The Précis: 21st April 2018

“Moschino is H&M’s Latest Designer Collaboration” – Fashionista

H&M’s annual high-low collaboration has been announced for 2018. Due to debut in early November, Jeremy Scott of Moschino is teaming up with the fast-fashion retailer to create a capsule collection. Every year, H&M’s designer collaboration does extremely well. The most coveted pieces usually sell out quickly and there are lines outside the stores on the morning of the launch. I look forward to seeing what Jeremy Scott comes up with. His work for Moschino is always fun. I hope there are some lower priced accessories like iPhone cases up for grabs.

“Why is this Made in China stigma still rampant? Fashion snobs, globalization is here to stay” – SCMP

I found this article about globalization interesting because it pointed out something very accurate about the fashion industry: Made in China (or any Southeast Asian country for that matter) still carries a stigma. People tend to think that quality items cannot be made in these regions, despite there being skilled workers in each country. This was demonstrated when Balenciaga received criticism for moving production of their ‘Triple S’ sneakers from Italy to China without dropping the price of the product. They currently retail for $850. Balenciaga cited that the factories they were now using in China were actually better equipped to making a shoe that was “lighter” and therefore likely more comfortable for the end-consumer. Regardless, people still took issue with the Made in China label and thought the shoe somehow lost value. I don’t know about you but I don’t have an issue with my stuff being made in any country as long as the quality is there. I’ve had some crappy pieces that have been made in Europe and some amazing pieces that were made in China. It seems that perhaps quality isn’t the only issue at hand.

The Précis: 14th April 2018

“The Revelation of Cardi B” – The Atlantic

Cardi B’s album debuted a week past Friday and I actually really liked it. I had previously written her off for not fully writing her own songs but I have come to realize that her music is enjoyable so I have to discount that slightly. This article from The Atlantic reviews her debut album “Invasion of Privacy”. The album has been met with generally positive reviews thus far and since her pregnancy reveal on SNL last week, Cardi has been met with positivity too. I may be a fan!

“Major Fashion Names Among Worst Offenders in Britain Gender Pay Gap” – The New York Times

Fashion is an industry that is dominated by women. However, a lot of the top leadership roles at fashion companies are filled by men. This means that the gender pay gap in the fashion industry is immense. The British government required employers to submit information about their gender pay gaps which was then released to the public afterwards. The survey revealed that many major fashion companies, including Condé Nast which houses British Vogue, were underpaying female staffers. For example, Condé Nast is paying women 63p on the pound. It’s disappointing to see an industry which champions women not empowering them economically. However, it is not unsurprising. I wonder when we will reach economic equality.

Polyvore Shutters

Polyvore, the much loved fashion site where users could style sets and bookmark items for future shopping purchases, abruptly shut down last week with no prior warning. The site was acquired by the Canadian e-commerce company, SSENSE. Instead of buying the site and keeping it operational, SSENSE decided to close Polyvore and redirect all traffic to their own homepage, which doesn’t include any of the same features which Polyvore offered. Understandably, this move was met with much dismay online.

The first article I read about this was on Fashionista and I don’t think I have ever seen quite a reaction on any of their posts. The comments section was alive, with 90 comments and counting at the time I first read it. The Polyvore community was shocked and angry. Firstly, there was no warning that the site could close meaning users lost followings, data, friendships, and a community. Polyvore gave you the option to download your sets as images (which I chose to do) but that isn’t really enough. Some people had built followings of over 100k. To lose that instantly must be devastating. Secondly, all of their data was sold to SSENSE and you had to opt-out of the sharing rather than opt-in meaning that some people who no longer had access to their accounts had all of their information shared unwillingly. Overall, the closure of the site was done in a very shady manner and the previous owners of Polyvore will certainly have felt the heat due to the backlash online. To betray your community in such a way seems awful, but we do forget that it is all just a business and that companies don’t actually care about our feelings.

I used to use Polyvore a lot when I was younger. It was a way to be involved in fashion during a time when I lived so far away from it all. I used it to style outfits that I thought were cool using pieces that I would want to wear if I had the money or was 10 years older (at the time I was 16). My usage definitely tapered off after I moved to New York and had more substantial things to fill my time but I did still go onto the app occasionally for fun and style up a couple of sets. I know people who used Polyvore as their business so I’m sure the loss to them is much more significant (e.g. some stylists who would send sets to clients). I stopped using the app for my own enjoyment sometime last year but then I ended up using it during my internship, creating sets for the company. It seems mad that all of that work has now been lost.

So yes, the closure of Polyvore is sad and there is definitely a void left to be filled. I’m still unsure why they had to close because there was still a fair number of active users on the site. If Stardoll still exists over a decade later, why couldn’t Polyvore?

