Tadashi Shoji Fall 2020

What happens when a well-known fashion brand loses its way? It’s hard to say. Sometimes, the brand recovers. A new creative director can set a fashion brand back on track. Sometimes, restructuring the company and focusing on what works can save a brand. Ralph Lauren did that.

Other times the brand begins to fade into memory. That may be the story of Donna Karan, Zac Posen, American Apparel, Charlotte Ronson, The Limited, just to name a few. Still, if that brand was popular and added value to the industry, there are hopes of a resurgence and better market traction.

All that can be said for Tadashi Shoji. Tadashi Shoji still has some market traction and is beloved by female consumers who want luxury at an affordable price, particularly if you are above a size 10. Yet, his fall 2020 collection demonstrated that Shoji may be way out of touch with what the modern woman wants to wear.

Though it has been confirmed that Tadashi Shoji’s inspiration for his fall 2020 collection was a reflection on Mongolian empires of the 13th and 15th century, with the exception of a few outstanding pieces in the collection, it would be very difficult to identify Shoji’s reference to that powerful Mongolian reign. For the most part, the fall 2020 collection resembled a walk down memory lane of what Crystal and Alexis Carrington of “Dynasty” fame wore when they donned the padded-shouldered power suits of the mid-1980s and brocaded taffeta gowns of that same era.

That reflection of the past would not have bad if the garments matched up to the glamour and splendor of that era. Unfortunately, this outing was lackluster facsimile thereof. The failure lying mostly in the very inexpensive fabric choices and bad tailoring. Everyone knows that if you are going to use curvy and plus-size models in a fashion show—and there several in this outing—you must never put cheap fabrics on zaftig frames. That is a surefire recipe for disaster.

Additionally, Shoji—though known for his East meets West design aesthetic—did very little to modernize the well-known silhouettes in the collection. So, in essence, this collection looked like a staid homage rather than a reinterpretation of a bygone era.

Images courtesy of vogue.com

There were a few high points in this fall 2020 collection. Shoji’s opening look of skirt beaded in the pattern of Mongolian geometric tiles in turquoise and royal blues was a knockout and the many Afghan coats with brocades interiors and exteriors caused fashion pulses to beat faster.

Tadashi Shoji should be applauded for putting several curvy and plus-size models in his show—it may have been as many as eight. Still, fashion industry professionals long for the Tadashi Shoji of yesteryear where glamour, sophistication, and quality reigned supreme.

—William S. Gooch

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