The concept of the capsule wardrobe is nothing new. For years women have been told to simplify their lives and build a closet around a few staple pieces. However, the concept is hard to buy into simply because it seems boring. Imagine only owning a few pieces and wearing a variation of the same outfit every day?
Christine Centenera and Josh Goot, the Australian stylist/designer duo and couple who are most known for their association with Kanye West, have come up with a new take on the concept. They have launched a clothing line called Wardrobe.NYC, a direct-to-consumer e-commerce site which sells four or eight piece capsule collections for both men and women.
The concept is great. Basically, you choose between the four piece option which includes a blazer, shirt, t-shirt, and skirt (for women’s) or the eight piece option which includes the aforementioned pieces plus a coat, a knit, a blouse, and a pair of leggings. The items are cute, all work perfectly together, but could also be worn separately and mixed with other items in your wardrobe. The four piece retails for $1500 whereas the eight piece retails for $3000. The men’s versions retail for the same price. Interestingly enough, they claim that there is no retail markup on the products meaning they are selling them at wholesale cost. None of the items can be purchased individually, meaning you have to buy the entire bundle.
Another instance where the bundle model was in place was for the newest drop of Kanye West’s Yeezy shoe. It was touted as a way to beat the resale market, forcing people to buy an entire tracksuit instead of just the sneakers. The price point was around $760, with the sneakers themselves only having a $200 value. The first resellers to buy the bundle and list the sneakers online didn’t know how to price them. Initially they priced too high and the sneakers didn’t move, unlike in every other previous Yeezy drop where they have sold out instantly and then sell online on the resale market straight afterwards.
It is telling that Wardrobe.NYC and Yeezy chose to follow a similar model as Christine Centenera is long-rumored to be the woman behind Kim Kardashian’s minimalist makeover. She is a long-time collaborator of Kanye West, often serving as a consultant for his Yeezy shows. It makes me wonder if the two of them discuss the business strategy too and came up with this idea together. Kanye is supposed to work with a lot of Australians on his brand, according to an article from The Sydney Morning Herald. I hope to hear a lot more about this brand and wish it all the success in the world because I think it’s a really fun concept and if you have the money to spend on luxe staples, why not get it all in one place?
I still love Kanye West. I went through a phase last year where I refused to even think about him because he spoke out in support of Donald Trump. However, after those comments were made he had a bit of a breakdown and disappeared from the public eye. Since then he has periodically reemerged, taking care of his children and hanging out with his wife. He has also been holed up in Wyoming recording a new album. Whilst I don’t think it will be of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy caliber (nothing ever will be), I am excited to hear his new sounds and see what he does.
I have always been a fan of Kanye’s music but more so his style. He paved the way for the high-fashion sartorial choices made by hip-hop artists nowadays. He wore the Givenchy skirt (leather kilt, whatever) back in 2012 and faced ridicule. In 2016, Young Thug wore a dress for his album cover and got nothing but love and some memes. In honor of Kanye’s ever-changing but solid style, I decided to take a look back at my personal favorite looks of his. He goes through various eras style-wise, often related to the current album he is working on. Right now we are still very much in the Yeezy era which isn’t directly linked to an album (it started slightly before TLOP was released) but more so in relation to the Yeezy line he designs for Adidas. Yeezy is now a minimalist lifestyle philosophy for Kanye. It will be interesting to see the next step in his evolution. Will he go for some more maximalist styles going forward?
