Thursday, February 18, 2016

Is Fashion "As We Know It" Totally Dead?

At last month's Design Indaba conference in South Africa, influential trend forecaster Li Edelkoort proclaimed, “Fashion is dead." For Edelkoort, fashion as we know it has come to an end. As an indie fashion designer, I say good riddance.
Let me break down what I think Edelkoort means by “as we know it.” Fashion — as an inaccessible art form available only to those privileged enough to be included — is over. The fashion industry has operated like a high school clique and society has decided not to wear pink on Wednesdays.
In her annual presentation at Design Indaba, Edelkoort read an essay entitled "AntiFashion." Marcus Fairs of Denzeen magazine interviewed Edelkoort about the presentation. Education, textile design, marketing, and the relationship between advertising and editorial coverage were among Edelkoort’s hit list.
Her interview itself is so conceptual that I’ve read it at least 50 times trying to interpret what exactly she’s trying to say. She places a huge emphasis on education and criticizes that designers are taught to become catwalk designers and yet, she sounds bored by fashion shows today compared to the Thierry Mugler shows of yesteryear. Does she want these designers to be better catwalk designers or does she just miss a time when celebrities (and their babies) didn’t take up all the front row seats?
Edelkoort argues that "fashion shows are becoming ridiculous" and adds, "The editors are just on their phones; nobody gets carried away by it." Maybe those editors should look up from their phone because I wasn't even there and I know that fashion shows are become more inclusive.
Up-and-coming brand Chromat made headlines when they became the first straight-size high end designer  to feature a Latina plus-size model, Denise Bidot, in its Spring/Summer 2015 show at NYFW. Zana Bayne, also a straight-size label, featured plus model, Gia Genevieve in the same season. And the more recent Autumn/Winter 2015 shows brought another industry first when actress Jamie Brewer became the first model with Down Syndrome  to walk in NYFW.
  "Trans people have been central to New York's art and fashion scene for nearly as long as those 'scenes' have existed as we know them. It's about time that this reality was represented on the city's runways," AW15 model Hari Nef  told Dazed.
Nef’s point about representation in the high end fashion scene is one that I observe within the plus-size industry. Customers  demand more diversity in body types   showcased by brands. And it’s a demand that I’m eager to meet as a designer. Fashion shouldn’t be about showcasing art on those deemed most acceptable by society; it should represent those who are creating it and wearing it.

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