Trend observations with a sociological eye from afar...
by Darryl S. Warren in Vancouver
W e can finally relax as the 2016 Resort collections are rolled out and everyone hightails it to their actual resorts, a respite before the preparations for the impending 2016 Spring/Summer collections that are mere months away. For the designers, it's always too soon. For the public and it's conditioned short attention span, it's ages away.
Resort has adopted a dual purpose that aptly reflects our changing times. One aspect is the nod to tradition. After all, the name heralds a collection devoted to getting away from it all. The respite from the dreariness of the start of the year is reflected in clothes to appeal to our escapist bent and provide the wardrobe to our vacation drama.
The other, newer perspective is with our admitted obsession with sales and finance. We recognize that there is a segment that wants variety beyond what the actual season provides in the stores. This appeal to generate sales has resulted in utilitarian design with a multi-seasonal wardrobe approach. This realistically addresses consumer habits; not everyone goes away but retail therapy is alive and well when you give them what they want.
We know that fashion is a business, even if it seeks to reach us through the fantasy aspect of our egos. But few designers get as literal about how economically obsessed we have become. Cue the creativity of clever design talent to pinpoint this: the collection for Moschino by Jeremy Scott.
Within the 80s homage of credit cards as prints and Chanel detail imitations & distortions that almost mock the nouveau riche label status embrace, abrasive sale signs are rendered into pattern while shopping bags become inspiration for both accessories and details such as pockets and design twists. The constant focus on anything and everything economic is merely a well-designed mirror on our materialist blatancy, underscored by the reality: the bulk of the consumer audience will buy when on sale and even forsake the authentic for an imitation when it's out of reach.
This isn't the only label to borrow from classic status. In the early 90s, after the cutbacks were entrenched, there were several labels indulging in Chanel's classic jacket details as inspiration. The ongoing 90s resurgence also saw many accessories roll out for this season doing the same thing (not naming names but some were a surprise when they have their own identities well-set), knowing full well who is buying and why.
Our reality shows are about acquisition, elevation and profit through improvement. We literally dance for our supper in the name of entertainment. Can we fault a designer for calling a spade a spade? And when we celebrate the candidness of the execution of concept, what are saying about ourselves? Penny for your thoughts.
W hile the 2016 Resort collections continue, certain collections transcend the predominant 70s explosion that has again returned to the catwalks. In those that do venture forward, there are explorations of various details worth noting.
The very early 90s showed a loose connectivity as our world lied on the precipice of economic uncertainty. Held together by dillusion and sustained credit, the continued appearance of prosperity was losing some of its veneer, albeit quietly. For most of the public, things seemed to be moving along well. Spending was still happening and the industry was meeting demand for fresh, new and creative.
The Japanese was still on the tip of that wave, enjoying the prosperity even while other nations were starting to get the bills. Their designers met the demand for innovation, with design masters such as Issey Miyake on the forefront. In an early 90s line, there was a technique where garments were segmented, held by merely a metal connectors in places, acting as a delicate connection holding the garments together. Fitting in the larger scheme of things, this is how our world was then: held together by a thread, so to speak.
Cue to this season, and the fragile connectivity has returned, one of many late 80s/early 90s innovations mined from the past and brought back for a new audience to appreciate. Mugler and Dion Lee utilized this in their collections while Opening Ceremony had a larger scale version executed in the cut of their coats. Nomia's jacket back was held by a mere pin while ACNE had sections tied together..one pull and it's off.
And just as then, our current scenario is again a bit more precarious than the general public might be aware. While the world market is being explored and exploited for maximum profit thanks to our connected international economy, the rise in growth is fragile and its sustainability isn't as certain as it looks. The uneven prosperity, not addressed, can eventually contribute to a scenario where the chain gets broken and profits along with growth take a nosedive. Already, sectors like mining, the bellwether of our state of growth, are on an increased wane. if materials aren't being mined, then manufacturing slows next, and so on. The trickle down effect of interrupted productivity translates to lay-offs, closed contracts, and other less optimistic news that eventually impacts various consumption sectors and guess which one gets hit?
Expected slowdown may come just as we were starting to get optimistic about the future. Hopefully we can have a better grip on any interruption compare to the 90s. Either way, fashion will reflect that.
