Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Fashion Designers Don't Stay Long in their Jobs

I had written about job-hopping – kindly check out my blogpost dated January 11, 2016 – when I shared Vivian Giang’s FastCompany.com article that switching jobs every three years may actually be a good thing! I hadn’t realize that it is also happening in the fashion industry too.
Last July, Alexander Wang left Balenciaga after three years. In October, Raf Simons left Christian Dior – also after three years. And in February, Stefano Pilati left Ermenegildo Zegna after a little over 3 years and the latest departure was Hedi Slimane – four plus years.
When fashion designers move on, we too can expect the respective brands to undergo re-invention.
After all, creating an image for a brand and then embedding it in the life of a discerning consumer takes investment – in both time and money.
More importantly, it is also about developing the relationship – between brand and individual, and designer and brand.
And we’re not talking about everyday brands – but luxury fashion. The idea of aesthetic beauty that have been carefully nurtured over many, many years make them valuable. And so, their products are not cheap. Consumers have to believe these brands will hold their meaning over time. That meaning is created by the designer.
Modern luxury theory has it that the brand has to be greater than any individual, but we should not forget that brands are given their personality and their depth by the people who make them. They aren’t mere caretakers; they are content creators (and not in the social media meaning of the word).
Comme des Garcons is Comme des Garcons because of founder-designer Rei Kawakubo; Ralph Lauren because of Ralph Lauren; Giorgio Armani because of Giorgio Armani; Chanel because of Coco Chanel and the list goes on.
Therefore, it is clear what the brand stands for, and you and I can buy into that. But brands must evolve – and so designers have a duty to establish a modern character for their companies – that speak to the legacy of their founders, rooted as it is in beauty and decoration, but also giving it a resonance in contemporary culture by combining a certain vigor and rigor of line with elaborate craftsmanship.
It is unclear whether a fashion designer’s short tenure can really help to grow the brand, any brand. It is an unsettling prospect. Vanessa Friedman writing “On the Runway” in The New York Times referred to it as a “troubling legacy for the fashion world” (April 02, 2016, p A1).
It would seem that the contemporary disease called “short-termism” has already infected the fashion industry. Whether it is good or bad, remains to be seen.
On Monday evening, I was in Bangsar – to attend the KL Advanced Toastmasters meeting – where I took up two roles: as Grammarian and Project Speaker. I presented my CC #10 speech titled “Lost and Found”.

Having done these two assignments, I have completed my CL round #9 and my CC round #33. If I did my sums correctly, I would have garnered 20 education awards this 2015-2016!


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