LVMH Prize 2021 Finalists

The Met Gala may have been canceled this year, but there is always something to look forward to in the world of fashion. Big brands are beginning to present their resort collections, but the fashion community has their eyes focused on seeing who will be the next rising star designer.

Every year, a number of organizations spotlight designers they think will be the next big thing. Fashion East is a London-based, non-profit program that annually offers three womenswear and three menswear designers, financial sponsorship, business mentoring, and the ability to present their collections to the press. The mission of the VFiles incubator is to connect, empower, and amplify global youth, and its Foundation offerings span across grants, incubation, education, R&D, and policy. The International Woolmark Prize awards fashion talents from around the globe who showcase Australian Merino wool. The British Fashion Council/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund recently announced Bethany Williams as its 2021 winner of £200,000. In an update to their past award structure, instead of announcing one winner and two runners-up, The Council of Fashion Designers of America has announced 10 winners of their CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund.

Now we await the next crop of winners. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has whittled down 1,700 applicants for their LVMH Prize to just 9 finalists. Fashion Reverie takes a look at who is in the running.

Bianca Saunders (London, UK)

Bianca Saunders, an RCA alumna, is a distinctive new voice in menswear who specializes in proposing jarring twists to succinct garments, effectively redefining existing notions of masculinity. Influenced by her British and West Indian background, she addresses the tension between tradition and evolution in designs that reference classic streetwear and avant-garde couture. Staple jersey tee shirts are transformed with ruched flourishes, while experiments in textures blur the line between lounge pant and formal trouser. These carefully considered tweaks transform everyday basics into imposing statement pieces; all the while instilling an overarching sense of artisanal craftsmanship to augment otherwise straightforward constructions.

Charles de Vilmorin (Paris, France)

A graduate of Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne in June 2019, Charles de Vilmorin launched his eponymous brand at the end of April 2020. His prototypes are made in a very instinctive and spontaneous way. When he has an idea, the piece can be made in one go, overnight. His favorite techniques are painting on fabric, patchwork, and printing. His jackets are made of hand-printed waterproof polyester and include four layers of padding. The volume of the jackets is created by meticulous stitch work that gives relief to the pattern. The jackets are entirely made in a workshop in Paris.

Christopher John Rogers (New York, USA)

Christopher John Rogers, a 27-year-old from Baton Rouge, LA, launched his namesake label in 2016 upon graduation from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Based in New York City, the Christopher John Rogers brand exists to create emotional and sensitive clothing with a focus on effortful dressing, directed towards an individual with a strong sense of self. They deliver clothing with an emphasis on quality manufacturing and timeless appeal, whilst encouraging their customer to take up space. In 2019, Christopher was the recipient of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund’s top prize and was awarded the 2020 American Emerging Designer of the Year by the CFDA.

Conner Ives (London, UK)

Born and raised in Bedford, New York, Conner Ives moved to London in 2014 to attend Central Saint Martins, where he graduated with a BA fashion womenswear in the summer of 2020. He now resides in London where he runs his design studio.  His design aesthetic is nostalgic, yet forward thinking. His work always relates to a new Americana; an expansion of what it comes to represent. Through the use of vintage garments as raw material, there is a feeling of responsibility to elevate the identity of re-generated items; shaking away the connotation of craft as something non-desirable.

Kidsuper (New York, USA)

Colm Dillane is the multimedia artist and entertainer behind Kidsuper, a hybrid art brand with a storefront and studio in Brooklyn. Dillane started by selling tee shirts in his high school cafeteria then later went on to showcase his collection at Paris Fashion Week. He played a year of professional soccer in Brazil before attending college, then earned a mathematics degree from New York University. He went on to direct award-winning short films, music videos, and sold-out solo art fashion shows. A wide range of life experiences fueled Colm’s super hero imagination and need to create his own world through art and design. Kidsuper’s mission is to remind people that anything is possible.

Kika Vargas (Bogotá, Columbia)

Romantic silhouettes, striking patterns, and luxurious textiles define Kika Vargas’ poetic vision. After studying fashion design at Istituto Marangoni in Milan, the Bogotá-born designer spent two years working at Missoni before launching her namesake label in 2011. Architectural forms inspire Vargas’ collections—eccentric proportions and lively volumes result in an oeuvre defined by its aesthetic sensibility. Blouses feature exaggerated puff sleeves and idyllic ruffle trims while dresses boast Peter Pan collars and elongated-tiered constructions. Although each piece is a statement on its own, every garment is designed with everyday wearability in mind. Dramatic but not over-the-top, Kika Vargas’ riveting ready-to-wear creations speak to a romanticism fit for the contemporary era.

Lukhanyo Mdingi (Cape Town, South Africa)

Born in 1992 in the east coast of South Africa, Cape Town-based fashion designer Lukhanyo Mdingi graduated with a BTech fashion degree from Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 2014. With a profound interest in considered and sincere design, the intention is to ensure a pragmatic and mindful approach to product development; looking into human ingenuity as the provenance in creating design that is honest, steady and strong. By collaborating with artisans with a rich history in craft-making, the aim is to build a bridge by bringing artisan’s heritage to timeless premium pieces while providing a platform to support artisans, through continuous work and awareness.

Nensi Dojaka (London, UK)

Nensi Dojaka, 27, is an Albanian womenswear designer living and working in London. With a background in both contour and womenswear studies, Dojaka graduated from Central Saint Martins with an MA from the womenswear program in 2019. After showcasing the MA collection as part of the university’s LFW show, she garnered significant attention from the industry, resulting in a capsule collection with Ssense immediately after graduating. Dojaka was then selected to showcase under Fashion East and made her debut with them in 2020 with her fall 20 collection. For spring 2021, Dojaka was selected for the mentorship program by Alessandro Dell’Acqua x Tomorrow.

All images courtesy of their respective brands

Rui (Shanghai, China)

Rui Zhou was born in a small city in the middle of China surrounded by mountains and trees. This environment influenced her interest in zen Buddhism and the Wabi-Sabi Japanese aesthetic. Rui appreciates asymmetry, irregularity, and imperfection. She sees a garment as a second layer of skin and the space between skin and fabric, body and garment, shows “the power of fragility”. Rui studied BA at Tsinghua University in Beijing and in 2018 graduated from Parsons MFA fashion design and society program. She was selected for the H&M semi-final 2017, won “CFDA+2018 design graduate” and “Elaine Gold launch pad 3.0.”

To learn more about the LVMH Prize and this year’s finalists, go to https://www.lvmhprize.com/.                             

—Carl Ayers

From Carrie Bradshaw’s Closet: The Past, Present, and Future of Product Placement

Image courtesy of dailymail.co.uk

You open your closet to gaze upon your prized pair of cobalt blue satin designer shoes, but have you ever considered how those Manolo Blahniks from Carrie Bradshaw’s closet ended up in yours? You watch a popular show, film, or video and you see an item you love in the apartment of your favorite character maybe covertly in the background, a beautiful dress hanging in a closet, or overtly, a pair of Manolo Blahniks raved over by the main character, and the next thing you know, you are on the hunt for the newest must-have item.

According to the Branded Entertainment Network (BEN), the leading organization responsible for major product placement since the late 1970s, formal product placement originated in the early 1900s when “full length radio SOAP operas were sponsored by soap companies,” which moved into the 1950s wherein television shows on major networks were “wholly sponsored by brands.” Then, in the late 1970’s product placement organizations like BEN appeared in a way that formalized and organized the industry practice. Early sponsorships were overt and restricted to brands who had the spending power. As time has progressed, advances in technology and viewer sophistication (and ad annoyance) has necessitated that product placement become more ingenious and creative to influence purchases without necessarily interrupting viewing with an outright commercial. This is why product placements are also referred to as embedded marketing. Many assume that product placement is still a matter of a company’s budget, however this is not entirely true today. In the same way that fashion is now democratized and fragmented, so too is product placement. Embedded marketing is no longer a simple organized industry, it is one that is often shrouded in mystery and entangled in a web of relationships, cross promotions, and bartering. There are several modern product placement strategies for large and small brands outlined below to unravel this complicated web.

