Berlin Fashion Week: Going Out Of Style?

dupaul university college of law.jpgBeing among the most popular cities in the world, Berlin would seem like the perfect venue to hold a fashion week and a major event on the fashion calendar. But Mercedes Benz, the largest sponsor of the event has announced they will not renew their contract with IMG Agency, the organizer of fashion week Berlin. Since 2007, the event has held 20 shows, this year with well over 100,000 visitors. And though that is a great turn out, compared to various fashion weeks in cities such as New York City, Milan, London and Paris, that number is very small.

Berlin Fashion Week has tried to entice international luxury labels like Gucci and Armani unsuccessfully, while German brands like Escada, Strenesse, Laurel and Rene Lezard are in decline. There are also fewer upcoming young designers creating collections due to the struggle to find textile manufacturers to produce clothing at an a competitive price in Germany where they are pushed aside as fast fashion has stepped in with its ability to quickly give shoppers access to trends they want at competitive prices.

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Lack of representatives and exclusion of the public are also concerns. But when it comes to the public, the fashion motto of Berlin is “come as you are” not “who are you wearing?” It should also be noted that Berlin neighborhoods all have their own signature ideas of fashion. In Neukolln, middle eastern style is considered chic, while in Kreuzberg birkenstocks are the closet necessity. A Berlin fashion blog even surveyed relevancy of style in Berlin and found that there was a rejection of fashion that most women in Berlin were proud to admit. While that carries a kind of style in its own way, that is not what the event sponsors or designers want to hear; there is a level of business and consumerism that is necessary for a successful fashion week.

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berlinJust because a city is relevant and cool, doesn’t mean that includes fashion. Where there is little to no interest in fashion, how can anyone expect a successful fashion event to be held? If Berliners don’t care about fashion, there are plenty of people elsewhere around the world who do and with major fashion shows being so close to Germany throughout the year, it would make sense for a German designer looking to get exposure and interest in their concepts, to show in Paris, Milan or London. It would make it difficult for upcoming designers who lack the finances to travel and have a staff available as well as smaller brands who could be lost in the mayhem of the giant shows. Shows like New York, Milan, Paris and London cannot continue to grow and absorb other cities, its too much at one time, too  many labels, too many people, but until other cities, like Berlin, can prove that they can hold their own, not just have great labels, the industry will ignore them. And all I can say is that it’s unfortunate it came to this point.

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Photos courtesy of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Berlin

Sources: Deutsche Welle and Handelsblatt Global Edition

 

Things You Might Not Know About The Fashion Industry But Should

As members of a consumerism society, fashion is a part of our daily lives and we can’t get enough of it. We have access to everything, production is quicker and we can have more. We can all wear the latest trends and enjoy them until the next new style dominates our universe. But that is no coincidence. There are some problems the fashion industry faces that comes at a human, social and environmental cost. Below are some things you may not have known about the industry and why it is importance to understand their significance.

heeyfashion1). Introduction of Micro seasons.

In 2014, the industry introduced 52 micro seasons, before it was only 2 seasons. If you want more, you’ll spend more, and with a business model of low quality/high volume the industry thrives on consumers spending money. In Elizabeth Cline’s book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, she points out that H&M and Forever21 get daily shipments, while Topshop introduces 400 styles a week online. With numbers like that, we can never keep up.

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2). Clothing is designed to fall apart

Ever have a shirt unravel after one wear? Faulty design falls apart or shrinks after one wash. Does it even matter? Oh, Yes. With most of clothing today being made with synthetic, petroleum based fibers, it takes decades to decompose. Even luxury designers like Vivienne Westwood are speaking out. “Buying less and choosing quality means that designers can make better fashion, not just lead by marketing and commercial interests,” she says. “Fashion is a part of culture, but not at the moment.”

UnknownAnd despite the common belief, outlet clothing is not a deal. Those products never even see a regular store. Outlet broker deals are generally just an increase of companies bottom line, who put their labels on cheaply made clothing made in low quality factories not affiliated with the brand.

