Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.
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Key articles and need-to-know insights for fashion designers today:
1. Why Alessandro Michele Is Exiting Gucci
Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele. (Giovanni Attili)
Alessandro Michele, creative director of Gucci since 2015, is set to leave the company. […] From 2015 to 2019, Gucci’s revenues roughly tripled and profits quadrupled during a period of rapid expansion the likes of which had never been seen in the modern luxury sector — with quarterly growth rates at times approaching 50 percent.
But Gucci took a heavy hit during the coronavirus pandemic — with revenues falling by 22 percent in 2020 — and has since been growing far more slowly than mega-brand rivals like Louis Vuitton, Dior and Hermès, whose sales exploded as consumers rocked by uncertainty flocked to blue-chip luxury items seen as unlikely to go out of style. “Gucci is suffering from brand fatigue,” Bernstein analyst Luca Solca wrote in a note to clients. “In order to reaccelerate, Gucci doesn’t need to move to the mainstream or to become timeless. It needs to open a new creative chapter.”
Junior Accessories Designer, Danse Lente — London, United Kingdom
Senior Fashion Designer, Anest Collective — Milan, Italy
Senior Womenswear Designer, Heliot Emil — Copenhagen, Denmark
2. How Virtual Sampling Went Mainstream
Timberland boots, in 3D. (Timberland)
3D design and virtual sampling have been steadily catching hold in fashion after a long period of companies talking about the technology but few fully adopting it. More brands are now embracing it or expanding its use to speed up their processes, cut costs and burnish their sustainability credentials.
These digital prototypes don’t replace physical ones entirely — designers do still generally need to handle some tangible representation of an item before sending it into production. The technology has made more inroads in categories like footwear than in luxury fashion, where brands want to see how a gown will drape and move on a real person before putting it into production. There are other challenges, like training or hiring staff [or] the cultural change necessary to integrate it into the way a company operates. But indications are that virtual sampling will only become more common across the board.
Bag Development Assistant, By Far — London, United Kingdom
Creative Pattern Cutter, Bite — Stockholm, Sweden
Accessories Designer, Mac Duggal — Chicago, United States
3. Raf Simons Is Closing His Label
Raf Simons | Source: Courtesy Raf Simons | Source: Courtesy
Raf Simons, founded in Belgium in 1995, was a groundbreaking menswear label known for its skinny silhouettes and focus on youth culture. The brand propelled Simons to fashion industry prominence, helping the designer land top jobs at Jil Sander, Dior and Calvin Klein before Prada, where he currently serves as co-creative director alongside the company’s controlling shareholder, Miuccia Prada.
While the Raf Simons line remained a tiny business compared to the designers’ mega-brand employers, it was one of fashion week’s hottest tickets thanks to its rebellious ethos and trendsetting play with colour and materials. “I lack the words to share how proud I am,” Simons said. “Thank you all for believing in our vision and for believing in me.”
Design Assistant, Halfpenny London — London, United Kingdom
Senior Menswear Designer, Massimo Dutti — Barcelona, Spain
Product Development Intern, Vetements — Zurich, Switzerland
4. What’s Next for The Frankie Shop
The Frankie Shop saw $40 million in net sales in 2021. (Courtesy The Frankie Shop)
Founded in New York’s Lower East Side by ex-journalist Gaëlle Drevet in 2014, The Frankie Shop has quietly built a reputation for its utilitarian women’s apparel. […] The brand has become an influencer favourite with a wide presence across social media — a million followers on Instagram alone — though Drevet rarely does paid partnerships or collaborations.
Over the past year, to keep up with demand, The Frankie Shop grew its team and brick-and-mortar presence, inking a slew of new wholesale partnerships including Matchesfashion and Ssense. It also launched a home section along with menswear last year, and with the rise of gender-fluid dressing, Drevet notes that most consumers shop across categories. In 2022, the privately-owned brand has brought in $40 million in net sales so far with 100 percent year-over-year growth. “Now our big challenge is to manage this success,” said Drevet.
