Sunday, April 22, 2018

In the Market Report by Marilyn Kirschner

The Fashion Group International’s Ready-To-Wear Trend Presentation for Fall/Winter 2018

Angelique Serrano, Erica Russo, Megan Hayes, Alex Badia and Ken Downing
click image for full size view - photo courtesy FGI

The Fashion Group International (www.fgi.org) held their Ready-to-Wear Trend Presentations for Fall/ Winter 2018 this past Friday. The event was sponsored by Ecco Domani, MAC Cosmetics, LIM College, Donna Karan supported by Urban Zen Foundation, The Kors Le Pere Foundation, and Hearst Magazines, which explains the venue: the Hearst Tower Screening Room. As always, the audio visual presentation, was edited and narrated by Fashion Group’s Creative Director Marylou Luther, who does a superb job of highlighting the best of the best and singling out the most important trends from the runways of New York, London, Milan, and Paris. Even though we have all seen the collections, putting it together this way and at this time, with its focus on the most important and salable trends, ideas, and best bets of the season, allows us to see it from a different perspective and with a little more perspective. Her slides are fabulous and she certainly has a unique way with words which makes it both informative and entertaining.

At the end, Marylou summed it all up with her list of “Best Bets”, those items most likely to translate successfully from the runway to reality this season:Coats (the trench, the belted coat); Capes; Blankets; Ponchos; Jackets (particularly the longer jacket); Skirts (the mini, the high rise pencil); Pants (cigarette pants, the pleated pant); Sweaters (the cable; the oversized sweater); New Day, New Night (day for night, night for day dressing); Leather and Shearling; The scarf (particularly the long scarf); Belts; Bags (the logo bag, the belt bag); Shoes (the chunky sneaker, the pointy toed pump) Boots (the Western boot, the lace-up boot); Hats (the wide brimmed hat); Jewelry (statement necklaces and earrings).

She also pointed out that fashion is always looking to the future, for The Next Big Thing and these are the designers who are destined for stardom: Marine Serre, Matthew Adams Dolan, Marina Moscone, Matty Bovan and Richard Quinn (Queen Elizabeth 11 went to his show.)

The noontime showing had the added benefit of the panel discussion that followed (there was an encore at 2 p.m. that played out via a taped version of the live event). The panelists were Alex Badia, Style Director, men’s and women’s, WWD; Megan Hayes, Editorial Director, Moda Operandi; Erica Russo, Bloomingdale’s Operating Vice President and Fashion Director of accessories and cosmetics; Angelique Serrano, Beauty Director, InStyle Magazine. The Special Guest Moderator was Ken Downing, Senior Vice President and Fashion Director, Neiman Marcus.

Marylou observed that nobody sees more designer offerings in one season, no one chats with more front rowers, no one talks with more designers backstage, and no one has more direct contact with consumers of luxury merchandise than the singularly informed Ken Downing. He is “connected and has connections” and has many ideas about the fashion show system, particularly as it applies to New York Fashion Week. Right after he exclaimed “What a BIG season! Big ideas, big shoulders, big hair; it’s all about the 80’s”, he wasted no time asking the panelists to weigh in on how to stay relevant, the relevancy of the fashion shows, and the proposed changes to the Fashion Calendar.

