Is the pace of fashion killing the industry? Over the past week, we’ve heard of Raf Simon’s sudden departure from Dior, and Alber Elbaz’s surprising ouster from Lanvin, after 13 years at the helm. As brands like Balmain thrive by embracing social media, new supermodels and H&M collabos, other fashion houses are floundering in the face of rapid change in how business needs to get done.
Designers have gone on the record complaining about the punishing pace and demand for more and more collections, in addition to overseeing social media, runway shows, and more. In the wake of these events, the fashion press have been declaring that the industry is in a turning point. Is fashion as we know it dead?
WWD’s Bridget Foley observes, “in this era of hypersaturation when everything operates at fever pitch and there is a seemingly insatiable global appetite for fashion, much of fashion is, at its creative source, less emotional and more clinical than ever before.”
In another piece this week, WWD staff asks, Is Fashion Heading for a Burnout? And observes, “With its chaotic fashion weeks, torrents of tweets and Instagram posts, accelerating product cycles, and hype machinery in overdrive, the industry seems to have embraced warp speed as the new black.”
According to Suzy Menkes, on Vogue UK, fashion is crashing. The term fast fashion is no longer only to be applied to the H&Ms of the world. Designers at the major fashion houses are asked to quickly create too many collections every season, leaving them no time to look for inspiration, or simply create.
Veronique Hyland at the Cut warns, “creativity and vision are finite, and they're not renewable resources. If we aren't careful, they'll disappear, along with the people who possess them.”
Designers and retailers have their opinions, as well. As quoted in WWD:
Designer Karl Lagerfeld takes it all in stride, “If you are not a good bullfighter, don’t enter the arena…Fashion is a sport now: You have to run.”
Alber Elbaz revealed his concerns with the industry earlier this week, “The more I talk with people, I see everybody looking for a change, everybody. There is not exhaustion but almost like a confusion of what we are and who we are in fashion.”
Ken Downing, Fashion director and senior vice president at Neiman Marcus, notes that the industry has to evolve in order to avoid boring the consumer with too much information. “We’re telling the customer far too much too soon in a society when people have a short attention span and are hungry for the next thing. It begs the question, how much is enough and how much is too much? We’re all guilty. I’m Instagramming from every show.”
The challenge the industry will face for 2016 will be how to stay ahead of the curve, as social media makes its impact on all aspects of the way the business of fashion gets done.