By now, most of you have probably heard enough about the Punk exhibit at the Met. The gala, the celebrities, the fashion, the trends — it has all been covered to exhaustion in blogs and glossies alike. However, it seems as though the fashion industry hasn’t fully satiated its thirst for tartan and studs quite yet.
Moda Operandi, the luxury e-retailer that has honed its runway-to-market business model, is a major sponsor of the exhibit and has curated a Punk Shop featuring an impressive slew of highbrow designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Thom Browne, Balmain, Givenchy, Rodarte, and more. Each look is uniquely characteristic of the designer’s vision and aesthetic, while rendering a collective interpretation on the punk era marked by icons such as Sid Vicious, the Ramones, and the Sex Pistols.
Check out some of the highlights I’ve pulled from the collection, and head over to Moda Operandi for the full range of looks from the shop.
(Images: Moda Operandi)
Since its launch in November 2012, Vaunte has precariously bordered the line between editorial exclusivity and mass consumer appeal with its by-invitation consignment shop. A start-up created by two Gilt Groupe veterans Leah Park and Christian Leone, Vaunte bolsters the cache of established editors of Vogue, W Magazine, Glamour, and WhoWhatWear — and their personal closets.
The concept is simple: They sell, you buy. The main draw here is that these editors, as well as creative directors, designers, and executives, have access to exclusive, limited edition, damn-near-impossible-to-find pieces that we can only dream of laying eyes on.
Check out my pick of the day, a beautiful tortoise Chanel pendant in perfect condition.
For the past nine months, my boyfriend has been looking to buy a new car. On many occasions, I’ve tagged along with him to test drive, and for the first time I’ve realized just how outdated the auto industry compares to be with the rest of modern civilization.
For starters, I’ll state the obvious: Car salesmen are always men. Women are cast as receptionists or secretaries. Entering an auto dealership is like a twisted time warp, where gender roles are implicitly established and utterly unquestioned — to the point where it might even seem weird if a woman would come out and try to sell you a car.
When I went to the various dealers around town, the general routine remained unchanged: We enter, he meets the salesman, they shake hands and then he turns to me and says, “And this is my girlfriend.” Then the two men resume their discussion on transmissions and fuel economy. And poof — I suddenly have invisible powers.
The male domination isn’t simply confined to the dealerships themselves. The message is conveyed via the marketing and advertisements we see everyday. For example, one Forbes article cited women were the majority customers in car sales — 52% in 2010 — and influence 85% of all household car purchases. Women represent the fastest-growing market segment for buyers in both new and used cars, accountable for nearly $80 billion in sales revenue. Yet 74% of women feel misunderstood by the auto industry and its marketers.
One recent Subaru ad shows a loving parent handing the car keys over to his daughter. At first watch, it all seems innocent enough — the concerned dad watching his daughter drive off for the first time is a scenario to which many parents can relate. However, even here the gender roles have a patriarchal implication. Would the ad have been less effective if a mother had given the keys to her first-time driver son?
Perhaps the car makers are missing a major point here. Maybe it’s time that the auto industry caught up to the rest of the world and re-calibrate from 1950 to 2012. Call me feminist, but truth be told, women are no longer bound to secretarial schools and domestic professions. And this reality ought to be applied to every facet of the auto industry as well.
Am I the only one in the world who thinks the high-low collab craze is becoming seriously overplayed? Honestly — what ever happened to originality and creativity? Do retailers really have to adhere themselves to luxury brands in order to differentiate themselves amongst the competition?
The Good: At least this means affordable fashion slapped with labels bearing names most of us could merely fantasize about.
The Bad: Too many companies are doing it, and the fad is saturating the market. High-low collabs are becoming a norm rather than a treat, and most collections this season have failed to impress.
The Ugly: Nicole Miller for JCPenney — quite literally.
I stumbled upon the released images for the Nicole Miller / JCPenney spring collection on Refinery 29 earlier this week and was completely aghast at what was being passed off as “fashion.” Black leggings? The wacky disco print? Thick strapped babydolls? Are we talking fashion or the 8th grade dance? The designer has done two previous collections for JCPenney in the past year (Spring & Fall 2011) and this spring will mark the third collab in its repertoire. Compared to the images below taken from the Spring 2011 collection, it seems as though nothing much as changed since then.
On a slightly more encouraging note, Jason Wu for Target also released the first batch of images from its spring collection, set to hit stores February 5 (only 3 weeks away). Though the looks are a bit tame for my taste, the collection in its entirety does remain true to Wu’s signature style of refined elegance. No crazy prints here, instead Wu plays with femininity and bold colors while incorporating some refreshing trends as seen on the runways to create a wholesome range of wearable yet stylish looks. One small detail I noticed throughout the collection was the sock trend that was popular in many spring runways last year — très chic!
This past Monday, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Vogue Magazine joined once more at the 8th annual CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards to recognize a new class of budding fashion talent and to honor one man in particular – Parisian designer Joseph Altuzarra.
The Fashion Fund was created as an endowment to annually promote and foster unique talent among the next generation of American fashion designers.
