Monday, 8 February 2010

Fashion Weeks: The Balance Between Quality and Quantity

Last week when I was in New York I read an interesting piece in The New York Times about Zac Posen (read it here). What struck me, particularly given Fashion Fringe's purpose 'to find, nurture and mentor new young designers', was the observation that, before the financial downturn, New York 'was a breeding ground for young designers, overrun with labels that became overnight sensations merely because the industry willed them to be so…' Not, you'll notice, because the public was clamouring for new labels (most of them have enough difficulty keeping up with the present ones). Because, rather, the industry itself has been subconsciously – or even in a conscious but inexpressible way – finding the multi-collections produced by designers and high-street labels repetitive and cannibalistic as fashion on the streets becomes increasingly homogenised and predictable.

Nothing is more boring than excess. Even Casanova realised that in the end. The fashion weeks are about to start. Anxious organisers, for whom these events are a great money-spinner, will go for quantity rather than quality – an approach already established in London – in the hope of keeping our interest. Instead, it really is time that the attitude change back to the old fashion mantra 'less is more'. Then there would be no more fights for calendar space on the international schedule as each so-called week shrinks to, maybe, two days for New York; two for London; four for Milan; and a week for Paris – all of which will be shown to foreign journalists and buyers via Web links and videos while they sit in their offices. Think of the money and time saved - and think how that money could be used to stop the global slave labour that the fashion world currently accepts as the murky but necessary underpinning of its glamour.

As The New York Times says, what happens in the fashion world is what the fashion world wills to happen. As an industry, we should be spending less time hysterically looking for new 'stars' and more looking at the appalling human rights record fashion has. Just because frivolity and vacuity have become the current benchmarks of fashion does not mean that they need remain so. During the fashion shows to come in the next few weeks, might we all spend a little more time in thinking rather than dreaming?


  1. If ONLY the bloggerati would simply read you and then continue multiplying.

    As trouble rattles in the world of fashion, flux and fear, the industry is still completely generous with a big heart to charities.

  2. With London streaming all their shows live this season, Marc Jacobs doing so in NY and I'm sure McQueen again too; is there a need to physically be "there" any longer?
    I see this as a first eco-step to sustainable fashion.

    S Yarhi

  3. Yes! I was intrigued to hear that Vivienne Westwood was urging shoppers not to buy clothes for the next six months (on BBC London news this morning). Here are my comments from Drapers' Record website as they seem pertinent in response to your post:

    There's so much sense in recycling - as well as investing in vintage clothing and accessories, rather than buying new ones. Alternatively, buy well designed, timeless items that are made to last - like many of Westwood's pieces.

    What I find really offensive is being treated like idiots and told to go out and spend money (our own, or borrowed) to save the country: This is the very approach that got us into this mess in the first place. Worse still is the attitude that encourages us to buy designer fashion and luxury goods, based purely on the season and trends, and/or the brand name and the celebrities endorsing it - i.e. without any regard to requirement, budget, practicality, quality, style or taste.

    The choice we're given seems pretty simple: A) waste money on throwaway clothes in order to look like everyone else and also contribute to polluting the planet - or B) mix well made, unique, recycled and vintage pieces to create your own individual look, whilst helping to save the planet from unnecessary additional pollution. No contest.