Fashion forever?

My good friend, Chase, sent me this NYT article that perfectly encapsulated my thoughts on the ‘busyness’ of the fashion industry. It speaks to how Scott Sternberg, founder of Band of Outsiders, created Entireworld, envisioning it as a “rejection of the traditional fashion system.” It was created to disband the notion of wholesale, seasonal collections, and fashion shows – the current landscape of designer and luxury fashion. When I first came across the brand a year ago, I thought it was two things: 1) innovative, but 2) purposeless. I didn’t understand the natures of ‘starting a brand for the sake of a brand’ (“To some extent, I didn’t lose the narrative, because I never had one”) but in hindsight, I didn’t truly understand Scott’s mission to become an anti-‘fashion’ brand.

The article goes on to highlight a couple of things:

  • The unsustainable herd mentality of ‘fashion’ – “While incurring all those losses, designers were still putting on shows roughly every three months, productions that ran hundreds of thousands of dollars”

“I think in general, we’ve created a system that is unrealistic and a strain for even the largest of brands… It could be that some younger designers were playing the same game and trying to keep up with the big brands rather than determining what’s best for them.”

Anna Wintour, NYT
  • COVID’s impact on the industry: Cancelling the current trend/medium of fashion shows and turning designers to livable, home-centric collections

I’m just like, OK, we’re home more, but why does that have to be sweatpants?… Can it be a dress? A housedress is completely easy. You can throw it on, zip it off, whatever. Maybe I’m going too far imagining a future where we’re constantly in and out of quarantine, but business-wise, I’m sort of preparing for that.”

Batsheva Hay, NYT
  • And Chase’s favorite line – releasing seasonal collections for the actual season

“With factories shut down and deliveries delayed, many of this year’s fall collections will, for the first time in a long while, actually arrive in season.”

The entire industry is changing, but I loved the article’s emphasis on human-centered fashion (design thinking!), and presenting views on a brand that is trying to do so.

Fashion is, by definition, unpredictable. People buy clothes for illogical, emotional reasons. The challenge, as Sternberg saw it, was to build a brand that could be immune to trends and novelty and whatever dystopian disaster was coming next. “The trick with fashion is that we’re not selling toilet paper,” he said, “which of course during Covid, toilet-paper sales go up. But ultimately it will level out, because there’s only so many butts in the world. That hasn’t changed — people are just hoarding. Fashion is really different. You have to assume the cycle will change even if you’re doing commodity. And how will you keep up with that? How do you build a business that can sustain those fluctuations over time?”

So who knows where the future of fashion is heading, let alone the narratives in that industry. I think the big players, designers, will continue to dominate the scene by in what way? From Virgil Abloh taking a ‘seasonless‘ approach at Louis Vuitton to Jonathan Anderson releasing ‘show-in-a-box’, who knows what kind of innovation, or lack of, will bring in the coming years.

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