|The Devil Wear's Prada film clip|
Thoughts from designers
Making your Katonomist feel decidedly like an uncool academic (I really need to get a conductor’s hat), independent fashion designers presented their experiences in setting up their own fashion brands. Finance is a big challenge. Many designers rely on friends and family to support their work, and living cheap (said to be a huge problem in London) is important. One designer works as a building concierge in exchange for shop space.
Thoughts from academics
Fashion’s ‘piracy paradox,’ (covered previously here and here) suggests fashion relies on copying to encourage its deliberately cyclical (planned obsolescence) nature to create demand for newer fashions. To mark these cycles, the industry collectively decides, via colour organisations, a seasonal palette. It’s a bit like a standards setting organisation, and allows for colours to date. (For fans of The Devil Wears Prada, think the cerulean blue sweater scene.) However, this dynamic may be changing. According to Dan Strutt, ‘fast fashion’, defined as the process by which, “designs move from catwalk quickly in order to capture current fashion trends” (think H&M and Zara), leads not only to faster fashion catwalk-to-street cycles, but also to shorter colour runs (how long a factory produces a particular colour). Could fast fashion become frenetic fashion?
Dan also looked at the professionalization of fashion blogging. Bloggers now offer public relations packages – combing text, street photos, blog, Instagram and tweets – to fashion brands. [Merpel is an anxiously awaiting the moment when she can be paid to promote Trade Mark. That will be £5,000, thank you.]
|Life isn't perfect, but your outfit can be|
By Nabokov at English Wikipedia
A key theme, and one that is not unique to fashion, is the general precarity of fashion start-ups. Uncertainty and the high costs of living in cities like London, make translating innovation and creativity into sustainable businesses is hard. There was also discussion of a possible fashion e-commerce bubble. Many giants such Zalando, Yoox, Asos and Net-a-porter have only recently begun to turn profits, yet have questionably high market values.
The story doesn't end here. Efforts by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and the on-going cheerleading copyright battle between market leader Varsity and Star Athletica (covered here by the 1709 blog), may lead to an expansion of IP rights in fashion. From yesterday's discussion, it's unclear how this would help independent designers. In the meantime, I'm enjoying my snorkel blue jumper.