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BoF :: Is Digital Imagery Creating Cut-and-Paste Fashion Trends?

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Op-Ed | Is Digital Imagery Creating Cut-and-Paste Fashion Trends?


TEL AVIV, Israel — The first suspicious signals surfaced just over six months ago. A plaid short skirt at the Moschino fashion show joined a stray stud from the Versace collection. Both of these were soon incorporated in a number of other collections, both high-end and high-street, culminating in the Autumn/Winter 2013 collection for Saint Laurent Paris. Accompanied by a deafening soundtrack of blaring guitars, any lingering doubt was decimated: the current fashion mood was unmistakably 90s post-punk, or grunge.

Fashion retailers are now racing to align themselves with this nostalgic movement with extraordinary enthusiasm. Indeed, examining the Fall collections of several popular brands, one discovers a scarily similar blend of flannel shirts, black jeans and studded boots. For designers, many of whom grew up during the late 90s, this represents a seemingly pure form of nostalgia, which may serve to explain why they are flocking towards the trend.

But to tell the truth, this glance back towards the 90s gives me a severe sense of discomfort. As opposed to the manner in which 80s fashion derived its sculpted shoulders from the 1940s, mixing in its own sharp angles, and unlike Madeleine Vionnet’s turn-of-the-century neo-classical dresses, which incorporated new bias cuts, the 90s revival apparel appears to be too true to its origins. Today’s grunge looks identical to the original grunge (enabling Hedi Slimane, Saint Laurent’s creative director, to recruit Courtney Love, one of the decade’s irrefutable symbols, as his presenter).

Like other realms of design, fashion always moves forward with one eye on the past, constantly re-examining proven aesthetic codes. That being said, the striking similarities between fashion from 20 years ago and that which is being produced today are not coincidental. The technological advancements of fashion documentation over the last two decades, especially in the realms of digital media and broadcast channels like MTV, have affected fashion itself.

Indeed, it’s become increasingly easy to capture and distribute photos and videos of fashion collections and style icons — driven largely by the growth of the Internet and the digital camera, together with ever-increasing power of MTV — giving rise to seemingly limitless archives, documenting every aspect of fashion in the tiniest possible details.

Since its inception, MTV has been perfectly synched with the current mood of fashion and glancing back at a bundle of video clips from any given era provides a very good indication of what was in vogue at that time. Although it’s true to say that fashion documentation is always evolving, in the 1990s, the growing vividness of this documentation, combined with its wide distribution, created a dramatic shift in terms of both resolution and accessibility. In that decade, it became possible, for perhaps the first time, for anyone to know exactly what a “look†really looked like.

There is a fundamental difference between the creation of nostalgic fashion — fuelled by a distant memory or an old item found in a closet, inspired by vintage collections — and the creation of fashion by scanning a well-stocked archive of photographs and video clips, all delivered in high resolution, describing a specific period in exhaustive detail. The latter ultimately castrates the one’s ability to interpret (as there is nothing left to the imagination), while the former encourages it through necessity. With so many available materials depicting grunge, Kurt Cobain’s style and Gianni Versace’s legacy, there is no need to contemplate or fantasize about anything. One can simply copy what existed down to the last detail, paying no consideration to time-related context or meaning. Madeleine Vionnet, one might imagine, certainly did not enjoy this luxury, being forced rather to bridge the gap of these missing particulars by applying her imagination to the sources she was quoting. To put it simply, this deficit of detail fostered a good deal of artistic freedom.

This shift is the reason why the return to 60s fashion that took place last summer was so similar to the looks depicted on the television series Mad Men. Distributed through mass media, the series provided unambiguous high definition materials that were easily imitated, instead of forcing people to rummage through authentic period photos or scouring fashion museums.

The digital documentation also transforms the way in which designers experience the world. “Once, designers would go to Africa for inspiration. Now they Google Africa,†lamented Alber Elbaz, artistic director of Lanvin, at the company’s Spring/Summer 2014 men’s fashion show. To add to his point: the sharper and more accurate the virtual documentation of reality grows and the more it seemingly provides a precise description of what exists IRL (in real life), the more fashion will reflect computerised reality. The problem? A single Google also means a single reality and at the end of the day, everyone is exposed to the same immediate references.

