Some time ago, I was very lucky to hear the extraordinary Dana Thomas’s lecture on fashion’s changing environment and her views on the importance of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano. However, she also brought up the flaws and possible future of the fashion industry.
The fashion business is currently under a newer system from how it used to be, it used to be extravaganzas of 1 hour long runway shows and much more exclusive audience, since luxury went from private to public. It’s now more of a mash up of business and creativity. Not purely creativity. The business owners have power over creative people. “It’s like a battle between art and commerce” Dana Thomas. This has been affecting many luxury brands due to becoming a corporation for example the Vuitton family only had 2 stores when it were still a small family business, now they have more than 460 and revenue grew from $14 million to $5 Billion.
John Galliano and Alexander McQueen were both hands on designers, modeled their own clothes and collections were based on vacations, since clothes were all unique pieces they were sold mainly to personal friends.
However, what really lead to John Galliano’s melt down like partying? Alexander McQueen’s suicide? Was this all due to the fact they were taken away some of their original creative freedoms when they became cooperate? For example, runway shows used to be one hour long and nowadays its as short as 12 minutes. Or is it due to the over work designers face when becoming a creative director at a design house?
Every creative director at a design house is responsible for coming up with ideas for accessories, a spring/summer, resort wear and fall/winter for both men and women. Plus, designers like McQueen and Simons had their own labels, which means even more pressure! To come up with inspiration that’ll influence the masses is challenging enough however it’s lead to extreme when it comes to finding it up to 32 times a year. The inner inspiration and drive is simply lost because there is too much to think about and not everything the creative director does is something he or she is passionate about because there is always thought on commercialism.
In my opinion, the future of the fashion industry relies on designers who need to balance business and creativity. However, when the job of creative director gets too big to fill, the system needs to change. One person shouldn’t fill the shoes of many employees to save the company money. In order for fashion brands to keep excelling all employees shouldn’t have their job control their livelihoods.
Dana Thomas is currently a professor of journalism at the American University of Paris and author of “Deluxe, How Luxury Lost Its Luster” and “Gods and Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano.” Check out her website: http://www.danathomas.com/