3). Chemicals in clothing

Cotton accounts for 40% of all world fiber production. The US, China and India produce over half of the world’s cotton. Did you know a 500 pound bale can make 800 men’s shirts? A pair of jeans takes 24 ounces. Its a natural, animal free material, however, there are arguments about some environmental consequences. World Wildlife Fund and National Geographic made a video about how it requires 2,700 liters of water to make just one shirt. Cotton Today has challenged that cotton is naturally drought crop and requires less water than most crops. Cotton growers also use less pesticides than 30 years ago, about .38 ounces on cotton for that single shirt. Due to technological advances, it’s possible to grow more cotton on less land.

cotton

Garment makers use chemicals in many different ways. While it is understandable that treatments are needed for shelf life and fiber protection, many are using restricted substances. For example, before American Apparel went bankrupt, they were found to be using 250 controlled substances in production.

557119-400pxAnother example is the process for stone wash denim. It is known to expose workers to cotton and silica dust which are linked to lung disease. The harm that can be inflicted just isn’t worth the risk of making the cheap clothes in the first place.

Some brands who have been attuned to sustainability using repurposed, organic, vegan, low impact and other green innovations include but are not limited to Givenchy, Versace, Yves Saint Laurent, Calvin Klein, Armani, Viktor and Rolf, Stella McCartney, Rogan Gregory and Katharine Hamnett.

4). Health Risk

pointy toe shoes

Pointy toe shoes are a fashion staple, but can be bad for foot health. Doctors have warned us before about high heels causing Metatarsalgia, a painful condition that causes ball of foot to become inflamed.

Another concern is Neuroma, or Morton’s Neuroma. It arises from irritation of a nerve, leading to scar tissue forming. Commonly occurs painfully between 3rd and 4th toes. Surgery might be needed if it becomes serious, but is alleviated by wearing arch supports, foot pads, wider toe shoes or flats.

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5). Beading and glitter.

This one in particular breaks my heart. Industry estimates suggest between 20-60 percent of beaded and sequin production is sewn at home by informal workers. Many often require their children to help because of their small hands.Street Seamstress

Small children as young as 8 have 16 hour work days.
Machines that apply sequin and beading that looks like handiwork is expensive and unlikely that a garment factory would invest in the machinery, especially with “fast fashion” companies usually not regulating the sources of their clothing. The lack of accountability or interest in ethically sustainable machinery is disgusting.

The excuse has been overseas factories helping nations in poverty. The fashion indusrtry currently accounts for 80% of Bangladesh foreign trade, and it seems like that would be beneficial, but for a $20 item only $1 goes to the person who made it. The monthly salary in Bangladesh generally is $630 while living expenses average $1400. While products with a ‘Made in America’ tag may have a high retail value, production facilities in US are regulated and have workers with higher wage and higher production cost that will actually be profitable.

sequin
6). Spec work for designers.

It takes hard work and dedication to become a successful designer.flickr2
Just because you have the degree doesn’t mean you can get the job. Aside from the internships that are available at some companies, there are many instances where potential hires work for free to hopefully make a favorable impression so they may be offered the job. In most cases labels expect a whole line to be created before a designer may be hired. One woman was expected to make 6 dresses, 5 blouses, skirts and jackets in the course of one week. This discourages many from pursuing fashion and that career path altogether when portfolios and resumes should speak for themselves.

Clothes On A RackThere are other issues in fashion, one of them is vanity sizing. In 1958, a size 12 was the same as someone who wears a 6 today. Fluctuations from brand to brand are partially consumers fault because they are more likely to buy an item with lower size number. Another issue is that the age fashion models are so young, largely because they are cheap labor. The problem is that designer labels are not that accessible to young shoppers. Middle and older age women have the most disposable income and they are hardly catered to like they should.

You would expect a powerful industry that is an integral part of so many people’s lives could and would be transparent. But consumers are also responsible for not being more informed about the products they purchase. With the high demand of fast fashion, there is little expectation for clothes to be made well or sustainably. But sustainably produced textiles last longer, have positive impact. Clothing made from organic material and renewable fibers are far less toxic and more durable. Workers can be compensated for meaningful, skilled work. By choosing to reduce waste, cut back on consumerism and be aware of where and how are clothing is made, we can change fashion for the better.

Photos and information courtesy of Huffington Post, Refinery29, LiveStrong, Flickr

Men’s Fashion Week SS 18

While many labels are planning on combining their mens’s and women’s runways shortly and the man bag and short shorts are still absurd trends being pushed for men, there were plenty of fresh styles and concepts shared at Men’s Fashion Weeks from London, Milan and Paris.

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On the Versace runway, their 1978 curvilinear logo typeface was revived. I like that the shape of the letters had a rounded appearance instead of a flat font. I also really liked that non traditional models walked to celebrate their 40th anniversary,

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The color palette from Armani was impeccable and so refined.

