The new year is in full swing and the fashion industry is back to its rapid pace with plenty of newsworthy details being leaked every week. From collaborations to conversations to accusations, there is plenty of news to dissect. Unfortunately, the climate of sexual assault allegations which heated up last fall continued into 2018 with new reports coming out weekly. The fashion industry had remained mum on the subject for a little while but with the latest round of rumors, it is impossible to turn a blind eye any longer.
“Male models say Mario Testino and Bruce Weber sexually assaulted them” – The New York Times
The Bruce Weber allegations came out last year. He was “cancelled” for a lot of people who read the stories shared by the young male models who had been subject to his behavior. The New York Times article published last week just further solidified the claims. A new name, Mario Testino, was added into the mix. It’s sad to hear this because these men are two of fashion’s most prominent photographers who have shot everybody from models to the royal family, yet they have been behaving in an immoral way for decades and got away with it up until now. I feel like it has taken so long for the stories to break about these two photographers because of their friends in high places (literally every fashion magazine has worked with the pair at some stage) and the fact that they don’t look like your typical creep. Terry Richardson was almost too easy to bring down due to the fact that he looked like a sleazebag so it was easier for the allegations to stick. With Testino and Weber, some of fashion’s big names can’t seem to give up on them. In response to the New York Times exposé, Condé Nast revealed new guidelines for conduct on photoshoots (models will never be left alone with photographers, makeup artists etc.) and announced that they were not planning to work with either photographer for the foreseeable future.
It seems as though New York Fashion Week will soon be no more. Each season, another brand drops out to either show in another city or show at a different time. In the previous few years, New York has suffered some high profile losses like Proenza Schouler and Altuzarra. Now, the unthinkable has happened: Alexander Wang is changing schedule and skipping fashion week, starting after February. In a new move, it was announced that Alexander Wang will be showing in June and December instead of February and September. Yes, it’s only one brand but the knock-on effects will likely be tremendous. In five years time, I predict fashion will be operating on an entirely different schedule than it currently does. The see-now, buy-now trend sparked the change and this move has only further solidified the fact that the traditional calendar is just not working anymore. Brands are revolting and refusing to stick to it, and now retailers are going to be left with no other option other than keep up with the changes.
New year, new title! As I mentioned in last Saturday’s post, my blog is in a slightly transitional phase and the renaming of the weekly words series is just one of the many changes that I am making: enter, the précis. Précis, meaning summary or synopsis, is the new name of my weekly series as I figured it was really a roundup of some of the newsworthy stories of the week and précis sounds a little more elegant. I hope you enjoy the new name.
In an unsurprising announcement, L Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret reported declining sales of 5% to 14% each month compared to 2016. It may seem that Victoria’s Secret is the go-to stop for lingerie but much of their hype comes from their annual fashion show, which was largely considered disastrous last year, and from their models’, angels’, own social media followings. The online attention doesn’t always translate into sales and the newly released figures proves this. VS changed their product offerings a couple of years ago, cutting the hugely popular swimwear division and focusing on activewear instead. The move away from swim was met with much disappointment from consumers and VS’ sales have been declining since.
Personally, I can’t imagine things getting any better for Victoria’s Secret unless they vastly change their products. Their brand of sexy is just not cool anymore. As a company that is trying to capture the wallets of young girls (as young as tweens, with the PINK division), they are out of touch with what young girls want. Young people do not wear lingerie and padded bras anymore; they wear bralets, which VS does sell but at higher prices than competitors in that area. The women of the age who would be interested in buying the kind of underwear sold by Victoria’s Secret is often sized out of the store due to the miniscule size range normally available in stores – if you have very small or very large boobs, try somewhere else – plus the fact that the underwear only goes up to size XL and definitely runs small (according to their size chart an XL is a US 16, average women’s size is 16-18 across the country). It will be interesting to monitor VS’ performance over the course of 2018 to see if they make any noticeable changes to their branding or how they market their products as I also feel like this could change their fate long term.