Overall, it’s safe to say that the advancement of fashion documentation, especially over the last decade, has made a decisive contribution to the manner in which current trends grow. The fact that designers are exposed to so much highly accurate and available data regarding past seasons’ fashions using simple tools like YouTube or Style.com results in the fact that many turn out the same product, the same look and the same inspiration, with seemingly extraordinary coordination.

Animal prints at Mango are not only nearly identical to the animal prints at Zara, but are also distributed at precisely the same time, for precisely the same period, and using precisely the same processes. And if today’s 90s revival is too similar to the actual 90s, and if one animal print is nearly identical to other animal prints, then the area for interpretation is slowly disappearing. And what’s disappearing along with it is the simple excitement brought on by conscientious design.

Liroy Choufan is a consultant and fashion editor based in Israel. This article was originally published in Hebrew on fashion.walla.co.il

source: BOF

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It makes a lot of sense. Although I take it fashion is already very trend-based, I think future designers will come to the forefront based on how far they're willing to go to acquire some new form of inspiration or reference. 

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while i do see the point being made, isn't this just another archetypal argument of the old versus the new? classicists always want to preserve the methodologies of the traditional, whether it be preferring physical film over digital formats in movies or lamenting the decline in physical books over kindles.


all this observation really presents is, like other media/art formats, fashion will probably form a stronger division between traditionalists and radicalists. nothing to cry about; the times are changing.

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There's a difference between creating trends and using an era or a movement as referential point and using a house to produce trendy clothes that people in the streets are wearing at the precise moment. I'm all for different designers doing different style of clothes, but Hedi did, as discussed many times before and not only on this forum, the opposite of what he did before. Emulating what people are wearing right now vs dictating a new way to dress yourself / create trends. I'm not saying the clothes aren't nice.


Without tumblr and KPop, do you think JuunJ's latest collections would've been the same? Not at all. I was already fed up with bomber jackets and team's jerseys way before seeing his collections on the runway.


They are giving them what they are already wearing. They aren't dictating the future. 


There's also this whole democratization of fashion and luxury thing but it could be a whole other thread of discussion.

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from my experience (nyc labelz) designers who deal with a fashion calendar have no time to sit and actually design new things.


also buyers kinda suck too

Edited by Sammy You

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This may just be another article where the writer only mentions things that contribute to the point of his/her article.  No mention of DVN's take on grunge or any other designers unique look on the era (as many jp labels do).   blah blah blah wish I had more to write.

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I was just writing something relevant for my thesis on Deleuze:


Among the most extraordinary pages in Plato, demonstrating the anti- Platonism at the heart of Platonism, are those which suggest that the different, the dissimilar, the unequal – in short, becoming – may well be not merely defects which affect copies like a ransom paid for their secondary character or a counterpart to their resemblance, but rather models themselves, terrifying models of the pseudos in which unfolds the power of the false.â€


This power of the false is the location of the becoming - the failure of the resemblance that opens up the possibility for difference.

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I was just writing something relevant for my thesis on Deleuze:


Among the most extraordinary pages in Plato, demonstrating the anti- Platonism at the heart of Platonism, are those which suggest that the different, the dissimilar, the unequal – in short, becoming – may well be not merely defects which affect copies like a ransom paid for their secondary character or a counterpart to their resemblance, but rather models themselves, terrifying models of the pseudos in which unfolds the power of the false.â€


This power of the false is the location of the becoming - the failure of the resemblance that opens up the possibility for difference.

"In a world which really is topsy-turvy, the true is a moment of the false."

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      IA: Let’s talk about that moment, when Vetements was first seeded.

