Monday, February 26, 2018

No Holds Barred: Fashion Week's punctuation

Barbara Kruger, I shop therefore I am, 1990.
by Blair Sabol

What does it take in the fashion world? In the last 18 months it has “come to pass” that the clothing business is in trouble. Blame it on Amazon, big name department store closures, bankruptcy of brick and mortar — everyone is living off their cell phones. Artist Barbara Kruger’s mantra of 5 years ago, “I shop therefore I am,” is quickly fading away.
Major market "corrections" on the first day of Fashion Week.
But wait, there’s more ... Clothing is dying! According to a terrific account in Bloomberg News, “Apparel is being replaced by travel, eating out, and activities called “experiences” (whatever that means).  I believe it, since most people I talk to never talk about shopping anymore. There is no “wardrobe” anymore. Just look at our lives; we don’t need to get “dressed” for work. Sneakers and athleisure is now formalwear.  And of course, there is the popularity of “Fast Fashion” which can get the goods out faster and cheaper but even H&M is now feeling a pinch and is closing stores — apparently too much expansion and too much leftover inventory!
We look like rubber baby buggy bumpers in pajamas on airplanes.
However, the biggest issue (obviously) is the influence of Social Media. I remember when it was just teenage fashion bloggers.  It used to be a riot seeing 11-year-old Tavi Gevinson sitting next to Anna Wintour at Calvin Klein’s Fall Collection.  Now Tavi is 21. She occasionally tweets about being a “Fashion rookie,” but has morphed into an “actress/feminist.”  Who hasn’t?  Poor Anna Wintour now has to sit next to rapper Cardi B! “Keeping up” is hard to do!

It used to be magazine editors, retailers and designers who dictated the trends — now social media “influencers” rule the consumers!  And they don’t need runways or red carpets; they just throw themselves and their closets up online and everyone seems “inspired.”  What was once curated by icons is now defined by a multitude of self-proclaimed narcissistic Snapchatters.
Tavi Gevinson sitting front row with Anna Wintour and Carolina Herrera in 2011. Ah, those were the days.
But because all these voices appear in apps and blogs it is hard for trends to really bust through — other than for an Instagram “moment.”  Retailers’ online attempts can’t keep up that pace!

Ironically, poor 80-year-old Leslie Wexner, CEO of Victoria's Secret, said recently in an interview: “The internet won’t kill the stores, we’re in the process of bouncing back from that ... people crave social interaction and will seek it in malls.  People want to be with people — I’ve got 5,000 years of history on my side — ancient bazaars in Rome and Istanbul.”  Well, I went to my local Victoria's Secret boutique, and it was empty and bins were piled high with huge leftovers of sale bras and panties (was this a Turkish bazaar?)
Markdown bin of molded bras at Victoria's Secret.
Popular glittered fur “slip-ons” for evening wear.
After all, most of their market no longer needs molded push-up bras.  They got boob jobs to do the “heavy lifting.” What has taken over the bra industry is now the sports bra!  But let Mr. Wexner keep dreaming that “smartphones will fade.” God bless him.

So with fewer fashion changes there are fewer reasons to shop for anything “new.”  What is actually new anymore?  Online commerce might be in trouble as well; Only time will tell. Soon we all may be asking Alexa or Siri how we look and to suggest a style for us.
Victoria's Secret desperate attempt at “cheeky” undies.
In the meantime, Fashion Week continues because I don’t think the industry knows what to do. Consider the recent exit of Carolina Herrera (okay, she’s not “retiring” — she will become the label’s “global ambassador”).  The last of the exquisite style designers didn’t seem to hint to anyone that the END is HERE!

No merchandiser can compete with Instagram’s grab. There really is no need for “customer loyalty,” especially when you are glued to a device looking for the next hit.

I love that some critic called Tom Ford’s recent collection “tawdry and vulgar.” But as one person noted, “that is what our culture deserves.”  And who better than “Tom Terrific” to bring us gals in trippy psychedelic cut out dresses and sequined giraffe print leggings.

I like that he’s now into designing men’s leopard underwear! Go Tom! Don’t forget last fall, Tom gave us his new scent “Fucking Fabulous.”  It smelled like cat pee — but who cares? — Bergdorf’s was sold out of it in a day.

“Sinking into Sleaze” has become our best trend.  Just look at our culture’s biggest influencer — Kim Kardashian.  Two weeks ago she posted an Instagram of her latest beach bathing suit photo shoot.  It said it all — there she was with her famous bare ass being “ass sprayed” by a glam squad “ass stylist.”  She got millions of hits and her enhanced ass and bathing suit went viral.  A trend is born.

By the way, the Council of Fashion Designers of America just announced that they are “considering restructuring New York Fashion Week. It is too long, schedules are bloated, and maybe the dates should be moved entirely.”  Really, why have it at all?  They need more than a tweak in the scheduling to stop the decline.
Kim getting ass sprayed by a glam squad ass stylist.
And don’t talk to me about the Fashion Week “Street Scene.”  Bill Cunningham knew when to exit — he was the best at “editing” and featuring the right “showboats.”  Now everybody is posting the city’s outdoor “runways” and we are drowning in “Freaks” not “Uniques.”  Even Iris Apfel is now over exposed in her double decker Boho pile-on.  Bill Cunningham knew that the streets were more important than the shows, but we are done with that concept as well.  We see it everywhere at our local car washes and airports.
“Times Up” — and it's not just a legal defense fund for sexual harassment.

There is only one fashion event more irrelevant than Fashion Week and that is the Met Gala. How can we stand another scene of porn-attired rap stars swaggering up the big steps? I had heard that The Met was finally embarrassed by last year’s “display” of tits and ass. What would the great Diana Vreeland (the creator of The Met Ball) say today! What does anyone have to say?
The Party is Over!
Even The Queen's presence at London Fashion Week  couldn’t save that event either!
But one good piece of news. This week Spring Training started in Scottsdale and Florida.  The Boys of Summer are here.  I just checked out the most popular store/boutique in town.  The Giants gear shop.  I went opening day, and guess what?  They were practically sold out of shirts and Jerseys and caps!  They are bigger than any “pop-up” store I have ever seen. 
Lining up to meet the Giants players.
Giants Merchandise Sales Manager Nancy Mastrilli and me before the shopping onslaught.
Fans shopping at Giants Spring Training Camp store — the day before opening day.
Scottsdale Spring Collection.
Spring Training Couture.
High-end retail at the Giants Dugout store.
Novelty items.
This is fan-inspired attire.  Of course, it is part of the athleisure wear explosion.  Sales Manager Nancy Mastrilla has told me the store reorders daily, and is mobbed (yes ... mobbed) for 2 solid months! Fashionistas in NYC, London, Paris and Milan can talk all they want.  The baseball Spring Training Team boutiques are America’s true Spring Collections.

Fashion better learn to Play Ball.
The Boys of Summer.