I’ve spent a lot of time this summer watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians. I don’t know why but for some reason I got the urge to start on the very first episode and work my way through. I’ve made it to season 8 where Kim is pregnant with little North. Because I’ve dedicated so many hours of my life to watching the family and their transition from typical Hollywood princesses with little true class and/or knowledge of actual runway fashion to fashion industry fixtures, I’ve been paying more attention to Kim in the episodes and her style. What she wears chronicles her place in the world. As soon as she met Kanye West, she became a real star in the fashion sense. Out with the old, tacky outfits and in came Kanye’s high fashion makeover. That’s not to say all of the looks work for her, but it is an improvement on her old style, even though it doesn’t seem entirely true to her character. Of course, 2013 Kim Kardashian is a very different person than the 2017 edition – stylistically and characteristically. What struck me the hardest was when, in one season 7 episode, Kanye brought in his stylist Renelou Padora to clean out Kim’s closet. They were ruthless, going through all of Kim’s possessions and leaving her with very little (according to the show anyway). Rows of shoes lined up her hallways and piles and piles of clothes were donated to charity. In comes Kanye with racks of designer clothing in various shades of neutrals. This marks the new era for Kim. Of course, it wouldn’t be KUWTK without a little drama so Khloe comes round and gets upset by what Kim is getting rid of, taking it as an insult to her style as she has so many similar items too. Looking back at this episode in 2017, it’s funny because all of the sisters dress so differently now and have definitely had the Kanye West makeover. Kim’s submissiveness throughout the closet ravaging was strange to me. She allowed herself to be completely changed by Kanye. She was like his little Barbie doll to play dress-up with, a new project. In losing her typical mid-2000s Hollywood style, she lost a bit of herself.
Clearing out your closet doesn’t have to herald a change of identity for a person though. I find myself scouring through my belongings on a trimonthly basis. During my clear-outs I tend to get rid of anything that I haven’t worn for a while or that doesn’t fit me any longer. I think doing the process continuously and gradually means you won’t wake up one morning and start with a whole new wardrobe. You can introduce new styles without it seeming so dramatic and you can phase out things you no longer like without feeling like you are changing yourself.
I’ve had a couple of clear-outs over the past few months for various reasons. Firstly, I am moving so I am trying to make it that I have as little stuff as possible to take with me. I wear very similar things on a daily basis anyway so there is no point in me hanging onto items that I haven’t worn once since landing in the United States. The new rule is if it hasn’t been worn since coming here, it isn’t staying. I think that is pretty fair. I don’t think my style has changed too much in the past year besides the fact that I wear black skinny jeans on a near daily basis in the winter – something that I didn’t do before. I also don’t wear long skirts as frequently nowadays. I used to work in a corporate-style office where pencil skirts were the norm. Now that I’m working in a fashion office the dress code is nowhere near as strict and I fortunately can dress in a way that feels more true to me. Besides work, I’m a college student which means I have had to force myself to dress more casual. Whilst you will never catch me in leggings or sweatpants outside of the house, mini-skirts and slip dresses are back in my regular rotation.
I have started to think of inventive ways to get rid of my things. I have listed a few items on Depop – @evegardiner – but have ended up doing more buying than selling. I have donated some stuff to Goodwill. I have sold things at Buffalo Exchange (although not a lot because their buyers tend to be kind of rude) and Beacon’s Closet (which is my favorite because their staff are great and they give you fair prices for your items). Finally, I sent a bag to Thred-Up. Basically, with Thred-Up they send you a huge postage paid bag for you to fill with clothes and you mail it back to them. Anything that they can sell, they will list on their website and you will get a percentage of the sale price. Anything that is not in sellable condition will be recycled for you. It makes clearing out so easy and gives you the chance to earn a little cash on top of it all. The only downside to this service is the processing time. I sent my items back in mid-July and received an email saying that they wouldn’t get to going through my bag until August 8th. I waited until August 28th before I got any word from them and the payout was rather tiny, but I’m I’m just happy that my unwanted items aren’t in my apartment anymore. I’d say that Thred-Up is a great service because it is totally hassle free, but if you want to make cash quickly I’d gravitate towards Beacon’s Closet or a similar store where you can get money same-day.
As I have been clearing out, I’ve found myself adding more things to my closet too. I have been a sucker for a good sale recently and have topped up my wardrobe with some summer pieces. This is my first real summer in the city and I didn’t realize how underprepared I was for the heat. I quickly realized that my regular summer attire wouldn’t cut it in 30 degree celsius temperatures. Going forward into the Fall season, I already have a rough idea of a few pieces I’d like to pick up. I want a new black overcoat, quite a masculine style perhaps with some military inspired trims. I’d also like some flat black leather boots with lots of buckles. Topshop already have a great pair but they’re eye-wateringly expensive in USD. Finally, I’m looking for a really cool hat. I can see a great look already so I’m trying to figure out how to execute it. It’s likely that I have until at least October until the temperatures drop low enough to try it out. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the summer heat and the newfound style it has afforded me.