Organizational Liaisons

Organizational liaisons such as BEN and several PR companies can facilitate product placement for brands mostly through a more traditional buy-in strategy, but also take advantage of the organization’s network of relationships. So, again, the web is complicated in that even if a brand pays a PR company, the placements still may not be entirely monetary in nature. The brands with the largest budgets do not necessarily receive the best placements. Through AI (artificial intelligence), the playing field is much more even as BEN looks for the perfect product placement for each client based on 40 years of data. In a Forbes article by Lela London, she interviews BEN’s Chief of Integration and he states “our AI breaks this information down, thereby effectively analyzing every aspect of the content. Using this data, we create customized algorithms for each client that are guaranteed to predict the best content opportunities for generating results.” BEN represents clients from Chanel and L’Oreal to Old Navy and Gap; however, there is a niche for everyone including small start-ups. According to BEN’s Brand Partnerships Manager for a Vogue Business interview by Lucy Maguire, “Music videos are a key growth area for BEN. 46 per cent of consumers consider purchasing a brand after watching an integration in a music video, and 42 per cent of consumers report having made a purchase based on seeing a brand integration.” These statistics represent the power of brand integrations on consumer’s purchasing decisions as well as a growth area in a segment that is more democratized than film or TV. YouTube is a social medium that hosts a wide variety of product placement opportunities, as well as an extremely engaged audience.

Image courtesy of ben.productplacement.com

Individual Liaisons

Individual liaisons, especially stylists and costume designers, often choose to style characters in brands that result in organic placements based on the stylist’s and producers’ creative vision. Patricia Field, for example, is well known for her styling on “Sex and the City” and most recently, “Emily in Paris.” Chanel products were commonly touted by Lily Collins’ character throughout “Emily in Paris” (which gained some backlash due to inconsistency with the character’s wealth that we spoke about on “Fashion Reverie Talks” Episode 6.)

Patricia Field commented on her choice of Chanel in an interview with Giorgia Cantarini for L’OFFICIEL; She stated that she chose Chanel because “it is classic, it can be styled in many different ways, from classic to funky, e.g. with a pair of jeans like I did with Carrie [Bradshaw].” Field’s personal choice and appreciation for Chanel products plays a large factor in her styling decisions and represents a way in which brands achieve placements organically that still contribute to their bottom line. Similarly, Field’s choice to feature Manolo Blahniks throughout “Sex and the City” propelled the shoes to become a household name (and eventually Anna Wintour’s shoe of choice) which shows the major influence that stylists have on product placement and brand popularization.

“Emily in Paris” image courtesy of Instagram.com

Many stylists have become very aware of this powerful autonomy and have in turn opted to meticulously choose which brands to support based upon their values and relationships. Elaine Welteroth, a host on “The Talk,” is surrounded by a majority Black team from fashion stylist Jason Rembert to makeup artist Alana Wright, and hair stylist Angela C. Stevens. Welteroth and her team often actively choose to support Black-owned brands that she often highlights in her Instagram stories from a Melody Ehsani necklace that showcases notable Black figures throughout history to a fringed Hanifa cardigan dress and scarf. Zerina Akers, Beyonce, and Chloe x Halle’s stylist, also understands the power of her platform as evidenced in her continuous support of small brands as well as Black-owned brands. She is the creator of the Black Owned Everything profile on Instagram and has worked alongside Welteroth in their American Express collaboration called “Built to Last,” a YouTube series that highlights Black-owned brands. This shows how many organic placements can also transform into partnerships wherein stylists keep coming back to certain brands. An example is Akers’ curating AREA’s crystal crochet poncho for Beyonce’s “Black is King” and more recently collaborating again for a custom AREA nameplate suit.

Kim Kardashian’s bridal image courtesy of instagram.com

Co-promotional Marketing

Many high profile designers have equally high profile muses. Hubert de Givenchy, for example, long capitalized on his personal relationship with Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn touted Givenchy gowns in films such as “Sabrina” and “Breakfast at Tiffanys” as well as on television at major award shows. Givenchy’s ties to American cultural muses have not yet been severed as Ricardo Tisci, former Givenchy creative director, maintains a relationship with Kim Kardashian. She wore his designs from her MET Gala debut to her highly publicized wedding with Kanye West. In many ways, both muses relationship with the brand represents a form of product placement that can be referred to as co-promotional marketing. While Tisci and Hubert de Givenchy propelled Hepburn and Kardashian toward “style icon” status, Hepburn and Kardashian contributed to Givenchy’s brand image. At the time of Hepburn, Givenchy was branded as a classic French fashion house; however, Kim Kardashian’s presence as a muse helped the brand reinvent itself. In an article for Glamour, Elana Fishman writes, “Tisci completely reinvented the classic French fashion house, making it a go-to for stylish streetwear as well as sophisticated red-carpet fare—and embraced the budding style icon that was Kim, even when other designers wouldn’t.”

This symbiotic exchange cannot be equated to a simple monetary exchange and represents a type of marketing that is rooted in networking and relationships.

Image courtesy of youtube.com

Small Brands as their own PR agent

Not every product placement is quite as lofty as those between designers and their muse. In the world of a fragmented fashion and fashion marketing industry, there are abundant possibilities for product placement, and liaisons are not always necessary. Accion Opportunity Fund lists several strategies that small brands can use: connecting to influencers via social media, cold calling, preparing press kits, and selling your story through social media content. Very often, micro influencers (those with less than 25k followers) are highly impactful when they represent brands, and also tend to be somewhat accessible. Small brands can send PR packages to these influencers in hopes that their products will be featured in the influencer’s content or they can pay them to feature their product.

Fashion (and Fashion Marketing!) is cyclical

In the same way that fashion is cyclical, so are the ways in which fashion is promoted. The future of product placement seems to be one in which brands are maintaining the placement as a major point of the production. As television had once been fully sponsored by a brand, many shows are now publicizing their relationship with a brand or service as a major point of value. The difference, however, is in the seamless integration that is not hidden yet adds to the viewing experience. For example, Amazon-sponsored “Next in Fashion” featured clickable Amazon products while viewing the show. This was not a covert relationship and signifies a possible future of product placement that relies on high tech and enhanced experiences. Likewise, TV show “Love Island” and online retailer I Saw it First partnered so the service styles the wardrobe of those on the show while the looks are then promoted on “Love Island’s” website.

Image courtesy of Isawitfirst.com

There exists significant blurring of the lines between monetary product placement, organic placement, and co-promotional placement which represents the current fashion business practices of  omni-channel selling and retailing. Just like the phrase “a sale is a sale is a sale,” “a placement is a placement is a placement,” and brands should embrace the glories of product placement.

—Tessa Swantek

Five Brands That Have Rebranded to Capture the Zillennial Market

Images courtesy of thenewyorktimes.com, Coach, and Birkenstock, respectively

It’s no secret that 2020 was a tough year for the fashion industry, but there were also some bright spots. A handful of brands have made it through the turbulence and are navigating a rebrand and successfully engaging with “zillennials.” According to Urban Dictionary, “A zillennial is a micro generational overlap of people born ‘three years before the end of millennials and/or three years after the start of Generation Z. So, essentially anyone born between 1992 and 1998.”

Fashion Reverie identified five brands that seem to have captured this group’s interest:  Abercrombie & Fitch, Birkenstock, Coach, Doc Martens, and Hood by Air. We turned to a group of six zillennials, and a celebrity and pop culture expert to find out if they felt these brands were indeed appealing, and if so, why? Our group of zillennials weighed-in on the brand that interested them, respectively.

We’d be remiss to not include the role celebrity has to play and interviewed journalist and celebrity/pop culture expert and fashionreverie.com celebrity style editor, to get her point of view about how celebrity plays to this latest generation of consumers  Lastly, this article examines profitability, the final arbiter of whether a brand is successful or not. Fashion Reverie checked-in with Morgan Stanley to see how well the brands in our group fared in 2020 and what they predict for 2021 and beyond.

Abercrombie & Fitch Bruce Weber images courtesy of Abercrombie & Fitch

Abercrombie & Fitch

David T. Abercrombie founded the company in 1892. The first store was based in Manhattan and sold fishing and hunting gear. In 1904, Attorney, Ezra Fitch, purchased a large share of the company and renamed it Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F). It really came into its own in the 1990’s, under then-CEO Mike Jeffries, who modernized the brand, by hiring star fashion photographer Bruce Weber. Together, they conceived of and created an idealized summer camp environment and a fun-filled hedonistic college life with image campaigns that decorated the stores’ interiors.

Weber was the perfect fit, as he was known for telling stories through photographs for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. A&F was a favorite with tweens all-over the world who bought into Weber’s sexy fantasy. The stores created a club like environment, with dark paneled walls, house fragrances, and attractive models to lure customers in. Moose heads on the walls were a clever nod to the brand’s early heritage. The teen fans grew up and moved-on to more grown-up brands such as Zara.