This is no Project Runway. Included in the rules for qualifications to be considered as a candidate are the following stipulations:
TO BE ELIGIBLE, AN APPLICANT MUST
- have an established, primary design business in the United States;
- be in business for a minimum of two consecutive years;
- be a designer of demonstrable talent: i.e., have garnered substantial and recent editorial coverage, and have support (i.e., orders) from key retailers;
- have professional staff (paid or volunteer) that can devote the time and effort required to accomplish the stated aims of an applicant’s design career plans;
- complete a preliminary application, which will include a 350-word biographical statement.
Past alums of the project include Proenza Schouler, Trovata, Doo.Ri, Rogan, Alexander Wang, Sophie Theallet, and Billy Reid. Besides the $300,000 seed money to fund future business operations, the Fashion Fund brings the winners unparalleled legitimacy and recognition from the prominent industry figures, led by Vogue editor Anna Wintour herself.
The 2011 winner Joseph Altuzarra has had considerable experience in various sectors of the fashion industry prior to his recognition. After receiving his Art History degree from Swarthmore College, Altuzarra sent his resume to Marc Jacobs on a whim and landed a six-month internship with the label. Additionally, he dabbled as a freelance designer for Proenza Schouler and for Givenchy in Paris. Finally, he returned to New York to pursue launching his own label, ALTUZARRA.
Below are past looks from Altuzarra’s namesake brand:
noun. Brand dilution is the weakening of a brand though its overuse. This frequently happens as a result of ill-judged brand extension.
In November 2004, H&M introduced its first designer collaboration with Karl Lagerfeld, spurring an influx of high-low collections from the rest of the retail world. Since then, the Swedish clothier has partnered with a slew of esteemed fashion houses including Stella McCartney, Viktor & Rolf, Roberto Cavalli, Comme des Garçons, Matthew Williamson, Jimmy Choo, Sonia Rykiel, Lanvin, and most recently, Versace. Competitors such as Target and Macy’s have recognized the market potential for affordable luxury fashion and have jumped on the high-low bandwagon as well, collectively releasing partnerships with Missoni, Giambattista Valli, Doo.Ri, McQ for Alexander McQueen, William Rast, and others.
These names create quite an impressive list of established designers, and immediately I have to wonder why such high-end brands would lower themselves to the opposite end of the fashion spectrum. They don’t need visibility. They don’t have to be accessible. These designers have built their brand equity on the inaccessibility of luxury, and affordability was never on the radar. So why did they do it?
Back in 2008, Donatella Versace made a public statement to New York Magazine declaring she would never do a diffusion line for H&M.
“I respect everyone who does it,” she said. “But the reason I didn’t do it is because I work very hard to put the Versace line in the luxury section. I think to put the Versace line in H&M would confuse the brand.”
And here we are, three years later at the eve of the launch of her much-hyped line most resembling tropical clubwear for ancient Romans. So much for keeping your brand in “the luxury section,” Donatella. The masses would rather not be sporting Tommy Bahama’s cracked out sewing projects, either:
No longer a label to mean cheap, flimsy, or inferior, China has rebooted its leverage in the fashion arena to command a new kind of market power. Only last month, Vivienne Westwood held an exhibit of her shoe designs at Shanghai’s Gateway 66 shopping mall to mark the launch of her first flagship store in the country; shortly afterwards Alexander McQueen held a runway show to celebrate the brand’s first store in Beijing.
As China’s economy grows, so does its demand for the luxury retail market. China’s creativity and design initiatives have flopped in recent years, having suffered from public backlash, lawsuits, and allegations of imitation and design rip-offs (think Apple). However, the country’s fashion landscape is undoubtedly shifting to host a number of emerging design powerhouses such as Masha Ma, Uma Wang, and Barney Cheng. Perhaps these designers are taking cues from their American counterparts, a coterie of seasoned pros such as Jason Wu, Derek Lam, and Alexander Wang.
Established Western design houses are also recognizing China’s multiplying growth in the retail sector. Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton have all opened flagships which litter the country’s vast arena of local shopping centers catering to a growing appetite for luxury items and status symbols. In 2010, Hermès took a bold plunge and launched a new brand Shang Xia – a move which highlighted the fashion house’s intent to capitalize on China’s retail opportunities.
Though “Made in China” has yet to garner the same kind of implications and nuances a “Made in Italy” label might have on a luxury brand, perhaps it’s simply a matter of time before it becomes just as coveted.
As a business student, I’m incessantly hearing about “emerging markets” – namely, the Big Four, otherwise dubbed BRIC: Brazil, Russia, India, and China. As economies stabilize and consumerism continues growing on a global scale, it comes as no surprise that companies are seeking expansion elsewhere. A recent Businessweek article additionally named six non-BRIC nations as growing economies to watch (South Africa, Mexico, Turkey, and South Korea) as the movement of globalization mounts at an ever-growing pace.
But what does this mean for fashion?
People often forget that at the core, fashion is a business. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry which attracts consumers from all over the world.
Fashion has no bounds, and the industry has become increasingly attune to this fact. BusinessInsider discusses the exponential growth of the luxury market in India; Women’s Wear Daily just published a piece on Macy’s plans for a Brazil promotion to capitalize on the country’s Hispanic clientele; for the first time in history, established Western markets are not the central focus for the fashion industry. As expansive communication via digital media and economic growth in developing countries become the driving forces for the bottom line, fashion is following suit and planting its seed once again.
Perhaps in five or ten years, the next big fashion frenzy will be a FNO Seoul or a Warsaw Fashion Week. It’s just business, after all.