I hate to admit it but I’ve fallen into the Kardashian’s trap. It started off innocently, watching their show whilst eating breakfast in the morning if I had nowhere to rush off to and now I’ve found myself invested in their external businesses, purely because of what I’ve seen on the show.
I’ve been vocal in the past about my distaste for the Kardashian/Jenners in the fashion industry and I still stand by that partially. I don’t think Kendall should be booking all of the modelling jobs she is but you also can’t knock her for getting a paycheck and taking advantage of the awesome opportunities that come her way. You can’t knock Kim for sitting front row at fashion shows or wearing vintage Galliano or Vivienne Westwood (as she has been favoring recently). If she gets invited to the shows and has the resources to wear these clothes, of course she would. And finally, I can’t knock Kanye for his Adidas line because that truly is his passion and you can see that clearly.
The things that I refused to give the Kardashians a pass for in the past were their clothing lines. I’m not a huge fan of the celebrity designer trend and the fact that just because they have a well known name they can easily find financial backers and launch a line like its nothing. However, since watching the show and learning a little bit more about the brands coming out of the KarJen klan currently, I’ve become slightly more intrigued.
First off, there is Kendall + Kylie, a contemporary line sold in stores like Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor and Nordstrom. They sell clothing, shoes, and accessories. It was a full-on brand from its very first season. On an episode that I just watched (a late repeat), Kendall and Kylie are at their showroom in New York with Nicole Phelps from Vogue Runway. Phelps is there to review the collection. When the pair are taking her around the showroom, they pick up some of their favorite pieces and describe them as cool and simple and can’t say much more than that. They can’t describe their customer besides the fact that she used to be a California girl but is now more than that. Phelps doesn’t seem too impressed. I know that the show is scripted to some extent but I do feel like Kendall and Kylie’s lack of descriptive adjectives to really explain to Phelps what their collection meant and stood for was genuine. They aren’t really involved in the creation of the line besides giving final approval and being the face of the brand and that is evident. Their role aside, the merchandise is actually cute and if you were to see it on the floor in a Nordstrom store you would probably buy it. The only downside to the brand is the price-point. They wanted to differentiate the line from others they have done in the past, like the PacSun collection or the Topshop collaboration. This was meant to be more high-end and the prices reflect that, although I don’t think there is that much of an evolution in the styles shown. In the end, Nicole Phelps wrote a very fair review for Vogue.
The next KarJen brand that I was interested in is the Kids Supply, Kim and Kanye’s childrenswear capsule collection. Because of the size, I instantly find childrenswear adorable. It helps that North West is the best dressed child in the world (besides the extremely age-inappropriate lace and mesh shirts that they used to dress her in) so I feel like the couple know how to dress kids. The collection featured an embroidered bomber with “Calabasas” motifs (which was reversible too), mini slip dresses, caps with “kids” embroidered across the front, and t-shirts. There was a small product selection but it sold out within the weekend. Some items are on pre-order. I liked this line and I’m honestly not mad at the couple for trying to enter the childrenswear market. The pricing was high but you also cannot criticize someone for that. It’s like when people laugh at Gwyneth Paltrow and her exorbitantly priced gift guides on Goop. It’s not for everybody and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean that it is an invalid market to target just because you don’t fit into their income demographic.
Finally, the brand which I was actually the most impressed with and would love to see in person is Khloe’s denim line. Launched in October last year and entitled Good American, the line features jeans, skirts, and jackets in sizes 00 – 24. It is meant to cater to every body shape and fit and flatter all. I think that’s a bold statement to make yet everybody who I’ve seen wearing the jeans looks amazing. Khloe and her partner have done a good job on the fits, with the Good Cuts with the released hem being my personal favorite style. The premium denim market is pretty full, with brands like Paige, Frame, and J Brand being longstanding stars. However, Khloe’s line managed to disrupt the norm and proved to be Nordstrom’s second biggest launch ever. The line itself was the biggest denim launch of all time. It made $1 million on its first day. Pretty impressive for a reality tv star, huh. I think that figure alone just shows the bankability of the KarJen family. It makes sense that they want to capitalize on the fashion industry while they can. Their looks are some of the most influential.
