is served with validation of racism and environmental damage. Our political landscapes are subject to revelations that cannot withstand political spinning. Inequities are being pondered from an ethical stance as our conscience sees our full humanity under introspection.
Yes, we can come undone if we think too much about what needs to change as well as facing what is changing. And how we express this can sometimes be simple, such as almost literal interpretation of keeping it together. Some collections did just that, with straps holding pieces in concert to serve new ways of assembly, such as was seen at Alexander McQueen, Anthony Vaccarello, Cedric Charlier, Cushnie et Ochs, Damir Dona, David Koma, Dion Lee, Givenchy, Maison Martin Margiella, Paco Rabanne, Roland Mouret and Veronique Branquinho. Yohji Yamamoto may not have had straps, but a few of his pieces were held with a knot and a prayer. Some, such as Chanel, Juan Carlos Obando and Willow, showed that not everything can be held together, letting the straps that would have held it together dangle and fall.
We are trying to keep it together, to show new ways of being that honor the familiar yet approaches it as we are now as we put together the pieces. Before, we would have found it strange and unconventional. Now, in our haphazard world we find it just another way that we are open to as long as the results are there. At least we’re keeping it together.
We are in process of remaking our future. That is to say, we are remaking the vision of what that future is supposed to be, at least from a material standpoint.
For the bulk of the century that preceded this one, the future has oscillated between one of gloss and shine and dystopian disaster, a reflection of the extremes we allow our perspectives to habituate. That our simplified outlook has historically been on black and white terms, of good and evil, has been our ingrained source. The most fundamental approach has been almost binary, with the ease of polarization allowing us to choose and react faster in the most efficient manner. Yet life is anything but this simple and we know that.
We are becoming very aware that the sophistication of our information accumulation and exchange is revealing to all (or all who have access) a range of scenarios that add to the complication of why things are the way they are, and that moral stances aren’t always as clear cut. The maturity that results serves to further enlighten us on such complexities as we grow in our cultural sophistication.
Some creative minds see our future as one that needs to come from breaking from convention. For those with artistic platforms, this comes for the way materials are expressed and through finding new appreciation in how that expression manifests itself.
While many designers work within what is familiar or traditionally aesthetically acceptable, some are exploring textile play while pushing boundaries of what we are willing to include within our cultural costume. For example, the deconstructive concept that showed itself in the latter half of the 20th century and how it continues to find a presence in our modern dress. In the poorer aspects of expression the technique can fall flat. But when the technique is properly executed in points when our culture is more open to new stimuli, the techniques involved have a higher chance of appreciation.
One technique seen reflects the finer approach of recombinant ideals as we search for a new voice for the coming century. Previous collections inspired by Michael van der Ham demonstrated a hybridization of qualities and details from various decades mashed together to create new forms and silhouettes, an approach that widely impacted other collections and producing many imitators along the way (fashion does that). Taking disassembly and recombination to a smaller or finer degree within the framework of texture and dimension, shape and textural exploration can find itself played with at a smaller scale.
In collections from Sacai and Barbara Bui, shredding was incorporated, and the use of materials in a harsh, almost violent approach to innovate new texture worked well with the order out of chaos that our modern world contains. From Fashion East, Ryan Lo utilized clumps of shredded material to create dimensional distortion while, in a broader perspective, maintained the essential form that would be expected in a garment. On a more organized front, Hussein Chalayan played with pieces and tabs to bring colour and texture in a more unified approach while still retaining a randomness that our collective contains.
The order out of chaos is a fitting theme for how we are approaching our expectations of the future. We have an image that is compiled from various sources bringing details together the way pixels in perspective art generate an image. On its own, the pieces tell a limited story. Collectively, we get a clearer overall image. And thus fashion is reflecting this awareness.
There were other collections that played with the bringing together of various components to open the door towards new forms, reflecting an astute awareness of how our cultures are honoring its individual contribution as we weave a more modern collective consciousness that is mankind. But rather than piece that into this article, let’s save that for another.
What is important to know is how our dialogue is struggling to find new words to say who we are, and for now repeating and requoting, reclaiming past memorable points, we look for the right jumping point as we try to find what we want to say next.
This is a tricky approach. If one were to look at fashions of the future portrayed in past decades, some aspects are captured but the bulk of the expression is hampered by limitations of what is in existing consciousness. In looking at such anticipations of the future from the past, the predictions tend to aim for the borderline unwearable and impractical, with aesthetics too costumey to be acceptably integrated in any functional aspect of society. The closest we have come to dressing like far-out fashions from mid-century visions of the future were more confined to the nightclubs of the 70s and 80s, and eventually we outgrew that phase in favor of more basic attire, subculture inhabitants notwithstanding.
