London Street Style

The Staples

As I took to the streets in London, it was clear that a few trends and signature items were very popular to most on the streets. Black leather jackets and just the colour black in general could be seen everywhere I turned. The classic prints of stripes and leopard were also favoured in shoes, bags and clothing.

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Denim Love

I’ve never seen so much double denim in my life, and surprisingly a lot of people were able to make it work. Denim jackets are very popular in London compared to here in Australia, giving a more 90’s feel to many outfits. There was also a boyish charm apparent in women’s street looks through boxy shapes and casual shoes or sneakers.

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Standouts

Some people show more risk taking in their outfits by wearing bold prints and colours to really turn heads and make a huge fashion impact. Its always so much fun dressing up in a look that shows a certain side of you and can express who you are or what you’re feeling at that particular time, so I always appreciate those who give that little bit extra resulting in a remarkable outfit.

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Boys Boys Boys

The London men are always looking very trendy and clearly put a great effort into what they wear day to day. A touch of sport was shown through many bomber jackets, sweaters and sneakers yet they all looked quite sleek and sophisticated while having a sense of ease about them.

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I loved seeing how fashion is interrupted on the other side of the globe, as it was extremely eye opening and has given me even greater inspiration to document street fashion showing how people either go against trends or how they interrupt trends to make them their own.

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Couture. Couture. Couture

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After looking at how fast fashion has impacted Australian designers and the negative influence it can have on workers, the environment and the fashion industry I still consider fast fashion as the enemy. It is having such a strong effect on haute couture and almost making it become obsolete, as it is so difficult to compete against the manufactured brands.

However I feel that slow fashion will always have a specific audience that will continue to follow haute couture and will purchase items with the idea of quality over quantity in mind. Although more people are attracted to mass-produced clothing due to the price tag, they should realize what they are sacrificing and what a beautiful investment and piece of art they are losing.

Hopefully in the future there will still be skilled workers producing haute couture pieces and that mass production doesn’t take over the entire fashion industry. Couture gives a whole different feeling, it’s a different world, an innovative and extravagant craft that should never be diminished by online shopping, or bargain sales in the hectic world of fast fashion.

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Digital Impact on the Fashion Industry

Times have certainly changed since the days when Chanel tweed suits and Dior’s new look was the latest craze. Everyone is now more focused on brands that are manufactured because they are seen everywhere, can be easily bought and cost a fraction of the price compared to high end designer brands. One of the issues that makes fast fashion so popular and has changed the way fashion is distributed is the digital impact of the 21st century and making buying clothes online an easy and fast way to have the latest trends from around the globe.

By Australian customers purchasing clothing and accessories online, usually from the United States, it puts even more pressure on our Australian designers and as discussed in my last post, the Australian market is so much smaller compared to overseas and we do not have the outlets here to be able to support Australian designers. Therefore, through online shopping we are creating an even greater challenge for our designers as they are no longer just competing with designers from their own country, but from all over the world making it almost impossible to be highly successful in the fashion industry.

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 The fast paced manufacturing of garments shipped to stores within a week or less, has now gone to the next level through online shopping. We no longer need to go into a store to see what trends are new, we can now just jump online and with a few clicks we will have the latest clothes or accessories be on the way to our doorstep.

I personally, am not a fan of online shopping and have never understood how easy it is for some people to just buy all their clothes online these days. I would much rather go into a real store, have a great shopping experience and be able to feel the fabric of the clothes I am wanting to buy, see the quality and try it on so I know if it suits me or not. I suppose because online shopping is relatively cheap, many people wouldn’t mind spending $20 on a dress that when it arrives, they find out it looks terrible or after one wear it falls apart. It is an easy and basically lazy way of shopping that does not compare to the real thing forcing several designers out of business who are unable to keep up with the numbers that are now purchasing online.

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Australian Fashion

Australian brands are similar to haute couture in terms of it not being as popular because it is more expensive than fast fashion, isn’t mass produced and isn’t known to everyone around the world.

Australian designers always want to make it big overseas due to how enormous the market there is, making their brand far better known to thousands and thousands of customers. However due to the amount of brands overseas there is so much competition for Australian designers that only a few have been able to be successful in the overseas market.

To edge their way into America and the UK, Australian designers have a huge focus on trying to get celebrities to wear their designers. This has been extrememly successful for brands including Camilla & Marc, Alex Perry, Toni Maticevski and Willow as shown below.

Designer, Alex Perry believes celebrities can avoid the dreaded “same dress” dilemma by wearing an Australian designer to an event.

