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.
This week’s news has been about a series of departures, yet again. Fashion’s continuous game of musical chairs claims another participant with Christopher Bailey leaving Burberry after close to two decades. On top of that, the print magazine industry continues to suffer with Condé Nast shuttering Teen Vogue, making it a digital only operation. Ah, yet another week in the tumultuous climate which we call fashion.
Christopher Bailey, most famous for reviving Burberry and changing its image from one giving connotations of “chav check” to British luxury, is departing from his roles at the company. He was one of the first designers to simultaneously be President and Creative Director of a brand, showing that creatives can do the business side of things to – Alexander Wang did a similar thing at his own company. Bailey’s reasons for departing were not clear, besides wanting to pursue new things, and he will remain at the company for a little over a year still whilst they recruit a new Creative Director and undergo a period of transition. The Business of Fashion article linked above is interesting because it presents an analysis of what Burberry could do to grow the business after Bailey leaves. I’d recommend reading it over some other articles on the topic which were more of a news blast.
The news that Condé Nast was killing Teen Vogue’s print edition could not be more frustrating or unwelcome, for the reason that Teen Vogue is a much better magazine than many of the titles which Condé Nast continues to publish. Instead of hitting the kill button right away, they could’ve switched it to a bi-annual title like CR Fashion Book and made it a thicker magazine. Since 2016, Teen Vogue’s digital content has gained more and more traction so I understand why they think that this is the best move, but given that millennials have stated time and time again that they like having paper magazines, why cut the millennial and gen-z focused title? It is also sad because star EIC Elaine Welteroth deserves a platform to shine. I wonder where she will go next?
The shuttering of Teen Vogue’s print coincides with a larger restructuring mission within Condé Nast. They are cutting jobs and changing many of their titles’ publishing schedules, with just a few being left as monthlies. I guess we all knew that the rise of the internet would lead to the decline of print media, and that is ok. Some magazines don’t need to be monthly. In fact, quarterly would work for most titles as long as they increased the quality of their content to suit the new format. What is not ok is moving titles to digital only and then not keeping up the quality online. Many magazines don’t treat their websites with the same level of care and attention as they do their print editions. Articles are often click-baity, filler and puff-pieces (especially about Insta-famous celebrities who they think can generate clicks from young, adoring fans), or shopping listicles. At least Teen Vogue has a solid online presence that will continue to define the brand after their print edition ceases to exist.