Above: No. 21 A/W 2014
Above: Christopher Kane A/W 2014
It’s Fall! Everyone’s favourite cozy layering season and fashion media’s cue to dig deep, back into its collective memory to try and remember what went down the Autumn/Winter 2014 runways way back in early Spring. It used to make sense for the fashion-concerned to take care to follow trends, find It-pieces, and look forward to runway influences eventually trickling down to mass market retailers once the seasons had lapsed. I can remember a time not so long ago when fashion was slower and toed the line of designers’ visions and editors’ seasonal picks. Especially vivid is the stranglehold boho-chic’s particular vapidity had on the fashion industry — I remember it so well because it coincided with the year I started my first real adult job. I saved a lot of disposable income steering clear of shop after shop filled with the same bland faux-hippie offerings. I remember wishing I had bought more basics during the seasons previous when mod reigned supreme at Club Monaco and on the sales racks at Holt Renfrew Last Call, worrying about the scarcity of miniskirts and turtlenecks in the brave new boho world.
Above: Sharon Wauchob A/W 2014
Then the recession happened and the fashion industry catapulted into a fevered pitch of consumerism. Fast fashion picked up speed, online retailers started making their presence known, streetstyle photography and the proliferation of fashion blogs satiated the fashion-hungry masses, events called Fashion’s Night Out spread across big shopping cities around the globe, and all these moving parts contributed to the massive, churning contemporary fashion industry and what is too often coined its “democratization.”
Above: Emilio de la Morena A/W 2014
Ceding power to mass retailers and hobbyist fashion enthusiasts did not bode well with industry insiders until they learnt to use amateurs to their advantage and made aspects of accessibility through social media and designer collaborations incredibly lucrative. At the height of recession panic, designers were interested in reforming the established fashion week schedule and the timing of retail clothing delivery to better coincide with consumers’ pace of consumption of not only goods, but also information about fashion.
Above: Marchesa A/W 2014
Now half a decade since Donna Karan heralded the fashion industry’s own demise, you can really see the incredible changes that mass retailers have wrought on an unresponsive fashion establishment. Just today, November 12, 2014, I received an email (that went straight to spam, mind you) from Style.com entitled “45 of Spring’s Best Accessories!” Ok, that exclamation was my own addition, but, seriously. 45 accessories for Spring [!]. Are there even enough days in Spring to wear all of the featured accessories? Do readers have enough untold millions to spend on them? Furthermore, unless the accessories you’re trying to hock via email in mid-autumn are keeping my cheeks from getting frostbitten, your content is utterly irrelevant and will be completely forgotten by Spring.
Above: Tod’s A/W 2014
While the fashion industry continues its loopy scheduling, it risks being completely overshadowed by a maniacally efficient fast fashion industry that regurgitates runway looks and has garments in consumers’ hands before designers might even begin mass-producing pieces they’ve just shown. Zara stands out as the most monstrously zealous of all the fast fashion companies – it designs 40,000 new products annually and produces about 10,000 of those in a plethora of colours and sizes. While the fashion chain keeps prices relatively accessible, its constant pushing and pulling of products encourages impulse purchases and drives a kind of exclusivity — shoppers know items won’t be there long and opt to buy runway looks long before their mimicked original even gets to luxury department stores. The pace of fast fashion is what has perhaps most influenced fashion media and the inane “45 Best Summer Heels that go with the Season’s Hottest Hemline” listicles we read in the dead of winter.
Above: Christian Dior A/W 2014
As a result of not only the current over-saturation of fashion marketing and commerce, but also the incredible lag in time between the presentation of designers’ lines and the seasons they’re meant to be worn in, the idea of any kind of definitive guide to fashion seasons has become obsolete. In my own attempt to look back at my meticulously plotted out Excel spreadsheets tracking trends from A/W 2014 fashion weeks, my efforts to put forth any kind of guide were quashed by fuzzy memories of lines I was surprised to revisit, it’d felt so long ago. Among my neatly kept list of favourites (all of which I’ve captured pictorially in this post) there is no real abiding trend or style. Bulky coats in every fabric under the rainbow is the closest I could come up with. How about “45 Bulky Coats in Every Fabric under the Rainbow for Fall” – damn, I could write content for Style.com!
Above: Anthony Vaccarello A/W 2014
Ultimately, in attempting to survey Fall trends we’ve ended up taking stock of the utter dysfunction embedded in an industry that attempts to court artists, but lets corporations get away with the merciless over-production of copied goods. And ultimately, I’ve surrendered: this Fall (and every season after), wear anything!
Above: Honor A/W 2014
Credit: If you’re interested in the business side of fashion (as well as the history, culture, and theory that envelopes fashion), you would do well to subscribe to Jason Hirschhorn’s FashionREDEF daily newsletter. The impeccably curated links come to your inbox every morning and broach a range of subjects that inspired this post.
Above: Zimmermann A/W 2014