“Celebrities can wear whatever they want from any designer on the planet. But when they do wear an Australian designer and go to the effort it’s such a great thing and it shows they are dictating their own style.”

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The Vine – ‘Australian Designers Abroad’, 2010

Melbourne label TV has just announced its first international collaboration, and it’s a big one. The design-duo’s latest collection Nothing But Flowers will be stocked in Topshop, a major account coup if ever there was one. TV aren’t the only label to get the Topshop treatment, the UK high-street mecca also stocks One Teaspoon and swimwear label Jemma Jube. 
 
This news comes right before a London Fashion Week schedule that has a significant Australian presence. Australian based label sass and bide will be showing on schedule, while jeweller and artist Jordan Askill will be having a presentation. Australian-born, London based designer Richard Nicoll is set to be one of the week’s highlight shows, while Ant!podium who are located in London but make much of their Oceanic roots will also be having a show. All of these labels also have significant stockists in the UK, including major department stores like Harvey Nichols, Liberty and Selfridges. 
 
The UK seems to be the most fertile of the major international markets for Australian designers, perhaps because London’s fashion industry has a reputation for being the most unorthodox of the big four fashion cities. This is not to say that there are no Australians doing well elsewhere, however. This year for the first time Miro House (responsible for the seating and smooth running of RAFW) will be holding an Australian showcase in Paris, while Gail Sorronda will be showing in Milan, hot off the heels of a glowing endorsement from Dolce and Gabbana. 

Brand Value

This fast passed world of mass production has lead to the copying of designs and gives the fashion industry the trickle down effect, taking high end runway and couture designs and creating a cheap look alike version for the faced paced retail outlets.

The Fashion Spot Australia, Nika Mavrody, ‘Designer Knockoffs’, 19/8/13

Of course, what complicates fast fashion’s blatant copying of runway designs is that high-end designers copy each other all the time. In fact, many economists have argued that copying within fashion speeds up trend cycles, putting pressure on designers to develop new ideas which is why today there’s this relentless churn of new fashion, and the mid-season collections are growing in importance. Still, in the creative industries, originality is part of the job description and plagiarism is frowned upon. So when it emerged, this March, that a coat from Celine’s Fall 2013 collection (below, left) bore a striking resemblance to a 2004 design by Geoffrey Beene by (below, right) it caused a stir. Karl Lagerfeld even went on record to comment: “I must say I was a little shocked,” he told Women’s Wear Daily.

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Even after all this copying of designs in both high end and low end stores, it can seem as though high end designers are ripping people off due to the fact that their designs are being produced and sold for much less, yet still look the same. Obviously there would usually be, or you would hope there would be, a large difference in the garments quality. However several high end brands sell items that are very overpriced for what they are such as Marc Jacobs…

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Surely this Marc Jacobs jumper (above, left) would not be worth $495 but because of the brand name behind it he can basically charge as much as he likes. Designers do tend to over value themselves and it can make you wonder if you’re actually purchasing a jumper that is so much more superior to one that you can buy online from ‘The Iconic’ for $39.98 (above, right).

Due to copying and appropriating designs, it has in some ways lessened the value of brands because people no longer want to pay excessive amounts of money for a designer garment. Even though it would be of a slightly better standard, quality and cut, the customer can instead purchase almost the exact same piece from a fast fashion retail store that has been based on the high end designer garment.

Fast Fashion Vs. Haute Couture

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In the glamorous world of haute couture there has been a major decline in production due to the increase in fast fashion. High price and high quality designers have trouble competing with the mass production, as they cannot produce that many garments in such a short amount of time. Haute couture, made famous in Paris in the early 1900’s is a highly acclaimed art form that is now not supported as much as mass production as it is far more expensive and time consuming, however the outcome is clearly superior giving a unique, quality piece of design and workmanship.

 Several designers and fashion company CEO’s have shared their opinion on haute couture vs. fast fashion from the head designer of Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld to Topshop’s CEO.

For Fast Fashion

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“Why then is it a problem when lower priced retail stores offer what consumers want at a price they can actually afford?”

“When the price of goods is artificially high, another party will find a way to produce the same good at a lower cost”

For Haute Couture

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“Perhaps we can justify fast fashion to ourselves because everyone’s broke – but given the life span of most of these clothes, it really is true that a slightly more expensive basic pays for itself in wears.”  – Sadie Stein (Jezebel)

“Cheap fashion, like cheap, factory-farmed salmon and chicken, has stripped away any notion we had of something being luxurious or in any way special . It has devalued all our lives, making us ever more dissatisfied, always wanting more.”  – Liz Jones (The Daily Mail’s UK)

Pros and Cons of Fast Fashion

The Pros of Fast Fashion The Cons of Fast Fashion

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Impact of Fast Fashion on Designers

Due to the materials used in fast fashion and the design techniques that are limited in comparison to haute couture, it results in high implications on designers. There is a lot of waste and pollution mainly from chemicals in the clothing including dyes and bleaches.

