Fashion has always been about change, disruption, revolution, cycles.
Designers have always represented the engine of this industry. Customers satisfaction has always turned into positive sales and companies growth.
Scandal has been a fashion trademark since the beginning and fashion has always been determined by “the air du temps” or the “zeitgeist”.
And the true, authentic fashion industry has always had a long term vision. Take Giorgio Armani, Valentino, Dior. They are brands that are managed with a long term vision and not for short term cash.
Fashion is everything but superficial. It’s a relevant industry and it needs very well prepared managers as well as long term approach, a huge effort in terms of investment and focus and tons of patience.
Short term approach is over, dear speculators. As per the Darwinian selection only the most resilient, the most credible and the most respectful and long-term oriented Brands will survive this revolution.
Even outside fashion short term is not an obsession anymore. Let’s take Larry Fink, Blackrock CEO, who recently ( http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/03/stop-thinking-short-term-ceos-blackrocks-fink.html ) proposed to the S&P 500 companies to provide a strategic framework for long-term value creation. Same was expressed by Paul Polman, Unilever CEO, in 2009 when he urged CEOs not to be “slave of shareholders” and to insist for a long-term vision instead of “focusing on investors who try to basically speculate and make a lot of money” http://www.forbes.com/sites/andyboynton/2015/07/20/unilevers-paul-polman-ceos-cant-be-slaves-to-shareholders/#703c5cfe40b5
Food for thought.
If this is true for FMCG and for pure finance, why can’t it be true for fashion?
Designers are getting more and more uncomfortable with this short-term vision that kills creativity.
Top managers are leaving not agreeing with the shareholders strategies and expectations.
Shareholders, some of them at least, should truly rethink their own strategy and portfolio before undermining an entire industry. It’s their full responsibility to grow the industry in a healthy, sustainable way.
Fashion people should be let work as they were used to. Surrounded by trust, support, patience and passion and expertise.
They need time to create, as wisely Raf Simons highlighted in the infamous interview to Cathy Horyn for System magazine in 2015 “When you do six shows a year, there’s not enough time for the whole process,” he explains. “Technically, yes — the people who make the samples, do the stitching, they can do it. But you have no incubation time for ideas, and incubation time is very important. When you try an idea, you look at it and think, Hmm, let’s put it away for a week and think about it later. But that’s never possible when you have only one team working on all the collections.”.
Same for Nicolas Guesquière at Balenciaga in the interview he released to System magazine in 2013. “Those brands [Prada and Chanel] have family and partners surrounding them, and they have creative carte blanche. Prada, for example, has made this model where you can be a business and an opinion leader at the same time, which is totally admirable. It’s the same thing at Chanel. Sadly, I never had that. I never had a partner, and I ended up feeling too alone.”
And “There are people I’ve worked with who have never understood how fashion works. They keep saying they love fashion, yet they’ve never actually grasped that this isn’t yoghurt or a piece of furniture – products in the purest sense of the term. They just don’t understand the process at all, and so now they’re transforming it into something much more reproducible and flat.”
Like it or not, designers (the truly talented ones, not the “sketch makers with no vision”) are they key pillar of fashion. They must be:
- accurately selected for a long-term fit
- respected and nurtured
- properly managed
And success will “magically” happen.