Another factor in the brand’s downturn was parents getting turned-off by the brand’s sexualized imagery and numerous reports of body shaming. These attitudes worked against A&F and diminished the company’s luster; profits fell-off. Jeffries was ousted in 2014 after one too many comments such as, “In every school, there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

Abercrombie &Fitch spring 2021 campaign courtesy of insidehook.com

Zillennial weigh-in: Juliette, 23 and Annabel, 21

Sisters Juliette and Annabel* helped us hone-in on the rebranded Abercrombie & Fitch label. Both were raised by this author in affluent Fairfield County, CT. Juliette, who now works in marketing, was a former A&F middle-school fan. She easily fit into the clothes that were geared to girls with tiny size 0-4 frames. Juliette explains the renewed interest in the brand. “My age group of girls have grown-up and are looking for cute pieces. Abercrombie recruits aggressively at my alma matter, Miami University. Some of the Miami University sorority girls have been recruited by A&F and you can see their style influence in the clothes.”

Juliette’s sister, Annabel, is a business major at Mary Washington University. She has the typical college girl’s wardrobe of Lululemon mixed in with logo tees and sweatshirts. She and her friends turn to Abercrombie when looking for business casual or for going-out wear. Says Annabel, “I didn’t start wearing it again until 2020 when I just happened to walk into the store because they were having a sale. I liked it in middle school but couldn’t wear much of it because I was chubby as a kid and it wasn’t really size inclusive. Their style has really matured though, and the quality is really good for cheaper clothes. It’s about being comfortable, and they’ve made their jeans, that are hot now, size inclusive. Abercrombie has made it onto the list of stores I go into to buy.”

Word on the Street: Morgan Stanley

ANF.N also includes Hollister. Analysts called the 120-store (A&F 74/Hollister 46) closure in 2020’s fourth quarter “a significant win.” Additionally, digital revenue grew 39% as compared to last year, partially attributed to COVID-related store closures. Analysts assign the industry view as “cautious,” as they are waiting to see if there will be additional store closures that will cut back on lease dollars spent. The other factor is if the rebrand continues to generate dollars at the remaining brick and mortar locations and on digital.

Image courtesy of Birkenstock

Birkenstock

Birkenstock was founded in 1774 by Johann Adam Birkenstock, a cobbler from Langen-Bergheim, Germany. The sandals are known for their contoured cork footbeds fashioned from jute and suede that conform to the wearer’s feet.

Images courtesy of Rick Owens and Birkenstock

While “Birks” have long been a staple of yoga enthusiasts, ballet dancers, and podiatrists, they didn’t become cool until after a series of high-profile collaborations put them on the fashion map. Designer Rick Owens’ first collaboration, which dropped in April 2017, was a range of pony hair sandals and socks that were so successful that there was a Rick Owens X Birkenstock Season 2, one for men and one for women, shown at Paris Fashion Week spring 2019. The latest collab was unveiled with pop-up shops at Le Bon Marché in Paris, at the I.T Group in Hong Kong, and China, and online at birkenstock.com/1774 in February 2019. Another collaboration with the edgy  bi-annual magazine 032c, squarely put the brand on hipsters’ buy-now shopping list. The editorial team worked with Birkenstock to customize the unisex Super Birki clog out of polyurethane and adapted it “for day and night, at work and at play.”

Zillennial weigh-in: Abby, 21

Abby Ensslen is a student at Albright College who will graduate in May 2021. She is a Fashion and Communications co-major interested in how fashion relates to body positivity. According to Abby, Birkenstocks are cool now because they’re coming out in so many different fabrics, patterns, heights and iterations beyond the traditional Arizona sandal. “Arizonas are the classics, the A-1 of the brand, but in doing a bit of research, I noticed that Birkenstock has a little collaboration with Central St. Martins (Birkenstock X CSM); I like that they showed-off students’ work.” She likes her pair of EVAs because they can go in the water and are still wearable after two or three years. Abby finds their clunky look appealing, but “in the coolest way – you could wear them with dresses, jeans, joggers, really anything.”

The Birkenstock X CSM sandals retail between $250-$510, as do the Birkenstock X Rick Owens’ and Birkenstock X 032c’s, which is significantly more than a standard leather pair that averages $150.

Images courtesy of harperzbaraar.com

Coach

Coach was founded in 1941, and has a long-standing reputation built on quality and craftsmanship. The brand approaches design with a modern vision, reimagining luxury for today. Coach products are available in approximately 55 countries. Since 2016, Coach has worked furiously at rebranding itself to appeal to the zillennial generation. The house’s Creative Director, Stuart Vevers, started a series of successful limited-edition collaborations with strategically chosen stars called “the Brand’s Global Face.” The first was an accessories collection with Selena Gomez that dropped in fall 2017. The bags featured Selena’s handwritten empowering personal motto “Not Perfect, Always Me,”  which resonated with her young fans and drew them to what they’d previously deemed a “mom-brand.”

The “Selena Grace bag” was a hit and Gomez came back for a second collab in spring 2018 that included clothing, as well as accessories. Next, came a team-up with Michael B. Jordan. The first 2019 collaboration between Vevers and Jordan was so well received that a second limited collaboration followed.  This latest line was inspired by Jordan’s love for Naruto, the Japanese action anime series. It featured sneakers, backpacks, boots, jackets, and coats. Prices started at $95 and topped-out at $2,500 and caused a stir on the blogosphere.

Images courtesy of coach.com

The most recent partnership is with Jennifer Lopez, who has been a Coach fan since the early 2000s, according to an interview with vogue.com. In her 2002 video for her song, “All I Have,” Lopez is packing her things at the apartment she and fictional boyfriend, LL Cool J share, and marches dramatically down a NYC street and out of his life with armloads of Coach CC bags and luggage. Lopez explained, “I just really wanted the Jennifer Lopez Hutton bag to feel like me—glam and cool.”

The latest hit is the Coach X Jennifer Lopez Hutton Shoulder Bag retailing for $495. The bag is based on “the Hutton,” one of Coach’s classics, with the popular turn lock closure. It’s a Jennifer Lopez Rockstar style bag, from the color block Pepto Bismol pink and burgundy, down to the gold chain and snakeskin trim. A quick stop to Coach store in the Tysons Corner Center  mall confirmed that the bag continues to be a fan favorite and best-seller.

Another clever move is the “Once Upon a Time” Disney X Coach collaboration that features the beloved Disney princesses. It’s a continuation of the Disney collaboration that started a few years back when Coach teamed up with Disney to create merchandise honoring Snow White, and a special collection of Mickey Mouse illustrations by the late Keith Haring.

“Martha”is a part-time sales associate who works at a Coach brick and mortar location in the mid-Atlantic region. She confirmed that the Disney X Coach collaboration is a smash hit. In fact, it was sold out in-store in two days and was sold out online before then. Disney fans flocked to Coach to snap up the card holders, wallets, totes, hangtags and backpacks. Martha describes the new backpacks as “very fresh and very new. The neon yellows and mustards are really appealing to zillennials. The designs are definitely catering to this age group.” Most popular princess? Tiana, and her green zip around wallet.

Coach is hedging its bets, and still maintaining the other more classic designs for older customers who have been longtime supporters. These classics are featured in the spring 2021 “Coach Forever” video campaign that tells a story of inclusivity and community. The messaging and celebrities target the zillennials. In the video, Coach Ambassador Ricky Thompson, a comedian and Internet personality, is joined by model Kaia Gerber, Cole Sprouse, Megan Thee Stallion, and Paloma Elsesser in the uplifting short film.

Image courtesy of Coach

Zillennial weigh-in: Jocelyn, 24

Jocelyn lives in Brooklyn and works as the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Food Bank of NYC, the City’s largest anti-poverty organization. Like Juliette and Annabel, Jocelyn grew-up in Fairfield County’s “Gold Coast.” The 2016 Coach X Coachella collaboration put the brand on her radar. Prior to that, her knowledge of the brand was limited to a nice non-logo stitched leather bag from the 1970s or 80s her mother found for her at vintage shop in Vermont; she carried the bag all through high school. Jocelyn recalls, “The card inside said it’s made in the Garment District, which appeals to my commitment to sustainability.” Like many of her counterparts growing up in Fairfield County, she did not identify with the Reed Krakoff period where many of the bags in the local mall were covered with logos. Jocelyn continues, “I just got in an argument with a friend who bought one of those bags when we were thrifting, even after I told her, ‘no, don’t get it, it’s ugly.’” As to Coach’s spring 2021 collabs, Jocelyn opines, “Uncharacteristically, I like the Megan Thee Stallion bag. I like the suede and the pebbled leather that gives it a western look and even the C which could be a horseshoe. These are cute enough that I would think about it.”

The Celebrity Angle

Pop culture expert Tijana Ibrahimovic firmly believes that zillenials are influenced by celebrities. “Celebrity does matter to this generation. Zillennials and millennials are the ones who push the celebrity to the max. When it comes to a celebrity pushing a brand, a perfect example of doing it right is Coach. They read the room accurately. This current generation is looking at celebs to deliver the right message such as inclusivity and celebrities appearing as regular people. This is what the Zs care about. Coach showed celebs as casual and no one’s dressing up. Consumers need clothes like this.”

