Tag Archives: Kim Kardashian

Keeping Up With Kendall Jenner (And Her 16 Million Instagram Followers)

Forget about Keeping up with the Kardashians, how on earth will we ever keep up with Kendall?

On November 21st the New York Times published a rather lengthy article about Kendall Jenner – daughter of Kris, sister of Kim, and sister-in-law of Kanye – and the new face of legendary beauty industry empire Estée Lauder. This coveted contract has been in the possession of several talented actresses and supermodels in years past, but now…they are handing it over to Kendall.

Forgive the hint of sarcasm here, but I, like a lot of you, can’t seem to quite put my finger on why this family, and this sister in particular is deserving of any such coveted honors. Is it because she’s a leader in fashion and beauty? Is she a style icon in the industry? Has she has earned the spot by working her way up in the fiercely competitive world of modeling?

It turns out the answer is none of the above. It’s widely reported that she got the coveted contract because she has more social media followers than all of us combined, and this is her reward.

Foregoing the route of traditional publicity driven press releases, Vogue magazine broke the news of the contract on their website (their headline read “Kendall Jenner Social-Media Sensation Turned Beauty Star), and the New York Times reported that Kendall (she is trying to drop the “Jenner”) was encouraged to spread the word on her own social channels, and boy did she ever!

Her Instagram announcement post was “liked” more than one million – Yes ONE MILLION – times. The rest of her social media stats are also staggering. Believe it or not, she has 16 MILLION Instagram followers, 9.1 MILLION Twitter followers, and 7.3 MILLION likes on Facebook.

And I’m back to asking myself, WHY?

Why is this generation okay with famous people who are only famous because of the social media followers they have that made them famous? Is this Kendall Jenner’s credibility, and is this the new standard for credibility? Does it mean your fashionable because you have 9.1 Twitter followers?

I’ve addressed it before, but where have all the icons gone? Are you an icon because you have followers or because you truly have a sense of style and walk out the door looking sensational.

I don’t know about you, but I kind of liked it when the collective standard was a lot higher.

Some of you may be saying, “Oh Debi, you just don’t get it,” but I really do. It’s just difficult for me to understand that as a style icon, Kendall doesn’t have style – she has “followers,” and apparently that’s all you need…and what they say goes.

All of this brings me back to one last thought on Black Friday. As I wrote in my blog last week, Black Friday has become a manufactured holiday that maintains little to no real value. Vendors manufacture goods for this sales event to make the consumer think they are getting a deal. I was listening to NPR last weekend when they exposed that the retail giants don’t even change their Black Friday ads from year to year anymore. They simply continue to manufacture the same sub-standard products every season in an effort to dumb down anything the consumer has come to expect. Judging by the lines of people camped out in front of their stores for days and even weeks on end – it seems they have succeeded. They’re saving money and you are getting a deal. Does that sound right?

It makes me wonder, is Estée Lauder getting a “deal” with Kendall Jenner? Has her worth as their spokesperson been manufactured by her followers, so much so that the consumer thinks they’re getting what they want?

It begs the question, does the sheer amount of her followers justify the rest of us giving up standards that have merit, for something that really has none?

Is Kendall Jenner all that we can afford?

kendallpicstitch

Meanwhile, in Paris…

Each season I board a plane to Paris and expect to find some inspiration when I land. I attend shows and visit showrooms; I talk to other businesswomen and men; I meet with designers and exchange ideas with magazine editors…all in an effort to find and bring new ideas and inspiration back to Boston.

I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon, but as my trip came to a close last week and I found myself ready to come home, I realized that overall, I wasn’t so inspired.

Actually, I’m quite happy with what I bought while I was there, and I had no problem committing to the designers and ideas that I did, but I’m glad I went into it with a definitive point of view – because when people walk into the major department stores in spring, I don’t know if they’ll be able to find one. Sure, you’ll see the trends – but inspiration? I’m not so sure.

I really enjoyed what designers like Haider Ackermann, Jonathan Saunders, Victoria Beckham, and Roland Mouret had to say, but beyond that most everything else smelled quite unauthentic. It seemed the creative air was sucked out of the city in some odd way. Paris has always been about the artistry, but more and more it’s become about going “global,” and the art is getting lost.