I have softened on the KarJen family. I used to think of them as representing the decline in culture (and I guess that argument still could be made) and everything that was wrong with modern society, but now I can appreciate their hustle. This family is damn good at business and knows how to build brands. It will be interesting to see how long each of their brands continue for. In the past, there has been Kardashian Kollection (a collaboration between Kourtney, Kim and Khloe) which was sold at Sears. This line was unsuccessful. They have the DASH boutiques which are more of a tourist destination than a fashion spot. Then Kendall and Kylie have their previous collections and brands. As with everything, the brands will live as long as they continue to be popular. Judging by social media and sales figures, they’ll be here to stay for a while.
I have a post coming up about the various fashion businesses of the Kardashian-Jenner klan. This post would be incomplete without a mention of Kanye West. In that spirit, I thought I would throw it back to his first Adidas Originals collection, back in February 2015 for Yeezy Season 1. It’s hard to believe that this was only two and a half years ago, given that it seems like the Yeezy hype has been going on forever. With social media and so much happening every week, it’s easy to think that things were years ago when really they were recently. That’s what has happened with this collection in my mind.
I remember the outrage when this collection was shown. Nobody could believe that Kanye West dared to call this fashion. They couldn’t fathom the fact that he had disrupted the New York Fashion Week schedule. They didn’t understand the format of his show, like a performance art piece instead of a runway. And most importantly, they couldn’t believe that the pieces he put out were to be considered clothes. The full body stockings, for example, were particularly controversial. I’ve taken to interpret the bodystockings as creating a blank canvas with whatever piece worn on top of it to be the one highlighted. Take the green crop top worn by Amina Blue as an example. That is what we are meant to focus on, with the rest of her body being deemed invisible.
The Yeezy line has evolved ever so subtly. It is becoming more and more organized each season. I think Kanye’s vision is becoming clearer. Some things in the collections are overpriced, ridiculous, and laughable whereas other items are genuinely nice, wearable, and fair. I like the outerwear mainly. I hate the shoes. The Fall 2017 presentation was the best yet, with the best format also. I’m interested to see what direction Kanye takes things in for the Spring 2018 season. What can he do next?
I came across an interesting article on Billboard recently about how in the digital age, a musician or an artist having a creative director in charge of their branding is more important than ever. This makes sense, especially because being in the social media spotlight can be highly beneficial to an artist and the key to gaining this kudos is by having a clearly defined and well managed brand – something cool for people to look at and aspire to. Branding is everything nowadays whether you like it or not. We all even have a personal brand, even if it is not monetized. If we all have a brand, are we all creative directors? Maybe on a micro-level. An artist needs to hire somebody to direct their brand because it is the most important thing they have, arguably. Songs can blow up and become a summer jam but are easily forgotten about a year later. A brand leads to longevity – something that is vital, and often missing, for musicians today.
So what does a creative director do exactly? To my understanding, a creative director is in charge of how things look overall. A wide, encompassing statement, I know, but I think it all comes down to imagery. Creative directors control the vibe, the style, the look of everything. Whether that be the clothing worn by the artists (acting as a wardrobe stylist, deciding not only tour outfits for on stage but everyday looks in case of candid paparazzi shots or the all-important Instagrams), the style of photography used in Instagram shots or album covers, or the color schemes, products, and locations used in music videos. Anything that you see can be, and is likely, conceptualized by the creative director and brought forward to the artist. That’s not to say that the artist is not in charge of their own style in any way. It is more so that the creative director comes up with ideas and then work with the artist to make something that feels authentic and right for the artist instead of a singleminded vision: a collaboration.