A set of mine from 2014

Read the Fashionista article (and the comments section) here.

The Précis: 7th April 2018

“Is Anna Wintour out at Vogue?” Page Six

On Monday evening, Page Six posted an article that set the fashion world ablaze: Anna Wintour is leaving Vogue. No later than the morning after it was posted, Condé Nast issued a statement firmly denying the news but the seeds were sown nonetheless. It seems strange that the Page Six article would be full of fallacies because they had so many details included: her succession plan, her likely next role, who she would give her exit interview to. In my opinion, it doesn’t seem entirely unlikely. Anna Wintour has been at the top of the fashion food chain for my entire life and then some. If she were to leave her position the fashion industry would undoubtedly change significantly. I can’t think of another EIC who could provide the same level of influence and “taste”. Page Six named Edward Enninful as Wintour’s likely successor, which could be possible. After all, Condé Nast moved Anna Wintour to British Vogue before making her the EIC of American Vogue. However, is Edward Enninful ready to be the king of the fashion world? Only time will tell. As the saying goes, there’s no smoke without fire.

“Resale is expected to be bigger than fast fashion within 10 years” – Fashionista

This article, and several variations of it found on many fashion sites, states that the resale market is growing so much that it is set to outpace fast fashion’s growth and overtake it as the most dominant way we shop. It will be interesting if that happens but as someone who has grown up around fast fashion and not known any different in my lifetime, I will be very surprised if this actually happens. You see, the report was generated by ThredUp, a resale site, so it has to be taken with a grain of salt. All of the article are fantastic marketing for them. I particularly liked how Racked interpreted the report as they focused on in-person resale versus online and how the rise of online resale like ThredUp and Depop affects resale stores like your neighborhood Buffalo Exchange or Beacon’s Closet. It’s a good read if you’re interested. I just wonder if millennials will be willing to forego the latest trends and the luxury of having brand new clothes for the sake of the environment. I really feel like this will affect a smaller group of people than forecast because as many people as there are who are for sustainability and operate their lives in a sustainable manner, there are more who are concerned with convenience and cost. Until the two can merge successfully and fully, I think fast fashion will continue to thrive.

The Decline of Vetements

Vetements is dead, or so they’re saying. In an unsurprising move, fashion’s former favorite brand is on the outs. It seems that they fell victim to their own hype. Customers are no longer happy to be taken advantage of and that’s exactly what Vetements does: $900 t-shirts, $1000 hoodies, $1500 jeans. Buyers are slashing their orders and retailers are cutting prices, constantly marking down their current inventory from the brand. It’s just getting harder to convince people that they need to ironically buy a DHL t-shirt when they can get one for less than $50 on DHL’s website, plus who actually wants to look like a delivery driver on a day to day basis (unless you actually are one)?

First noted by Highsnobiety then pounced upon by almost every outlet, this is the most I’ve actually heard about Vetements for months. Instead, their position as the most hyped brand has been overtaken by Virgil Abloh’s Off-White. Now that I think about it, his brand has taken a similar trajectory to Vetements and his own personal career is taking a similar route.

Consider this:

  • Vetements and Off-White both have gained increased buzz by partnering with other brands for collaborations. Vetements have paired up with the likes of Juicy Couture, Champion, Tommy Hilfiger, Umbro, and Reebok. Off-White has collaborated with brands including Warby Parker, Nike, Umbro, Vans, and Moncler.
  • Both Demna Gvasalia of Vetements and Virgil Abloh have many friends in high places like Kanye West and a whole host of models who have helped their brands grow
  • Demna Gvasalia and Virgil Abloh have both become designers for major European fashion houses with Demna heading up Balenciaga and Virgil moving to Louis Vuitton menswear.

Since Gvasalia began designing for both Balenciaga and Vetements, I would argue that Vetements suffered. The hype started to die when people realized that they could get the same ideas, often in a more wearable form, at Balenciaga and have the classic brand and higher quality for only a little more money. I hope for Virgil’s sake that Off-White doesn’t suffer the same fate. When you are the most hyped brand, you run the risk of people getting bored. It can become passé to be wearing a logo of a brand who is no longer cool. At least brands like Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton never run the risk of becoming totally irrelevant because of the history behind them.

What has happened to Vetements isn’t unsurprising to me. I remember going to a talk in London in early 2016 where Gurum Gvasalia, Demna’s brother, discussed their business model extensively. Apparently the whole idea was to make the product so exclusive that it never had to go on sale. With the latest round of markdowns on many of their retailers, it appears that the strategy did not quite work. Now let’s see where Vetements goes. Will the brand cease to exist by the end of the year? Only time will tell.