T he 2016 Resort collections offer some new experimentation that this blog has been relaying to you. Much of it has to do with our growing apart form the retro inspiration that many designers are still adhering to. This is not thier fault. Rather, they are merely reacting to our connections to the past that we the consumers are hesitant to outgrow as the imminent and unknown that is the future comes upon us.
Our culture admits our place in the winds of change and have put a lot of focus on the future and, in particular, the youth that will carry the torch we pass to them. This attention has resulted in two directions: the nod to the past in the form of reinforcing retro inspiration when youth was king before, and in inspiration of how youth wears fashion now. The last article in this blog saw how the new generation's ramshackle mixing and layering was helping to shape design collections as they guide us towards a new 21st century aesthetic. But our obsession with everything youthful can sometimes take another turn.
For some designers, youthful cuts can be the literal expression, such as in the proliferation of babydoll and super short hemlines or in baby-light pastels. Another lighter turn is in the use of animation graphics. I'm Isola Marras incorporated some in their collection, while Preen's nautical touches almost seemed comic-inspired. This childlike graphic use was combined with pastels in Peter Jensen's collection as well.
Just as the youthful cuts met the ageist concerns during the Boomer years, our current insecurity reflects two-fold: our regression as we have no choice but to brave the future and our desire to reverse the clock to fit. Someday, we may learn to educate our public so we don't have these sentiments. Until then, fashion just tells it like it is.
I f you have been reading the blog, you will know that the 2016 Resort collections have provided a new hint of the future of our fashion direction after years of retro indulgence. This new shift is slowly revealing itself in the same way that the sporty streamlined Gibson girl had done. In that case, it indicated the active sporty aspect the 20s would take our 20th century fashion towards as it liberated us from accepted constraint the century before had embraced.
Now we have a new freedom as our palette of artistic appreciation and craft takes a more sophisticated turn. The technology we have is providing the actualization of vision in greater detail matching the creativity designers craved. Not only if this possible in cuts and construction, but in materials and combinations with greater detail. Collections such as those from 3.1. Phillip Lim, Tess Giberson and Thakoon are carrying forward the haphazardness mentioned in the prior article.
What these are showing is the elevation of recombination and haphazard styling that the street level is experimenting with taken to another level in combination with the Franken-assembly we have been entertaining in collections for the last few years that Michael van der Ham started. Collectively, these techniques in tandem are forging new directions that give birth to possible combinations that no longer seem as familiar. true, they have some of the avant garde experimentation that the 80s and some of the 90s allowed, but there is more to this; the evolution revealed lets us know our hunger for a new way of being is dictating the permission for new forms and constructs that only advanced technology available can provide.
This new perspective may see further development as technology provides new processes, such as the recent Kickstarter campaign for a desktop 3D printer for fashion that Electroloom revealed to the media. This technology, as it becomes more sophisticated (as all our technology does), opens the door to further grassroots experimentation that will, in turn provide new combinations that defy convention. The support of DIY culture in recent years has laid the groundwork for enveloping this approach and, just as the streets influenced fashion evolution last century, you can be sure this stage will find similar cultural set-up. History repeats; that is nothing new. What is coming our way, though, will be.
A s the 2016 Resort collections continue to roll out, another pattern reveals itself. Each added aspect reflects our mindset as interpreted by the clever artistic foresight of the successful designer who know to tap into the current populace and pick up where to lead us forward.
As mentioned in previous articles, we are now at a stage where we have taken elements and mixed them up to find a new vocabulary for our 21st century. Some designers are handling this via detail assembly while tapping into retro aspects to win over customers with familiarity as security. Some, such as MM6 Maison Martin Margiela, are understanding that the restyling is a possible path towards finding this new approach, piling on layers and mixing new proportions of elements to lead us towards new cuts and silhouette aspects that act as an apt bridge representing where our new generation is hinting towards.
Preen is taking this approach with material layering to illuminate new texture via combination and architecture. That patchworking to create new perspectives was also seen by Clover Canyon in a few items. While the obvious details are long familiar, the recombination, especially with Preen, shows the haphazard assembly withing overall general form, thus the details show newness in perspective while familiarity is maintained with the overall silhouettes.
