Thursday, August 1, 2013

Why how fashion works now is bad for fashion.

One of the most dangerous things that can happen to an industry that is based on creativity is when those with money looking to make more take over. People who make a lot of money generally know a lot about making money and precious little about anything else. The decisions that they make tend to be based on increasing profit in the short term and on no other factors. They also tend to want to work with their own. In fashion what has resulted is an industry of wealthy venture capitalists and corporations hiring other wealthy people who they think have good taste or style to be "designers". But they're not designers, they don't know charmeuse from chiffon and couldn't create a pattern if their lives depended on it. I was thinking lately about the young and already well to do designers that I've been running into over the past few years and how they differ from the older designers I know. The NYC designers who came up in the past tended to work their way up through the system and had struggles and lean times. By the time they began to break out they were well seasoned, they understood the fashion industry inside out and handled their business well. The post Project Runway generation of designers tends to be wealthy from the jump and I think they view their careers as a game because it doesn't matter if they fail. When failure has a lack of consequence it dulls the intensity and risk with which a person puts themselves into their creative output. They're never really, "all in."  

The younger fashion industry now feels like an upper class high school. It's all clicks, parties, and melodrama. But here's the problem from an industry history standpoint; sprinkled throughout the trust fund kids who are just copying what they think is cool are some designers who are legitimately talented. They may not in general have the construction chops and are more creative directors than actual designers but they have a strong point of view that may be capable of moving American fashion out of the doldrums it's currently in. But it's not going to happen unless they make one sacrifice that for them is particularly daunting. I think that solution for many of these well to do heads of infant brands is to let go of their egos and hire real young designers. Step back, become creative directors or at least take on a technical partner. There's a rich history in fashion of teams making legendary marks in fashion history. Learn to become a great teammate, it's a deeply rewarding and satisfying thing to be.

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