Designers leave, industry not over

Today everybody is a blogger, anyone can be an attendee at a runway show via live stream and every city is producing their own fashion week. The result? A constant stream of content and pressure for designers to both create and outdo their previous show and competition to stay relevant. Recently, “Women’s Wear Daily” posed the question to industry insiders — ranging from designers to influencers and photographers — “Is the fashion industry heading towards a burnout?”

It may seem so as in recent months, Alexander Wang, Raf Simons and now Albar Elbaz are all leaving their respective creative direction roles at Balenciaga, Dior and Lanvin. But opinions varied among professionals.

“Fashion also needs pauses, and sometimes silence to be fully appreciated,” Giorgio Armani said.

“Fashion is about moving forward, and moving fast,” Donatella Versace said.

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Another opinion was that of designer Marco de Vencenzo.

“If the whole system doesn’t slow down a little bit, we risk to start recycling old ideas and not creating anything new,” de Vencenzo said. “Creativity is in danger.”

However, fashion in its nature is cyclical and not for lack of creativity. Rather the industry’s cyclicality is where the creativity resides. Styles resurface and are reinvented for the current decade.

In the past two years alone, the industry saw the launch of a Burberry runway live-stream via Snapchat and the subsequent Snapchat campaign of their Spring/Summer looks. Ralph Lauren used digital special-effects technology to produce a 4-D fashion show. Bloggers have reached six-figure incomes. And models are dominating the runways not only with their looks, but also with their Twitter handles.

There is a level of connection the global audiences and consumers now have with the elite and exclusive fashion industry. It is evident that fashion is not for a select group of people, it is for everyone. As Alexa Chung just discussed in her docu-series, fashion affects everyday people more than most would think.

Moreover, industry creatives are making efforts to evolve and accommodate sustainable fashion, entrepreneurs are creating one-for-one fashion labels — where the purchase of a product means that the same product is donated to a person in need —  and influencers have a strong voice in social justice issues. From Zady to TOMs and Karlie Kloss’ coding initiative, there has arguably never been more overlap between fashion and every other industry than now.

Fashion has long been criticized by many as a superficial industry. Recently, in the same “Women’s Wear Daily” article mentioned above, many industry insiders fear fashion is becoming too focused on theatrical shows to appeal to greater audiences online instead of quality designs. Many also discussed the new pressures of this constant online upkeep, but what many fail to realize is this popularity and influence can be used to quite literally change the world.

Of course there is pressure to produce, yes the whole world is watching, and yes everybody is a blogger/vlogger/critic now. But with this big of a following, the industry has the support to back important issues, whether they be political, social or environmental.

Fashion has not only a responsibility to our generation and generations to come, but the privilege to have a say in what the future holds. Fashion is not heading toward a burnout. Fashion is on the precipice of a revolution.

Email Gabriella Bower at [email protected]

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