Vestoj has printed four-part narrative interview conducted by editor-in-chief Anja Aronowsky Cronberg for its sixth issue, “On Failure.” Tapping industry figures – including Tim Blanks, editor-at-large at Business of Fashion; designer Thom Browne; Ralph Toledano, president of the Fédération Française de la Couture, du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode; Adrian Joffe, president of Comme des Garçons; Glenn O’Brien, editor-at-large at Maxim; and Nicole Phelps, director at Vogue Runway, among others – the series explores what – exactly – is wrong with fashion. What follows are some of our favorite excerpts from Part II …
Hirofumi Kurino, co-founder & senior adviser for creative direction at United Arrows: The standard of fashion is slipping with the focus that we have on money now. People think that being successful is about having your photo taken by Scott Schuman or Tommy Ton, or that a good collection is one that is iconic or instantly recognisable. We’ve stopped looking at the actual design of the garments, and we need tastemakers and opinion-leaders to remind us about the importance of innovation and quality.
Jean-Jacques Picart, fashion and luxury goods consultant: Fashion is like a banana. No, don’t laugh. I’ll tell you what I mean. Sometimes designers complain to me that a competitor has copied one of their ideas and is making a killing with it. I tell them, tant pis! If you presented that idea two seasons ago and nobody noticed, it’s because the world wasn’t ready. That was your mistake.
An idea in fashion is like a banana; if you eat it too soon, it’s green and tastes bad. And if you eat it too late, it’s brown and the taste is still bad. It has to be just perfect. That’s your job as a designer – to put your ideas out there when they’re ripe.
Nathalie Ours, partner at PR Consulting Paris: Today the marketing often matters more than the designer. That’s when the product becomes boring. The products made by all the big conglomerates are often produced in the same factories and that means that the hand of the maker is in danger of being overpowered by the industrial process. And what is a designer after all, if not his hand?
Adrian Joffe, president of Comme des Garçons: That is precisely what is wrong with the fashion business today. Marketing. It’s the biggest failure of our age. It just doesn’t ring true anymore.
Jean-Jacques Picart: Fashion shows are intended for fashion people. When non-industry people – ordinary consumers – see a fashion show, they are frightened. It’s too much. It’s like giving a very hot dish to someone who isn’t used to spices. Fashion shows speak the language of the fashion industry – they cater to people who see too much, who are blasé.
Glenn O’Brien, editor-at-large at Maxim: Fashion week is ridiculous but I like going because I like seeing all the people that hate each other in the same room, pretending that they don’t hate each other. But until people are not only applauding but booing too, then what fun is it?
Andy Spade, co-founder of Partners & Spade, co-founder of Kate Spade, founder of Jack Spade: They tell you you need a Birkin bag, and if you’re naïve enough to believe it – you’re wrong. I think it would be embarrassing to have one, don’t you? You have to pay the equivalent of a mortgage, and be on a waiting list. It’s ridiculous.
Glenn O’Brien: When I was young nobody wore designer clothes. People had their own personal style. Today fashion has taken over what style once was. Style is what makes you different to others. Fashion is what makes you the same. I think it’s very important not to be fashionable.