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Rick Owens had a focus on suit jackets, abnormal for this avant grade designer, saying, “I want us to be more polite, more modest,” a notion I sincerely appreciate.

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The Wales Bonner runway had a good mix of casual and business looks, each with its own touch of summer, whether it be the material, cut of sleeve length or color, the designs were begging to tell a ‘what I did this summer’ story.

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Wilder collections that I felt missed the mark included Craig Green, Commes des Garcons, Charles Jeffery Loverly and Vivienne Westwood. Each had a lot going on that just felt distracting and the styles didn’t pick up any slack. It was difficult to imagine some of the items as wearable even if they’d been assembled differently.

moncler gamme bleu gingham good bc it will transition until colder fall moths

A model for Moncler Gammer Bleu

Gingham will be a good transitional pattern to wear thought the fall because it looks similar to plaid.

dior graphic

A Model for Dior

Graphic printed tees are always a popular men’s fashion, but they’ve gotten an upgrade, expanding to button-down tops, jackets, even pants.

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While I can appreciate the potential need for a man to have a satchel of some sort, it doesn’t seem to be a trend that carries into reality. On the other hand, while shorts for men have been considered a beach only option, they were of every length and style on almost every runway. Slightly above or below knee length is the best option.

mixmatch lanvin

Lanvin

Mix match patterns will be a popular styling technique we’ll see lots of. Mix small graphics and muted tones to allow for better overall composition.

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Though corduroy will have its moment this fall and Salvatore Ferragamo is making its case now in the form of polished shorts, I do raise an eyebrow at the heavy winter fabric for mid summer use. Lighter fabric like linen would naturally be a better, breathable choice. Don’t forget easy athleisure like from Balenciaga or the power or monochrome attire like so from Berluti.

 

Photos courtesy of New York Times, The Guardian, WWD & GQ

 

2017 Tony Awards Red Carpet

Fashion in theater is for the stage not the people wearing them. Since the Tony’s celebrate the stage, the red carpet for a long time was not considered an event to watch. However, for three years now, Anna Wintour has overseen fashion at the Tony’s, and there have been major improvements. Fashion is now making an impact, and with far less outrageous, costume-y looks, A-listers from the screen and the stage gathered on Sunday at Radio City Music Hall. See some of the looks below.

anna wintour(R) in maison margeila with bee Shaffer in Alexander Mcqueen

Anna Wintour(R) in Maison Margeila and Bee Shaffer(L) in Alexander Mcqueen.

anna kenrick in miu miu pamela in rodarte and olivia wilde in michael kors

Anna Kendrick in Miu Miu, Sarah Paulson in Rodarte, and Olivia Wilde in Michael Kors. All these gowns were very bright and sophisticated.

cynthia erivo in CG

Cynthia Erivo in CG. This dress was a favorite of mine, the singular color enhanced the mix of feathers, beading and the organza sleeve.

I enjoyed the simple elegance and rich hues of both these gowns.

liu wen in zac posen
Liu Wen in Zac Posen. I loved the volume of this skirt and how the sleeves wrapped.

keltie knight

I thought sheer dresses would be the worst thing I ever saw, but this sheer bodysuit Keltie Knight wore is completely obscene. At least the lace offers a small momentary distraction.

rachel bloom tailored hems on htose pants were needed

Rachel Bloom’s suit was a great color, but the hems of those pants would have looked way more refined if they’d been tailored.

allison janney in christina ottaviano

Allison Janney in Christina Ottaviano. I loved the way the fabric was wrapped and how it was draped. I’m not usually into the asymmetrical sleeves, but the wider space going from her shoulder to the bicep with the wider strap gave a very tasteful addition to this gown.

I wasn’t thrilled with these two gowns. I felt like the sheer top was unnecessary on Sara Bareilles’s gown. Christine Ebersole’s gown didn’t need such wide sleeves and could have used a more streamlined skirt.

tina fey sally lapointe

Tina Fey in Fringe Sally Lapointe

scarlett johnnson in michael kors

Scarlett Johanson in Michael Kors was my favorite look of the night. I liked the simple elegance, the summery stripes and the balance of the different pieces. The accessories and makeup were appropriately coordinated and it was just so fresh and demure.

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I couldn’t decide which suit I liked best, which is your favorite?

