The fashion industry was in crisis, and on a global scale many brands and retailers had to close shop after years of success. Has fashion lost it’s focus to inspire, to bring magic, to speak the language of it’s time? Or, is it alive and kicking as ever?
FROM THE SIXTIES TO TODAY
In the sixties it was easy to tell that mini skirts were the embodiment of women feeling liberated from depressing dogma and prejudice. In the eighties, jackets with giant shoulder pads were a symbol of women climbing the ladder in the workplace. But in the beginning of the nineties things started to change: everything seemed possible and people were developing their own views on fashion and what they wanted to wear. There were still fashion trends, but it was the end of “iconic style” matching an era. What happened … did fashion lose it’s magic?
In the mid nineties mobile communication and the internet began to change the way we communicated and interacted with each other, lately the sharing economy transformed the way we work and play and today, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Mixed Reality will take the next “big leap” in disrupting lifestyles almost beyond the unimaginable. One would think there was enough inspiration to base exciting fashion trends on, but instead, in the last two decades, fashion was not about style, quality or great iconic design, it was about speed and quantity!
REFLECTION OF A ZEITGEIST
If fashion is a reflection of a Zeitgeist, what does this say about us and society in general? Some people in the industry say that fashion itself has become outdated, others simply don’t have a clue what is going on! It may be too easy to conclude that fashion is out of fashion, because, “it is what it is”: it reflects the spirit of the times. So isn’t it more that we don’t like the picture we see? And shouldn’t we try to better understand what is going on in society rather than blaming it on designers, the stingy consumer or the weather?
Had fashion become a mere business model? … Fast-fashion has become an industry standard. All about making quick - often dirty - money, selling t-shirts for the price of a cup of coffee or, a pair of jeans for a low priced meal? Did cheap labour, “shady” environmental conditions and shameless copying of designers blemish the reputation of an industry, and downgraded the fashion phenomenon in general? Shouldn’t we look in the mirror and give ourselves the blame instead of fashion itself?
We still live in a linearly organised society, while in the meantime the world has become multi-layered. Boundaries blur male-female, man-machine, real-virtual, old-new … there are no standards, no rules, everything is possible, so where do we place the “fashion expression”?
I think the industry is screaming to the world “hey”, yes you there, “hey”, stop trying to put everything in a box! See what is happening … “society is trying to keep an old system in tact that is long overdue!” Linear thinking fits an uncomplicated society, while our current fluid reality asks for a flexible approach with room for initiatives, self-sustaining, self-healing and self-learning processes. In other words do what is needed, move swiftly on the waves of change and groundbreaking innovation, but most of all adjust!
If there was one designer who has put his signature on these puzzling times it must be Alessandro Michele from Gucci. Since his first collection for the renown brand in January 2015, he created a total eclectic mix, not only in styling, also by being among the first on major catwalks to mix men- and womenswear. Maybe his crochet tops and “pussy bow” blouses for men were the incarnation of an era! We may not always like what what see, but that might say more about us than blaming it on the vibrant mechanism that fashion still is.