If you didn’t already hear about it, H&M posted a product on their site that received hefty (and deserved) criticism online. The product in question was a kids hoodie with “coolest monkey in the jungle” printed on it. The hoodie in question was worn by a black child, prompting outcries of racism. I struggle to understand how this product got through so many stages of development without anybody flagging it as a potential issue. It takes many people to make a product live on a website and I can’t believe that nobody raised this as an issue. The Weeknd has a clothing collaboration with the fast-fashion retailer but after seeing the news online, he announced that he would not be working with the store any longer. G-Eazy, who has a similar deal, said the same thing. Pressure has been building for Nicki Minaj to make a similar statement, but as of now she has remained quiet.
I was glad to see people quickly condemning H&M over this product and it was nice to see celebrities putting their money where their mouth is and actually pull out of partnerships that no longer align with their values. It means forfeiting a paycheck for them, but in the long run what even is that to people who are making multi-millions annually? People have called for a boycott of the Swedish retailer but that will likely not happen. People tend to be all talk and no action when it comes to things like that. H&M released a statement earlier this week apologizing for their actions. I just really don’t understand how things like this continue to happen: it’s 2018.
The week between Christmas and New Year is always a slow one, like drifting down a lazy river. It is a time to relax, unwind, and reflect on the past year. I have spent a lot of time doing that, and also thinking about what I want in the year ahead. Every year people make resolutions to lose weight, work out, and be entirely different people than they currently are. I don’t think that’s a good approach. Instead make manageable and achievable goals that you won’t beat yourself up over if you don’t achieve. I’m making more of a bucket list of things I want to do, places I want to visit, and things I want to buy – I might do a post on this at some point.
As a result of the week-long holiday taken by nearly everybody in fashion, the news cycle has been rather slow so I’m adding something from last week which I forgot to mention: the departure of Phoebe Philo from Céline. I’m hoping that the designers who have all left houses (such as Philo and, my favorite, Riccardo Tisci) find a new brand to call home in 2018.
In a surprising twist, Phoebe Philo has stepped down from her position at Céline. Rumors of her impending departure began swirling back in 2015 when Vanessa Friedman of The New York Times mentioned them in an article about Alber Elbaz being fired from Lanvin. However, in fashion’s game of musical chairs it began to appear that Philo was staying put. Alas, on December 22nd it was confirmed that she was leaving the brand after the Fall 2018 show in March. Philo is best known for her minimalist style which is oft-copied by other luxury brands and fast-fashion stores alike. Her contribution to fashion is huge and the loss surrounding her departure will definitely be felt in the coming seasons.
After months of speculation, Khloe Kardashian has finally confirmed that she is pregnant with her first baby. In sharing the happy news, she has reignited the debate over whether her younger sister Kylie Jenner is pregnant or not. Fans have thought that neither of the sisters were pregnant and that Kris Jenner was just leading everyone on a wild goose chase. Khloe’s confirmation now has us all waiting for Kylie’s. Here’s to hoping it comes by Christmas!
Payday loans are a major financial problem for millions of people. Debt is scary. Money management is not the easiest thing in the world. Why is it, then, that Affirm loans exist and are used to purchase the most trivial things such as a pair of jeans? This Racked article explores the topic, detailing the use of Affirm loans (which have an APR of 10-30%) for smaller purchases like clothing and plane tickets. It allows the customer to pay for the product in whole straight away using a loan, and then pay back the loan in installments over a set period of time. The article is really interesting and helps you understand the reasoning that people may use when they opt to try this service, but, as with any information from a financial provider, take it all with a grain of salt. Is it really worth potentially ruining your credit score for a pair of jeans / making a $200 pair of jeans cost way more after you’ve actually paid them off? Please read this article because Racked have produced an amazing piece that really opens your eyes!!
Shot by Steven Meisel and starring many of the original supermodels from Gianni Versace’s iconic shows, Versace’s SS18 campaign is nostalgic and superb. The entire collection was a tribute to Gianni Versace, comprised of archivally-inspired pieces and prints. The campaign continues with the same theme and provides us with a much welcomed injection of glamour and fun in this dreary world.
