Creative director musical chairs, digital disruption, fashion calendar experimentation, streetwear frenzy and sustainability: how have shifts in modern-day consumption and dress stimulated innovation in luxury?
In an effort to decode today’s rapidly shifting fashion landscape, Luxury Daily – the world’s leading luxury business publication – released a comprehensive report on key trends taking luxury apparel by storm. For an inside perspective on the topic, Lead Reporter Sarah Jones spoke to top figures in the industry, among which CFDA CEO Steven Kolb, Yana Bushmeleva, CEO of Fashionbi, and Polimoda Director Danilo Venturi, with additional insight given by Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council.
Calling on the rise of digital, the push towards sustainability and an ever-changing consumer, Jones examined how and why iconic brands are introducing new methods of customer engagement. Here, our Director draws on decades of industry experience to respond to identified trends and the future of luxury.
Luxury has experienced radical operational changes in recent years, especially noted in the advent of digital media and growing alternatives to the runway, shifting the overall release of merchandise in response to a faster fashion cycle. Within this unstable state, luxury houses are living a spate of creative director tenures as long-term management becomes out-of-date.
“We are coming from the era of fast fashion and passing through the age of social networks where images, including those of people, are swiped with a rapid pace. Over time, this creates a mentality that redefines the parameters of human relationships.”
“So I think this game of thrones is quite normal, everything works the same way now,” explains Director Danilo Venturi. “This is also the result of many companies asking designers to be managers, which is often impossible, or the event itself is used opportunistically to exploit the news. Indeed, there is nothing wrong with change; however, luxury houses should remember that given the absence of their founder, the best way to manage their identity is to find a creative director who maintains the company is as if the founder were alive today. Since the newcomer does not necessarily resemble the originator but applies the same basic values to the contemporary, this process requires culture, sensibility and perseverance on the company’s behalf.”
In addition to shifts in artistic direction, luxury faces the pressure of adapting to wavering style norms: casual lifestyles are now entertained in spaces once reserved to formal attire. In response to trends, brands homogenize as rapidly as our culture, causing major disruption in luxury production.
“If ten years ago it was obvious who copied whom, today this information has become unclear: the idea of copying has exceeded itself. We are living in the post-truth era, a culture as valid for news as for products,” Venturi continues.
“This is also clear in the so-called subscription economy: we don’t buy music anymore, nor do we download it, we just stream it. As all songs pass through the same compressors, this results in similar sounds, often to the point that authors play alike from the onset to adapt to that sound. I already hear someone saying that this system should be adopted in fashion, rendering it more sustainable. Personally, I think that the solution is no more and no less the return to making unique products, iconic, new, made to last, that make you want own and screw them to exhaustion. Fashion brands are meant to lead society, not to adapt; they must seduce and love their clients.”
Amidst developments in value and therefore identity, our Director looks to educational spaces for insight on approaching the future of luxury. A microcosm of tomorrow’s consumer base, fashion schools not only form the will-be leaders of this sector, but are also a means of understanding what practices can be adopted in fashion marketing and retail in order to evolve with changing tastes.
“My students are each day more ethnically and culturally hybridized. On weekends it is easier to fly to another European city than to drive to the sea, they have money to pay for a course but ask for a loan, they wear everything and its opposite but with novelty, they buy online but using their phones; the new generations cannot be targeted with segmentations. It is necessary to understand their psychology, the part of their identity that mutates over time and the one that remains constant, though perhaps this is not easily discernible. These 2300 people from 70 different countries are the perfect sample of the new fashion consumer, one looking for a unique experience in retail, not a party, but culture, something worth seeking that remains, something with which they can identify. Today, fashion marketing and retail must be content-based. Somehow… they must be a form of education.”