I think the importance of a creative director can be best demonstrated via Kanye West and his longtime collaborator Virgil Abloh, who has become a star in his own right in the past year. Abloh has his own brand (Off-White, formerly operating another brand called Pyrex Vision), he DJs, he hosts events and parties all around the world, and he has degrees in Architecture and Engineering. He’s a smart guy. He’s also partially responsible for keeping Kanye West so relevant as he knows exactly what people want. Abloh has his finger on the pulse and has no problem telling people that he listens to the kids on Tumblr and realizes their spending power and also their knowledge of fashion. No bullshit passes by Tumblr kids, especially the fashion ones (myself included) as we have been given the resource to learn everything online. Abloh understands this and uses it to his advantage. He has taken things that he has found on Tumblr and presented it to West in the past, as mentioned in one of the interviews linked below. It’s no secret that West loves fashion and has tried various times to break into the industry, with his Yeezy line for Adidas being extremely commercially successful but other ventures failing or floundering. West has also found great success in the merch game, perhaps solely starting the trend of people wearing concert merch as fashion items, beginning back on the Yeezus tour in 2013. We hit peak merch in 2016 with the Saint Pablo tour and the trickle-down effect with merch-inspired pieces being sold in fast-fashion stores like Forever 21 (who were accused of copying West multiple times) and Zara. H&M currently sell a range of “band t-shirts” with various rock bands’ graphics printed on them. Everyone jumped onboard – retailers and other artists alike. Now everyone needs to have merch, and to have merch that sells you need a brand. That’s where your creative director comes in.
West is not the only musician with a creative director. In fact, most of the biggest stars in the music world have one right now. The Weeknd has La Mar Taylor, a friend from Toronto who created the now iconic mixtape trilogy covers and continues to manage the artistic outputs. The XO brand, the collective of individuals associated with The Weeknd, has gone from being an underground icon, big on Tumblr with a cult-like following but not yet mainstream, to being an easily recognized symbol that is even tattooed on loyal fans. The Weeknd recently done a collaboration with H&M, featuring shirts with the XO logo prominently posted. That wouldn’t’ve been possible if he didn’t have the brand. Some other stars just have stylists. There’s a difference. A creative director’s role is much bigger, and arguably much more important. I could go on for days and days about this topic because one of the things I love the most in life is seeing how fashion intersects with other industries. In this sense, fashion and music and art all collide into one, and everything, in turn, becomes one commercial product. That’s not to say that art for art’s sake doesn’t remain, it’s just that everything nowadays is monetized. Pure artistic endeavors still exist, but creative direction takes something from that level and makes it something bigger. Something that can help you pay the bills for years to come.
I am more than late to the party on this one, but I finally watched The Wire this summer. I watched seasons 1 – 3 in a week and after that I didn’t want to do anything but watch it. I totally get why this is ranked fifth on IMDBs Top 250 TV Shows. In fact, it could be higher. As an HBO classic, it ranks up there with The Sopranos. However, the main difference to me is how well the costume department did in making it culturally relevant. The characters wore what they would actually wear and it looked authentic, but still so damn stylish.
The first season, without giving away any spoilers for anyone is even later than me to watching the show, focuses on the operations of a group of drug dealers, called the Barksdale crew, and the police who are trying to catch them. These kids, and most of them are still kids, are dressed in a way that I found so exciting to look at. They wore Sean John and Rocawear, the streetwear brands created by rappers. On top of that, they had the baggy jeans and the vests. It was straight out of an early 2000s hip-hop video, and I love that. As they made more money, they wore more expensive items. Timbs fresh out the box, DKNY sweaters, real brands that you would buy in Barneys.
When I was flying transatlantic a couple of months ago I watched the documentary Fresh Dressed. Ever since watching it I have been really into watching the evolution of hip-hop style. Visually it is interesting. The documentary starts back with Run DMC and moves through chronicling the different trends and brands that musicians wore and made popular. Whatever the rappers wore trickled down into the streets – their influence was immense. After watching The Wire, I started thinking again about the documentary and how the clothes translated into regular people’s wardrobes, people who would listen to the music and want to be a part of it, even if it was just through the way they dressed.