“Salma Hayek: Harvey Weinstein is my monster too” – The New York Times
In the scandal that never seems to settle, Salma Hayek has come forward with her own story about Harvey Weinstein from the time of when she was developing and shooting the movie Frida, based on the life story of Frida Kahlo. Her story, penned as a personal essay, detailed the incidents which took place in great detail and shows a lot of emotion. She spoke of an incident during the filming, which quickly descended into a hellish experience, where he pressured her into doing a lesbian sex scene with co-star Ashley Judd, aka the actress who first came forward with her story. It seems that no woman in Hollywood was exempt from his behavior. The day after the story broke, Weinstein’s publicists came out with a statement to deny the claims. Really Weinstein, why even bother?
This week has been a hectic, crazy week for me. I have barely stopped thus far with lots of travel and appointments filling up my days. I’m not in New York at the moment and it is really strange removing yourself from that bubble. It is very easy to get stuck in the mindset that New York is the center of the universe when you live there, because it really is its own self-contained world. Everything you could ever need is there. However, the world did not stop turning just because I left the city and once again it is another week filled with news and happenings. Here’s some of the most important fashion news, in my opinion:
Kim Kardashian copies Vetements
Instead of finding this online, I stumbled across this myself and I was actually very disappointed. When Kim and North wore the matching silver Vetements dresses to one of Kanye West’s Saint Pablo tour shows back in September 2016, the whole internet’s collective hearts melted. They looked so cute. It was twinning at its best. Fast forward to 2017 and Kim Kardashian and Kanye West launched their own kids clothing line, called The Kids Supply. The line appears to be pretty successful, operating on a drop system comparable to a sneaker release and providing kids with miniature versions of their parents’ clothes. They even sell baby Yeezys. For the Holiday 2017 collection, Kim & Kanye included a silver dress which is a direct knock-off of the Vetements style that was custom made for North last fall. It’s disappointing to see them try to profit off of one of their friend’s (or at least acquaintance’s) designs, especially when the design in question was a one-of-a-kind piece made for their daughter. I understand taking inspiration from something, but when it looks like a direct replica that is a little bit inappropriate. This isn’t the first time that Kim & Kanye have been called out for copying with this line, with their furry slides last season getting attention for being very similar to the Fenty Puma and Givenchy styles. I noticed this on Monday 4th when Kim posted the line sheets on her Twitter. Since then, countless places have called her out and Kim responded by saying the styles were paying homage and that they would be named after the respective designers with the proceeds donated to charity. Sigh. Ok. I’m glad they are doing something positive but you know for sure that if they weren’t called out for the copying they would’ve kept the profits. The second garment in question is a copy of a Comme des Garçons bomber jacket.
Since the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke a couple of months ago, the entertainment industry’s sexual predators have been exposed at a rapid rate. The latest name to emerge is Bruce Weber, noted fashion photographer famous for his Calvin Klein and Abercrombie + Fitch ads. Weber’s name was first thrown around over a month ago after some of the stories posted by Cameron Russell under the #myjobshouldnotincludeabuse campaign alluded to him. Terry Richardson was the name most known but lots of people had heard rumblings about Weber too. Model Jason Boyce brought a lawsuit against the photographer in New York last week, alleging abuse and humiliation. Sadly, it seems that the news of the accusations weren’t anything new to a lot of people in the fashion industry and it makes you wonder how widespread this cover-up really is and who else is involved.
Emily Ratajkowski, a model most commonly known for her social media following and appearance in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” video, decided to monetize her assets by creating a swimwear line. After teasing the launch for weeks online, a collection of 6 swimsuits was released on November 16th ranging in price from $75 (for either a bikini bottom or top) to $160. The collection was cute, retro-inspired, and totally made for Instagram. I can already imagine all of the influencers posing in the suits now. The launch was not without controversy. Lisa Marie Fernandez, a buzzy swimwear designer whose line is carried in stores like Barneys and Saks, alleged that Ratajkowski copied two of her copyrighted designs and sent her a cease and desist letter. Fernandez’s side of the story can be read in more detail in the above linked BoF article.
