So the retrospectives for 2019 and that includes the 2010s in fashion have already started and it’s not even past Christmas yet. Reading all through the #metoo stuff, the rise in the luxury fashion market in China, the rise of the European Luxury market (with no US entry surviving), the closing of big luxury brands in the US (including a major store in NY) and of course the biggest story is the changing of the gatekeepers of fashion from the once-powerful fashion magazine editor to influencers and followers on social media. This later causing such an overflow of information so as to dull any fashionista from ever really wanting to know about fashion ever again.
Who wouldn’t be put off by all this huge influx of information? It’s the epitome of TMI (too much information). No one – even the most devoted fashionista – couldn’t keep up with all this. And from someone who used to wait with bated breath for each issue of Vogue to arrive, with added excitement for the bi-annual fashion issue of Town and Country, today those magazines seem not only passé but totally lost in the mish-mash of fashion information.
But also from one who used to love getting her monthly Vogue, I wonder if there isn’t something else going on here. Part of what made getting those fashion magazines so exciting was to see what beautiful new flattering and lovely design that the designers were going to show this season. Each season brought lovelier, more beautiful and flattering looks.
Granted, just like every style out there, the fashion became an over-exaggeration of itself, but the main focus of the fashion was to make the wearer look good. Once Marc Jacobs show at Perry Ellis in 1992 happened, that was the end of looking good. Ever since, the famous Polly Melon quote, “Ugly is Beautiful” was the epitome that every designer wanted to live up to. The question was “How?” I mean if you went to school to learn how to make colors match, mix different proportions to work, create flattering combinations, then how are you going to throw all that out the window for “Ugly is Beautiful”? But that’s what happened.
So now – almost 30 years later, we’re finally coming out of this dour fashion trend, into something that looks better – luxury?….good design? Who knows. One of the things these retrospective articles on the 2010s note is the rise of the Chinese luxury market – the young want to buy luxury items and they will pay the price for them. This is huge for those big luxury conglomerates in Europe like LVMH (Louis Vuitton Möet Hennessy) that gobbles up brands like an anteater gobbles ants. Everyone is going after that Chinese luxury market.
I wonder if what’s really happening is that these consumers simply want something that is the antithesis of the last 30 years….things like quality, durability, classic style. These are hard to beat and even more, they make you feel good every time you wear them. They last forever, so actually, in the long run, they are far less expensive, and being classic they hardly ever go out of style.
What would happen if this sort of demand was not only in China but all over the world? Who says it isn’t? The difference here is that the Chinese youth are willing to spend their $$$$ on these luxury items when the rest of the world either isn’t or doesn’t want to be bothered with it. The ingraining of the mall shopping has so infiltrated our psyche that to jar it loose would take a tsunami of gigantic proportions. Part of why the Chinese youth are so willing to try something so new is that shopping isn’t all that old to them. It’s only been recently that the world market has opened up in China as they haven’t had 30 years of crappy goods to choose from. The rest of the world has been living with crappy goods so it’s no big deal to go out and get more junk to add to all the other junk in our closets at home.
Yeah, I know that sounds cruel, but I see it every time I shop. Here’s what I really miss: I miss being able to look forward to new fashions and new styles so that I can adapt them for my look, my shape, and my style. That’s what I learned in the 60s, 70s and hone it to a fine art in the 80s. It’s beginning to happen again, but very slowly and difficultly. It’s going to be hard to pry all that junk from our closets and replace it will really nice, but expensive things.
And here’s where the sewing part comes in, and this is what excites me the most. Because luxury home-sewn items are not only a fraction of the cost of the luxury item, they are also almost always better made, and of course they are tailored and fit the wearer’s lifestyle and shape much better than even the most masterful of designer could do – well, unless you went to them personally and they designed a garment or garments specifically for you, but even then you would be working through their filter, not simply your own.
This kind of sewing brings such a sense of satisfaction and pleasure, I can’t even begin to express the joy I felt when I made it and every time I wear these garments.
From a wedding in Nevis to biking on the river in downtown to summer see-thru to a bright Easter suit, each of these garments has brought me huge joy and pleasure to wear. I still have them in my closet and wear them all with great fun and joy. This is what clothes should be. They should not only be fun to make but fun to wear and to wear over and over again.
I experienced this for 3 decades and am thrilled to see this appeal for a luxury market again, albeit from a market that is new and has not experienced that much availability. They have brought about a realization that quality always sells and sells well.
Personally, I can’t wait to see what this next decade brings and especially the fashion that will happen. It will be beautiful. It will be fun. And it will be fascinating to watch.
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