Word on the Street: Morgan Stanley

Coach is part of Tapestry Inc. (TPR.N) that also includes Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman. Although the long-term view of the overall company is rated as “cautious,” the equity analysts single Coach out as the star of the three brands. They attribute this to “better than expected digital sales in Coach North America, higher wholesale and greater China revenue.”

 Add in fewer discount/off-price sales to the picture and the result is that analysts remain confident about Coach for the remainder of 2021. The final word is that “in the handbag category tailwinds appear supportive.”

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

Dr. Martens

Zillennial weigh-in: Jocelyn, 24, Justin, 28.

Jocelyn discovered “Doc” Martens and started wearing her “Docs” in high school when she was going through a punk phase. She paid under $200 for her double stack Docs and loved the edge and punk attitude they afforded her. Although she’s well past her punk phase, she still has and wears them. As to the newer models, Jocelyn remarked, “I do love the sandals and want a pair. People are taking notes from Queer fashion trends—that DIY thing Ella Emhoff is doing, this is part of it.”

Justin works in real estate and marketing in upstate New York. He loves the brand’s advertising, even though it’s targeted to young adult women in their early 20s. “While I’m a couple of years older, who you hang out with is what you pay attention to. My girlfriend is 22 years old. I may not have looked at the ads before, but I do now. I pay attention to what the people I hang out with are talking about.”

Image courtesy of hypebeast.com

Word on the Street: Morgan Stanley

The analysts assigned Dr. Martens an equal weight evaluation. They believe that “Dr Martens is poised to grow fast, pay a dividend and yet delever (pay-off old debt and not take-on new debt) its balance sheet relatively rapidly. The analysts at MS are largely optimistic about Doctor Martens’ ability for continued growth up through 2024. While they consider the brand to be evergreen, they identify three potential problems:

  1. Could Dr. Martens (DM) resurgence prove to be a fad?
  2. The -50% e-commerce penetration DM is aiming for is quite a bit higher than that of other footwear brands and may be “overambitious.”
  3. If DM becomes less desirable, it may not be able to maintain its pricing power and may have to resort to discounting.

Image courtesy of theimpression.com

Hood by Air

Hood by Air (HBA)’s roots are in New York City.  When Shayne Oliver and Raul Lopez first introduced HBA in 2006, it struck a chord with young people and the media. Their avant-garde disruptive club-kid x pan-racial x high-fashion mix garnered a torrent of media attention and following with urban and suburban kids. HBA was on fire and culminated when Oliver won the LVMH Special Jury Prize in 2014 of 100,000 euros, and the Swarovski CFDA award for menswear in 2015. Although the brand was hot, the pricing was unattainable to many of its young fans. Despite the media attention and fanbase, according to a recent article in The Business of Fashion (BOF), sales were not enough to support the brand. The brand closed, and Oliver went on to work as Helmut Lang’s creative director from 2017-2019. Lopez went solo and founded Luar, another edgy streetwear brand.

For spring 2021, HBA’s campaign includes the iconic supermodel Naomi Campbell. 

Zillennial Weigh-In: Deirdre, 23

Deirdre is a special event makeup artist who works at an Ulta Beauty brick and mortar location in Virginia. She believes there are a lot of similarities between Hood by Air and Off-White and describes them as “high-end urban street wear.” Deirdre followed them while in high school, when she was “heavy into urban designer wear, when urban wear was so in.” She has not heard much at all about HBA since the relaunch on social media, where she goes to get her fashion information.

Edison Chen image courtesy of ssense.com

Although US zillennials such as Deirdre who embraced the HBA in its first iteration have moved-on, Edison Chen, a Los Angeles based streetwear entrepreneur, believes HBA can rise again. He is a minority investor who invested for the 2013 show and the business mind behind the comeback. Chen is taking a different approach to HBAs branding on this go round to reignite interest and sales. In an interview last November with BOF, Chen stated, “We’re gonna try to look at some culture penetrators, some new kids on the block to be able to mix our vibe so that it doesn’t seem unattainable or unwearable.” This translates to showing conceptual high-end pieces on the runways but offering less expensive pieces its young fans can afford, such as tee shirts and hoodies,. Chen’s initial focus are the Asian fashion weeks in Tokyo and Shanghai, expanding to European capitals from there. He will also work on direct to consumer sales partnering with Dover Street Market and Ssense for “bespoke activations” with periodic merchandise drops.

—Vivian Kelly

 

 

Global Youth Redefine Themselves through TikTok Fashion

Through social media, specifically TikTok, Generation Z “Zoomers” place themselves at the front row of a Chanel haute couture show in their most luxurious tweed and envision themselves throughout the decades from a social outing to high school picture day.  TikTok is a social media platform that has been dismissed by some in the past for being seemingly frivolous and off-center; however, it is the creative outlet and imagined stage for many of Gen Z, who value individualism, democratization, and open mindedness. Youth users of the platform are able to construct their own fluid identity that is not restricted to gender, social class, or even time periods.

This fluid identity is essentially their “digital aspirational persona,” one where the users place themselves in every context that they want to be in without boundaries. The world is endless for this online generation—they romanticize and reconstruct vintage in a modern customization that brings the old to the new, and the new to the old, in a cycle of reinvention and recreation.

The typical fashion funnel is from haute couture to the mass market; however, youth culture’s aspirational world views have greatly influenced luxury fashion houses, with Gen Z emerging as the true trendsetters. Refinery29 states that Gen Zers are, “not only activists for individuality and inclusivity, but they assume all people have the freedom to define anything (and everything!) for themselves.”

The “Front Row Fashion Trend” on TikTok is one of the ways that users quite literally blur class lines by placing themselves front and center. Participants imagine what they would wear when attending a fashion show for various high end brands. Color-blocked Gucci, Versace gold trimming, Prada black patent leather, and airy white Jacquemus linen form the fabric for each individual user’s aspirational vision of themselves where they command attention and act as the Anna Wintour of their own worlds.

Rachel Fried of CRFashionBook comments on the viral challenge, “TikTok reimagines the margins of the runway, giving users the platform needed to curate their front-row digs even without the season’s invite. With the phygital (physical and digital) pretense of fashion holding strong, everyone now has the opportunity to indulge in the doom of Rick Owens; the bohemian tweeds of Virginie Viard, and if dared, the jacquard long johns of Miuccia Prada and Raf Simmons.” The democratization of fashion is fully present on the social platform and amplifies the democratization of the fashion industry in general.  It does not matter that most do not have the means, prestige, or class to be invited to a high fashion runway show, because they can just construct their imagined runway show with one click of their phone.

TikTokers move fluidly through time periods by imagining themselves in a vintage context where their world is romanticized and they act as the main character. Many TikTok users were born in the 2000s; however their own, self-identified personas. They meet a romanticized version of the 1950s in their modernized dirndl dress at a picnic in the fresh air and crocheted high-waisted pastel pieces for a beach day. They then move through decades from 1950s picture day to dayglo color palette jackets and voluminous hair for 1980s picture day to grunge leather jackets for ‘90s picture day. Within each digitally fabricated context, they also change their look based on imagined identities from goth, class clown, athlete, and jock to art student, cheerleader, and class president. These contexts are niche but expand the user’s individuality to cover spaces where they did not previously exist. This allows users to reconstruct a world where they exist in these spaces.

Reconstructing vintage is not only done metaphorically, but also physically through “shopping grandma’s closet” to bring new life to older pieces. Thrifting is extremely popular as the “thrifter”can take the basis of a style they like and customize it to fit their individual tastes. One user finds a tailored blazer in her grandmother’s closet and creates a casual edgy look by leaving the blazer open and pairing it with a black bandeau, ripped jeans, and a vintage beaded Prada bag. She also wears a slitted silk dress that may have once only been worn as lingerie. She then pairs a yellow double-breasted, puff-sleeve sweater with jeans, which is a fashion that has re-emerged this past year.  This represents fashion’s circularity; just as TikTok youth move fluidly through decades, so too does fashion to reveal an endless realm of archived identities that can be pulled out of the closet at any point in time.

These vintage styles are tried by all different kinds of users, but those that seem to find the most power and identity in it are BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color), especially Black women. Glamour magazine explains, “Fashion trends that romanticize historic moments are frequently problematic because by nature they exclude those who were disenfranchised during the period of inspiration.”

Media and education systems often exclude and erase the existence of BIPOC in the US during these romanticized time periods. When we think of the 1950s, for example, we often think of white women on screen from Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly to Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren. This whitewashing quite literally washes away identities of people of color, particularly Black identities. BIPOC, through TikTok trends, are constructing their imagined identity by writing themselves back into the narrative while deconstructing stereotypes in the process.