However, for us to find a new voice sometimes means revisiting the fantastical and the 80s certainly had a lot of that. The rise in technology and higher experimentation of cut and drape was something the Japanese brought forth, something this blog has before has indicated. New materials and new forms were admired, and many techniques are now the foundation of many collections that have come out in recent collections while others have been perennial mainstays of technique as fast fashion takes advantage of low pay scales from developing nations and better technology to offer new standards of base sophistication in design that we come to expect. And yet the appreciation of that era has limits. Case in point is the kind of coverage the Tokyo collections received now versus last year.
In the 80s, the explosion of new talent merged with technology gave Tokyo an opportunity to make a case for itself as a major player, and for a while the Big Four became the Big Five. Its relevance waned in the face of economic realities but the 80s revival reopened the door to appreciation of that market, especially as markets such as Stockholm and Berlin were given attention in the face of lackluster inspiration from the Big Four; after all, there is only so much practical cuts and minimalism one can look at before developing a wandering eye seeking new inspiration.
The problem for Tokyo is that it’s prime players are part of the Big Four, and what’s left ranges from de rigueur trend checklist regurgitation to hyper-conceptual Harajuku looks that can’t seem to escape from the 80s heydays when it once almost ruled the world, albeit excellently executed. While there are some interesting ideas in spots, those are few and far between mired in a cacophony of nostalgic excess that did in 80s fashion the first time around. In the media, the tested and true already chokes the calendar of the Big Four so we don’t need to see more of the same or more conceptual academic approaches and thus Tokyo gets bypassed. Ironically, while fashion may be inspired by Japan it doesn’t appreciate the source and the place that provided the jump forward in fashion in its heyday needs a jumpstart itself to move past its own nostalgia.
Another issue as we look to continue excitement and move our culture forward is the existing economic climate. To support that level of everyday embrace of whirlwind experimentation that decades such as the 20s, 60s or 80s had we need to have healthier economies, and tech developments disseminated with ease in our connected world are showing an uncertain future that can’t provide the footing for that kind of confidence needed to accept the more academic experimentation that comes from some of Tokyo’s design community. How can we excite a public to participate beyond practical selections when the news of accelerated robotics and outmoded career fields flood the news channels, instilling uncertainty of where we will be or what we will be doing?
So, just as we hang onto nostalgia and the wonderful memories they produce to jump start our creativity, we wait for honest clues on what our future in general will be. The one thing we can say for now is that we have limits on how creative we are willing to let our fashion be, and the limits seem to be confined in the tested and true balanced with some envelope-pushing. And if Tokyo can get this while riding the tech wave it is normally known for, it could have those days in the sun back again. Meanwhile, it’s back to the Big Four while the rest in the world have yet to earn more than a cameo lifted from the incubation of memories of better days.
But not all trends last. Some have a shorter staying power, failing to harmonize with public sentiment when played in past manners that would have before guaranteed success. And yet some of these very trends that don’t seem be as accepted in mainstream fashion are given second chances in our climate of hybriding multiple influences.
As covered in May 27, 2011 article “Garden Party…At East Egg or Collingwood Manor?” the possibilities of deciding which decade resurgence (i.e. the 20s or the 70s) was discussed in anticipation of Baz Lurhmann’s remake of “The Great Gatsby” in the face of some disturbing data released showing similarities between economics of The Great Depression and what was happening at that time.
The connection to fashion was so obvious that the fashion world leaped on-board, and collections came out anticipating a huge Deco-mania that failed to materialize when the film got bumped into the winter, killing the momentum that would have accompanied the hype (see “Festival Over Party” July 21, 2013 article). It was reported that the more Deco-literal collections bombed in retail, and one look at what played out on the streets seemed to confirm it.
That apparently hasn’t stopped the trend from coming back. The hard lines and angles of geometry have stayed with us as our defensive edge continues unabated. Most collections have some form of hardness and edge expressed in hard cuts and sharp geometry spanning the Big Four. But what was worthy to note was how many still incorporated Deco-isms into their collections. These were seen in collections from Anne Valerie Hash, Louis Vuitton, Manish Arora, Julien Macdonald, Emilio Pucci, Bibhu Mohapatra, Brandon Sun, Cynthia Rowley, Dennis Basso, J. Mendel, Ohne Titel, Peter Som, Rodebjer, Sass & Bide, Zimmermann, Badgley Mischka, and even Calvin Klein Collection (20s swing in the fringe string detail).
Along with geometry and design expression, the drop waist also showed itself in places amidst collections from ACNE, Balmain, Lanvin, Manish Arora, Sharon Wauchob, Felder Felder, Richard Nicoll, Simone Rocha, Topshop Unique, MSGM, Versace, Araks, Cynthia Rowley, J. Crew, Milly, Philosophy, Sophie Theallet and Victoria Beckham.