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      DG: Well, I think the way we work is very intuitive. We don’t force things. We always work on one garment at a time, and for example, if we spend more than 20 minutes on it, we just cancel it because it doesn’t feel right. On the other hand, I think I am quite fortunate to have Guram working on the business. The way he does market research is very different because its very closely linked to the creative process and what we do. He would never come to me and say, “We need to do that because that’s what the market asks for.†He will do his utmost to sell what we believe in as a brand, what we create. If next season we do a capsule, I know he will be behind it and try to sell it to the client.

      IA: You expressed a shared sense of frustration with the industry among the wider Vetements team. What types of things were you talking about?

      DG: Well, basically the frustration was with the cycle. The creative cycle that didn’t really coincide at all with the production side, and the demands and the number of pieces that we had to make. The pieces became kind of soulless, you know, because they had to be made, but didn’t really have a reason to be. That was the most frustrating part for me. You need to have a jersey top because that’s what the market requests — I can’t do a jersey top at that very moment, you know?

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      IA: What do you mean?

      DG: At Margiela, of course, it was all very conceptual and had to be a very different concept every six months. It was about a certain statement. At Vuitton, it was about the product and clothes that were meant to be worn, but it was not necessarily clothes that I wanted to see people wear. My idea from the beginning in fashion is that it is about the product and it’s about the clothes that people need to be wearing. That’s the biggest compliment for a designer, to see people wearing your clothes, not to be in a fashion book. I didn’t really feel satisfied at that time with what I was doing.

      IA: How much of that, do you think, came from needing to say something of your own?

      DG: A lot of it came from that, and because I realised we could do something on our own and it would be saying something different and in a different way. Not necessarily new or avant-garde — not at all — that was not our idea. What we do is nothing new, it’s just things that people want to wear. That was my creative motivation and the motivation of the people that I started with. I knew that it was a risk. It’s always a risk to do something like that, but I felt it was right to do that.

      IA: Yes, at the end of the day, fashion is a business and you have to create things people can integrate into their lives.

      DG: That’s the goal. I mean as a fashion designer, in my opinion, that’s all you want to do. Not to create a fairytale — that’s not reality — but to make that hoodie they want to wear or that dress they need to have. It’s like product design. For me, it’s nothing to do with the conceptual. I mean, fashion used to be like that. It was very conceptual; it was a statement, especially in the ‘90s, which is great and shaped fashion for what it is now. But actually today, the reality is that there is so much stuff available from which you have to choose, that the biggest challenge is to make something that people choose.

      IA: In the sea of stuff out there, how do you think people pick what they want?

      DG: You can make an amazing dress and embroidery with high-tech materials and it’s “wow,†it’s really “wow.†Sometimes I see things and I’m like, “Wow, how did they do this?†But then again, is this really important enough? Because, I mean beyond the effect, the actual practicality [matters too].
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      How do you make something that people already know, but they still want to buy because they don’t have one? This is the challenge we have to face every six months, which is an exciting challenge for a designer I think. That’s what motivates me. Every time we are having a fitting and we are trying things on we say, “Ok, what do we do with this one now to make it wantable?†That’s hard. It’s much harder than decorating something with beautiful material and shapes.

      IA: What do you think of the fashion system today?

      DG: What is not working is the fact that there is no relationship between the creative vision and the commercial vision. I think they are very separated, yet they are very dependent on each other, because the commercial vision needs to pay for the creative vision’s existence, in a way.

      This dependency creates an unbalanced relationship because the market dictates what creativity needs to do, in order to sell. It tells you we need so and so, five trousers, and 10 dresses — we need this and that. All of this information comes from commercial teams and merchandising. It’s like you have a blank sheet or a collection plan you have to fill out every six months that was given to you by some commercial person, who based their research on previous seasons or on competitor brands that have nothing to do with you.

      You have no choice — whether you are the creative director or a designer on the team. You also don’t have time to really analyse and think about what you’re doing. You have to be a machine of ideas that produces new things every three months. The whole industry runs so fast because we need to deliver something new to the store every two weeks so the client isn’t bored. They don’t want to wait for six months, so we have the pre-collection, the pre-pre-collection, and the main collection, which nobody is buying, so it all just ends up on a sales rack.

      The creative part needs to be much more in advance of the market, and to offer something that is not out there, to challenge it and to make the market want it.