A noted example of this reconstruction is the “Black Girl Cottage Core.” Cottage core is a popular aesthetic for Gen Zers and usually showcases white women in western agricultural settings. However, Glamour says, “Take one scroll through Instagram, and you’ll find that Black women all over the world are inlaying themselves in the bucolic and pastoral imagery formerly obscured by whiteness. They’ve not only participated in it, but emerged as some of the most interesting ambassadors of the trend, using it to, in part, reclaim a history that refused to recognize them.” The way that Black women have embraced this trend directly debunks the dehumanizing stereotype that Black women are hard, intimidating, and unable to be gentle or ethereal.

Images courtesy of TiikTok

Gen Z is showing that they have the power to create powerful change using Tik Tok and other social media platforms. Their vintage fashion trends have designers re-releasing archived collections. On Farfetch’s best of archives, we can source from vintage Louis Vuitton monogram trunks, Givenchy 1980s chain link bracelets, and Chanel logo basketball and rhinestone basket bags. Gen Z leads the march toward social and political reform and circularity in fashion with their willingness to speak their minds—unless they receive the wrong dish at a restaurant, then they will just smile and eat it. We look forward to seeing the future of fashion when Gen Z takes the front row!

 

—Tessa Swantek

Spring 2022 Bridal Sketches

Whether the temperature in moderate or a little chilly, one way to know that spring is in the air is by all the planned weddings in the months of April, May, and June. And though the COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on some spring nuptial plans, we are seeing some motivation and movement with some brides planning outdoor nuptials to promote safety protocols during this health pandemic.

That said, Fashion Reverie has curated a few bridal sketches from some of our favorite brands just give you a minor tease on what to expect from spring 2022 collections. Oh, the glory of it all, enjoy!!

Image courtesy of Ines di Santo

Ines di Santo

“I’m so happy to introduce the Goddess Collection for the Spring 2022 season. My brides are always my inspiration, each having unique qualities, and are modern-day goddesses in their own right. I created this collection in tribute to their limitless feminine energy. I want them to discover their own inner goddess.” —Ines Di Santo

Image courtesy of Jimmy Choo

Jimmy Choo, Atelier Couture

“The Art Nouveau collection is again a welcome challenge for us. The Atelier Couture created new designs and embroideries taking inspiration from beginning-of-the-century European artists that were inspired by nature. In fact, this is a delicate, dreamy, and innovative collection inspired by nature and art. We have experimented with new original embroideries, colors, and feelings. The result is ball gowns with architectural and romantic volumes where silk, tulle, satin, mikado gauze, and embroidery mix. We created a fluid and colored collection (that can be made in white too) with new patterns and unique details. This is a collection that brings hope for the future and gives joy to brides in their most important day” —Mr. Yew Loh, CEO of The Atelier Couture 

Image courtesy of Anne Barge

Anne Barge

“As the world looks ahead toward a brighter future, Anne Barge is thrilled to introduce a spring 2022 bridal collection that evokes optimism, opulence, and majestic romance. This collection celebrates the modern bride, delivering feminine, Parisian-inspired silhouettes, meticulous craftsmanship, and intricate details, perfect for creating cherished memories in the year to come. Spring 2022 debuts clean, architectural shapes in the finest jacquard, satin organza, stretch crepe, and silk Mikado, accented by gossamer illusion tops, hand beading, ethereal lace, and oversized floral prints. There is certainly something here for every classically chic bride looking to embrace newfound freedom to indulge in celebrating her special day.” —Shawne Jacobs, president and creative director of Anne Barge

Image courtesy of Lihi Hod

Lihi Hod

You’ve got to learn to appreciate the little things in life; like a good cup of coffee, or a fresh-smelling flower, or the smile of a stranger as you pass on the street.” The new collection is an invitation to enjoy the small moments in life and the beauty they convey: A celebration of a carefully crafted romantic style, attention to small details, and delicate artisanal work. The collection was designed with the female body in mind, combining luxury fabrics and haute couture—designed to celebrate love, a contemporary fresh interpretation of timeless wedding dresses with elegant French elegance.” —Lihi Hod

Image courtesy of PatBO

PatBO

“I am thrilled to enter into the bridal space with a beach-bound collection for spring 2022. It is important for me to dress the PatBO customer for all of her life moments from the bachelorette, wedding weekend, to honeymoon.” Patricia Bonaldi, founder and designer of —PatBO

—Staff

International Bridal Week: Spring 2022 Pre-coverage

Image courtesy of bridalmusings.com

When the birds start to chirp and trees and plants to start to bud, you can rest assured that spring has arrived. Another indication of the season of rebirth and rejuvenation is the arrival of International Bridal Week.

Though International Bridal Week occurs twice a year, it is perhaps the spring bridal collections that are the most dreamy and glorious. This year the bridal spring collections are digital and a week earlier than usual.

Once the COVID-19 health pandemic somewhat subsides, hopefully, bridal week will be back to runway shows and presentations. Bridal gowns need to be experienced in person with the current virtual presentations a vague, slim comparison to seeing those gowns flow and excite pulses in person. But what is an industry professional to do? Hmm, adapt!!

Fashion Reverie will be front and center, virtually, bringing our viewers great coverage of all things bridal for the spring 2022 bridal season. And maybe by the time brides are ready to show off their bridal choices in spring 2022, this crazy pandemic will be over!! Hope springs eternal.

William S. Gooch

Fashion Reverie’s Fashion History Quiz

youtube.com

Do you know who designed the little black dress that Audrey Hepburn wore in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”? Who made the bikini popular 13 years or more after it was first designed? And, who was the first African American model to appear on the cover of American Vogue?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions and you work in the fashion industry, you should!! If you are not a fashion industry professional and don’t know the answers to these questions don’t go on “Jeopardy” if they have a fashion category.

In this season of change, growth, and evolution as we project into the future, it is important to look back at the past and reflect on what helped shaped the industry that we love so much. As the adage goes, without a knowledge of the past, you are doomed to repeat it.

That said, Fashion Reverie has curated some fashion history questions that reflect our incredible roots and illuminates the many vicissitudes of this industry. And for Gen Z consumers, remember, “knowledge is power.” Enjoy!!

Image courtesy of forbes,com

  1. Who created New York Fashion Week?
  2. Who invented high heels?
  3. Was pink clothing always associated with the feminine?
  4. What is the world’s oldest couture fashion house?
  5. In the 1940’s shoulder pads in women’s suits became a huge fad. What started this fad? 
  6. Which luxury fashion house was the first to develop a “designer fragrance”?
  7. Who created the now iconic “wrap dress”?
  8. How was clothing originally modeled and what famous fashion figure changed the modeling landscape? (hint: he is the creator of haute couture!)
  9. Who is the first American couturier?
  10. Who started the red-carpet question, “who are you wearing”?
  11. Who invented ruching?
  12. What is the French court of Louis XIV’s influence on fashion of today?
  13. Who designed Marilyn Monroe’s iconic white halter dress from “The Seven-Year Itch”?
  14. How did legendary hairstylist Vidal Sassoon change haircare? 
  15. What was “the Battle of Versailles” about, who were the players and why was it important for American fashion?

Answers:

