The Fashion Sector’s Artistic Expression is Hindered by a Flawed Environment

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By Car Brand Experts


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An environment is a intricate system of interacting organisms that connect to restore environmental equilibrium. That said, if one element of the environment does not uphold its duty, it disrupts the amalgamation of all the system’s moving components and alters it entirely. When viewed through the lens of the fashion world, designers’ imaginative expression and concepts are the linchpin to preserving the eminence of fashion as we recognize it today.

Why is this so crucial? It could be contended that fashion is just attire; however, it delves much deeper than what is apparent. The ensembles we don are essentially conscious determinations we make daily to exhibit our disposition and present ourselves in a certain way. Here is where we perceive the importance of creativity in the fashion realm; it fosters innovation, fresh ideas, and modes that enable one to reflect an individual’s distinctive identity — all stemming from a designer’s efforts.

Fresh from Haute Couture Fall 2024 Week, some of the most remarkable and extravagant creations gracing the catwalks have been witnessed. While they are visually striking, extremism and opulence do not translate to creativity. Hence, lesser novelty in the fashion sector is witnessed presently. Despite Haute Couture pieces, designers delve into a House’s archives to pay homage to an institution with such a robust past. While this has its perks, the frequency at which the sector has stumbled upon designs that can be described as “never seen before” or “revolutionary” has dwindled, particularly in the 2020s.

This is a result of hindering factors like financial constraints, enduring house protocols, and a designers’ aspiration to advance in a prominent fashion house. These arduous hindrances in an exceedingly competitive sector are a cog in the fashion machine’s mechanism that disrupts the equilibrium of the environment and hampers artistic expression.

Read more: The Standardization of Athleisure is No Longer Applicable

Financial Limitations

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For a budding designer’s work to be acknowledged in the sphere of fashion, they must find a balance between business acumen and creativity. For a design to find its way into consumers’ wardrobes, numerous processes need to be carried out post-product design — encompassing procuring fabrics, manufacturing, packaging, and exporting, amidst various others. All of which demand ample financial resources. Even though the journey of developing a design to reach consumers is a daunting task, it, regrettably, does not assure success or revenue that may enable them to break even.

The elements that contribute to a designer’s significance in the sector are dictated by brand recognition and brand ethos — elements that enable them to reach an extended audience of potential consumers. Thus, aspiring designers stage runway presentations to anchor their name on the market and to forge their brands. Runway showcases have always been a hallmark of success for a small independent brand and a pivotal catalyst for growth in the sector. By leveraging runway shows as a platform, brand ethos can be reinforced and brand recognition can be broadened by inviting key figures in the sector — who help publicize and market a brand through press coverage in publications and social platforms. Given that these showcases are meticulously curated and styled to adhere to the aesthetics and convey a designer’s narrative, this also aids in marketing the collection to a more targeted audience in a bid to boost sales.

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Organizing and financing a runway show generally comes with a price tag of at least six digits to cover core facets of a show — comprising venue, models, hairstyling and makeup, among numerous other aspects of a high-profile event. The financial repercussions are far too substantial for a small enterprise that is already financially strapped, in addition to marketing and manufacturing expenses. It is also worth noting that for UK-based designers, Brexit has made it exceedingly more challenging for them to navigate financial woes due to heightened costs of manufacturing and exporting within Europe. Prominent fashion houses also utilize runway presentations as marketing tools, leveraging advantages like recognizable names, renowned supermodels, and extravagant venues to amass media spotlight. Consequently, owing to financial constraints, young designers are unable to stage a show to garner as much public attention as esteemed fashion houses, leading them to be overshadowed. This results in their creations not being noticed due to insufficient funds and time to nurture creativity.

Read more: The Transformation of Fashion Designers into Creative Directors

Referential Endeavors

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Referential endeavors are undeniably significant in the fashion sphere; the Business of Fashion even affirms that the “study of history is crucial for a triumphant career in fashion”. Referential endeavors inspired by archival looks are especially prevalent in prestigious houses.

that own enduring home principles and an extensive past. Creators like Maria Grazia Chiuri, Miuccia Prada, and Daniel Roseberry frequently delve into referential designs, revamping the pieces inspired by historical collections to respect the legacy of the house or honor a legendary figure in the realm of fashion. These esteemed designers unfold their referential creations in significant ways to display their admiration for an influential figure, considering the vast array of designers and collections that serve as sources of inspiration. This exhibition involves providing tangible instances of how these figures have pioneered new directions for the fashion industry.