It seems that Fernandez isn’t the only designer whose work has been copied for the launch of the Inamorata line, as the “Swami’s” suit in leopard print is a recreation of a late 80s Norma Kamali piece. Ratajkowski has posted photos of her “inspiration” on Instagram, but doesn’t seem to realize the implications of admitting that you completely copied someone. I also think that swimwear is a super saturated market and it is very difficult to create original styles nowadays given that virtually everything has been done already. However, Fernandez’s styles were very popular and she definitely made the styles her own and gained brand recognition in the fashion industry for them.
I will be curious to see how this case pans out and if there are any more lawsuits against the company. Copyright laws for clothing are very poor in the US, but they are stronger in Europe where designers have more chance of winning a case. In this case, I feel like the lawsuit was brought against Ratajkowski to gain publicity and alert people of the copying that has occurred instead of actually seeking a financial settlement. Ratajkowski will need to be careful going forward because the last thing that a fledgling business needs is to go bankrupt from lawsuits.
In the same way that Kylie Jenner smashed all odds and launched a company worth hundreds of millions of dollars in a little over a year, her sister Kim Kardashian launched one too. KKW Beauty was introduced in June 2017, beginning with just a contour kit comprising of double-ended cream contour sticks with brush and sponge applicators for blending. Since then, the product offering has expanded into more face and lip products, newly launched fragrances, and most recently a multi-purpose glitter-gloss. Instead of the traditional licensing deal that celebrities tend to stick to, branding products with their names but having no involvement with the actual manufacturing and development processes, both Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner are highly involved in every step of the product’s life cycle, from ideation to market. What’s most notable about the two brands is how quickly they grew, something that most traditional brands cannot manage. In the six months that KKW Beauty has existed, it has done tens of millions of dollars in sales. The perfume launch alone made $10 million in one day. Both of these businesses have chosen to forego the traditional approach to advertising and marketing, using just the two founders’ own social media presence to promote the products and push the line. The Fashionista article talks about how other brands are trying to work out how to replicate the Kardashian/Jenner success, but I think that it cannot be done. You see, they have a loyal audience ready to spend their money on the products: their market already exists. KKW Beauty already has 1 million followers on Instagram, whereas Kylie Cosmetics has almost 15 million. For comparison, Anastasia Beverly Hills, a hugely successful cosmetics line that is around twenty years old, has 15.1 million followers, and their social media presence is considered gigantic for a cosmetics company. When a new brand launches they have to build up their following and gain fans and attention all by themselves; when a celebrity launches a brand, the following is already there. That’s why I think trying to replicate their success is a waste of time, because they are playing a different sport than most brands. The Fashionista interview was actually interesting. Normally I don’t like reading about Kim Kardashian but in recent months I have began to admire her business acumen. She is so skilled at turning anything into gold. It’s fascinating to watch and I am so curious to see how the Kim and Kylie competition heats up. Whose line will be bigger in the end? Stay tuned to see.
Edward Enninful’s predecessor Alexandra Shulman has been dealing with controversy since stepping down from her role as EIC of British Vogue a few months ago. The formerly inoffensive character has been marred by allegations of racism and classism along with being charged with taking thinly veiled swipes at her replacement in a Business of Fashion column. In an attempt at damage control, Shulman sat down with an interviewer from The Guardian to set the record straight. As tends to be the case with any interview to address a problem, it didn’t go well. For starters, Shulman was set up to fail as the interviewer clearly had some personal issues with her and the article seemed extremely biased to read. I am not a Shulman die-hard fan but I did think that the interviewer seemed very keen on knocking her at every possible opportunity. The portrait of Shulman painted was one of a very out-of-touch woman. She didn’t seem racist or hateful in anyway; she really just seemed clueless. Shulman’s approach to editing British Vogue was all about numbers, not creativity. She was focused on growing the circulation and readership, not being groundbreaking or progressive. With Enninful as EIC, it will be interesting to see the changes that are made. Now that more people have got their hands on the December issue, more reviews are coming in. The cover has been praised by almost everybody in the fashion industry (and, of course, it is divine) but the editorials inside apparently still have the same cast of models who frequented the pages of Shulman’s Vogue. This, coupled with the accusations of photoshopping cover star Adwoa Aboah lighter, have meant that Edward Enninful’s debut issue may not have been as perfect as we all hoped. However, I’m sure it’s still great and I can’t wait to flick through my own copy.
