Hello, it’s been a while since my last article. I am not really sure why this keeps on happening, so I am going to blame it on autumn, on the weather, on the stars, and I am going to tell you all about how I used this time to reflect upon what really grinds my gears about fashion lately. The Fashion Week season has just ended, and while I tried to keep up with the shows, the articles and the discussions generated by these events, I found myself overwhelmed by a feeling of “whatever”. I blamed it on autumn, on the weather, on the stars, and even on my seasonal ennui, but still there seemed to be something missing. I am not trying to be an arrogant prick who does nothing else but complain, just for the sake of it. Because there were shows that I really liked, trends that resonated with my personal taste, changes in the industry that seem exciting, but somehow, there was something unsettling. And it didn’t necessarily have to do with the collections, but with the whole idea of the fashion week. Do we still really need them?
Fashion weeks, like all other inventions of capitalism, function as a generator of profit. They generate profit for different kinds of businesses (hotels, restaurants, clubs, event venues, rentals,…) which are happy to answer the demands of all types of customers (from celebrities, to fashion insiders, to simple onlookers who happen to visit a city) during fashion week. They generate profit for the main partners of the event, for all the brands and financers involved in all the events taking place during fashion week. They promote celebrities who reinforce their social status and their fame by participating at different shows, parties and after parties, launches, and. lunches. They generate content and revenue for bloggers, street style photographers, fashion magazines, gossip columns, Instagram accounts and tweeter feeds. Even the fashion designers, brands or houses which display their collections during fashion week invest in these events so they can promote their talent, their business in order to gain future profit, or to maintain their importance and relevance in the international fashion system.
According to the all-wise and ever-growing Wikipedia, the first fashion week was held in New York “with one main purpose: to distract attention from French fashion during World War II, when workers in the fashion industry were unable to travel to Paris. This was an opportune moment, as “before World War II, American designers were thought to be reliant on French couture for inspiration.”” After more than 70 years, what is fashion week still trying to distract us from? Maybe it’s from the fact that the amount of talent proportional to the growth of the fashion industry is the same as 20, 50, or 70 years ago, so maybe New York Fashion Week should stop accepting to include in their schedule all those who afford to pay. Maybe it’s from the fact that fashion weeks should be about fashion, not about first – row gossips, parties, cocktails, or debates on whether Kanye West is or isn’t a fashion designer. Maybe it’s from the fact that fashion is ugly on the inside because underneath the taffetas, the embroideries, the pleats, and ruffles, it is still exploiting people, animals and the environment. Or maybe it’s trying to distract us from the lack of innovation, inspiration, and excitement of fashion as industry. I am not denying the talent, wit, and determination of the designers who still manage to use fashion as language, as medium, as philosophy, as protest, I am just trying to figure out if fashion weeks are the proper venue for them, and if not then what is?