Analogue Chic Fashion News Roundup
A counter-example, if that wasn’t clear. Image via Art in Liverpool. Sorry.
Lots of interesting links in fashion news this week:
The Wall Street Journal tells us about a new cable channel with a Home Shopping Network premise, but featuring handmade housewares and indie designers, and informs us that there is a huge market out there waiting to be tapped.
At the same time, consumers are increasingly hungry for independent designs. In part, brand fatigue is to blame. Big fashion labels sell the same products the world over, diminishing their logos’ cachet. Their designers work on collections a year or more in advance of the clothes’ appearance in stores and rarely—if ever—meet the people who eventually buy them. Moreover, many consumers lost faith in luxury brands after watching prices soar during the boom, then plummet during the crash in the fall of 2008. The slashed sales prices raised questions about the true value of branded goods.
[…] Now, even the huge brands are striving to establish authenticity—sometimes trying a bit too hard. British authorities recently banned Louis Vuitton ads that showed an artisan laboring on a bag, saying the ads suggested, falsely, that its bags are handmade.
The Business of Fashion had more to add on Louis Vuitton:
A month earlier, Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of LVMH [Louis Vuitton’s parent company], told investors at the luxury group’s annual shareholders meeting in Paris of his plan to take a 49 percent stake in Edun, the sustainable clothing label founded by Bono and Ali Hewson. “LVMH shares the vision and ethical values of Edun, a pioneer in ethical apparel, and its founders,” he said later. “LVMH is committed to advancing both the social and environmental aspects of sustainable development, which plays an intrinsic role in the development of our brands.”
The BoF article also discussed the struggle to balance good design, profitability, and sustainability:
Stella McCartney became known as a chic designer label that’s convincingly green, not as a green designer label that is convincingly chic. Speaking to The Business of Fashion, McCartney was clear about her priorities: “Obviously, I don’t use any animals which has a huge impact on the planet. But my first job is to make desirable, luxurious, beautiful clothing for women to want to buy. Then I ask myself: can I do this in a more environmental way without sacrificing design? If I can, then there is no reason not to. I think that women buy my product because they like how it looks, feels, fits and being sustainable is an added extra bonus.”
This emphasis on desirability and design may come as no surprise from a graduate of London fashion college Central St. Martins. But interestingly Ali Hewson, who founded Edun primarily as a means to do good, sees it no differently. She told BoF: “In the fashion business desirability is sustainability! This point has taught us over the years that we must produce quality clothes. Fit must be right, design details correct.”
Julie Gilhart, influential fashion director at Barneys New York, and an early proponent of sustainable fashion, sums it up bluntly: “Consumers respond to good design. Design and desirability must come first.” When deciding whether to spend on fashion, the consumer looks, above all, for good design. Ecological or ethical considerations are still very much secondary.
You can see Julie Gilhart riff on design and sustainability in this video.