Image courtesy of hollywoodreporter.com

  1. New York Fashion Week was created the first American fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert in 1944. It was originally called Press Week. 
  2. High heels were invented in the 15th century by Persian soldiers to secure their heels in stirrups.
  3.  Color associations in fashion change all the time. Blue clothing used to be associated with the feminine and was considered more delicate while pink clothing used to be associated with the masculine in its strong hue. It wasn’t until the 1940s that this association was flipped.
  4. In 1889, Jeanne Lanvin opened a millinery company, and expanded to a children’s “junior haute couture” company in 1908, and further expanded include a young ladies and women’s department in 1909 when she joined the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture.
  5. During the 1940s with tens of thousands of men fighting overseas, clothing manufacturers had a big dilemma. The men who would wear the suits they made weren’t there to buy them. Also, they couldn’t get shipments of fabric from Europe. Solution? Recut men’s suits for women. Designers shoved shoulder pads to fit women’s smaller frames. 
  6. Credit must be given to Paul Poiret, whose exotic designs were inspired by the mysteries of the Far East and who achieved recognition and applause for his art deco costumes for theater and ballet. Fascinated by the imaginative and ephemeral, he adored fragrance and became a perfume entrepreneur in the early 1900s. He established his own laboratory and facilities for blowing glass and packaging his “small wonders.” His company, Parfumes Rosine, was named for one of his daughters. 
  7. The wrap dress which initially was a form of a housecoat was worn by many women during the Great Depression. They were called “Hooverettes.” Elsa Schiaparelli in the 1930s and American designer Claire McCardell made a form of a wrap dress that was longer in length and wrapped around the entire body. However, in the 1970s, Diane von Furstenberg made the shorter length wrap dress that we are more familiar with.
  8. Models used to be a variety of different shapes and sizes depending on a brand’s typical client. Charles Worth, for example, was the first to use models over dolls for clothing and held the notion that women should be able to see themselves in a model which, in turn, sold more clothes. This is really interesting because today many consider plus-sized models to be a radical shift, which it is for our present time, but in terms of history, representation in terms of sizing was not unusual.
  9. Main Rousseau Bocher. He moved from Chicago to Paris in 1917 and worked as a fashion illustrator and editor before opening his own couture house in 1930. Main Bocher became Mainbocher (rhymes with “rain” and “rocker” for Americans, though the French pronounced it Mahn-bo-SHAY).
  10. Joan Rivers. In 1994 at the red carpet of the Golden Globes, Joan Rivers popularized this question by asking celebrities who they were wearing.
  11. Parisian couturier Madame Grès is credited with popularizing this design technique which takes pleated or folded fabric and gathers the fabric and/or pleats together, giving the effect of a waterfall or a layered effect. There is no exact evidence of who invented the technique; however, ruching techniques can be found in many cultures going back hundreds of years.
  12. The French court ruled by Louis XIV had a major influence on how we view fashion today. Known as “The Sun King,” he always dressed in elaborate costumes and allowed for France to become known as a fashion capital. Louis XIV and his finance advisor, Jean Baptise Colbert, started the concept of the fashion calendar, noting that textiles were to be released twice a year accompanied by certain seasonal accessories.
  13. Marilyn Monroe’s pleated ivory dress from “The Seven-Year Itch was designed by William Travila, professionally known as Travilla. He won an Oscar in 1949 for designing costumes for “The Adventures of Don Juan,” starring Errol Flynn. He also designed costumes for “Gentleman Prefer Blondes” and “How to Marry a Millionaire.”
  14. In the early 1960’s, Vidal Sassoon created what he called “wash and wear” cuts that didn’t require a large amount of styling or a trip to a salon, saving women hours getting ready. The popularity of pixie cuts skyrocketed after Mia Farrow had Vidal cut her hair for “Rosemary’s Baby.” As short hair cuts for women became huge in the early 1970’s, Vidal created androgynous geometric haircuts that could be worn by either men or women.
  15. The Battle of Versailles Fashion Show was a historic fashion show held on November 28, 1973, in the Palace of Versailles to raise money for its restoration. Created by Eleanor Lambert and Versailles curator Gerald Van der Kemp, the show pitted French designers Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, Marc Bohan, and Hubert de Givenchy against American designers Oscar de la Renta, Stephen Burrows, Halston, Bill Blass, and Anne Klein.

Staff

 

 

Insta-Gratification: Social Shopping

Image courtesy of fashion&style.com

Social media, particularly Instagram, has spurred “influencer culture.”  An influencer culture where a single aesthetically pleasing image of an influencer wearing a faux fur coat during Fashion Week can propel fashion lovers around the globe to search for similar styles and brand pages.

This short interaction can generate thousands in revenue for a brand through a single post. According to Launchmetrics, during 2019 Milan Fashion Week, Chiara Ferragni’s Prada outfit post generated a Media Impact Value of $475k with an increase of 24% in traffic to Prada’s website and a 200% increase in clicks on “headbands.” Despite staggering statistics, is this short-lived hype and does it only apply to a single item? Does social commerce only work for established brands? With the advent of Instagram “Shops,” “Checkout,” collection launches, and live story shopping tags, it is important to understand what value Instagram holds for the future of shopping for consumers and the future of selling for brands.

Image courtesy of skedsocial.com

In the summer of 2018, Instagram held a “Social Shopping Masterclass” in the presence of Madewell, Cynthia Rowley, and BirchBox among many others. Business of Fashion details the event by noting a remark by Vishal Shah, Director of Product for Instagram Business, “Shopping isn’t a linear journey. It’s not even a funnel, in the typical sense. We actually refer to it as the noodle. That noodle is about to become the way a big part of the world consumes.” This is an important consideration given that we now live in an omni-channel retail world where brands are expected to provide a seamless customer experience whether in a physical store, on an online shop, or on a social media page. Social media, then, plays an important role in this journey; however, can their role be even more influential in the future?

China is a master in providing this omni-channel experience by taking advantage of the “stickiness” of social media in its ability to grab and keep user attention in an addictive manner. Partially due to China’s governmental structure, they provide what Armando Roggio for PracticalEcommerce calls “The Stack,” which is made up of “social media, technology capabilities, content, and an owned retail channel.” On WeChat, for example, a single influencer can sell $60 million worth of product on a single livestream. WeChat alone “drove 250 billion in ecommerce in 2020. And for social commerce, many people expect the market to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 38 percent for the decade,” so it is critical for Instagram to latch onto this growth. With a well-integrated shopping platform, Instagram has the full stack with incredible potential to disrupt retail in the United States.

Image courtesy of ecommercechinaagency.com

BusinessofApps 2021 Instagram statistics report details metrics relative to Instagram Shopping. According to a survey, “54% of respondents said they bought something after seeing it on Instagram. 87% said they took some action after seeing product details on Instagram.” These actions include searching for more information, visiting brand websites, or visiting a retail store. It is clear then that Instagram plays a huge role in fostering action as well as significant conversions but is the value weighted toward larger brands? Is Instagram Shopping mainly limited to the product discovery of a single item without much value being attributed to continuous multi-item purchases and loyalty?

A look into Andrea Wazen, a small shoe business with growing popularity, offers some answers. Now, there is no doubt that Instagram offers a platform for small businesses to boast products and gain a following through aesthetics, awareness, and virality. According to Andrea Wazen in her interview with Business of Fashion, however, “consumers aren’t buying shoes directly off Instagram itself, at least not in large numbers. Customers use Instagram Checkout mainly to check prices before heading over to our own ecommerce site,” despite “100% of clients, whether in store or online, coming directly from Instagram.” There is clearly then a gap between Instagram’s shopping features and the consumer desire to make a purchase directly on the site. Instagram, in this case, is not the one-stop shop it attempts to be, but this provides a perfect example of the wonders of omni-channel retailing. Even though consumers leave Instagram’s platform before making a purchase, they still follow through along a noodle shaped journey to eventually make that purchase- in other words, a sale is a sale is a sale. Andrea Wazen benefits from this consumer journey that involves multiple touchpoints since consumers may have interacted with multiple products across channels; however, the experience is not necessarily optimized for the consumer whose experience could be made more efficient with less touchpoints. Dissonance then forms between the social platform and fashion brand with the need to merge the entire consumer journey onto the platform in a way that benefits both brand and consumer.

 

Image courtesy of @andreawazenofficial on Instagram

During Fashion Weeks this past and current year, Instagram has served as the hub for fashion content from inspiration to purchases. According to a spring 2021Launchmetrics report, “brands overall showed a 57% increase in their Instagram Owned Media posts which led to an increase of 131% in the total MIV® of Owned Media.” A particular spotlight can be shone on Burberry whose fall 2021 menswear campaign featured Instagram posts of primarily Asian celebrities dressed in Burberry taking pictures in branded folding chairs to signal their taking a virtual seat at the show. One post in particular, from NCT’s Jaehyun, a popular K-pop group member, earned over two million likes. These likes, however, do not necessarily equate to sales, but Burberry was certainly able to capture a large Asian audience which likely led to an increase in sales. A Jing Daily report, for example, marked Burberry as the winner of London Fashion Week in resonating with a Chinese audience. Instagram can serve a brand in creating fashion campaigns to foster sales in targeted areas when sales in other areas are lacking, especially during the current health pandemic. More established brands have an advantage in leveraging this ability; however, this does not mean that small brands cannot benefit from the platform’s features as evidenced by Andrea Wazen.

All-sized brands seem to benefit most from features on Instagram Stories in particular. Many fashion presentations in the past year have posted about presentations on Instagram with the ability to set a countdown to the show, as well as a reminder for users who may be interested in watching. According to Chantal Fernandez for Business of Fashion, “more users watch longform video and livestreams on the platform than they did before the pandemic with views up by 70%.” Instagram now features shopping tags for live videos and shoppable product tabs on the “Discover” page. These features essentially create the multi-channel presence on one channel; A user may watch a shoppable livestream, then visit that brand page, click on the shop tab to discover more products and make a purchase while staying on Instagram throughout the entire journey. This is close to the beauty seen in Chinese social commerce where every feature is in perfect harmony without ever having to scroll through different touchpoints.