Nonetheless, there has been a decline in the emergence of designs that are entirely novel and groundbreaking for the sector. Take, for instance, Christian Dior’s “Junon” gown, originally crafted in 1949, renowned for its innovative use of intricate beading and embroidery to mimic the allure and appearance of peacock feathers. This garment was later reimagined by Maria Grazia Chiuri for Dior ambassador Natalie Portman. Another notable illustration is Daniel Roseberry’s tribute to the artistry and imagination of Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali through the prevalent lobster motif in his Spring 2024 presentation. While these creations are masterpieces, they lack novelty. As a result, designers’ inclination towards drawing inspiration from fashion trailblazers has stymied creativity and fresh contributions to the contemporary fashion landscape.

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Photo: Valentino

Conversely, certain designers have injected fresh vitality into establishments and boldly modernized the image of a house, such as Daniel Lee for Bottega Veneta and Alessandro Michele’s recent endeavors for Valentino. These designers have reinvented the distinctive traits of a brand’s DNA and updated them to captivate a younger audience, infusing their artistic touch. It could be argued that these instances symbolize absolute creative liberty, given that these designers have revitalized fundamental brand elements.

While this holds some truth, these situations also represent the constraining influence of enduring house principles on the creative expression of designers. Crucial factors like commercial success and the targeted consumer base must be taken into account when crafting new collections. Hence, designers must incorporate a brand’s most defining features and partially adhere to established DNA to meet these objectives. Consequently, owing to the significance of brand identity and enduring house principles, these factors could restrict the artistic freedom and expression of a talented designer lacking a personal label.

Explore more: The Evolution of the Male Gaze in Fashion and Beauty Marketing

Shifting Focus

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Raf Simons

Within eminent fashion houses, achievement and authority are inherent for designers affiliated with the house. Given that these brands are firmly established, it is rational to witness designers prioritize and redirect their focus towards collaborating with a brand that boasts demonstrable global success, prestige, and a formidable reputation. This course of action is particularly compelling as these brands have attained elevated credibility to the extent that their name carries instant recognition. Moreover, the industry accords greater respect to the talents operating under renowned fashion houses, with the association significantly enhancing an individual’s standing and perception.

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Several of the designers we appreciate today have opted to shutter or depart from their own labels to concentrate on the vision they hold with renowned fashion houses. This trend is evident in Kris Van Assche’s decision to close his eponymous label, KRISVANASSCHE, to fully commit to his role at Dior Homme as creative director. Similarly, Prada’s co-creative director Raf Simons and Balenciaga’s Demna, respectively, with his eponymous brand and Vetements, chose to step away from their personal labels to broaden their horizons under a distinguished fashion house.

In light of the immense success of these designers’ personal labels, shifting focus towards progressing with major fashion houses has indeed enhanced their standing within the industry and relieved them of the burdens and obstacles associated with managing their own workshop. Nevertheless, although being associated with significant houses brings various advantages, these designers decided to prioritize assured growth at the expense of their complete creative autonomy. The truth remains that abiding by well-known house principles and robust design aesthetics is crucial to upholding the essence and fundamental values of a brand. Conversely, while these elements benefit the houses, the informal requirements hinder the genuine creative expression of a designer.

Considering these observations, while the fashion industry’s ecosystem may limit the creative expression of global designers and curtail the true potential of a revolving door teeming with talented young designers, such is the sobering reality of the sector. Ultimately, akin to others, designers must secure a livelihood and establish a reputation. Hence, embracing strong house principles and prioritizing collaborations with established houses is a sensible path to pursue, ensuring career advancement and heightened status within such a competitive field.

To foster the untapped talent and cultivate the growth of young designers in their quest for self-expression and creative liberty, the industry must introduce more support systems such as grants and mentorship programs to alleviate financial burdens and invest in the future of fashion.

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