Darwinism and luxury fashion brands
Flicking through Vogue Italia August 2011 issue I came across a campaign image from Moschino. Wowsers, has it changed since Jeremy Scott took the helm?! It got me thinking about Alexander Fury’s FURY over what he surmises as Hedi Slimane’s butchering and ‘dishonouring’ of Yves Saint Laurent’s name since he took on the Creative Directorship in 2012. I’ve just seen the images of the S/S16 Saint Laurent show and I can’t wait to read Fury’s (Fury-ous?) review of this one. Yikes.
In British Vogue, October 2002 issue I came across a calf-length tweed boot by Loewe, ripping me right back to a time when Loewe was a sleepy Madrid-based label loved by the conservative and well-healed Spaniard with a respect for well crafted and extortionately expensive leather goods to last a lifetime and be handed down to family members through the generations. A Loewe handbag had since become a right of passage for all girls entering their late teens whose parents were flush. I worked at Loewe as a knitwear consultant for a couple of seasons before JW Anderson took up the proverbial reins and Loewe is speaking an entirely different language now – a new hybrid Euro language we’re all trying to learn, where the feminine and masculine tenses are replaced with gender neutral ones and that’s full of knowing slang dosed out with bags of attitude. At least he’s saying something interesting.
Yves Saint Laurent 2011
Saint Laurent 2015
The current Loewe campaign
So what’s in a brand? Does the history of the brand matter? Should it’s design ‘codes’ be respected for all time? If so, how does a designer do that while remaining current, or better still, trail blazing? Today’s fashion consumer is not the same as yesterday’s. We live in a digital, dynamic and immediate world. The old codes of luxury have to give way to new ones to maintain relevance. The design, craft and processes are paramount, but luxury design does not have to mean conservative design. Technology will drive the fashion industry, at least in terms of online sales; quicker, greener manufacturing, social media growth leading to increased connectivity between brands and customers. This must in turn lead to innovation in design and changing design codes. Consider how the innovation in digital knitting has changed the trainer landscape? Nike Flyknits are the single most exciting development in knitting technology that has spearheaded design in the last decade, in my opinion. This technology is now being applied in the premium and luxury sector and an explosion in the trainer market has led to luxury brands upping their trainer offer. Check out the trainer offer from Chanel and Dior, and the trainer that sparked the following luxury textile incarnations, Nike Flyknit:
Chanel A/W 2015
Christian Dior Haute Couture S/S 14
Nike Flyknit Zoom Agility Fit (since 2011)
Perhaps the answer ultimately lies in the lessons of Biology. In Darwinian terms we must evolve to survive.