When you think of hip-hop fashion, what do you think of? There are several looks that are iconic. Think of Coogi sweaters (the colourful knits worn by Biggie Smalls); the spread of logomania – heralded, I’d say, by Dapper Dan who used to take symbols like the Louis Vuitton monogram or the Gucci logo and customise individual pieces – which reached the mainstream (not just underground fashion); the popularity of preppy brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren (you can read online about a crew who used to shoplift anything Ralph Lauren, I’m almost sure I read that people got shot over it); oversized, chunky framed Cazal glasses (to put this into context, vintage pairs are listed for hundreds of pounds on Etsy and eBay at the moment). Karl Kani. This is just the 80s and 90s.
When we move into 2000s and a new generation of rappers who are at the top of the game, the fashion changes. This is the fashion worn by the Barksdale crew in The Wire. They have all the cool brands. They wore the right silhouettes, their pants the right width and slung at the right place on their hips. Looking at this to me just takes me back to a music video. I love it.
The success of brands started by musicians seems very 2000s to me, but nowadays image and style is just as important to rappers as their lyrics, honestly. Think of what Kanye West is doing. He is now more than just a rapper. Yeezys are some of the most coveted shoes. People actually buy his Adidas line. His tour merchandise is worn by people who, lets be honest, aren’t even big fans. Somehow I think of his line as a different category than Diddy’s line, but really what is the difference? The price? Diddy always aimed high end with his pricing, as does Kanye (regardless of what he may say on Twitter). I’m not sure. Think again of another Roc Nation artist, Vic Mensa, who is also known for his style – sort of mini-Kanye/Urban Outfitters/cool guy. Then there’s ASAP Rocky who has even been in Vogue and has a penchant for Raf Simons.
If The Wire was made again today, would the cast be dressed like Kanye? Like Rocky? Or someone entirely different?
Wolves is one of the Kanye West songs that I rarely listen to and it’s just because I don’t like Sia’s voice so I usually skip the song once it gets to her part. I’m glad he added Vic Mensa back in though. I like him. However, since the music video/Balmain campaign has been released I felt the need to watch from start to finish. Honestly, I really like it.
The lighting in the campaign highlights the clothes in the best possible way. The model selection is stellar. The art direction is on point. Kim looks beautiful, even when she is crying. Overall, I just found the video so visually appealing. The collaboration with Balmain made sense too and didn’t feel forced or awkward. Everyone looked like they were meant to be wearing the brand, not that they had been forced to, especially in the club scenes.
I’m excited to see the actual campaign images in magazines. There have been quite a few released so far via Instagram but it will be nice to actually see them on paper. So far, I think they’re the sort that I’ll tear out of the magazine and stick on my wall. I don’t even care about Kim Kardashian being in fashion anymore. She seems sweet and rather harmless really. Besides, if you had the opportunity to do what she does, wear the designers she does, go to the shows she does, wouldn’t you take that opportunity too?
Directed by Steven Klein
Creative Direction (of Balmain) by Olivier Rousteing
Concept and Creative Direction by Pascal Dangin
This is a risky, and always hot, topic. It was brought to my attention again after it was announced that Beyonce and Giuseppe Zanotti were collaborating and then I started thinking about whether I should write about it or not. It is a topic that I’ve touched on quite a few times but never really gone into much depth about. Perhaps now is a good time to do so.
Celebrities as fashion designers is not a new thing, although it does seem to be a bit of a trend at the moment for everyone to be a slash something; by that I mean a model/actor/designer/singer, or something along those lines. People can’t settle for honing just one craft and have to get involved in every opportunity that is presented to them. I mean, I can’t blame them. If I were a celebrity and had the chance to become involved in a wide range of exciting projects whilst making money off of doing so, I would. However, I often wonder if the celebrities who act as designers actually care about what they are doing, or if they’re doing it for a little bit of exposure and a chunk of cash.