Image courtesy of @_JeongJaehyun on Instagram

More sophisticated and integrated features mean a move from single product impulse buys to thoughtful purchases that span an entire product range. The future is that of a consumer browsing an entire collection through an Instagram story on the “Discover” page, viewing the integrated website through the “Shop” tab on Instagram, then checking out on the site without ever leaving. A consumer may also see an item they like and immediately buy. This purchase may cause the same consumer to scroll through the “Shop” tab to go through the discovery phase post-purchase which can cause more frequent purchases. The “Discover” tab then reflects this interest and promotes branded products to create a loyal consumer. The omni-channel strategy can essentially be replicated on a single platform. This strategy would be made even more effective through features that are aimed at increased personalization which Instagram has the consumer data to be able to develop. With more perceived channels, Instagram can get even closer to disrupting social commerce in the U.S.

—Tessa Swantek

The Modern Fashion Model, A Fashion Reverie Series: Part 2, Plus Size and Transgender Models

Image courtesy of pagesix.com

The second installment of this series focuses on the experiences of three plus-size models and a transgender model.

The issue of “fairness” and inclusivity has been top-of-mind for the general public for the past three years. In 2020, the tragic murders of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor shocked the world to its core and the COVID-19 lockdown gave us the time to consider how inclusive we are as a society. The fashion world was no exception, and we began seeing more models of varying ethnicities, size and genders in fashion shows and editorials. Previously, plus-size and trans models with notable exceptions—Ashley Graham being an exception—and had been relegated to fringe status. Fashion Reverie spoke with three plus-size models and a transgender model who have all experienced success in their respective modeling careers. In candid conversations with Fashion Reverie, they shared success stories, how they are treated, challenges they face and weight-in on how inclusive the fashion industry is for plus-size and trans models.

MEET OUR ROUNDTABLE PANELISTS

Emma Schlichting is a plus-size and fit model who has worked with Old Navy, Stitch Fix, Levis, Alpine Butterfly Swim, and Ad Black, a feeder brand to Target as a fit model. She starred in Episode 5 of the new Netflix Series, “Next in Fashion,” hosted by model and fashion designer, Alexa Chung, and Tan France, fashion designer and TV personality from “Queer Eye.”

Instagram: @emmaschlick

Plus-size Model Kimberly E. Stone has over ten years of experience modeling as a size 4 model and more recently as a size 12 plus-size model. She was called “ethnic” early on in her career, and is now referred to as “BIPOC,” a new category for women with “textured” hair and a face “of color.”  She is editor-in-chief of POSHGLAM and is working to relaunch POSHGLAM as an app in 2022. 

Instagram: @kimberlyestone

Liris Crosse is referred to as “the plus-size Naomi Campbell.” In 2017, she was the first plus-size model to win the “Project Runway” Model Competition. Liris is also the first plus-size and Black model to partner with a bridal brand; she works closely with Maggie Sottero bridal.

Instagram: @lirisc, www.LirisC.com, and www.LOAWMBC.com

Ale Tristan is a Mexican transgender model who holds the title for Miss Trans Star USA 2019 and was a runner-up for Miss Trans World 2019. She has also walked at the Milan Fashion Week fall/winter 2020 shows. Her motto is, “Any change starts in your mind.”

Instagram: @ale_tristan_

Fashion Reverie: Who gave you your first big break?

Panelists: Emma, Kimberly, Liris, Ale

Image courtesy of JE Model Management

Emma: A family friend told me I should model. I looked at model management companies in San Francisco and went to open castings with digitals my Mom shot and developed at CVS. I didn’t know anything about the industry. I’ve been with JE Models, a boutique agency since September of 2017. I book a lot of fit modeling work.

Kimberly: I’m from Atlanta and was going to modeling competitions in malls. I studied at New York University and Baruch College, and the advice I got was to try modeling and to give an agent a year to get results. I’ve gotten a lot of commercial work, also called “slice of life.”

Liris:   I went to an open call for a models’ convention called Model Search America while in high school. They picked me to come to the regional convention to walk for the agencies.  I got callbacks from Elite, Zoli, Michelle Pommier, and Seventeen Magazine, but they all wanted me to lose weight.

After graduating, I moved to New York to pursue commercial modeling. Model Search America set up a meeting for me at Wilhelmina’s Curve division. They offered me a contract that day and my career started. I didn’t even know plus modeling existed; I was just excited to be signed!

Ale: I don’t even know how that happened, well no, I worked for it and then I went to Europe to participate in the Miss Trans Star USA pageant. When I won, I had already been through the transition. I started by accident, designers liked how I looked, but I was not out looking for a modeling career.

FR: Are modeling agencies and social media important to your career?

Panelists: Emma, Kimberly, Liris, Ale

Emma: I did go to an agency that had a curve division. They liked me as I was, I’ve got a sporty body, am a skateboarder and a bit of an adrenaline junkie. That said, I haven’t been pushed really hard by my agency.

I signed with Breakwall West in Manhattan Beach/LA that has big clients and connections, then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Since moving to LA, all the jobs I’ve booked happened via Instagram. Social media made me more comfortable to be in front of the camera. Clients started reaching out to me on social and I booked Machines for Freedom (a bike apparel company), a video for Stitch Fix and the spring campaign for Old Navy, all through my Instagram.

My San Francisco agency booked me for Beta Brand and found me through my Instagram. I’m at the point of questioning if I even need an agency.

Kimberly: I’ve had over 12 agents. An agency protects you from the wrong photographers and plays a huge role in a model’s career and development. I had it easier being fair skinned with light eyes when I started. Now, beautiful Black women are being celebrated and women can wear their hair natural.

Social media was very helpful when I had my own wordpress site, (poshglam.tumblr.com); It helped draw attention to my brand. I’d love to have more followers but am more focused on being a personal brand right now.

Liris: We live in a social media age where clients go to your Instagram before they even peek at your agency profile. Agents are still important because I can just focus on my art instead of also having to be the accountant, salesman, and secretary. They know about rates and usage and having one keeps a level of respect and mystique for a model. I’m thankful for my agent Dorothy at Dorothy Combs Models.

Ale: I do it all myself, no agency. It’s pretty much social media, that’s how people reach out to me. There are agents sending messages and I’m like, “no thanks.”

FR: Please comment on fairness and inclusivity in fashion and the recent interest in plus-size and trans models. Is it a trend with legs or just a fad?

Panelists: Emma, Kimberly, Liris, Ale

Emma: It’s money motivated but also rooted in some need for change. As a plus-size person it’s important to see plus-size models. It’s making a difference for people who can see themselves in ads. Victoria’s Secret lost so many sales because they weren’t inclusive about size and are so fat phobic that they’re willing to lose sales. They’re the anomaly.

There’s a bigger message of, ‘Be who you are, who you are meant to be.’

Some of us are never going to be tiny, it’s just genetics. There’s so much overlap with Influencers and they are getting work as models. The two go hand in hand especially with COVID-19. Some people have set up studios at home to shoot E-com at home for brands.

It’s also about if a brand is going to extend their plus size offerings, and finally give attention to the plus-size community. I love that I’m a part of the process when I give my feedback. Also, plus-size wouldn’t exist without the Black community that has always celebrated curves; we’re finally started to learn from that.

Kimberly: No, I don’t, my agent told me to lose weight.  I’m researching cool sculpting and liposuction to maybe get back to a 4.  Ashley (Graham) and I don’t carry the weight the same way, mine is in my midsection. I’m in the process of changing agents and am getting new pictures as a plus.

I’m also hard on myself, to be honest. I’ve always felt like Euro centric standards of beauty prevail, but I’ve had success as a girl who’s ‘ethnic ‘or ‘exotic.’ Commercial work is what pays, and I’ve done well in that “slice of life” space. I may venture out as an older model, we’ll see.

Image courtesy of Beyond Fashion Magazine

Liris: It has made some impact, but the long-term proof will be in the continuous actions not just words, and pray we get to the point where we aren’t surprised to see models of various shapes, sizes, and ethnicities in magazines, campaigns and shows. It’s just more of a simmering fire on the stove of fashion. Social media has given consumers a voice to speak up for diversity and what they want to see. Society is a lot freer now and they don’t want the old structures of fashion and advertising, anymore. 

Ale: Right now, with all those movements, it’s Black, inclusivity in everything. There are some genuine people, but a lot want to get the attention for using trans. Social Media gives minorities a way to fight back. Everyone is different and how you want the result to be and how you envision yourself, which includes the surgeries you want to get. At the beginning, I wanted to be known for being trans, but now I want to be known as myself. After a while, it takes away something from me and some of my essence. The tag ‘trans,’ pigeonholes you.

FR: Is the pay scale for plus-size and trans models equal to that of “regular” models? Are you getting equal pay?