Pattern Cutter, Delos — London, United Kingdom
Senior Designer, Saks Potts — Copenhagen, Denmark
Mens Ready-to-Wear Designer, Amiri — Los Angeles, United States
5. Why Fashion Still Uses Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’
Young Man Hiking in Rain with Waterproof Jacket PFAS are still widely used in waterproof textile coatings. (Getty Images/Getty Images)
Just over a decade ago, fashion’s biggest brands laid out an ambition to eliminate harmful chemicals from their supply chains. [They] prioritised 11 of the most hazardous chemical groups used in the industry, among them so-called “forever chemicals” — a particularly nasty group of toxic substances that never break down and have been linked to health risks from reproductive issues to cancer. More technically known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, they’re used for a range of practical applications, including turning ordinary textiles into performance fabrics resistant to water, stains, oil and even creasing.
Bringing innovations to scale remains a challenge, with many reluctant to take a risk on costly new options. PFAS’ versatility and wide-ranging performance benefits create a particular challenge, with no one-size-fits-all drop-in solution available at scale. [However,] looming regulation [made brands] much more open to suggestions for PFAS-free textiles over the last 12-18 months, said Lewis Shuler, head of innovation at Paradise Textiles, part of supplier company Alpine Group.
Product Developer Circular Knits, Tommy Hilfiger — Amsterdam, Netherlands
Teamleader Outerwear Design, Hugo Boss — Stuttgart, Germany
Associate Raw Materials and Research and Development, Chico’s — Fort Myers, United States
6. What Gen-Z Thinks About Virtual Fashion
This year, over 11.5 million creators have designed more than 62 million clothing and accessory items — also known as wearables — on Roblox. (Roblox)
Roblox, whose popularity soared during the pandemic and now averages over 50 million daily users, has given rise to a new wave of virtual designers creating items specifically for the metaverse, while allowing savvy brands and designers to open up new revenue streams by creating metaverse-only products or selling new items virtually before releasing them IRL.
Roblox says over half of surveyed users said they change their avatars’ clothing at least every week, based on factors ranging from their mood to impulse-driven purchases, and where they are headed to in the metaverse at any given time. A majority of respondents had spent $5 to $10 on a single clothing or accessory item. A quarter of users owned over 50 items their avatar can wear.
Visual UI Designer, Ralph Lauren — London, United Kingdom
Head of Product, Zalando — Dublin, Ireland
3D Experience and Initiatives Intern, PVH — Amsterdam, Netherlands
7. Fashion’s New Age of Volatility Hits Suppliers
A garment worker in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (Ahmed Salahuddin/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
After hitting a record of more than $40 billion for the year ending in June, apparel exports from Bangladesh dropped 8 percent year-on-year in September before flattening out in October, according to data from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
Meanwhile, demands to upgrade manufacturing in line with big brands’ environmental and social commitments are increasing, even though prices aren’t. While brands are pushing suppliers to invest in costly equipment to cut emissions and water use and pay for expensive sustainability certifications, in many cases they are ultimately still giving business to the lowest bidder, manufacturers said.
Senior Pattern Cutter, Dilara Findikoglu — London, United Kingdom
Coordination Director, Maje — Paris, France
Womenswear Designer, Zara — La Coruña, Spain
8. Is Hot Pink Here to Stay?
The finale at Valentino’s Autumn/Winter 2022 show. (Valentino)
In recent months, bright, hot pink has become a frequent sight on runways, red carpets and retailers’ shelves. Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli Pink, developed with Pantone, is perhaps the best-known interpretation […] But Valentino isn’t the only brand taking the colour out for a spin: this month, Intermix launched its holiday dream closet shopping edit — centred around what it calls “Y2K Pink.” Barbiecore, a TikTok aesthetic which features head-to-toe hot pink outfits, has been trending on the platform.
The widespread embrace of the bold, in-your-face colour marks an undeniable end to the era of Millennial pink. The pastel hue was the go-to for the past decade, becoming a signature for a generation of direct-to-consumer brands, such as beauty darling Glossier and period product brand Thinx.
Product Manager, Meng — London, United Kingdom
Assistant Product Manager and Studio, Fursac — Paris, France
Junior Colourist, Figs — Santa Monica, United States
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