Photos courtesy of Daily Mail

CFDA Awards Red Carpet 2017

Fashion and Hollywood’s biggest stars came together at the Council of Fashion Designers of America(CFDA) to celebrate innovative and inspirational designers. Founded in 1981, this invitation-only event of over 500 members of the CFDA, along with top fashion retailers, journalists, stylists and influencers, these awards are the highest honor in American fashion. The evening was lively and encompassing with some of the best fashion this year. Take a look.

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These were the only sheer gowns at the event, and at least there was adequate fabric and some grasp at refinement from Zenya Katava in Nicole Miller (left) and Elsa Hosk in Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini (right). I like the black dress the best, although I wish the opaque black fabric continued to above her knee.

Adrianna Lima (left) and Hailey Baldwin (right) had nice looks, but the jumpsuit Adrianna wore needed to be a touch more fitted at the waist and those long hems trimmed. The Cushnie et Ochs dress Hailey wore was fine with that furry bag, but the shoes were overkill.

adowa aboah

Adowa Aboah looked stuffy and dated in this brown and yellow Coach dress. The high neck and frills with the 70’s style boots and bejeweled jacket did not assist or heighten this look at all.

martha hunt

Martha Hunt wearing Milly. My only question is why the obscenely placed cut out at the front and back of the gown?

Brit Marling

I would love less fabric on the skirt and more shape from this Sies Marjan gown worn by Brit Marling.

imaan hammam

Imaan Hamman in Adam Selman. Embroidered denim is so chic right now, and this jumpsuit could have most definitely stood on its own, the tulle half skirt was not necessary in the slightest.

hilary rhoda in marchesa

Hillary Rhoda in Marchesa. This was another gown that I think just tried to do too much. Take away the lacy peplum and velvet strap, streamline the train and swap the black bag for silver, and it could have been much more elevated.

expected more from mkao ths just lookes like they came from the office

I really expected more from Ashley and Mary Kate Olsen. They look so amazing sometimes and then other times their ensembles fall so flat like here. They just look like they are wearing basic office attire and I found that to be very disappointing.

All in all, fashion brought its A game to the evening and congratulations to all the winners for their efforts and impact in fashion!

 

Photos courtesy of Elle

 

5 Designers From Australia Fashion Week

australia fashion week

Australia Fashion Week was held in Sydney May 14-19. Color and creativity claimed the runways. there were a number of presentations collected and these are just a few that caught my eye.

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Anna Quan is a brand that believes everyday wear should be special. The subtle details, like red piping and tie back tops caught my attention as well as the great fit and easy movement even though the pieces were well structured.

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A brand that believes in aspirational yet achievable fashion did so on their runway. These designs had Vibrant color combinations, lustrous fabrics and contoured figuration. I really liked that Bec & Bridge covered a spectrum of dress from casual to dressy, I think that is good for viewers of the runway to see that for whatever occasion, there is something available to them.

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One of the most sophisticated lines from Australia was Bianca Spender. The fabrics were draped with ease and there was such fluid movement that was both fierce and feminine.

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KITX (pronounced Kit x) is a ready to wear label that represents the spirit of kindness, integrity and transparency. The x stands for the future. Founder Kit Willow strives to be a sustainable and ethical brand. She said that the brand creates products with high frequency wear, superior quality and creative design that consciously sources materials to minimize harm on the planets resources, also stating that she believes in a better world through a simple mantra of making women look and feel beautiful.

I like this mission statement, and it was great to hear about a brand actively working on being sustainable. One of the first articles I read about Australia Fashion Week was that one of the major discussions at this event was brands needing to embrace sustainability. Kelly Elkin of Clean Cut Fashion talked about how just five years ago, it wasn’t even a concern. About twenty percent of fabric per meter used in making shoe or clothes is wasted and dyes being used have damaging effects on the environment in addition to blended fabrics like cotton and elastane make clothes impossible to recycle and repurpose. Its good to know that there are conscious and responsible brands working toward better ethos.

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The contemporary and stylish runway from Mariam Seddiq was a favorite. The patterns and embellishments really made the pieces stand out. This line was exceptional in its mix of high fashion and sportswear.

yahoo style 2017

The weirdest trend I saw were multiple swim lines saying that arm floaties are trendy. I guess they are a good idea if you can’t swim, but they seem pretty childish otherwise.