These approaches show the willingness to embrace the chaos as the new voice, much like how we are today as we brave a new world and, through trial and error, find a new way of being. Our new world is technical, will take out a lot of the familiar and introduce new aspects in all ranges of our daily lives beyond what we can see, especially as companies like Google are using their labs to find ways to introduce aspects of tech into things like textiles to interact with our environment.
Each season becomes a step closer to showing us what our new world will be. We are starting to get hints now and it's, like they noticed last century, not at all what was expected. It will be interesting to see what else the 2016 Resort collections will bring forward.
T he prominent focus is the examination of the details in looking for clues on the future. That is, that focus has been the tradition of trend sites and fashion publications looking to secure your faith in being prepared for better choices to remain fashion forward.
The problem we have is this holding pattern that is unfairly blamed on designers. They have a duty to balance their vision of the future where they want to lead you with the cultivation of security in creating items that will be sound purchases. Time and time again this blog has take the duty to remind all that fashion is a business, and good business requires producing products that will be sound investments, especially when finance has been a subject of concern this past decade.
With this concern, the penchant to experiment has been delicate. The need for fashion progress and evolution is tempered by strategic design directions that motivate the public to purchase. the return of oversize that was the hallmark of the 80s is a logical direction as most of those clothes are now gone or retailored so that few have access to these and thus the supply chain no longer has to worry about vintage encroaching on profit margins.
To be sure, there are underlying reasons to return to this comfortable cocooning that this blog has covered previously, surrounding our need to security as fear infantizes us. But other designers are not quite on board with this approach, instead choosing to return to security in form that the 90s brings. The Helmut Lang-inspired lab cut coats and 70s streamlined cuts that became 90s hallmarks speak familiar language to the existing shopping public, so it remains. But we are defining boundaries through the self-examination of our design approaches as we become aware of our enduring embrace of retro as inspiration; how fitting that seam detail comes through in the 2016 Resort collections. These acknowledge the subtlety of detail as prominent in design focus while announcing the lines we draw in our lives. We categorize and compartmentalize to better undestand, and i our currrrent introspection this is a necessary step before we strike boldly forward into the unknown.
There are other telltale signs of acknowledging our awareness, and that will be discussed in the next blog...as our way of drawing a line in the sand, so to speak.
O ne of the underlying themes that 2016 Resort collections have revealed early is a theme that fashion has been embracing for some time: architecture. Of course our environment has been a consistent source of inspiration, especially as fashion likes to coordinate with their surroundings on a sociological as well as literal level.
While Nicholas Ghesquiere took inspiration from John Lautner, Dior's Raf Simmons utilized architectural aspects in the layering and structure of his garments for his resort collection, paralleling the current design hybrids we see in our modern architecture today. The variation of grids, screens, tulles and nettings layered over and inserted with architectural hardness underly our embrace of hybridization as we seek our new century's language.
This alchemic creativity will be more acute as we come closer to those of age who can take the reigns who have no connection with our twentieth century past. The mix-and-match platform will serve the next generation well as they pick and choose to show us what to say that best represents our next century and sets the tone for the foundation of our new millennium.
T he 2016 Resort collections have commenced, with a few of the heavy hitters leading the way. The ever cautious familiarity that fashion embraces is balanced with the high tech execution of material expression balanced with a venture that 80s experimentation allowed. That spirit is essential as we maintain a platform to provide the proper launchpad for whatever talent will shape our next century's direction. We need this allowance of play if we want to allow unbridled creativity to express itself, something we cannot have if our current fashion climate is too restrained.
The preliminary hints show us fixated on intricacy of details as the new status. The careful execution of stitch work, seams, and accents all hint at our level of technical expertise that we now expect in our age while creating a challenge to other labels looking to create more affordable inspirations by embracing complexity. The inspirations may be varied, from Chanel's appreciation of the K-pop influence that trending companies alerted us to years ago to Bottega Veneta's embrace of 70s 90s with a nostalgic colour palette to Louis Vuitton's use of organic multiplicity in its execution and material finishes.
That complexity reflects our current world where work life balance is challenged and where our very fabric of 21st century living has sent simplicity to the history books. Nothing is simple anymore, and our connected world has ensured we are not in the dark of how intricate our world is. The resort collections so far merely reflects the appreciation of that. Let's see how many designers agree.