      The whole system just doesn’t work anymore. This whole vicious circle turns and turns at a very fast speed and kills both the creativity and the business. Most of them survive on making bags and perfume at the end of the day. Ready-to-wear, which is the platform and the base of fashion, is really in the shadow today, with a few exceptions.

      IA: How does digital play a role in some of these problems?

      DG: Digital speeds everything up because the information is available so fast. We can shop online and we see things online and want to have them as soon as possible. You know, there are pre-orders online and people buy things that have never been produced. We didn’t even buy fabrics yet for some of the pieces at Vetements that have already sold out on the online stores, which is quite crazy.

      I mean, of course there are good parts. It’s easy to be exposed and you can promote your product and talk to the audience — a larger audience — and transmit your creative message or commercial message. But at the same time it’s very dangerous because it’s very fast and it’s uncontrollable and that’s where I think every brand needs to have some strategy to control that, or some tools to keep it under control, otherwise it’s too risky.

      IA: How is Vetements responding to these various challenges?

      DG: We are still trying to figure out our way of doing things. From the beginning we agreed that we would only produce two collections a year and we would not engage ourselves into making pre-collections.

      At the same time we had to confront fabric deliveries and the whole production chain from having a thread, weaving it into a fabric, making a pattern, making a garment out of it, putting a label on it and selling it to someone. This whole thing is the biggest challenge to us as a young brand.

      So going forward, at Vetements we are shifting the seasons and not showing during the main season, but only showing our main collection during the pre-collection timing in June and January, which for us would solve a lot of issues in terms of production cycle.

      IA: How do you see this working?

      DG: Well, it’s linked to the delivery and timing of the fabric. We now have to wait at least 10 weeks for the production of fabric, which means clothes are being made really late and delivered really late and then their life cycle in the store is so short that there is basically no time to sell them. By showing in March, and delivering the clothes in September, the clothes can only be in store for two or three months before they go on sale.

      The idea is to show it in June, after men’s fashion week — between men’s and couture in Paris — and for the winter season at the end of January. This means the collection will be delivered, at the latest, in June, which makes the life cycle of the product in the store much longer. At the same time, it makes it easier for the factories that actually have to produce it.

      Another very important factor is that for the stores, the biggest budget they have to spend on the collection is during the pre-collection period, not in the main collection period. About 80 percent of the budget for most of the stores is for the pre-collection timing in January and June.

      IA: But this doesn’t address the need of getting the clothes to the customer as soon as possible.

      DG: Well, that’s a big problem and pre-production [could be] the answer. But pre-production is also very risky. You need someone to be very good at fore- casting, because it’s not going to be the same clothes they bought last season. You need to predict that because it’s quite an important cash flow issue. You need to provide the fabric beforehand and to do this you need to invest a lot of money beforehand — to take a bet.

      I think it’s much easier to do this for companies like Vetements because we’re small even though we have 135 stockists. It’s still a limited quantity that we produce and it’s much easier because it’s quite a direct relationship with the buyers and with the commercial team who can help. So it’s easier to do this when you’re small and you have these kinds of quantities, rather than when you have a big corporate structure where it’s much harder to move things around.

      IA: Isn’t it actually easier for a company like Vuitton to do, because they are a vertically integrated retailer, with no wholesale?

      DG: That’s true. Once you have your own retail it actually simplifies everything. But by the time you have your own retail, at that scale, it’s really a lot of risk to take. I mean, you really need to make sure it’s a product that works, because at the end of the day, what matters is who buys the clothes in the store.

      You can influence your own retail but you can’t influence the people who come in and buy the clothes — so that’s the tricky part. We can take the risk to do partial pre-production, to order two kilometres of fabric that we will use in the season after as well. It’s okay to do that even though there’s some cash flow involved and we spend some extra money that in the normal model we don’t need to spend.

      IA: If you decide to do your show between men’s and women’s couture, won’t you be the only one doing a show then? How will you get media attention?