Panelists: Emma, Kimberly, Ale

Emma: My rate is $187.50, and my takeaway is $150/hour when I do fittings. Not a lot of people know about this and it’s under-appreciated especially in the plus-size arena. I’ve noticed that some brands have a bunch of girls of the same size who are different body types, which make sense; plus-size women come in different shapes. I get to give feedback on the fit, it’s all about the user experience which can be different for the plus-size person.

Kimberly: I think I’m getting the going rate. When I did the soccer pictures my agent was able to get me the going rate.

Ale: I think it’s equal, at least for what I did at Milan Fashion Week.

FR: What are your best and worst experiences as a model?

Emma: I got booked for the Netflix series, “Next in Fashion” and then was told it would be “the underwear episode.” I had a little breakdown in the Target fitting room trying to get my nude underwear just right, but was okay when I realized that I was doing it for little girls who need to know beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.

My designers were great. Then, one of the stylists decided to switch out my size 11 shoes for huge size 13 ones with massive heels for the rehearsal. This was my first real runway job, and it was on Netflix! I could barely walk the next day, but it was the best and hardest day yet.

Liris: The unique experience of working on “Project Runway”, season 16 when I became one of the first plus models to win the model portion. As a plus-size, it was big to walk designer looks weekly, and to be at the New York Fashion Week (NYFW) finale. My presence on that show got respect for plus models for our runway walks and our body confidence. It gave me a platform to speak up for the plus-size woman consumer and that’s priceless.

Ale: Milan Fashion Week in February was my first big one; I was there for the February 2020 shows. My being there for shows just happened. I was in Europe for the Trans pageant and the designer (Steven Vazquez) was there dressing someone.  He said, “Wow, who are you?” and invited me to walk his show.

While there, I also got hired to walk for other designers. I don’t think it mattered if I was trans. That was great, having designers want you because of how you look. But once they know, there were the people who reached out to me, saying, “Because of all the things that are happening right now, we need a trans girl.”

FR: Is modeling your ultimate career aspiration?

Panelists: Emma, Kimberly, Liris, Ale

Emma: I plan to keep modeling but am not pursuing it full time. I don’t really have a dream modeling job but would love to shoot for Target and other big brands that have influenced my experience as a plus-size model.

Kimberly:  I want to book the Victoria’s Secret show. I’m doing a photo shoot, with Laretta Houston, who shot Tyra Banks for Sports Illustrated, to freshen-up my portfolio as a plus-size. An agent reached out to me for a national accessories campaign, and I’m communicating with the casting director. I’m still working on landing my big break in acting or modeling and I’m going to keep working.

I’m also an inventor of pants called ‘sexy shapers.’ I’m also launching POSHGLAM as an app; it’s in the wireframe stage now.

Liris: I keep booking great jobs, and recently became an ambassador for Athleta. They just released over 350+ styles for sizes 1x-3x available in store and online.

I also have a business, Life of a Working Model Bootcamp, birthed out of so many models asking me how to break into the business or how to up-level their careers. I have classes from how to get started to perfection in posing. I’ve had models who completed the bootcamps sign with major modeling agencies and walk NYFW shows!  Course dates are on Life of a Working Model Bootcamp on Facebook.

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

Ale: I have modeled for fun, not as a career. What turned me off was being looked at as an object. They wanted to say I was trans, not that I care, but I don’t want to be used.  I’m trying to focus more on the hair extension business I want to open in Washington, D.C., but I would do a campaign to help bring awareness to black trans women being killed. When I watched “Pose” and the character Candy was murdered, and the police didn’t do anything, I cried.

—Vivian Kelly

For Spring 2021, Illuminating Yellow and Schiaparelli Pink: Color Rejuvenation

Images courtesy of runwaymagazine.com

Coco Chanel has been quoted as saying, “Women think of all colors except the absence of color. I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony.” Now, it is agreed upon that there is a certain timeless chic to black and white, but isn’t there fun in wearing that bouncy yellow dress on a sunny summer morning? (Coco Chanel may be eloquently scoffing.) Even Chanel’s haute couture spring 2021 presentation reflects this sentiment in glittering technicolor as a noir et blanc screen transitions into a palette of pink sparkling tweed, deep olive trim, and robin’s egg tulle.

As described by verywellmind.com, “Feelings about color are often deeply personal and rooted in experience or culture, for example, while the color white is used in many Western countries to represent purity and innocence, it is seen as a symbol of mourning in many Eastern countries.” Though there certainly is cultural significance relative to color, certain associations can be made across borders and have been applied in art, marketing, and fashion. Red, for example, “is considered the warmest and most contradictory of the colors. In fact, this fiery hue has more opposing emotional associations than any other color: Red is linked to passion and love as well as power and anger.”

Images courtesy of pantone.com

Orange and yellow, also being warm tones, command visual attention and evoke strong responses of happiness, alertness, enthusiasm, and energy. Cool tones, blue, purple, and green, are often regarded as less visually stimulating, but still carry strong associations and cues. Blue and green are often considered to be conservative hues in their associations with stability, calmness, and safety; however, they are also associated with strong emotions such as sadness and envy. Purple, on the other hand, elicits powerful more abstract connections from wealth and royalty to mystery and imagination.

Color preferences in fashion choices often make a statement about how one would like to be perceived. verywellmind.com states that someone who wears white may wish to be viewed as youthful and modern, while someone who wears black may want to be regarded as sleek, powerful, and sexy. Color preference may also change significantly as a buyer gets older, for example, “a person might prefer brighter, more attention-getting colors when they are younger, but find themselves drawn to more traditional colors as they grow older,” explains verywellmind.com.

Images courtesy of pantone.com

Pantone, leading color forecaster, releases trend reports annually and seasonally as they relate to fashion, beauty, and interior design. Traditionally, color palettes that Pantone releases are highly associated with the fashion season. Fall/winter’s palette is often composed of muted cool earth tones while spring/summer’s palette is linked with warm vibrant tones. These seasonal lines, however, have been blurred and form a “pantone” of color.

 According to Pantone Color Institute experts, “the color palette for spring/summer 2021 New York Fashion Week (NYFW) emphasizes our desire for a range of color that inspires ingenuity and inventiveness—colors whose versatility transcend the seasons and allow for more freedom of choice—colors that lend themselves to original color statements and whose flexibility easily adapts to our new and more fragmented lifestyle.”

Images courtesy of pinterest.com

The pandemic, despite its associations with solitude, sickness, and fear, has been met and contrasted with vivid colors in the fashion industry. This offers an interesting perspective as it seems that people are dressing in bright colors during the pandemic in an aspirational nod to rejuvenation, hope, and an optimistic future. Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, speaks to this in the color palette curation by stating “colors for spring/summer 2021 combine a level of comfort and relaxation with sparks of energy that encourage and uplift our moods.” The color of the year, “Illuminating” yellow, offers a warm outlook on the future and is described as a “color conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting” and is complemented by “Ultimate Gray,” which “quietly assures, and encouraging feelings of composure, steadiness and resilience” at a difficult period of time.

Images courtesy of cfda.com

There is historical precedence for this seemingly contradictory phenomenon, especially in the period of recession during the 1930s. Despite the despair of the Depression, colors were rich and represented how Americans could control some sense of joy in their everyday lives despite a bleak macro-environment. A noteworthy example is Elsa Schiaparelli’s creation of the iconic “Schiaparelli Pink” in 1937 at the precipice of WWII and the aftermath of the Great Depression. According to CR Fashion Book, “Using bright colors, especially pink, was a way for Schiaparelli to disconnect from the global conflict at hand and find a source of inspiration. The shock value of her designs challenged the preconceived ideas of color, especially pink, and set her apart as a designer.” Similarly, during the pandemic, we are seeing distinct color combinations from many well-established brands as well as newcomers. It will be exciting to see which designers achieve traction with consumers and what might be the resultant evolution of this color story.

Image courtesy of Meagan Morrison

Of course, artists are well versed in the emotional power that color can reflect and illicit. Much like Schiaparelli, Meagan Morrison of Travel Write Draw, traveling fashion illustrator, makes use of color to lift us out of our worries into a ray of optimism and light. She says, “I consider myself to be an eternal optimist and have always been drawn to bright, vibrant colors. I insisted my childhood bedroom walls be painted butter yellow so that no matter the weather, it would always feel like the sun is shining in my room. I feel like people are drawn to my work for that same reason. The instant burst of joy you feel when you look at the plethora of color and expressive brushstrokes has the power to heal.”

The power of color to heal, revive, and rejuvenate is never more important than in times such as now. We could all focus on gloom and doom, or pick ourselves up, put on our prettiest pink, or happiest yellow and move forward, heads held high.

—Tessa Swantek

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