A s we approach the last half of this decade, we inch closer to our new identity, not only for the century but for the millennium. A new crop of creatives will take the torch passed by previous geniuses of talent and present to us their vision. Theirs will be one of hearsay and disconnect; their voice will have no connection to the last century or millennium, and thus their virgin eyes will bring the first view of the future, influenced to some degree by the stuff of legends illustrated by online content and yet may be reactionary and defiant as do all new generations looking to make it their own.
We, armed with the technology to bring us cumulative knowledge never before seen in the recorded history of mankind, are able to review our past with unabashed totality. As well, we are now able to better examine ourselves and our habits as the internet of things and our connected world illuminate our influences and habits with a click of a button.
Gone are the days of relying on a conglomerate to access information once privy to only an elite group. Now the information is coming available to see, and this is being more widely shared (one of the perks of the democracy of the internet). We now see that the game of trends and influence comes in all directions and from unlikely places. Well...unlikely for those who aren't in the design business.
As such, fashion publications such as Style.com now have to look at fashion reporting differently. No more can we look at conventional categorization, although patterns do exist. In that regard fashion will never change. It always needs soundbites to include the public; making it too nebulous when we have trained the public to conform is bad business. But now we have general sweeping influences, such as the decidedly 80s aura in the 2015 Fall Winter collections (read: oversize) versus the more regional collage of inspirations that makes it hard for publications to quantify (international elements versus particular nationality focus, for example). These technically have a category, but now we have a new approach based on the variety as designers realize too much homogeneity in trends can be a death sentence in the industry. Look what minimalism did in the 90s...and what it was doing when it repeated (good riddance to normcore).
Now, the landscape shifts, reflecting our connected online world. It's a balance of variety and commonality. It connects with those who are born into the 21st century, even if the forms are still so last century. As we now take the time to open discussion of the torch passing, we admit we are openly curious. We don't know yet how it will be, but like the Gibson Girl's appearance hinting at the next century's new mindset, our approach to fashion is reflecting something similar that may give clues to how we are going to create our new millennial looks. And just as informed and sophisticated is the potential of our technological landscape, so too is the platform from which this new chapter may spring our new cultural representation.
These last few years will be brimming with speculation and examination to be first because that is how fashion is, and yet the overall trend that decides our new direction may be a rebellion against that very approach as a reaction against our formulaic marketing mindset. If a middle finger was given in the 20th century to those who wanted to restrict movement the century before, this new generation may do the very same with regards to our calculated conceptualization as a symbol of breaking free in the name of claiming their own voice. And that may blindside us just as the the flappers did for the generation before them. Curious? Excited? Aren't we all now.
S ome of the examination of fashion comes from more anthropological aspects, such as the origin of trends and their parallels with events in current times that recall similar moods. Our choice is to recall and recapture those originating sentiments as we remind the current fashionistas we are again feeling the very things that triggered inspiration for the source of creativity. For example, the high hemlines in line with our moments of empowerment via sexuality.
Other aspects are more symbolic, such as volume or textile choice in relation to our emotional state. in these cases, it is the representation that we seek to identify with, and trends that succeed tap well into these understanding of sentiments. The structure in textiles that we continue to embraced coincides with more aggressive defensive aspects, or how volume in the cut of garments is in relation to our personal security levels.
Sometimes we feel the need to be in order, and in other times we embrace the feeling of being out of balance as we attempt to make sense ff the world. The artful aspects of asymmetry fight this desire for order and celebrate letting loose, in response to our recognition that the world seems out of control or that we feel so. In points within various decades, where we feel safe enough to accept this lack of control, the unbridled asymmetry is unleashed.
There is no particular decade where this was more prominent, for each decade allowed this swing between sensible symmetry and it's antithesis. We have tended to utilize it more in our century if that tells you something about our willingness to allow ourselves some release. That the 20s, 50s and particularly the 80s, a period of great change and self-awareness, was a source for much experimental design within this execution of expression tells us where we are leaning to now.
Yes, there is economic uncertainty and global nervousness, yet financially things seem somewhat better in most places and as in past decades with similar cautious optimism woven through change we give ourselves permission to loosen boundaries. Sometimes we have to let loose to find our balance, particularly when we feel relatively safe to do so. The dichotomy of exploration and insecurity fits us well, even when swimming in oversize output.