Photos courtesy of Australia Fashion Week and Yahoo Style

*Sustainability quote from ABC Online

Met Gala 2017

This year’s theme, which usually influences the guests, was not just a theme, but a tribute to designer Rei Kawakubo of Commes des Garcons. Founded in 1969, the brand is largely known for being rebellious to fashion norms and challenging what defines beauty, identity and gender. Ms. Kawakubo has been mentioned by many to be most influential designer of the 20th century and is the second designer to have a solo show at the Met since Yves Saint Laurent in 1983. The Japanese brand is known to be off beat and avant garde, it’s the kind of fashion that begs the question is fashion art? The history behind the theme largely impacted this year’s gala red carpet, so while at first glance many of these gowns seem weird and peculiar (and some are) a lot of them are actually kind of cool, artistically speaking.

rihanna

Rhianna’s fabric swatch ensemble is completely absurd, but I did like the lace up shoes.

tracee ellis ross in commes des garcons fall 1996

Tracee Ellis Ross in Commes des Garcon Fall 1996. I thought it was a very fashionable idea to pay homage with vintage attire.

mary kate and ashley olsen

Cool layers of different fabrics are a big part of Commes des Garcons, so although these ensembles from Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen don’t come off as fashionable, the individual pieces were very much so.

wiz khalifa

Wiz Khalifa’s cropped white suit jacket and cummerbund with black piping and buttons has a pop art feel to it that is fitting for the theme but otherwise tacky.

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Attire that may have been honoring Rei Kawakubo’s fashion ideals but missed the mark were Bella Hadid’s weird body suit that looked like spanx, and the pipe cleaner inspired dress worn by Cassie. Celine Dion’s disheveled, close pin clipped tee shirt dress and Chrissy Teigen’s pom pom frenzy were also poor attempts. Hailee Steinfeld, Nicki Minaj and Halle Berry’s gowns would have been much chicer with full skirts. The puffy sleeved dress worn by Kate Bosworth was a disappointment as was Kendall Jenner’s scanty, bare all garb. Draped sheer gauze over a thong bodysuit is not fashion.

katy perry maison margeila

Katy Perry is a red hot mess in Maison Margeila. lily collins

Lily Collins has had this gothic Victorian style lately that is not my favorite, but the shape and pink skirt color of this Giambatista Valli Couture is pretty and has an elegance to it.

kerry-washington-michael-kors-met-gala-2017-billboard-1240

Kerry Washington and Michael Kors in Michael Kors Collection. While Michael’s suit was tailored and sharp, I was not that impressed with Kerry’s entire dress being patchwork. The little cutouts were very strategic and added a very cool factor to the dress and the silhouette is great. However, I think if the patchwork pattern had stopped at the pentagon shape and then the bodice had the tiny stud print, it would have been a bit more streamlined and easier for the eye to follow.

Gigi Hadid

Gigi Hadid’s Tommy Hilfiger gown has too much going on. The color is fine, but the presentation is sloppy.  Had the tulle skirt with a slit and matching sleeves like the left of the dress all been gathered at the waistband would have been so much more fancy, not to mention just stunning, probably even best dress of the night.

I really liked Kate Hudson and Donatella Versace’s one shoulder dresses. Donatella did design Kylie Jenner’s dress and while I liked the color and appliqués, I was not a fan of the sheer or fringe.

priyanka chopra in ralph lauren

This Ralph Lauren coat dress is so obnoxious. Priyanka Chopra would have been better off just wearing a plain trench coat.

selena gomez and the weeknd

There’s nothing structurally wrong with Selena Gomez dress, but I’m not in love with the fabric or details. It looks more like lingerie than a gown.

Another gown with good shape and color, but why the floral bird print? Instead of being a glamorous Dolce and Gabbana gown, it looks like repurposed curtains. The Oscar de la Renta gown worn by Zoe Kravitz had good color, but was fabric heavy. It would have been stronger without the cape.

anna wintour in chanel

Anna Wintour in Chanel.

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These gowns did not appear to coordinate with the theme, but were still pretty, elegant and worth sharing.

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Favorites of mine were Blake Lively, Jennifer Lopez, Lily Aldridge, Lupita N’yongo, Elizabeth Banks in Michael Kors and Karlie Kloss. This attire was modest with great color and color contrast, whimsical detailing and pattern.

So did you like the theme and the gowns that coordinated or the ones that didn’t? It was definitely an interesting concept for the gala, that I think they should do again. Its always interesting to see how different people think fashion should be, even if the idea is to ignore the dress code entirely.

 

Photos courtesy of too fab and daily mail