We’re back! It has been a bit silent here on Fashion Mythology in December and January, mostly because Luba and I went to Russia, Lithuania and Poland to visit friends and family. But now it’s time to get back to work and give you some fresh articles to read. And what better way to start our new year than to look back at the old one and list what for us, were the top fashion news in 2016.
Creative Directors coming and going
One of the top fashion news 2016 has been the fickle nature of employment for a lot of designers. These days brands tend to give out shorter contracts and are quick to fire a creative director who cannot create designs that sell. Which, at the end of the day, is the ultimate criteria for every brand, no matter the segment. On the other more and more designers are complaining that they cannot keep up with the ever-increasing pace of fashion collections. More and more collections, more high-end editorials and more cruise shows. No wonder creativity is suffering. Here is a quick list of directors who have abandoned ship:
Left: Alber Elbaz
Hired: Bouchra Jarrar
Left: Raf Simmons
Hired: Maria Grazia Chiuri
Left: Brendan Mullan
Hired: Justin O’Shea
Left again only 3 months later: Justin O’Shea (oh snap)
Left: Hedi Slimane
Hired: Anthony Vaccarello
Left: Massimiliano Giornetti
Left: Alessandro Sartori
Left: Stefano Pilati
Hired: Alessandro Sartori
Left: Alexander Wang
Hired: Demna Gvasalia
It seems that the glorious position of head designer for a luxury brand is not as attractive anymore as it used to be. Being creative, presentable and artistic is one thing, dealing with management, shareholder pressure, and market requirements another. With a great paycheck comes great responsibility.
Luxury demand is fading in East-Asia
Like described in one of our top articles 2016, there are valid reasons for waning demand in East-Asia, especially China. A stagnating economy in Japan and over expansion of luxury retail in China leaves pretty much South Korea as the country with the most growth potential. Sure, China is not gonna go away, but it will transition to a new form of luxury consumption which will focus on service and home-grown brands.
LVMH acquires a new asset
In an effort to compete with Montblanc’s business exec accessories offering and as a way to expand their travel gear portfolio, LVMH has acquired German suitcase manufacturer Rimowa. To expand their reach and become even more competitive, LVMH is already eyeing another big fish, Belgian luxury chocolate producer Godiva.
Print media is dying. Digital media and blogs are thriving.
Wholesale is slowly pushed out by eCommerce and franchise stores.
Generation Z is online all the time and flocks to new social networks.
We are seeing the advent of augmented reality, virtual reality, and nanotechnology in fashion tech.
Sustainability is not just a phase
Upcycling, eco-design and sustainable supply chains are on every execs mind these days. Or they better should have been. Same as in the car industry with hybrids and electric engines, the fashion and luxury industry is looking at a growing sentiment across the market which cries for more green and transparent business practices, no matter how expensive they might be. No matter how many Trumps or Farages get into power, climate change is a scientific fact. Businesses that want to be profitable in 2020 and beyond better catch on to that new trend early and are advised to take a close look at their suppliers and manufacturing process.
Agencies are having trouble attracting talent
This is something that is affecting agency-type businesses across the board. Not only subscribers to Adweek should now this by now, agencies have a hard time filling junior and mid-level positions. Why? Cause nobody wants to be a slave. Simple as that. Be it design, public relations or digital marketing, young people across the board are facing tough conditions out of college. Low salaries, high requirements, difficult line managers and sparse opportunities in-house. Do you want to be another victim of the vicious career meat grinder called the agency business or would you rather work for yourself as a freelancer or start your own project with friends? Agencies are reacting to this by trying to re-brand (the standard cop-out I’m afraid), while the real problem is a culture of overworking, burnout and top-down management.
Brexit shocks the industry
The exit-vote shocked the world. Especially the EU and young people of the UK. The pound has crashed and not recovered since then, and even if that means great bargain opportunities for luxury tourists in London, for all the young people coming to the UK hoping to work in a multicultural fashion capital, the future is uncertain. Finance is already starting to leave London for Frankfurt and other industries who need easy access to Europe might soon follow. Will bilateral trade agreements with Trump’s USA change things for the UK or will the status of London as top fashion capital decline over the coming years. Only time will tell.
Donald Trump becomes President of the United States
Not 100% fashion news 2016 but very relevant nonetheless. I’m not going to write too much about Trump becoming the next president since the fact that he has beaten all liberal and democratic forces through smart (and devious?) PR and mass psychology methods has been already overanalyzed in the mainstream media. What remains is what his actual policies are going to be, the air smells like climate change denial, more fossil fuels (makes us sad too, we like our coast cities over-water), difficult foreign relations and America trying to muscle his allies into liking Trump’s tweets. Will we see more luxury demand from Russia? Economic growth in the USA, an expansion of the fashion and luxury industry over there? Will China take a more leading role in free trade and open up a bit more for foreign companies? Who can say, it is going to be an interesting (and hopefully still peaceful) ride.
Technology, Technology, Technology. Nationalists might not like it, but technological advancement is the true globalizing force and it is unstoppable. The internet of things, more brands, more eCommerce and more digital media. African and Middle Eastern conflicts are not as far away as you might think in your safe home here in the west. Fashion and luxury will remain glamorous, interesting and creative, but the spoils will fall to the people who are adaptable and creative, not stuck in their old ways.