The Speed of Fashion



Written by David Hellqvist

Traditionally, and especially in regards to menswear, we usually say that there's nothing new about fashion; it's all been done, we are just recycling ideas from the past. Tailoring, as we know it, was designed in the 19th century, and contemporary sportswear was born in the 20th century. All you see on catwalks are re-imagined and customised versions of a handful of key wardrobe pieces. It might be a bit harsh on creative and forward-thinking designers, but it's true that fashion is a cyclic business; a sartorial hamster running in a wheel, chasing his own tail.

Interestingly though, the fashion industry - basically everything but the actual clothes - has been really good at adopting to new and modern ways of thinking and working. I suppose it has had to get with the game or fall behind. Just about every way that we consume fashion has changed in the last few years. Partly it's a result of technologic advancements; the internet and the rise of social media has revolutionised everything for everyone. But I think few other industries has adopted to this new of communicating as fast as fashion businesses. This is because the phenomena has hit traditional shops, brands and magazines so hard and, crucially, they have to be seen as trend-setters - it's their job to lead, not to follow.

And there's more to come. The idea of fashion seasons is constantly questioned; customer wants high-end fashion clothes year around. Who cares for a Spring Summer collection when it's still winter in London in April? What will live streaming do to the concept of fashion shows, this extraordinarily expensive way of showcasing fashion. For how much longer will brands print show tickets and look-books? Fashion GPS and email attachments are, quite rightly, taking over.

But in so many areas, change has already had its due course. Some brands are completely eschewing bricks and mortar stores, going straight to online. Others already refuse to divide the year into two seasons, and have instead invented cruise and pre-fall collections to fill the gap. Magazines rely on projects and creating creative campaigns for brands, instead of advertising, as their main revenue stream. They've also taken on the retail stores and sell garments and shoes themselves. Shops, on the other hand, now create their own content, editorialising products and services. The battle lines are blurred; If fashion used to be black and white, it's now very much grey. Difficult as it may be for some to cope, this is a good thing. Progress and development are crucial for any business, and especially such a trend-sensitive one as fashion.

David Hellqvist is the Online Editor for Port Magazine and the co-founder of Hellqvist and O’Donovan.