CHAOS – OPPORTUNITY FOR CHANGE
- Chaos – the opportunity for changeWe live in a society of instability and fear; the economy slows down and politics are unreliable. This situation is reflected in the consumer world. Politicians are weak and lack vision and those who have one are brandishing their extreme-right values. Fashion has always been an antennae of society and again we perceive that the fashion system is uncertain, entering a crisis that was predictable; many designers are quitting their jobs, internet is taking over and the quality of design is poorer every season. We can and we must find solutions – especially in education – to be ahead of the system in order to provide designers who are ready for this new society with a direction, a path, that will allow them to protect their integrity of reflection and vision.Mapping the situation todayMapping the problemsMapping the short-term solutions
Mapping the long-term solutions
- Mapping the situation today
Fashion today is reflecting uncertainty created by a weak economy. After the crisis of 2008 we all looked to China for extra consumption. We found a world with a great hunger for luxury and education. We over-produced and over-designed. By over-designing we forgot the new and the innovative; we copied and pasted ideas in order to move fast and be productive. We did not consider the cost, we considered quality and therefore expensive was justified.
- Mapping the problems
Over-consumption resulted in bulimia, consuming too many goods. Addiction is the new motif for buying whether online or offline. The online took 70% of the sales of designers’ turnover and consumers are eager to play the game: buy, send back, keep and buy fast, or play a game that reflects our liquid society. This is of course partly true. The other reality is highly designed couture that looks like prêt-à-porter, or the upmarket prêt-à-porter that imitates couture and ignores the everyday need to dress. Another reality is climate change where summer and winter are mixed up in an overall warmish climate.
- Mapping the short-term solutions
Designers and the press are eager to speak about genderless fashion; this is a great opportunity for many labels to reduce their expenses, giving two shows a year instead of four by combining menswear and womenswear. Another solution is delivering immediately after the show in order to satisfy the consumer and producing in advance, skipping the pre-collections and so protecting the brand from being copied by other fast-fashion labels.
- Mapping the long-term solutions
The gap between the star designer and the fast-fashion product designer is accelerating although consumers wear both in one silhouette. Bags and shoes are the items for showing luxury, while on the body itself we see cheaper garments that women and men feel are comfortable. Designers are quitting this system because they feel as if they are only a commodity in the company, rather than being a real part of the creative process. Long-term solutions are to be found in craft as well as new technologies, and in allowing more time to create new patterns and prototypes, and ultimately in re-educating the customer. Are young designers just graduated from a famous fashion school ready for this new challenge, and are fashion schools ready to offer new programmes to educate the designers of tomorrow? Is the industry ready to cooperate within education?
- The reflections above are important, but of course have already been considered, commented and debated by great analysts like BOF – business of fashion, WWD and other players in the field. ‘Vetements’, the latest hype in fashion, will enter the world of haute couture in July 2016 and Hermes is showing pre-collection when all the other brands are canceling them. The confusion is complete; we enjoy this confusion because finally there are new challenges for designers, the media, fabric suppliers, fairs, buyers, and consumers. The most expensive street-wear brand becoming design…becoming main stream… becoming haute couture and, maybe, very soon becoming burned out.Final question: Has education been left out of the debate for a better-designed world?In the last few years most fashion schools developed both business-related and design-related courses based on experience of their deans/managers and of their faculty members.Forming a new future generation of young dynamic designers and creative managers is an important and urgent topic to be discussed. Polimoda can take the lead in this debate. The creative process of an 18-year-old is precious and needs a very strong and flexible methodology supporting a sensible person to ignore the system of today; simultaneously those people have to be able to find and develop new strategies and solutions in this fast changing fashion system. Our students, future designers, and future managers, need to be aware of the difficulties they will encounter once out of the protective box of fashion education.
As an educator, I feel responsible for offering new possibilities in fashion education; at the same time I feel paralyzed by the complexity of the problems and the complexity of the solutions.
One of the solutions, in my opinion, is a creative platform. Bringing the industry, the creative class and a young generation together for debate, practice and learning to understand new possibilities so that creativity is not lost but solutions are found to implement without fear. Many are searching…let’s search together.