The fashion industry of 2017 is obsessed with speed. Social media has designers taking bold steps to try and please tech-savvy millennials who want what they want when they want it. However, trying to out-run the consumer is a dangerous game to play in the 21st-century. When people see companies producing clothes at a lightning pace, they tend to expect the same quick output every time. Such industry pressure fosters a healthy competitiveness but often goes too far, destroying the time and space it takes to create original and compelling art. Unfortunately, the more fashion brands try to expedite their services the less likely it is for their collections to stand out from the crowd. Designers all over the world are facing a fork in the road when it comes to fast fashion. Continue making quality clothes that take months to design or settle for a faster, more simplistic approach?
TEARING DOWN THE RUNWAY WALL
Social media brought the world fast fashion. It broke down the walls between runway fashion and streetwear. With models, assistants, and even designers Instagramming and Snapping everything in sight, there’s virtually no fashion show or famous atelier you can’t check out online. This constant access fostered a new sense of immediacy in the fashion retail world and designer studios. It was like having the audience sneak backstage and see all the magician’s tricks. Without the prestige and mystique of closed-door runways and eyes-only collections, everyone was privy to the design process and they all had loud opinions about what did and didn’t work.
THE DANGER OF LOUD OPINIONS
Opinions are scary. Even if glaring reviews from beauty gurus and internet fashionistas hadn’t forced the industry to change, it would have taken a toll. It’s interesting to speculate, but the fact of the matter is fashion companies worldwide reacted swiftly and extravagantly. Runway collections became a spectacle. They resembled art shows more than a practical display of wearable fashion. Encouraging audiences to demand bigger and better displays every year, it wasn’t long before these big fashion events led to calls of ready-to-wear runway collections. If fashion companies hadn’t caved, would fast fashion be as popular as it is today? Probably not.
THE INSTANT GRATIFICATION SITUATION
Today, ready-to-wear runways are basically product launches done up with a big fancy bow. Audiences attend these events like they do regular fashion shows. After the last model finishes and the designers come out and take their bows, the doors of an on-site store fly open and the everyone crowds in to purchase the looks they’ve just seen. Many fashion brands see this type of show as the easy solution to an instant gratification-hungry crowd. Suddenly, consumers could stream a show live and show up immediately after to buy something new. This easily could have been the final nail in the coffin for the artistic fashion runway, but some designers rebelled. Luxury brands Tom Ford and Givenchy saw the dangerous progression for what it was. Fashion was desperately trying to please the masses, but catering to the clamor was only egging on a potentially detrimental trend.
WHAT TO DO NEXT
When it comes to the future of fast fashion, there are two primary camps. One supports the Tom Fords and Givenchys of modern fashion. These brands choose to stick with the traditional scheduling of fashion shows and store releases. They believe fashion and prestige are unbreakable, that by remaining firm and predictable people will eventually calm down and embrace things as they’ve always been. Other brands, particularly those led by younger designers, believe the best option is to keep moving forward. Thanks to them, there are now shops where you can order a custom outfit and have it made on-site in a matter for hours. With these two sides pushing hard in opposite directions, it will be interesting to see how things progress.
There is no easy solution for fast fashion. With young companies integrating quicker technologies each month, convenience and quantity will probably gain the upper hand. Tom Ford, Givenchy, and others are resisting bravely, though. At the very least, we know classic fashion won’t go down without a fight.
— Timothy Vest