Kanye West, for example, truly seems to care about fashion, but he is an anomaly. He has a passion that is unrivalled by most other celebrities who design lines. His most recent attempt was not his first. Kanye designed a couple of collections back in 2011 and 2012, both of which were met with little critical acclaim but were, nonetheless, attempts to break into fashion. Then for the Fall 2015 season, Kanye designed the most viewed collection on Style.com of the entire season. He beat out Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Saint Laurent, and even Valentino who pulled the Zoolander stunt. Now, I personally didn’t like his Adidas collection and I still think that it is completely overpriced (you know, he claims that he is bringing fashion to the masses but the masses can’t afford his prices), but I have to admit that he has done a good job. He has gained more attention for this collection, even outside of the fashion world, than most designers could only dream about. But is that all he has to offer? Most of the attention was probably due to the hype that he had built over the past few months, his wife, and his brilliant front row crowd. But I do think that I’m being a bit unfair in criticising him like this. Kanye cares. He hired graduates from top fashion schools to work on this collection, he claimed to have done a bunch of research, and he is trying to bring fashion to regular kids who can’t afford all the designer shit that he and his wife clothe themselves in. I appreciate that, and people who try to democratise high fashion deserve to be lauded because we all know that it is so elitist. However, Ye designed astreetwear line which is traditionally cheaper anyway. Enough about Kanye though, it is celebrities in general that is the issue.
My problem with celebrity designers is that they have no formal training and just seem to waltz into jobs. Now some top fashion designers didn’t go to fashion school or just dropped out and they have been successful because they worked hard to get to where they were, so I can’t use that in itself as a criticism. The main thing is that they don’t care, they haven’t worked for it. It is just an extra project, a side project. Whilst a celebrity is launching their own brand and becoming an overnight success, young talented designers fresh out of fashion school are struggling to get by and can’t launch their own collections. If they’re lucky, they’ll get a low-paid job in a fashion house that can hopefully help them branch out eventually. If they’re unlucky, they won’t be able to follow their passion and will end up doing something completely unrelated to make some money. And formal design training does still matter. Without knowing how to properly construct a garment, how to make your ideas go from your head to paper to fabric, you will be considerably less skilled than those who do and often are just a glorified stylist. You have to have real natural talent to be able to succeed as a fashion designer without any training. Celebrities rarely have this training and rely on a design team to create the collections for them, yet their name still gets put on the label at the end and they are the ones who get all the credit. That sucks.
Some celebrities are probably a lot more involved with the design process than I’m giving them credit for, and many do care about it more than I’m suggesting (I hope), but I still think that jobs of fashion designers should be left to those who have trained for them. You wouldn’t let anyone plumb your bathroom or do root canal on you without knowing they’d trained for it, no?
Going back to the Beyonce collaboration, she is said to be very involved. It is only one pair of shoes that is getting made, so it’s not the same as a whole collection. She’s meant to have a very strong idea of what she wants, so let’s give her credit for that. Beyonce has also secured a deal with Topshop to design an activewear collection that she is also meant to be heavily involved in, calling it a “partnership”. I hope Beyonce truly does care about these collaborations and is involved from start-to-finish, not just giving it final approval. But then again, Beyonce doesn’t seem like the type to do something half-assed so I’m not worried about her.
Let me clarify things: I am a women, I wear women’s clothes and in my life have only ever purchased women’s clothes for myself (apart from that summer a few years ago when I was obsessed with printed t-shirts and I discovered that the men’s section in Primark did the best ones) and the only time that I buy menswear is as gifts for others. So why have I got any interest in it whatsoever? That is something that I am questioning myself. If I can’t wear it, and therefore participate in it, why should I care?
Men’s fashion is a whole different playing field than its female counterpart , hence making it so intriguing. The rules that apply to women’s fashion, or lack of, do not apply to men. They play from a different rule book and the objective of their game is entirely different than ours. Where women are flamboyant, men are conformist; where women are praised, men are criticised. It is for that reason that men’s fashion can be thought of as a little bit dull in comparison, mainly for the fact that menswear is much more outwardly simple than womenswear, although underneath it all that might not be the case.
