Today WWD unleashed a crucial feature that asks the fundamental question, “Is Fashion Heading for a Burnout?” The endless schedule of fashion weeks—and the increasing demand on designers to churn out eight seasons a year to keep up with consumer demand—has been a font for soul-searching for several years now, particularly with the added pressure of social media and the breakneck speed of the internet upending the public’s expectations for immediacy.
Rather than trying to diagnose the issue, though, WWD instead just collected an exhaustive compendium of the industry’s top designers, editors and executives answering the question of whether the current 24-7 fashion cycle is sustainable. Some interviewees, predictably have a more positive outlook than others—perhaps the most perfect juxtaposition of designer disposition and outlook comes with the contrast between Karl Lagerfeld and Alber Elbaz; the German workhorse says he has “no problem” and compares fashion to sport—“you have to run”—while the droll head of Lanvin is more philosophical about it:
Are we turning into an entertainment business? Is that the fashion business? I’m questioning. I’m not criticizing, I’m only reflecting. I feel that today in order to have a voice, it has to be loud. You have to be loud, otherwise you cannot exist.
In the piece, which includes luminaries from Diane von Furstenburg (House of DVF-related memo: DON’T CHOOSE CAT) to Thom Browne to Tommy Hilfiger, it’s clear that for the most part, designers seem resigned to, if not invigorated by, the current schedule and the way social media has augmented it. In one of the most interesting quotes, though, Alexander Wang may have given a bit of insight into why he left Balenciaga:
When I took on Balenciaga, it was an incredible opportunity at the time when I thought, ‘Well, I never wanted to define my own brand by price point, by just being a New York brand.’ The idea that I wanted to speak to different customers and see how I can communicate with them and where my audience lies was a great opportunity to do Balenciaga. At the same time, H&M came. It was really an incredible three years where I had so much exposure on so many different levels. After that, coming back here, it’s given me so much more discipline and focus into where I want to go.
Specifically speaking about the show system, I think that’s something everyone is challenged with — the immediacy of things, and the idea of how to deliver in this system, where the attention span has become nonexistent.…Our brand, as opposed to Balenciaga, or even a much bigger brand where you own all your own retail, portions of your supply chain, they can dictate a lot more in terms of changing certain things. We were looking at the calendar the other day and were like, what are the hard deadlines? It’s the show. That’s something that we cannot control. We have to have the collection ready, etc. Those are pillar dates we work toward.
It’s a crucial piece, and a barometer for where the industry might be headed. Read the full, extensively reported thing at WWD.
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