I understand that the name of the game is the bottom line, but we can’t forget that ingenuity has paved the road to the bottom line for many incredible designers throughout the ages. There is no question that fashion is losing its edge and becoming too commercialized overall. Authenticity is becoming lost and not only is it affecting the subconscious behaviors of consumers, it’s taking an evident toll on the industry itself.

One of the last shows of Fashion Week was Chanel. Karl Lagarfeld transformed the Grand Palais into a Paris Boulevard and it seemed, a feminist protest. Models strutted together in a large group, shouting with and without megaphones, carrying posters to protest…I don’t know what, or more importantly perhaps, why. Was it a protest of fashion? Quite honestly it left me feeling confused, not inspired.

It seemed there was a sense of anti-fashion off of the runway as well. I couldn’t help but notice the fashion bloggers who are usually very well dressed were a bit more casual in Paris. I saw a lot of boy jeans and white shirts and man-style shoes, indicating that none of them wanted to fall into fashion? I got the sense that Tommy Ton didn’t know what or who to shoot because everyone was dressed so similarly. Nary a Christian Louboutin heel or Céline bag could be found. The tone was definitely toned down and it felt unsettling to me that people were holding back.

Other unsettling news came via WWD where I learned that New York would be adding five new 250k square foot department stores to the borough of Manhattan. Why? So they can sell everything on sale? So the conglomerates that own a great deal of the fashion space can continue to seek a dominant space in the market? At what price?

Quite often I feel like Vanessa Freidman, Fashion Director and Chief Fashion Critic of the New York Times, is one of the only other people who sees what I see, and is willing to talk about it. If you read her articles it’s clear she wants to know what the purpose is of fashion these days, and why the industry is behaving as it is. What’s going on and what’s it really all about? Do we need another paparazzi picture of Kim and Kanye arriving late to a fashion show?

Unfortunately, my need for authenticity and integrity wasn’t quite satiated this season. It seemed the designers wanted to say or demand something, but they didn’t quite know what it was – and it’s for this reason that the reaction of the industry to build more toward dominance seems quite counterproductive at this time.

My hope is that the industry starts to see and dismantle the hamster wheel they’ve built for consumers to build an appetite with, and instead find ways to encourage consumption that has some meaning behind it. Find a way to encourage originality and authenticity, and understand that people want to devour that even more.

Meanwhile…I’m walking around the city streets of Paris wearing pieces that I brought from Boston. Pieces from Louis, past and present – all mixed up but with a distinct point of view. People were stopping me, asking me how I put things together – finally something to talking about!

…and so I ask, do you really care where Kim and Kanye are today?

Haider Ackermann

Haider Ackermann

Jonathan Saunders

Jonathan Saunders

Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham

Roland Mouret

Roland Mouret

(all images: style.com)

Welcome to the Evolution

It was brought to my attention lately that my blog “What Is…” was not.  And for a woman who has spent many years curating stories that come alive within the walls of Louis, I stopped telling them to you long ago.

I blog because I always have something to say, but I stopped because I kept getting the uneasy feeling that my words were falling on deaf ears…in what can be a very ignorant industry anyway. My tone was becoming angry, I know I sounded whiny, and it was time to stop tapping the keyboard and start tapping into evolution.

It was no longer interesting to me, and surely not to you, to continue to regurgitate the mantras I so loathed of markdowns and selling out. Everything felt like it was standing still.

Fashion has been, and always will be, a socioeconomic illustration of society. And as such should always be evolving. And that’s where the industry is fumbling. Stories have become about conforming when they should really be about evolving.

And all roads lead me here.

Is fashion evolving, and more importantly, are we evolving with it?

Let’s just say I’m hopeful.

With the advancement of smartphones and the alarming rate of digital creation and consumption, things have been moving at warped speed…except when it comes to fashion. I get that this digital movement is highly instrumental in “sharing” fashion, but what’s being shared has been stalling out.

