The Fashion Industry Doesn't Even Care About Fashion Anymore

In reflecting on 2016, Women’s Wear Daily’s executive editor, Bridget Foley, shed light on an interesting phenomenon in fashion: The fashion industry – let alone those on the periphery of it – does not even focus on - or seem to really care about - fashion anymore. (This is a topic we broached early this year, namely in connection with the increased focus on branding, over-the-top runway events, and logistical ploys, such as See Now-Buy Now, in lieu of producing enticing garments and accessories). Here is a particularly striking excerpt from Foley's article, entitled, Fashion in the Shadows.

"Typically, we strive for at least one pure fashion item to make the [Top Ten annual stories list]. No such candidates this time around. Nor focus on a look, a mood or the influence of a silhouette, although Demna Gvasalia’s bold debut statement at Balenciaga did get fleeting consideration.

That’s not good. When conversation about the when of a fashion season and the where of a fashion season is more compelling than the what of a fashion season — and that holds true through an entire year — what does that say?

Sadly, a great deal. The consumer can see it live-streamed (or in some cases, in person) today, buy it today, wear it tomorrow — praise the Lord and type in the AmEx security code. But what is “it?” How much time was spent during the shows and thereafter discussing which creative choices mattered in fashion this year? What resonated, what stirred emotions? Where is the attention to fashion itself — not only its major themes, but also its matters of silhouette, color, fabric, intricacies of cut and construction? At best, these seem to be afterthoughts. The satellite issues that should revolve around the core have exploded into supremacy; fashion is no longer at the center of its own universe.

Among the myriad reasons for this, one seems obvious: too much merch of too little creative significance. Purveyors of such can celebrate their own procedural innovation if not that of their fashion."

Another excerpt states ... "In fashion, if something glorious happens on the runway and we don’t take the time to breathe it in, think about it, contextualize it — most importantly, to revel in it — did it really happen? If showgoers are preoccupied with personal brand-building Instagram posts during shows, and brands and retailers, with speed-to-market competitions thereafter, how much energy is channeled into experiencing the runway moment? Do enough people still care deeply enough about what happens on the runway? Do enough people still care deeply enough about what happens on the runway?The facts suggest no, a shame on multiple levels.

The fashion industry should start paying attention to fashion again. Though endless lip service is given to the truism that product comes first, the hyper focus on non-sartorial issues — the calendar, speed to market, technological progress — has developed at the expense of celebrating fashion. Even executives at the highest levels of luxury often seem more impressed with celebrity retweets than when their designer showed a dress that took your breath away (if you were paying attention). Meanwhile, how’s business?"

Finally, in closing, Foley notes ... "Fashion doesn’t have to walk on water à la Fendi [for its Fall 2016 couture show held at the Trevi Fountain]. It can, and when it does — hallelujah! It can also present in the most ubiquitous of items, a pair of jeans. We as an industry have to recognize it and celebrate it when we see it. We can’t afford to get so distracted by process — no matter how progressive, technologically forward and essential it seems — that when a rare, genuine fashion tree falls exquisitely in the forest, we’re deaf to its compelling creative resonance."