When I say men are conformist, I mean that as a sweeping generalisation and not at all as an insult. Us women are lucky in the fact that we really can wear anything with few questions asked: skirts, trousers, shorts, skorts. Men, on the other hand, face difficulty in that area. Think of Kanye West and the fact that he has never lived down the time he wore a skirt, which was a custom made leather Givenchy kilt nonetheless. It sparked backlash from the hip-hop community (in particular) and people all around the world, showing that the world really isn’t ready for men in skirts.
So with the more limited options that men face, how does menswear continue to be interesting? Menswear designers, I’d say, have less freedom than womenswear designers. As fashion is a business and profits are key, designers need to create things that are bound to sell and as a result, need to make things that regular men would buy and wear often. There is no point in creating the wild, out-there things that some womenswear designers can get off with doing because, for one, the market is smaller and less reliable – think of womenswear designers creating abstract couture pieces which may be worn by actresses on red carpets or performers on tour; then think of the men of Hollywood who generally play it safe and wear a classic tuxedo -and secondly, the funds are lesser. That really is the crux of the matter and perhaps why menswear is a little bit underdeveloped in comparison to womenswear: money.
Historically, your classic client at a couture house is female. Since decades ago, maybe even hundreds of years, women have had it drilled into them that they must be attractive and they must dress well and, when it comes down to it, to do so means you must be able to afford it. Think of the elaborate dresses, corsets and undergarments worn by royals in the 16th century and beyond, they were the ultimate display of wealth and status. From then on, and really since the start of fashion design as we know it in the modern day, the focus has been on women. Traditional clients of couturiers were wealthy women from high up society families, socialites, movie stars, heiresses and the wives of very wealthy men: the only place for men in this equation was to provide the funds. The early designers like Charles Fredrick Worth and Paul Poiret (whose house is making a comeback) created couture for society’s elite, and eventually over time, fashion trickled down into ready-to-wear and became available to the masses. However, one thing has always remained pivotal: women remain the nucleus of fashion.
Although women are the key, men are almost equally as important. However, the way men shop is entirely different than women. They are less likely to buy into trends, more likely to buy classics that will last for years. They buy because they need to, not because they necessarily want to (as research by Mintel has shown). Women are more likely to buy into the latest fads just because women traditionally care about fashion more. It can be thought of as vanity to care about your appearance, clothing included, so many men shy away from this, not wanting to be perceived as superficial and less intellectual. Other men simply don’t care. My grandfather, for an example, doesn’t do his shopping himself and leaves that up to my grandmother to pick out his clothes. Perhaps he fits into the “don’t care” group?
It is because many men don’t care, and simply buy clothes just because they have to, that menswear is an undeveloped market in comparison to womenswear. If men purchased more designer clothing, the market could grow. The lack of funds for many brands stops them from staging the elaborate shows and productions that we are used to seeing from womenswear designers. The shows are what define fashion and, really, what get the most press. It is because of the underexposure of menswear brands that the market isn’t as vast as womenswear, because population-wise, we are rather equal in numbers. Since menswear generally gets less coverage than womenswear in the mainstream media, perhaps because attitudes are still that fashion is woman’s game, it is down to the smaller outlets, such as blogs like my own, to try and provide the publicity that the smaller brands so desire. We all know Prada, Givenchy and the big fashion houses but what about the smaller ones?
Don’t get me wrong, menswear is not a failing market. In fact, it has grown by 18% in the past 5 years and sales are catching up with womenswear. A study by Mintel shows that the industry is worth £12.9 billion and by 2018 is set to be worth £16.4 billion: that is big money. However, the general attitude and thoughts surrounding menswear need to change I’d say. If men have a desire to learn more and be more involved in fashion, the stigma that surrounds it needs to be removed. It is not vain to be interested in fashion and it is not frivolous to care about clothes. Just because gender roles dictate that women are the ones who fuss over their appearance whereas men are the ones who fuss over their strength, doesn’t mean that you cannot do both. Yes, you can be a successful man who buys designer clothes and yes, you can care about trends in the same way that women do. Think like Kanye West and develop your own personal style whilst turning a blind eye to those who criticise you for doing so: Givenchy kilt wearing is optional.