It was mentioned in the September 15th Article “Internationalization” by one of the editors from Style.com that they noticed the deco-isms and how there was an inside joke of the collections hinting at a centenary similarity, as if we are gearing for a new wave of influence by nodding to the last dramatic impact that kicked off our last century . Much as the Deco period ushered in a new mindset that cleared away the prior century’s old views, so there is reasonable expectation of the coming decade doing the same. It’s old news in this blog (see article “The Future Is In the Eye Of The Beholder” March 11, 2012) that perhaps is finally registering with the existing talent, communicated through references such as those before. This awareness will be more acute in the coming years as the future seeks to find itself.
Of course another possibility is how the economic picture with surges of hyperluxury markets booming and the top one per-cent having as much wealth as in the 20s perhaps being a source of inspiration as well. Just as in the 20s, the level of consumption in the face of potential economic instability is quite apparent, and it’s devil-may-care attitude plus its questionable sustainability is not far different from that period, either.
The question is whether we will have to continue to look at jumping points from a century ago to leap forward. And if you look at the talent that has yet to come that will change the direction of fashion, they are too young to take a measured view required at this time. But we have some years to go, and some time to look for the signs. In our connected world with instant hype and quick attention spans, the new future may be no news when it finally comes. The again, given the exponential pace of technology, it could be a surprise we have yet to even fathom. Until then, we’ll just have to amuse ourselves with cheeky references of what has passed while waiting for the next “in” thing. The whole matter of how we are thinking about it could turn out to be the punch line itself.
Designers with a knowledge of fashion history knew to capitalize on the continued retro exploration and 80s fascination by channeling the spirit of creativity in the quest to balance nostalgia with instilling permission to expand one’s comfort levels of permissive wearability. Here, we already are bracing for a cultural overhaul on many areas ranging from climate to employment to career choices to economic approaches to lifestyle changes, much of it threaded by exponential technological growth that is happening before our eyes. Fashion already has been in tandem with revolutionary advances, both areas finding ways to incorporate each other as they lock for public embrace of inevitable change, the likes we have yet to experience compared to what is ahead the next decade when our century comes under full swing.
But fashion is fickle and we have become conditioned to constant stimuli and shortened attention spans. And so fashion offers many elements, the availability a reflection of the cacophony of stimuli we have available due to our accessible world online. If we already get the message of tech as a mainstay component, what else can we embrace that opens the door to the new? How about art?
Fashion and art are continuous bedfellows, especially in the last century. The Deco period incorporated the Bauhaus geometry and flow from artists such as Erte as it looked to inspire people to a new way of modern expression as artists inspired the public to break free from convention of the century before. The 30s and 40s saw Schiaparelli collaborating with the Surrealists, including Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau, broadening ways of communicating mood and inspiring thought via pattern and imagery within the confines of utilitarian cuts. The designers of the 60s incorporated art into design to support the democratization of expression that the Pop art movement also aimed to do, allowing the public to enjoy art and expression for all and not just for the economically fortunate few. The 80s rebelled against convention and opened the door for new shapes and forms, elevating it to a level of art as fashion made its way into museum exhibits, paving the way for phenomenon such as widespread appreciation of fashion in exhibit format. Just as exhibitions on the history of Chanel and Dior woke the public up to the power of a designer’s cultural contribution and Issey Miyake’s technical skills that transcend the traditional garment, the McQueen exhibit of a few years ago exploded expectations of public interest and invigorated discussion on whether fashion today is art based on the intricacy of construction and material usage that was displayed for appreciation. And depending on whom you speak to, the answer covers wide opinion and interest but the power of provoking reaction certainly puts it in line with what art is meant to do.
Now we have the doors open for expecting change and art helps lubricate the appetite. Quite a few designers usually put an element of art into their fashion. While a design house like Chanel may make the statement more obvious in its presentation or a designer such as Comme Des Garcons chooses to dive fully into representational conceptual design, the bulk have found more freedom in the allowance of creativity that art allows. It comes in the boldness of print, the architectural cuts, the mix of materials or a combination of all three. The Paris shows in particular saw more of this creative expression for modern standpoint, but in truth there was more testing of boundaries in all of the Big Four collections at various levels. The only problem is whether the public can truly be on board. While incorporating art as Schiaparelli did makes sense based on applying design imagery on more classic cuts, the creative explosion of the 80s came at a price as the general public appreciated the creative effort but could not fully embrace the investment in clothes too unique to have good dollar/wear. Despite producing these pieces for the runway and having more wearable separates in their boutiques, the experiment of unbridled creativity can backfire when looking to cultivate customer base. It did for many back in the 80s when the design world saw a huge influx of talent and ideas spring forth.