Australian Youtuber Chloe Morello posted a video this week exposing the culture of buying fake followers and engagement on social media in order to receive influencer status. This is common practice and done by so many girls who see Instagram as a means to an end. They see other girls living fun lives and want to do the same thing. Unfortunately, the time to gain an online following has long passed. It was an easier thing to do five years ago but now the market is so saturated that it is almost impossible to grow a following from scratch organically nowadays. So how do new influencers keep popping up then? That is what Morello dives into in her video. The notion of bots, comment pods, and fake followers is nothing new but it is getting ridiculous and borderline fraudulent. Brands are wasting money by sponsoring influencers who don’t have real followings and therefore no audience to influence and turn into customers. On top of all of this, people are getting to live a life of luxury that they haven’t earned. I wonder how much more exposing has to occur before people get shutdown, whether that be by the social networks themselves (imagine if they deleted every account which had bought followers, the drama…) or by brands by effectively shutting people out. I’m curious to see how this develops.
This week has been another news-filled saga, with more and more sexual harassment accusations coming out. Kevin Spacey has finally tumbled. I read about him years ago and told many of my friends, but of course his accusers weren’t believed until a week or so ago. It is getting to the stage now where you wonder if there are any stars in Hollywood who haven’t been affected by this kind of behavior, whether they were the victim or the culprit. Fashion isn’t much better, on the modelling side of things, and much of the focus has been on Terry Richardson. Although it is good news that publications are finally refusing to work with him, he is not the only person in the industry who behaves in such ways. Edie Campbell penned a good open letter in WWD on this topic, and her status as an insider can describe the situation a lot better than I can. On a happier note, Edward Enninful’s first British Vogue cover hit the newsstands this week. So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Thankfully, he pulled out all the stops with a Steven Meisel-lensed, Adwoa Aboah-fronted cover. The styling was great, the makeup was memorable, and the overall concept was so retro-glamorous that it could not be faulted. I am going to keep my copy for years to come. I know it will become a real collectors item. Finally, the last big news item of the week is that the Met Gala’s 2018 theme has been confirmed as relating to Catholicism and its depictions in fashion. Not only will it include inspired pieces, but garments worn by the Pope are going to be transported into the museum. Apparently it will be the biggest exhibition yet, but I feel like they say that every year so we shall see. Rihanna and Amal Clooney are the hosts, which I feel is a rather strange choice as neither of them are outwardly Catholic. However, Rihanna is the one Met Gala attendee that you can always count on to show up on theme and try hard so she is always welcome.
I know that last week I said that I didn’t want to spend too much time focusing on the sexual assault discussion that has permeated pop culture over the past few weeks but we are at a stage where it is impossible to ignore it. The fashion industry was dragged into the Harvey Weinstein scandal last week, when model Cameron Russell started the #myjobshouldnotinclude abuse campaign. From the campaign, changes in the fashion industry are slowly starting to occur. According to the New York Times “New York State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, a Democrat from Queens, announced she would introduce an amendment to the state’s current anti-discrimination laws. If passed, it would extend certain protection to models, putting designers, photographers and retailers (among others) on notice that they would be liable for abuses experienced on their watch.”. Basically, a legislation would protect the models in the workplace as the current protections in place are clearly not working. Read the full article here for more information on the topic.