When trying to address sustainability designers such as Stella McCartney have produced eco friendly collections with organic fabrics and low-impact dyes and avoid child labour by producing garments in Italy. This is extremely challenging though as there are less fabric and colour choices therefore most designers prefer to ignore the effects on the environment and rightly so because as Stella McCartney says “I am a fashion designer. I am not an environmentalist.”

Style Blazer, Giselle Childs, Is Fast Fashion A Friend or Foe? 2/10/13

Compared to most boutique designers who create around 50-100 pieces a year, fast fashion stores produce much, much more. Zara, for instance, produces around 10,000 new items per year. Critics of fast fashion argue that such mass production reduces creativity, authenticity, and originality, and environmentalists are concerned about the effect it has on the environment. Each year the fashion industry creates 2 million tons of waste, produces 2.1 million tons of CO2 (which directly contributes to the greenhouse effect, thereby warming the planet), and uses 70 million tons of water.

Fast fashion stores don’t need to be crossed off of your list entirely, but savvy shoppers should be aware of the effects of purchasing items from these stores. Luckily, some companies are committed to making a difference and over 300 retailers–including ASOS–have signed on to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan. The plan aims to improve the fashion industry by “producing, selling, and disposing of waste without damaging the environment and only working with countries with strict labor fairness regulations.”

As an up and coming stylist, I do understand the concerns that are made regarding waste and unsustainable fabrics however it is so much easier for a designer to dismiss these issues and isn’t of a major concern to most people in the fashion industry, including myself. We see the end result as what is important, not what it took to achieve by the amount of water that was used or the low paying of workers.

Even though we would love to save the planet while making the hottest trends, it cannot always be done due to expenses and lack of sustainable resources. When a designer does make the decision to make an eco-friendly collection they never do it quietly and it will always be a top fashion story. Their contribution to help the environment can never seem to go unnoticed because then they clearly would not be able to make enough profit on the collection that would have cost twice as much as usual.

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Fast Fashion

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History

When thinking about fast food, we have been taught to see it as a bad habit that we need to avoid however people have not yet come to realize the impact that fast fashion has on design, and on designers themselves. Compared to the slow pace world of haute couture, there is a vast difference showing that the speedy world of mass production is unfortunately based on quantity over quality.

Fast fashion began in the late 1990’s when retailers started to manufacture clothing themselves, giving them the control of distribution and manufacturing. This strategy quickly moves catwalk looks into retail stores in the shortest amount of time for the cheapest price and allows stores to be at the forefront of trends as new products can be distributed within just a few weeks. Brands were looking to increase profits and saw fast fashion as the best opportunity as it decreases their financial outlay on forward orders and allowed them to react to the market quickly because decisions could be made much later in the season and still be produced in time to be on-trend.

Retail stores who love Fast Fashion 

One of the main leaders in fast fashion is retail store, Zara who are known as the brand that shortened the lifecycle of fashion. Along with H&M and Forever 21, they are able to successfully mimic runway fashion and have the looks displayed in their stores in a time frame of two weeks, from sketches to store shelves. This process has resulted in buyers becoming accustomed to expect constant new styles and trends being moved in and out of the store, always at a low price.

When Zara’s first Australian store opened in 2011 in Sydney, followed by Melbourne two months later, 80% of the stock sold within three minutes making retailers extremely worried about losing business. However a few owners of stores including Witchery and Cue were not concerned, Rod Levis, owner of Cue says…

“Our clothes are more expensive than Zara’s, so we operate in a different market. We also react very quickly to fashion trends, but there’s no doubt Zara’s entry will keep many retailers on their toes. It is possible some of the smaller shops may be driven into a corner.” 

Even with that confidence, stores did suffer and still continue to do so, as its extremely hard to compete with a store that is almost continuously changing trends, garments and accessories. Zara makes approximately 840 million garments a year and has 5900 shops in 85 countries, clearly leading the pack in the fast paced world of fashion. 

They make thousands of copies of an item but spread the supply thinly across the stores and Zara also hardly ever advertise, they spend less than 0.5% of their revenue on advertising compared to a typical fashion retailer who will spend 20%-30%.

The above video gives a summary of how Zara is taking over the fashion industry

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