The media revolution has created a glaring disconnect in the fashion industry that has yet to be reconciled. Fashion weeks were originally scheduled six months ahead of season for industry insiders, to correspond with retail buying and magazine print schedules. Now, the audience has expanded to include celebrity and blogger alike, not to mention the rest of the world, who can view the shows almost instantly. Fast-fashion retailers often deliver trends to shoppers before the designers can. In the current economic climate, many are questioning this anachronistic schedule. There is the sense that the fashion world is on the cusp of a total rehaul—though no one knows yet what that will look like.
Danielle Meder is a fashion illustrator and blogger at http://finalfashion.ca. She has illustrated for clients such as Bloomingdale’s, The Globe and Mail, and National Post. She recently moved from Toronto to London, U.K.
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Individual designers, unless they have tremendous influence, are not in a great position to revolutionize the fashion cycle on their own. In this article, Sarah Mower takes a closer look at the revival of ’90s minimalism and suggests how, through their craft, rather than political action, designers are demonstrating a yearning to simplify a tangled system.
If any group of designers could make a change from the top down, it would be the Council of Fashion Designers of America, a trade association whose current president is the designer Diane von Furstenberg. There seems to have been very little collective action since this round-table discussion in the summer of 2009–except for Fashion’s Night Out, a two-year-old retail celebration that happens just before the fashion shows start. This year’s celebrity-filled FNO was a spectacle, but it seems unlikely that a shopping party is the solution.
One designer who has been very outspoken about the need for change to the system is Donna Karan. Her candour is remarkable among designers, however she has not yet turned these statements into action, which suggests that switching it up isn’t that simple.
One designer who has been consistently trying to show and publicize in-season is Norma Kamali–she has never been one to have a fashion show just because everyone else is doing it. Kamali’s experiments with online and discount retailing haven’t all been successful, but they have shown her to be a brave business-woman who isn’t afraid to sail into untested waters.
Tom Ford perpetrated the year’s most audaciously publicized rebellion against the status quo. While he did show his Spring 2011 collection a season ahead, he limited the audience to 100 elites, all of whom respected his publication embargo, which was only recently lifted. While the designs themselves are the 1970s throwbacks that Ford is known for, the event itself was a gauntlet thrown down in the face of so much inertia.