      DG: It’s risky. I’ve talked about this with people from the press and they’re worried there would not be enough exposure or enough journalists to come to the show. But at the end of the day, the reason is for people to be able to buy it and have it in their wardrobes, more than being exposed in terms of media. So that’s a priority for us and that’s why we thought we will do it anyway, even if it’s outside of the frame. It’s something that’s right for us.

      IA: When will you start working this way?

      DG: This season we are doing it as usual and we’re going to show in the beginning of March. We are introducing a men’s collection as well. Due to our aesthetic that has a very masculine origin, we have a lot of male customers that buy our clothes, which are not really made for male customers. We are fitting on girls, we’ve never fitted clothes on guys before. At the end of the day, we decided to do it at the same time as women. So we are going to have a show that is half/half women and menswear. But we are going to show it in March and then the next season will be a big challenge for us, which is a traditional season, and the challenge will be to make the collection in three months to meet our target to do a show in June.

      IA: Balenciaga, on the other hand, is one of the most prestigious houses in the world, but it’s part of the old system that you seem to be rejecting. How are you splitting your time between the two?

      DG: I split my time in half basically. The good thing is both of them are in Paris and my studios are 25 minutes away from each other so practically it’s a reasonable situation. I work two and a half days at Vetements and two and a half days at Balenciaga a week.

      At the end of the day I have never felt so creatively calm as I do since I started to do both jobs. It’s basically about structuring yourself and surrounding yourself with the right people that you can trust and delegate. That’s how it’s happening for now and I am quite happy with the way it goes. In March it’s going to be quite crazy because I have to do two shows within three days; we’re going to show Vetements on Thursday and Balenciaga on Saturday. So, I only have one day in between which I think is probably going to be one of the craziest times I’ve ever had in fashion. But I am up for it.

      This interview has been edited and condensed.
      source: http://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/intelligence/demna-gvasalia-reveals-vetements-plan-to-disrupt-the-fashion-system
    • By bill
      James Anderson 11 May, 2015
      At the beginning of the year, i-D travelled to Rajasthan in northern India with Louis Vuitton. We hung out with the locals, marveled at the rugged landscapes and explored the sun-drenched Maharaja palaces and forts that inspired Men’s Style Director Kim Jones’ stellar spring/summer 15 collection.

