New York Fashion Week: Men’s just wrapped up, and oh boy was it eye-opening. The week-long event is hosted by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), and I was lucky enough to freelance for them during this time. It’s clear that the fashion and design scene are changing through the influence of our new and busy lifestyles that revolve more around tech and travel than ever.
First of all, traditional runway shows are changing. EFM had a performance by Mack Wilds after the show, and Rochambeau threw a straight up trap party. Additionally, presentations are becoming increasingly popular, rather than runway shows. Bode had their models lie in beds, while Death to Tennis had their models taking selfies with cell phones and polaroids. Presentations allow the buyers and guests to take a closer look at the garments, and they most often lead to better pictures with a potential of greater reach on social media – the current most effective marketing tool.
There’s a lot of exciting things happening in fashion right now. Coming straight out of NYFWM it’s refreshing to see designers experimenting with more prints, colors and silhouettes. Brands like Sanchez-Kane and Luar are catching people off guard while maintaining masculinity in their dramatic pieces. On the other hand, brands like Gucci’s men’s collections have been increasingly androgynous. More designers are jumping on the unisex trend, and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
There is no denying that social media is affecting fashion. There’s no longer one fashion authority that determines the trends, but we’ve rather submerged into smaller niches that follow influencers and celebrity’s who’s style we admire. This means that the consumer demand is all over the place, and it’s more important than ever for brands to position themselves within the market and effectively identify their target customer. With our lives being more focused around sharing content, our fashion choices become increasingly important. Fast fashion has been changing consumer behavior, and quantity and variety is trumping quality. Just consider Zara’s success vs the major department stores in the US that are closing stores and reducing their headcount (think Macy’s and HBC). Companies such as Rent the Runway jumped on this consumer behavior trend, and have found success within renting out high-ticketed clothing for a fraction of the garment’s price.
Another trend that’s moving and shaking things is customization. Etsy was a game changer within the customizing business and now a lot of brands are offering monogramming and custom designs. Marc Jacobs’ denim jackets, Logophile, Mother Rockers, and Coach are all brands that have been offering some sort of customization on their apparel. Stickers and patches have returned from the 90s and keep finding their way on both apparel and handbags. Now that apparel, images and people have a tendency to go viral, being able to customize and have something personalized holds more value than ever.
With the increased focus on the active and healthy lifestyle, I also think that we can see an increased amount of wearable tech within the fabrics – meaning that the fabric can communicate with the devices of our lives. Uniqlo uses technology within their fabrics to either maintain heat (heat-tech) or to cool down (Airism), and I think that we’ll see this being taken to the next level of actually being able to adjust the temperatures. Might not be happening this year, but it’s in the near future.
Additionally, people travel more, and need clothes that are easy to throw into a weekender or suitcase and will look good after a journey’s end. Consider brands like EFM or Traiano Milano that focus on mobility and making clothes look expensive while being easy to care for. You can throw a Traiano Milano suit in the washer, and it will come out looking brand new. No runs to the dry-cleaners. Now that’s the new luxury.
So what does this mean for the future of design? Overall, I think the consumer will be even more in focus than ever before. The brands will have to truly define themselves to survive in this industry where there’s already so much competition. Fashion will have to adapt to the new and mobile lifestyle, which includes the increasing role of both social media and travel. Quality isn’t as important as quantity, as outfits need to be differentiated for sharing on social media. With a demand for quantity over quality, we might see a drop in the pricing and a flourishing of bridge lines to reach more market segments. Most of all, I think we’ll see new game changing fabrics that will make it easier to care for when traveling. Fashion is a living, breathing organism and will constantly change and adapt to how we as humans evolve and live.