Playing with fire

Gabriella Bower

Today, everybody is a blogger, anyone can be in the audience at a runway show via live stream and every city is producing its own fashion week. The result? A constant stream of content, pressuring designers to outdo their previous shows and competition to stay relevant. Recently, “Women’s Wear Daily” posed the question to industry insiders who ranged from designers to influencers to photographers: “Is the fashion industry heading toward a burnout?”

It may seem so, for in recent months Alexander Wang, Raf Simons and now Albar Elbaz have all left their respective creative direction roles at Balenciaga, Dior and Lanvin. Among the professionals interviewed, however, most do not seem concerned with the industry’s change in pace.

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

Designer Marco de Vencenzo agrees.

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

Despite both de Vencenzo’s and Armani’s remarks, fashion is cyclical in nature but not due to a lack of creativity. Rather, the industry’s cyclicality is exactly where the creativity resides. Styles resurface and are reinvented for the contemporary aesthetic.

In the past two years alone, the industry has seen the launch of a Burberry runway live stream via Snapchat and the subsequent Snapchat campaign of their Spring/Summer 2016 runway looks. Ralph Lauren used digital special-effects technology to produce a 4-D Spring/Summer 2015 fashion show. Bloggers, such as Danielle Bernstein of “We Wore What” and Emily Schuman of “Cupcakes and Cashmere,” have reached six-figure incomes. Models like Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid and Karlie Kloss are dominating the runways not only with their looks, but also with their Twitter handles.

There is an unmatched level of connection that 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 anymore: it is for everyone. Still, fashion has long been and continues to be criticized by many as a superficial industry. In the same “Women’s Wear Daily” article mentioned above, many industry insiders discussed the new pressures of this constant online upkeep, but what many failed to realize is this popularity and influence can be used to quite literally change the world.

With a signifcant say in what the future holds, fashion has a responsibility to our generation and generations to come. Fashion is not heading towards a burnout. Fashion is on the precipice of a revolution. Andrew Rosen, CEO of Theory, was vocal with the Man Repeller on his differing opinion.

“We’re looking to evolve, not have a revolution,” said Rosen. “Alber Elbaz also said it perfectly. ‘Evolution lives longer and better in history books. Revolution looks great, but only on TV.’”

But what Rosen and Elbaz both fail to realize is that evolution begins with some spark, or in other words, some sort of revolution. The jean jacket began as a practical article of clothing for cowboys and miners, but soon became established among rock-and-roll legends and punk rebels. Today it can be found in every person’s closet.

Similarly, the white T-shirt has origins in the Navy and was merely an undergarment to the uniforms. It would continue to be thought of as undergarment for the mass population until the ‘90s when Karl Lagerfeld layered Chanel’s tweed cardigan jacket with a white tee. This was the revolutionary spark that set forth the evolution of the white T-shirt. It soon began to represent everything from rebellion to athleticism to sensuality.

Fashion may be constantly changing, but is that really such a bad thing? Fashion shows were never intended to be a burnout inducer: they were and still are intended to fuel creativity. These sorts of programs push and challenge designers to inspire the influencers and consumers.

Revolution, or evolution — however one decides to look at it, the fashion industry is changing and will continue to do so. It is this constantly forward-thinking nature that fashion has progressed toward for centuries, and it is this cyclical nature that will inevitably prevent the industry from heading toward a burnout.

Email Gabriella Bower at [email protected]

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