      As Men's Style Director of Louis Vuitton, Kim Jones inevitably spends a lot of time on the road, not only for essential business meetings, or to attend to interviews with the media, but also for meaningful research. This is research with a capital R: first-hand experience, direct, three dimensional, unpredictable and exciting, not simply taking the easy option of perusing and printing out a bunch of pictures off the internet.
      Louis Vuitton's status as a travel brand and its international appeal means that Kim can combine his own wanderlust with the seeking of inspiration for new collections in far-flung locations. This enables him to further develop the ongoing relationships the brand enjoys with certain parts of the world, to explore the brand's historical connections globally, which might be ripe for reappraisal, and push fresh ideas forward into new and emerging markets.
      For spring/summer 15, the Louis Vuitton men's collection arises from the trip Kim and his team made to India at the suggestion of his friend and mentor, the late Louise Wilson, formerly the head of the MA Fashion course at Central Saint Martins. The extremes of India - a country that sees both extreme poverty and unabashed glamour - cannot fail to leave an impression on anyone who visits. Palaces that were built by the Maharajas of Jodhpur and Jaipur, who were enthusiastic customers of Vuitton in the early part of the 20th century, were of particular interest to Kim. The uniforms of the guards manning these lavish abodes provided further inspiration for military-style pieces that would subsequently command much attention as part of the collection. But beyond the undeniably seductive nature of such architecture and attire, Kim is a man who likes to soak up the grit and the offbeat: he found visual stimulation in the everyday Indian man in the street, and from expeditions to see tigers in their natural habitats. Here, he discusses some of the texture of this journey and the significance the resulting collection might hold for the modern, style-focused man on the move.
      You dedicated the show to the late Louise Wilson. Can you elaborate on your friendship with her and the ways in which she motivated and inspired you during your student days at Central Saint Martins and beyond?
      Louise made me believe in myself and helped me realize what I wanted to do. We became friends after college and she was a great listener and giver of advice, as well as being incredibly funny. Louise was the person who told me to go to India to see everything, which made me look at the Vuitton archive for a link I could tie to the show. I was lucky to spend some time with her and Timmi and Michael Costiff a few summers ago, and I think it was the last time I actually cried hysterically, laughing at her rants on fashion today. I was so shocked when she died, as she was so strong I thought she would outlive us all...
      What prompted her to suggest that you go to India? 
      We were talking about travel and she was shocked I'd never been, so I decided to do the next spring/summer show about India and went on to explore Vuitton's relationship with India.
      What do you most miss about Louise now that she is no longer with us? 
      Having someone who has seen it all making you realize what's important and what's not - and the importance of passing on information to people about the past. So many people only look digitally now and you have to see things for real to really appreciate them, that's definitely something she inspired in people.
      So tell us about the trip. 
      I went for ten days with two of the designers I work with on the show. We chose to go to Rajasthan for two reasons. Firstly, the amazing trunks that Vuitton made for the Maharajas of Jaipur and Jodhpur, and secondly their love of aviation at the time of its invention. Vuitton is a travel brand, so the connection worked.
      Do you ever go traveling alone?
      I have to a lot for work and it's something I absolutely hate! I get quite nervous flying and I find airports stressful, so it's not really good flying alone. I just have to get in the zone and then get to the destination.
      How would you advise people to experience the real India? 
      Look at everything - the colors, the people. The spirituality of it all is incredible and it feels very rich in history, although modernity is everywhere. I would tell people to go with an open mind. Eat local food. Walk around and see as much as possible. Go and check out the wild areas, too. Take a road trip - it's crazy driving there!
      How did you incorporate your Indian inspirations into the spring/summer 15 men's collection? 
      Well, I always look at the idea of the collection and then we take references, work with them and then develop something modern. We looked at the Maharajas' clothing in museums and the fact that they designed their own clothes, such as jodhpurs for elephant polo and flight suits. We took these ideas and worked with them. We also looked at palace guards and the smart accessories that captured the regal lifestyle. Then we looked at the silhouette of the man on the street - a slim and slightly 70s silhouette - that we brought up to date with a crocodile sneaker.
      What were the biggest challenges involved in putting this collection together? 
      Obviously India is a country with poverty, so I am always sensitive with these matters, as people and culture mean a lot to me and my work. So I celebrated the idea of the modern Indian man - a man with style, aspirations and determination, who can achieve what he wants in life, the way I see the Vuitton man.
      As a designer, putting monetary issues and sales to one side, how do you measure the success of a collection from a creative point of view? 
      For me, it's about my peers and the people I respect liking my work and appreciating the hard work that goes into everything we do. I think people need to appreciate things with a neutral mind, as not everything is for everyone, and I think that's great. I also like to hear feedback from customers and my bosses, as, at the end of the day, they are the ones who count!
      "Luxury" is such an overused word. What does luxury mean to you? 
      I think luxury is steering towards more personal luxury. I mean, I am lucky I can work with monogram and Damier, as they are so great to work with. This season we decided to almost make bags inside out with monogram lining and details, so it still had the appeal of Vuitton, but was more subtle. Luxury for me nowadays is having space, and time to myself to think. I think space is important for all creatives to have new ideas. Traveling gives me the opportunity to have time away from the office and see new things to inspire me.
      Why is it so important to you to travel a lot?
      I've always traveled, it's part of me. But seriously, I work for a brand with travel in its DNA and if I can't bring things back to inspire my team and the consumer, I feel I'm not doing my job properly. All successful men have to travel for work now, whether they like it or not, so you have to understand their lifestyle.
    • By dovo
      So im moving into my first place and am shopping around for internet service providers.
      Can any make some reccomendations? We have DSL at my family spot but im definitely going to need something faster since i plan on streaming most of my ish (netflix, hulu, bootleg sites etc)
      I need something fast; but something that wont break the bank.
    • By bill
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