KD (Ken Downing): Do you have any thoughts Alex?
AB (Alex Badia): No, I don’t.
KD: You never have a problem expressing yourself when I see you in the front row, he chided. Come on, express yourself, speak up!
AB: We are trying so many new things. There is a lot of confusion right now. We just need to go for the ride and suffer. Go for the ride and see what happens.
MH: (Megan Hayes): If you cover both men’s and women’s, it is a full year. Most importantly, the question that needs to be addressed is what the purpose of the shows is. Who are they for? Some designers, like Rag & Bone, are moving away from show formats. A formal show may not be relevant for some.
KD: We have to embrace change and try as many things as possible. There are different solutions. There is no one silver bullet for every brand.
ER: (Erica Russo): I personally love shows. Accessories finish the look and give clothes a new look and you best see this at a live fashion show.
AS: (Angelique Serrano): I agree. Runways are inspiring. I personally want a show. I want to be inspired. It’s a crowded market in beauty and the runways are inspiring. It brings the beauty to life.
KD: There is an emotional factor. We are all in this business because of our dedication to passion. Creating a dream is what moves fashion forward. As Marylou showed in her fabulous trend report, there are no seasons anymore. It’s all about buying clothes that have an emotional pull. It’s about that amazing piece. People don’t go into stores asking, “What’s new for fall?” They want that amazing piece.
MH: We are willing to wait for something if it’s great. What’s the point of buying something if we are content with what’s in our closets?
KD: We don’t want content women, or men for that matter! (That received a big laugh from the audience).
MH: Fashion is transformative. It enables you to dress how you feel. That is what is so exciting.  Gucci's Alessandro Michele has to be given credit for this.
KD: It’s all about the immediacy of the moment. Getting immediate satisfaction with transformative pieces that make you feel good.
ER: It sometimes surprises us that it is the crazy pieces that do well because they are transformative. 
KD: A common taste level doesn’t work anymore. The customer wants something rare and unexpected. A agree that Alessandro Michele gets the credit for this.
AS: I love that there is more individuality in the beauty market. Everything screams, “I want to be ME!”
KD: One thing we have to be proud of here in New York is the diversity on the runways. All body types, ages, ethnicities, genders, etc., are being celebrated. It’s not about perfection. It’s about being natural. Natural hair feels so right. Natural body types feel right.
AB: On shoots, there is more collaboration with models. I find myself listening to models more and more and getting their ideas on style. I often use the models’ jewelry.
KD: Imperfect feels better right now. I often mix the models own jewelry with pieces for a shooting as it makes it more believable and authentic. Sustainability is such a huge part of the conversation now.
MH: Yes, there is an increasing emphasis on the organic. It’s about education and technology. As retailers we want the customer to be inspired. It’s all about giving excellent customer service, giving the customer something that feels unique, and showing concern about the environment. It’s all about emotion.
KD: I have to credit the Millennials with the drive for sustainability. I am not a millennial but I think like one. The customer is increasingly focused on how things are produced; the packaging, how it was made, who made it, etc. It’s the whole package.
ER: Sustainability is more important than ever. It’s all about the ecosystem and the fashion industry is making that happen.
AB: We are always looking for the message. Millennials want transparency. Companies need to be super honest and super transparent. Are workers being paid well? What are the working conditions? It is all important.
KD: What about real vs. faux furs?
AB: Do you think it’s believable that Donatella is now against using real fur?
KD: I think you have to stand for something and if she believes in that, she should stand up for that.
MH: Taking a strong stand is important. Companies need to have a strong message, like Everlane (the San Francisco based company is a leader in sustainable apparel and pricing transparency).
KD: If you believe it, say it, own, it. There are still designers (some young and up and coming) who are embracing fur. As I said, if you believe it, say it, own it!
AB: Donatella is a role model now. She is changing the conversation of her brand.
KD: In the beauty industry, it is so much about organic.
AS: Beauty and wellness; this market is exploding. Transparency will be the key.
KD: Before buying anything, the customer has so much information at their fingertips.
ER: It is a 360 degree world of information now.
KD: We all need to take greater risks. As retailers, we need to make big leaps forward. Safe is not what we need now. For example, when there is a trend towards casual, the pendulum will always come back to a more dressed up look. It is always cyclical. There has been such a focus on casual dressed down streetwear for so long, but I have been pushing tailoring.
AB: The young generation is discovering this because streetwear has been such a big thing for so long.
KD: I have been pushing tailoring. I really love a power pantsuit. If you saw the fashion influencers at the recent fashion shows (Kendall, Gigi, etc.) they were all in pantsuits.
MH: I agree and this shift is exciting. I refer to this category as ‘the new daywear’. It is not just about evening wear because how many women go to big galas every night? Streetwear could mean many things. I personally want to get more dressed up than just jeans and a t shirt. But that could mean many different things.
KD: I can tell you that the ‘power shoulder’ is definitely getting the customers’ attention (and across all age groups, including women in their 60’s who have been there the first time). Angelique, what are your beauty tips for wearing a pantsuit?
AS: I like playing it down a little, making it look less serious. A good brow and tousled hair! 
KD: I agree that it’s all about the brow! What are your top three favorite shows of the season?
AS: I loved Alexander McQueen for the fantasy and the power lip and Carolina Herrera (I loved her cat prints).
ER: Gucci still inspires; I loved the theatre of it. I also loved Paco Rabanne. It had great movement and the noisiest clothes. Marc Jacobs is always ahead of the curve.
MH: I agree with Paco Rabanne, I loved the mood and the noisy clothes! Marni was imaginative, with great colors and proportions and I loved that plastic trench! Calvin Klein: I loved the layers, the mixed purposes, the no rules. Dress as you want. It was very cool!
KD: Raf Simons continues to challenge our ideas of conventional beauty. I love his approach to tailoring and his takes on the pantsuit.
AB: Marc Jacobs and Calvin Klein were both such an experience. I never walked in popcorn before! And I loved Sacai’s hybrids (Chitose Abe is a master tailor) and the shoulder construction at Undercover.
KD: They all deliver on the dream that fashion promises.
After thanking the audience for their attendance, Ken thanked his panelists and ended with this thought, “We need our own talk show kids!”




- Marilyn Kirschner

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