Tag Archives: Designers

The Revolving Door of Fashion

A long time ago, when I started this blog, I used it as a forum to talk about fashion, but also to talk openly and honestly about the state of the industry and the things I found incredible and / or concerning about it. It’s a slippery slope to write about fashion because on one hand you want to be supportive of the art and design, and on the other you have to be realistic about fashion as a business and the often-ugly truths about it.

I’ve always enjoyed reading about the industry too, and even more so lately with the honesty of some of the writers, and often times even designers who are questioning the state of things and the direction the industry is taking.

Last week, one of my favorite fashion writers, Cathy Horyn, wrote an excellent piece for New York Magazine about something I’ve been saying for far too long – that the industry, acting like a revolving door for some designers, is continuing to lose it’s luster.

If you follow the industry it’s no secret that in an effort to “revive” what were some very successful brands, there is a constant merry-go-round of designers that come in and go out, and get traded like athletes. But should they?

According to various sources, Carven, a fashion house founded in 1945, had many notable license agreements through 70’s, and has had substantial changes in investors and designers in 1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2011, and finally 2015 with Alexis and Adrien Martial Cailaudaud at the helm and showing their first collection for the brand. Is it even fair to keep calling it Carven?

Other examples, where new designers came in and I think ultimately undermined the essence of a brand were Alexander Wang for Balenciaga, and Karl Largerfeld for Chanel. The designers make an effort to identify with the style of the brand, but ultimately end up only able to offer an exaggerated example. They try to make things “modern,” but to many, educated eyes, they come up short and can’t quite deliver the authenticity they may strive to.

And while the fashion writers continue to try to figure out where the authentic designers are, the authentic designers are trying to resist the lure of big business and live a life as close to the integrity of their craft as they can get. Some eventually succumb to fame and fortune, and others (thankfully) say, if I can’t be authentic, then why bother?

What’s even more interesting is that most of the designers that can afford to stay authentic are usually wealthy women, who love fashion, have talent, and won’t – make that don’t – have to compromise for anyone. From Stella McCartney, to Victoria Beckham, to Rosetta Getty, to Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen of The Row, they stay true because the can. The same holds for Phoebe Philo and Céline. While she doesn’t’ come from a place the others do, the brand has stayed true, and Phoebe has real talent, and that is the winning combination.

On the other hand, are people noticing that in most of the major fashion houses where the designers are rotating through are usually hiring men? They come. And then they go. Which begs the question: does having a “muse,” qualify you to design what’s best for women?

It’s just something to think about, really.

And all of this brings me back to the point I continue to make, that things with real substance and integrity are being honored less and less…and less.

I am hopeful for the future in fashion because while Cathy Horyn observes how “many designers have a one-dimensional view of glamour that boils down to tits and fringe,” designers like Phoebe Philo continue to look for ways to remain innovate and authentic – and try to answer the questions; What is too much? What is not enough? And what looks authentic?

Céline

Céline

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney

The Row

The Row

Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham

Rosetta Getty

Rosetta Getty

 

It’s All About Discovery (Not eCommerce).

I travel a lot. I meet interesting people, I taste incredible food, I see creativity manifested in many ways, and hear foreign languages and the hum of big cities nearly everywhere I go. My senses are pleasantly on overload much of the time, and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

To have the ability to experience all of that adds so many things to my life – things that I know most people are missing today. And what scares me is I’m not sure they know they’re missing it, because their eyes are always on their computers.

But I do think it’s why a lot of people can’t seem to stop asking me, or understand why I’ve decided not take Louis online. They want to know why I keep avoiding ecommerce and all that goes along with it, but I assure you I have some pretty good reasons – reasons that continue to surprise and delight every person who walks through the door at 60 Northern Avenue. I don’t sell my things online for them. I don’t sell the things you find at Louis online so they can walk into my store and keep their senses connected with the world around them and continue to appreciation all of the things they could never experience with the click of a mouse.

I think a lot about ecommerce, and I understand why some people think I should “change” the way I do things and move in that direction, but that doesn’t mean they understand the true ramifications of that word. From where I’m sitting, Louis is changing all the time – in a never ending movement of new colors and shapes and designers and fabrics – all of the things those people will never be able to experience and appreciate from looking at a computer screen.

It all comes down to this: I don’t sell Louis online and I don’t have an app because I want you to walk into my store and EXPERIENCE and APPRECIATE all that the eye can see and the hands and body can feel. I want to you smell wool and touch fabric and ask questions and discover new things. Life is about discovery, and you can’t do it when you’re sitting at a computer.

Besides how it effects you, not going digital also effects me, and my business. But the truth is, I’m not interested in sacrificing everything Louis is to make a fast dollar on the internet. I am however, interested in maintaining our integrity and sustaining our longevity, and holding fast to the long term effects of my actions.

I stay off of the internet because I am not interested in being a hot .com for a little while. I’m interested in keeping the leadership position that I’ve earned, that we all covet in this industry. Four generations have given the Louis experience to our customers – and people won’t know what that is if they can’t physically come here to experience everything we have to offer.

If I turned my attention to ecommerce, everything would change around here, and not for the better. I would no longer be able to offer one-of-a-kind pieces from exciting, young designers…and you would have to wait to hear about them from Vogue. I would have to start buying for a much bigger audience, and things that are produced en masse, can become rather boring and predictable. Don’t you agree? I don’t want to be strangled by the buying machine, and trust me, you don’t want me to be either.

I want you to try things on to find your proper size season to season, and see that you are NOT two dimensional like some designers who sell online would like for you to believe. You are in fact three-dimensional and what looks good on you just might not look good on the next person.

I want you to embrace your individuality, stop buying what the lastest “it” girl was wearing on E! last week, and begin to understand that by doing so you are letting the industry control who you are and influence what you like. The truth is (and the truth can hurt), what they’re wearing and what the stylists are pushing on their bodies has no relevance to you and your life.

I want you to evolve as a shopper by abandoning the sites you frequent and buying the same things in different colors, and get into a store where you can be introduced to new designers and styles and cuts of clothing you may not have noticed before. Expand your ideas of what looks good on you because in fashion, ignorance is NOT bliss.

I want you to understand that random online clicking will never help you build a wardrobe, it will only help you collect things – things that will go out of style well before they wear out from washing. How can you build the cohesive wardrobe you deserve if you aren’t able to buy pieces that work several ways together instead of alone, one at a time?

You may not realize it yet, although I think more and more people are catching on every day, that the internet is turning into the Sears Catalog that first appeared in 1888 and flourished in early 1900’s, and that while it’s moving us forward, it’s also bringing us way back in time. If you’re paying close attention, there are a lot of new stores like Louis popping up here and there, because the old way is now the new way to do good business.

Not sold? Do you still think shopping online is the way to go? If so, I challenge you – the next time you want to go shopping – to shut down your computer, leave your home, and make your way out into the world for a real “user experience”. Your senses are waiting.

You’ll thank me someday. You’ll see.

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