Sunday, October 8, 2006

Fashion Changes

Is fashion over? Weird question -- except that it is posed by fashion's über-critic Suzy Menkes of the IHT. In her recent article Who's Next in Fashion? No One, she argues that there isn't anybody to follow in the steps of 20th Century designers like Dior, Saint-Laurent or Gaultier.

"Who's next?" asks Menkes. "The answer to that burning question for the fashion world is this: No one."
"Of course there will be creative talents who inject new energy into the fashion scene [...] But will any of these construct a mighty empire with a global stretch, selling everything from lipsticks to bed linen? I doubt it."

There lies the issue. Todays' fashion is dominated by large multinationals whose corporate profits precede (worse, dictate) creativity. The order of the day is to appeal, and sell, to the largest number. It's not about quality anymore -- just quantity. Hence the end of fashion as we knew it.

But the fashion world is only mutating -- not ending. "We may be looking now at a situation where fashion is no longer the defining badge of social acceptability," writes Menkes. "Clothes will retain their importance but in a fragmented way, as in response to homogenous branding, society divides into myriad fashion tribes."

She adds, "If, at this start of the 21st century, a design crusader emerges who can trounce all that stands in the way and win a worldwide name and empire, it will be a triumph indeed."

The "design crusader" era may be over, but who needs a crusade anyway? Like with the Web 2.0, the counterforce to corporate monoliths is likely to come from "guerrilla designers", building niche markets and using all available media to promote their creations.

Menkes concludes: "Is fashion over, then? It will just be different. And who knows if the next new brand will be built in cyberspace?"
It's already happening.
modified photo Google Images

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