A new era has begun in the fashion industry as the appetites of fashion fans have grown. They want to get everything at once. And the fashion industry is ready to give them it all.
In the late 1980s, the president of LVMH, Bernard Arnaud, realised that it was not enough to just sew a bag and start selling it. Designers need to create a story around it, make it an object of desire – that’s when you start selling more. Thus, fashion became a global industry.
Nowadays, the number of brands, designers, collections, boutiques, concept-stores and loyal fashion fans has grown like never before. Fashion is now a way of life. And shopping is an activity that is for some just as much as going to the movies, a gym or a concert.
The professional community is no longer a chamber and elite party for its own. Although some people remember the past with nostalgia, others are sure: the bigger and the broader the industry is becoming – the more opportunities there are. More jobs, more young people that study fashion, more future designers, CEO and brand owners.
For some reason, there is this weird admiration of teenagers who line up at night in front of Supreme and Palace stores in London and New York. They have their own original style and smartphone in their hands – this is already enough to become part of the global fashion community. These cool kids are the first generation that has grown on Apple products and social networks, and they have their own ideas about fashion. For them, the imminent rapprochement between art and commerce is not a catastrophe, but simply a given.
I truly believe that one day in one of these queues on a rainy morning in London two teenagers will meet. They will check each other’s Instagram accounts (and, of course, the number of subscribers: ‘I have more followers than you’), maybe follow each other and build some sort of a friendship. And then, in the future, these two may as well found the next Supreme or Nike. Or LVMH. The larger the scale, the better.
A few days ago, in the queue at Heathrow airport, I started chatting to a few teenagers, they asked me about what I studied at University and what I do – this is how all of my fashion conversations begin. I asked them a few generic questions:
‘Are you interested in fashion? What brands do you like? What kind of music do you listen to? Who are your idols? What do you want to become when you grow up?’
Funnily enough, they said that they would like to work in fashion. Their idol is Virgil Ablo, the former creative director for Kanye West’s label, and now the CEO of his own brand Off-White. It really struck me. I expected to hear something about sports stars or hip-hop artists. Or Steve Jobs. Why Virgil Ablo?
‘Because he’s a smart guy, he’s got his style, and his stuff is really cool. He seems to be a super combo of high fashion and cool music’. – was the answer.
In developed countries and large cities people need fashion pretty much as much as they need air. It is a global digital community that is united by the love of fashion, its language, its magic, its tolerance, and creativity. People today want to know more about the industry: how to get an education or how to build a career without it, how to get an internship at a global fashion brand or how to run your own and develop a business model. And, of course, how and where to get those latest Supreme tees or items from the latest collaborations at the Dover Street Market.
Courageous avant-garde world of Rei Kawakubo is something that these teenagers from the suburbs read and dream about. And that is a significant indicator of the influence of the global fashion industry on our lives.
The global fashion industry is worth $2.4 trillion annually. Fashion weeks, award ceremonies, competitions and festivals are no less important media events than the Oscars or the Superbowl. Documentaries about fashion are shown on Netflix and HBO along with House of Cards and Hollywood blockbusters. Twitter accounts of fashion designers and editors are read by millions of users around the globe.
The industry is huge – as is the interest to it. These new cool kids want to be featured in street style galleries online. They want to organise parties and attend parties organised by others. They want to have pictures with their idols and date celebrities with cool style. They want to become celebrities themselves. They want to have the latest collections, match or colour code with their cool friends. They want to become the next street-, skate-, luxury-, fashion-, hip-hop-, architectural- and DJ heavyweights. They want to see more exciting and unexpected collaborations, engage with it all via their tech devices and share it all on social. They want it all. And fashion industry of the future is going to give them all that.
Text: Irina Gorskaia
Images: Vogue UK, The Business of Fashion