The consumer crisis generated by covid-19 weighs down a fashion industry, which has sought to excite its buyers while questioning some of its basic principles. Seven keys define 2021 and give clues about what 2022 will bring.
Back to live
From the Balenciaga video game to the short by Matteo Garrone (director of Gomorrah) for Dior. For almost a year, the brands tried out new formulas to show their collections that did not involve face-to-face events, but as soon as these were possible, the fashion shows returned to the prominence of yesteryear. Reflections on the utility, relevance and environmental consequences of forcing buyers, journalists and industry professionals to fly around the world to participate in elite, multi-million dollar 15-minute shows were overwhelmed by the inertia of a still profitable system. The Federation of Haute Couture and Fashion of Paris values the media impact of the Men’s, Women’s and Haute Couture fashion weeks at 250 million euros. But, it is not just a question of income. For many creators, like Giorgio Armani, nothing “can replace the physical experience of seeing and touching the garments”. The catwalks began to normalize in June, starting with the men’s fashion weeks and during these months they have oscillated between outdoor formats and with minimal capacity – such as the presentation of Haute Couture by Chanel in one of the patios of the Galliera Museum – to the music pseudo-festival with 6,000 guests that Balmain organized in September; There were also mixed ones, like the last one by Balenciaga, in which at the end of the analog catwalk a chapter of the Simposon created was projected ex profeso for the brand. The question now is how this sixth wave will affect the first events of the year: the Paris haute couture shows that take place at the end of January.
Collaborations between luxury brands and commercial firms are old and have brought great commercial joys to the sector, generally in the form of sports shoes. But last April the first joint venture between two great high-end brands: Gucci and Balenciaga. Halfway between hack, provocation and marketinian genius, the project allowed the creative directors of both houses – Alessandro Michele and Demna Gvasalia – to interpret iconic designs from the opposite firm under their own codes and, of course, include them in their respective collections. In September Fendi and Versace replicated this formula in Fendace. The path of creative contamination was left open.
Of rigorous mourning
Two deaths have shocked the fashion industry this year. The first, that of the French designer Alber Elbaz, who died of covid last April at the age of 59 and was honored through an emotional parade –Love brings love (Love brings love) – with which Paris Fashion Week closed its calendar in October and in which 46 firms and designers – such as Pierpaolo Piccioli or Rick Owens – reinterpreted the legacy of one of the most beloved men in the world. fashion. Virgil Abloh, creative director of Louis Vuitton’s men’s line and founder of Off-White, died in November of cancer. He was 41 years old and embodied the landing of the streetwear in luxury, and a contemporary way of translating the sign of the times into the language of fashion.
The woman of change
At the beginning of December it was announced that Marta Ortega, daughter of the founder of Zara, would occupy the presidency of the Inditex group in 2022. The appointment speaks of a change in the Galician multinational, but also – and because of the specific weight that the company has in the industry— in a textile sector where three times as many women work as men, but where only 14% of managerial positions are held by women, according to the report The Glass Runway, produced by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Just a year ago, the four largest fast fashion companies in the world were run by men. In January 2020, Helena Helmersson was appointed CEO of the H&M Group; Sonia Syngal assumed the presidency of GAP two months later; and Tadashi Yanai, founder of Uniqlo, head of Fast Retailing and, currently, the only male in this club, already expressed long ago his desire to be relieved by a woman.
We live in an era where there are no trends, nothing is in fashion, except for one word: sustainability. Omnipresent in any designer’s speech, prize note or results report, its overexploitation has practically emptied it of meaning. If buying a fur coat for a thousand euros is sustainable because it is a durable garment that can have other lives through the second hand; and some plastic boots, too, because this material is much easier to recycle than leather. What is not sustainable?
The future is in the past
Haute couture is experiencing an unexpected resurgence. Made to measure, manually and to order, the most traditional and elitist of fashion disciplines also embodies some of the values that, in the opinion of many designers, will guarantee the future of the luxury industry: personalization, craftsmanship and decent working conditions. In addition, a new batch of designers trained in the streetwear begin to land in the workshops of the houses Oldest to question their rules. Two buttons: in July, Demna Gvasalia presented, to an ecstatic critic, the first collection of haute couture produced by Balenciaga since the founder of the house closed his workshop 53 years ago; and in January, Matthew Williams will debut at the head of this division at Givenchy.
The metaverse walkway
Non-fungible digital assets (NFTs) are moving from anecdote to business division in the textile industry. Dolce & Gabbana, Karl Lagerfeld or Louis Vuitton have already created clothing and accessories for the digital world, and it seems that they will not be the last to partner with virtual artists to explore this new market. JW Anderson recently sold an NFT version of a jersey from patchwork worn by singer Harry Styles for a price four times higher than that of the analog garment. It seems that the world of three dimensions is not enough for the luxury industry.