Industry Issues: The Fashion Supermarket & Spring 2018

I’m still in the process of checking out online the Paris Spring 2018 shows (to see my top picks for all four fashion weeks, please click here). Although I miss seeing the shows in person – it’s always helpful to see a designer’s full vision for his or her collection in context – I have to admit that I prefer showroom appointments. They’re more intimate; you can see clothing and accessory details not visible on the runway, plus you usually get an interesting backstory on the collection or even an individual piece.

All that said, I do read some show reviews. One of the best summations on Paris fashion week has come from Angelo Flaccavento at Business of Fashion. His article from yesterday discusses how Paris has become a “supermarket” of product this season, with few designers presenting a strong point of view of what it means to dress a woman now.

And that’s a problem. Historically, the runway shows were a format for designers to propose their vision of how a woman should dress for the upcoming season. However – in our internet age – these shows have increasingly become a marketing tool. It’s one reason why non-household name designers showing a solid presentation on a traditional runway are often overlooked for huge spectacles presented by big brands showing increasingly gimmicky merchandise.

If fashion design is going to continue to be the cornerstone of this industry, then obviously a paradigm shift is needed (it has been for some time). In order for fashion to have a real impact on how women dress today, a collection needs to be more than a photo op of a bright pink bedazzled platform shoe or a logo T-shirt that screams fashion victim. Designers should be able to present tightly developed collections full of meaningful pieces with a sharp point of view. Fashion as spectacle definitely has its place, but it feels increasingly like design teams are expected to be circus masters first and designers second.