The speed of fashion and why the fashion industry could meet its crashing point.

William Klein 1963

A 1963 fashion photograph at the Paris Opera. Credit William Klein/Trunk Archive.

In the Business of Fashion article from November 6th, Raf Simons speaks to Cathy Horyn on the speed of fashion. Since Simons decided to leave Dior “for personal reasons”, keeping in mind that Alexander Wang also left Balenziaga to “focus on his own brand”, there has been a lot of talk about why the fashion industry could be crashing. A great example of that would be the article “Why Fashion in Crashing” written by Suzie Menkes and which appeared on Vogue.com.

For a piece that appeared in System Magazine, Raf Simons reveals his thoughts on the speed of fashion and uncovers the uncertainty regarding his situation, life and future.

The issue Simons discusses, most prominently in his talk, is timing. The Dior show was made in 5 weeks, which is a very small amount of time when it comes to fashion and its process. The schedules are very meticulous, and do not give the design team any leeway when it comes to re-working or re-thinking a design. Everything is timed — the whole week. If there’s a delay in a meeting, the whole day is fucked up” (businessoffashion.com).

He then addressed the difference between how his eponymous brand studio works by dividing his designers into two teams, each in charge of one collection, and how this would be impossible to do so at Dior, due to the amount of workers. He expresses his wish of discussing the collections with designers and workers at Dior and include them in the design process like he does within his own brand, but understands that a real dialogue could very well not be viable.

Things go extremely fast at Dior and in spite of the incredible pressures, it works for the Maison, but on an emotional level, Simons expresses a lot of frustration. Creative people should have the time to explore their ideas or concepts, but in a world where information is processed so quickly, this becomes more of a luxury.

System Magazine Raf Simons cover

System Magazine Cover for Autumn Winter Edition.

When asked if the ability to communicating with the larger public was positive or negative, he answers: ”Fashion became pop. I can’t make up my mind if that’s a good or a bad thing. The only thing I know is that it used to be elitist. And I don’t know if one should be ashamed or not to admit that maybe it was nicer when it was more elitist, not for everybody. Now high fashion is for everybody” (businessoffashion.com). His point of view could be taken as a bit regressive, but when we look at the genius that came out in collections by Alexander McQueen and Galliano for Dior, when time was still less restrictive, and then when we really take a look at recent collections on all levels, the element of art is losing its prominence and Raf expresses that clearly in his talk:

”Everything is so easily accessible, and because of that you don’t make a lot of effort anymore. When we were young, you had to make up your mind to investigate something — because it took time. You really had to search and dig deep. Now if something interests you, one second later, you can have it. And also one second later you also drop it.”

It is important to mention that Simons collaborated with artist Sterling Ruby to create a one-off collection in 2013 that joined their ideals of fashion and art. This was a truly creative venture that did not include the rush and pressures of back to back collections.

Raf is clearly exasperated in his talk and the way he talks shows that this issue is very upsetting to creative minds. ”There’s never enough time. You get a tension. I know how to pull out from this in my personal life. We go and look at nature for three hours. It’s heaven. We go to a bakery and buy a bag of stuff and lie in the grass. Sublime. But how to do that in the context of your professional life? You buy a house and you start doing pottery or something?”

Will this problem bring a change to the industry, or will we keep on producing items that consumers don’t really need in a way that could be damaging to design, art, the environment and the emotional health of head designers? Is it time for a change towards more sustainable ideals?

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