Since Edward Enninful’s editorship of British Vogue was announced big changes have been underway at the magazine. Not only has he replaced the Fashion Director, but he has been assembling his own dream team, filled with some of the major players of the industry. Honestly, all of the biggest names you can imagine are signing on to work at the magazine. I believe that it will become the leading fashion magazine, at least in insider opinion, by the end of the year. Pat McGrath, everybody’s favorite makeup artist and glitter giver, is now the beauty editor at large, with big names like Charlotte Tilbury and Guido Palau named as beauty contributors. The Fashionista article linked above also mentions all of his new appointments such as Jane How and Marie-Amélie Sauvé in the fashion department and Adwoa Aboah as a contributing editor. I’m so excited to see Edward’s first issue and how it all turns out.
Can you believe that Balmain didn’t already have a Los Angeles store? I couldn’t, but alas Olivier Rousteing has opened up the brand’s one and only LA based boutique on Melrose Place, one of the city’s most desired addresses just off Melrose Avenue. The store launched with an event attended by Kim Kardashian and it was the first time that I have spotted the Kardashians in Balmain for months now. The brand seems to have fallen out of their favor and, with that action, out of the public’s consciousness. It’s a fickle world we live in. Regardless, the new boutique looks like it will be a beautiful store to shop in. The design is very classy and features a stunning outdoor space (photographed above). I think I’ll make a visit to the store when I’m back in LA at the end of summer.
Accessible and cool eyewear brand Warby Parker has teamed up with fashion industry darling Virgil Abloh for a collection of three pairs of sunglasses. Aptly named “Small Sunglasses”, “Medium Sunglasses”, and “Large Sunglasses” (quotation marks included), the three styles are unisex and priced at just $95. Although I can imagine that the smallest size will sell out the fastest (everybody loves those mini-styles nowadays), I personally prefer the large as I like my sunglasses oversized. As of the launch date (July 25th), I’m still deciding if I want to purchase a pair. It is a pretty cool collaboration and I can imagine there will be a decent resale value. Plus, they look really good.
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.
In a subscribers only article, the BOF team discussed the Kendall Jenner effect, a combination of sales and social media dominance, and how long it will actually last for. The reasoning behind this was the slew of poor publicity which Jenner has been at the forefront of in the past month or so. It was just announced last week that Jenner was the new face of Adidas, the sportswear giant where brother-in-law Kanye West has a hugely successful line. This announcement was met with significant backlash from the press and social media alike with complaints that yet another model (like Gigi & Bella Hadid, for Reebok and Nike respectively) was the face of a sportswear brand instead of using actual athletes. Of course, this was not Jenner’s fault but it seems that she was the straw which broke the camel’s back. The article goes on to compare Jenner to Pierre Cardin, in reference to perhaps diluting her brand or spreading it too thin by taking on so many partnerships – the point being Cardin ruined his brand value and Jenner risks doing the same.
In a surprising move, the Yoox Net-a-Porter group, in an effort to increase sustainability on a major scale, have decided to go completely fur-free, removing all animal fur based products from their outlet site The Outnet. Perhaps I’m finding this move more shocking than it actually is but I don’t understand the mindset behind removing all fur based products from a business standpoint, given that they are a luxury group and fur is the utmost of all luxury products. Even nowadays when people are trending vegan, fur accessories continue to remain popular, even in the form of little pom-pom bag chains. At the end of the article, the writer questions if Farfetch, their largest competitor and the site where NAP founder Natalie Massenet now works, will also go fur-free, citing it as a tempting move to follow. In my mind, this would make Farfetch do the opposite, instead stepping up their fur offering in an attempt to gain all of the sales and customers that Yoox/Net-a-Porter may have lost.
The article I’ve linked above was a lengthy discussion with Virgil Abloh about his career and his brand. The most exciting takeaway from the piece was that Abloh’s is getting his own retrospective exhibition of his work in Chicago, at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Due to open in 2019, the exhibition will house pieces from Off-White and the other projects which he has worked on throughout his career. Instead of just looking at the clothing, the exhibition will focus on the broader societal context and millennial culture. The whole idea behind this exhibition sounds really cool and I’d like to go and visit the exhibition when it opens. Virgil’s success over the past 18 months to two years is inspirational. This is a man who has been toiling away for years and finally getting the kudos he deserves.