I can’t understand why, when for the duration of my lifetime anyway, I have found the history of fashion to be somewhat fascinating.

Bare with me…

The 1950’s were, unquestionably, the decade of the dress. The silhouette was often the same, but fabrics and patterns would change so there could be a dress for every occasion a girl could dream of. And in the 50’s they were all dreamers, weren’t they?

1950's Fashion

In the 1960’s fashion started to see some much desired change. Women were finally ready to wake up. They were ready to break out of their Jello molds, and their attitudes began to instead mirror the social movements of the time. Highlights (and there were many) included Mary Quant inventing the mini-skirt and Jackie O introducing the world to the Pillbox hat. Dresses were still in fashion, but the silhouettes were changing. Women were turning away from the conventional and toward a sense of timeless freedom. Shift dresses, pants and skirt suits made their way to the mainstream, but all were still high on “matching” and low on adventure.

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Dior

Dior

Fortunately, fashion underwent a full-blown change from uniformity to individuality in the 1970’s. “Separates” made their way into the department stores and women breathed a collective sigh of relief, as they were now able to connect with who they were…or who they thought they were…or more likely, who they wanted to be. Women’s Liberation helped them wake up to the notion of expressing themselves, and fashion was beginning to let them. Platform shoes, Mini and Maxi dresses, hot pants, tube tops, fitted blazers, the ubiquitous DVF Wrap Dress, and last, but certainly not least, the leotard. From dance class to the dance floor with a trip to the supermarket in between, the leotard crossed over to streetwear and had an impact on the world that I still can’t believe!

70s-fashion-bell-bottoms

By the 1980’s things began to really shift from the home to the office, and women were now the standard in the boardroom. They weren’t working because they had to, they were working because they wanted to, and they needed to create an identity that spoke to who they were, and they needed to own it. Shoulder-padded blazers lined the racks to help women display how fierce they were, and short, fitted skirts made sure they weren’t forced to abandon their sexuality. Now they had an identity, but individual personalities got lost in the commute.

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1980

As things shifted from the 80’s to the 90’s women did begin to take ownership of who they were. The non-descript stood up and said, “No, I’m not (non-descript)” and they began to demand more than suits and separates. They didn’t want to have to worry about fitting in anymore. To the contrary, they were finally ready to stand out.

A reflection of the times, the Armani power suit dominated for those who were “getting ahead,” while deconstruction began to condemn the glitz and glamour of the 80’s. When the recession engulfed the economy in 1991 designers like Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garçons, and the “Antwerp 6” already had a strong hold on Europe and “Grunge” had infiltrated the United States.

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The "Antwerp 6"

The “Antwerp 6”

"Grunge" by Steven Meisel for Vogue

“Grunge” by Steven Meisel for Vogue

But then, somewhere in the middle of the 2000’s, things hit a wall. Hard. The items that men and women wanted to make themselves standout suddenly became “trends,” and the “top 5” were born. Websites and fashion blogs began to overflow with information (content) and the pages of glossy fashion magazines began to tell people what they had to wear to really show their individuality. However, unbeknownst to them, women really found themselves negotiating their individuality, and then individuality became the trend.

It kept getting worse from there.

Two words: Colored Denim

color-blocking-modelo1

031612-colored-denim-623

If you’ve been following along, all of this begs the question, how can we evolve and stay innovative if we’re simply going to follow the trend? Who are you if you dress exactly like Kim Kardashian?

That’s not a trick question.

The answer is you…only now, you’re dressed like Kim Kardashian.

It’s time to dress like you.

We made it through dresses and separates, pants suits and shoulder pads, bell-bottoms and tie-dye,  geometric prints and all things Mod. Why stop now?

It’s 2014 and if you’re paying close attention you know that fashion is absolutely evolving again. If you’re not, you should know that your options are abundant…but you have to stop looking to the current “It” girl, or in the pages of glossy “fashion” magazines. Trust yourself, find your passion, and make your mark.

What does evolution look like?

Get ready, because here it comes…

 

Thomas Tait

Thomas Tait

Thomas Tait

Thomas Tait