So while the good times seem to roll, fashion offers something to talk about. Whether it can survive its need to express itself depends on whether the times can be as covetable and as appreciated as art. And so the internal dialogue may have more weight that the industry thinks if it’s remembering that it’s a business; the cliché of the starving artist would be the ironic and unintended manifestation of this inspiration for the coming season if not played right. That is one aspect of the 80s nobody wants to invoke, but its repeat would be great performance art.
Traditionally, fashion has reached the general public largely through what was conceived visually; that’s where its allure lies, for its initial attraction stems from its possibility to be visual art rather than just utilitarian function. Materials have come from a place of familiarity and common knowledge due to long-term accessibility and so merely mentioning them has taken a backseat to more visual aspects such as colours, cuts and forms. These are qualities readily captured and translated into images meted out in portions at various times of the year, working with design and manufacturing production schedules. The results created a model of anticipated interest and purchase drive as our instilled classism supported ego-based competition, fueling sustained support of an industry where continued interest in change translates into successful profit.
The incorporation of technological accessibility of information along with blossoming integration of social media has resulted in challenging those traditional models. In contrast, debate continues on the financial efficacy of such technological investments in areas such as live-streaming and real-time blog reports via sharing platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Vine. This concern, though, hasn’t stopped their involvement. Rather, these will be here to stay as such apps become incorporated further into our daily lives.
There is no turning back on technological progress, for it is our future. But existing models are challenging the realities of outmoded fashion traditions. Designers such as Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors both showed collections with elements that hardly spoke of spring and summer. Labeled as seasonal transition pieces, the truth is that these clothes are designed to be worn as they come out in stores, not necessarily for the intended season when they roll out but for immediate wear on their arrival. And a few designers such as Burberry played with the idea of selling their collections as they showed on the runway, allowing consumers to order online before they are even minutes old in the fashion world.
This changes influence in the marketplace as fashion destined for eventual wear becomes items meant to win the race now. Fast fashion outlets such as TopShop, Zara and H & M have long been able to blend speedy production times with the immediate access to collections we all see, producing items that allow fashion fans to covet looks well before anticipated release of collections meant for impending seasons. To retaliate, designers have no choice but to change this approach and, as the previous paragraph outlined, some are. But there needs to be a preservation of the element of exclusivity, an aspect important for a brand to retain relevance and maintain leadership in the eyes of the public.
The change of exclusivity is actually revealed in more recent fashion and trends reporting. As images allow the general public the democratic ability to see as much of the collections as editors and buyers who once enjoyed a level of information prestige before, now the sub-story and key to maintaining interest are what can’t be captured in images: the materials themselves. As technology grows exponentially, we anticipate integrated technology through wearables, an industry anticipated to bring in billions more than it already successfully does now. But the future is looking to have smart approaches where the wearables are so integrated that they no longer become visible. This, along with fusing of new textiles, textures, treatments and revolutionary materials with never before experienced qualities are mentioned yet unable to be truly shared via existing communications media. And while some, such as clothes that change colour that were introduced recently at the International Symposium on Wearable Computers in Zurich, can be still be shown via existing sharing platforms, others have qualities that cannot be captured with the objective of sharing full appreciation. A textures 3D printed skirt from Iris van Herpen cannot translate its “hand”; it has to be touched and for most consumers that will never happen. The closest we can have is descriptive reporting through first-hand contact.
What makes this aspect of exclusivity more worthy of consideration is partly due to how fashion is transcending. Until we have a new approaches and perspectives later this decade, we are at a creative impasse to some degree. The multitude of permutations and combinations no longer shock or excite as much as before because we still create from a 20th century perspective and still find aspects of retro-referencing in continued collections. We are struggling to break free, despite having new tools at our disposal to break with tradition such as 3D printing and textile innovation.
This new exclusivity of materials that restores the mystique of fashion is set to be the new driver to continue interest and support consumption habits that supported fashion before as it relies on this perspective for survival. This, along with continued dialogue within the fashion community on an eventual rethink of collection roll-outs and concept releases in the face of growing volume of international presentations may see a new approach towards fashion’s evolution. It, along with our technological development, may be more fluid and organic in its growth and advancement rather than in portions and segments that past tradition has dictated. This approach no longer represents how we are anymore, especially when looking at our lifestyles. And how all this transitions and integrates with creative perspectives we cannot fathom in the coming decade will be a fascinating new world that we will be living in. And you can be the industry will find a way to cover it as it continues the translation of our world into things we wear.