British newspaper, The Telegraph, got its hands on a leaked email from Conde Nast’s COO and Executive Vice President informing all publications that they were no longer to work with famed photographer Terry Richardson. The move was to be effective immediately, with any work of his that hadn’t gone to print to be killed and any future work to be cancelled. For some context, Terry Richardson is to fashion who Harvey Weinstein is to Hollywood. He is a notoriously creepy photographer who has been accused of sexual assault for almost a decade. However, he has managed to dodge any real scrutiny from the brands and publications that he works with because he has always managed to have an air of credibility due to the big names he has photographed; Terry Richardson has even shot Barack Obama. Although there have been rumors swirling around Richardson’s behavior for years, the rumors never seemed to stick. However, right now we are in an exodus period where anyone who has been sexually assaulted by a public figure is finally getting their voice heard. Since the Telegraph article broke, Valentino and Bulgari have announced that they are no longer working with Richardson (he shot both brand’s recent campaigns). Other brands will surely follow suit, although many don’t have to specifically announce that they are not using him as many haven’t booked him for years. Many of his close collaborators like Carine Roitfeld (whose magazine, CR Fashion Book, frequently features his work) haven’t spoken out. Business of Fashion did a good summary on why the latest moves to block Richardson’s work are “too little, too late”. I agree with what they say because the belated condemnation of Richardson makes it seem like his accuser’s words were thought to be invalid until enough people stepped forward so they couldn’t be ignored. It’s not like the Terry Richardson rumours are anything new, but then again, neither were the Harvey Weinstein ones. Weinstein seems to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I enjoyed this article from High Snobiety on sneaker culture. Sneaker culture itself is fascinating to me because I am so far removed from it. I’ve never tried to buy a pair of sneakers because of the hype surrounding them, nor have I ever waited in line for a drop. For that reason, I may not necessarily be the typical High Snobiety reader. This article basically discusses how sneaker culture is broken in a way, because it is all about reselling. People use bots to hijack shoe releases, causing them to sell out almost instantaneously and leaving everyone who actually waited on their computers and tried to shop like a regular person without the merchandise. The internet and online drops was meant to make sneaker culture more inclusive and bring it to an audience who may not live in a large metropolis like New York City. However, as with most things, there’s always people out there who like to ruin it for everyone. Those who use bots often resell their picks online (using Grailed, or similar services) which pushes the cost up, meaning that kid who lives in the Mid-West and wanted to get his hands on a pair of sneakers that originally would’ve paid $120 now has to pay $400. It’s lame. I noticed a similar situation myself one time when I tried to shop at Kith. I thought this was a timely story to tell given the drop of their second installment in the Bergdorf Goodman collaboration (which I love, by the way). It was the Coca-Cola collection which I’d read about online and seen on Emily Oberg’s Instagram. Some of the pieces were actually super cute so I thought I’d log on and buy some. I went on the site at 11am (the minute it dropped), added the styles directly to my basket, and by the time I hit checkout and went to enter my card details I got an error message saying the styles had sold out. I was disappointed and discouraged, and I have yet to try and shop a Kith drop online again, because I really feel like there is no point. Until retailers find a way to beat the bots, the only way regular people can get their hands on the product is to camp out in line. I sure as hell have never wanted any product that badly, but I know plenty of people who do.
I remember following this account on Tumblr back in the day when the #fashun community on the site was at its peak. It has since declined in favor of other social networks like Instagram. Diet Prada, it seems, has successfully made the switch. The premise of Diet Prada is calling out designers for copying one another, in a fun meme-like way. To see that it has hit the mainstream with coverage in various online news sites is so cool to me. We are at a stage in fashion where copying is so common that it can no longer go unnoticed. Brands get called out for their foul play regularly now. Diet Prada is good at creating the memes that go viral and often lead to change. After Gucci copied Dapper Dan, they agreed to fund his business re-opening and featured him in a campaign. What makes Diet Prada stand out from the rest of the fashion accounts on Instagram is the depth of their fashion knowledge. They can find references to collections from decades ago. It is a level of expertise that I hope to possess myself one day. Until then, I can rely on Diet Prada to do the job for me!