Trends driving the fashion industry go beyond face value.
The fashion industry by nature is ever evolving, but the trends extend beyond just what trouser length and It-bag are in vogue this season. In this multibillion-dollar global industry, macro movements drive the consumer behaviour we see on a small scale.
01 MEDIA MAXIMISATION For brands to thrive, they need to grasp the multimedia nature of the industry and use numerous channels to create content to reach their audiences. This is no different for fashion, where creating platforms for different voices and offering a layered experience is part of their offering. Illustrating how important it is to diversify, the Bokeh South African International Fashion Film Festival is shifting up a gear in its fifth year to expand into lifestyle, music and technology (in addition to its core pillars of fashion and film). With the launch of a TV show, too, the festival founders are growing the platform for young and local talent. Through sponsorships by brands like Mercedes-Benz, the organisation is further able to promote innovation and creative excellence while fostering emerging talent.
02 – 03 CULTURAL CAPITAL These days, luxury brands have to demonstrate accountability to be taken seriously, be it on a community level or in terms of sustainability. Standing for something is an essential element of a successful package, and this can translate into a number of ways of giving back. Luxury luggage designer Missibaba has collaborated with Mami Wata on a custom surfboard bag design in aid of youth surf therapy NPO Waves For Change, which works at five sites in South Africa and one in Liberia. Proceeds from the sale of the surfboard bag will be used to fund the construction of a new Waves For Change clubhouse in Harper, Liberia. Further afield, Chanel’s recent pledge to renovate the Grand Palais – a site closely linked to the fashion house – shows its commitment to Paris and the cultural heritage of the city that defines the luxury maison. The €25 million contribution will aid in the renovation project, scheduled to begin in December 2020 and culminate in 2024, with a partial reopening in 2023. This isn’t the only initiative Chanel is supporting – the brand is also the exclusive sponsor for the creation of permanent exhibition spaces in the Palais Galliera, the Fashion Museum of the City of Paris, and will build a new complex to honour its Paris-based Métiers d’Art, highlighting its desire to support the city’s status as a leading cultural space.
04 STAR POWER A luxury company is only as powerful as the people wearing it. While this is nothing new, the impact of brand ambassadors has dramatically increased in direct relation to the rise of social media as a publicity tool. Selecting the right face and name as representation can transform a brand’s audience and perception – resulting in a better bottom line. Omega’s recent addition of model Kaia Gerber to the fold as ambassador for a new Trésor collection introduces the brand to a new generation. Iconic ’90s model and businesswoman Cindy Crawford has been involved with Omega for 20 years, and enlisting her daughter Kaia and the enormous social media following that comes with her was a masterstroke by the company. They went one step further with a recent campaign featuring the collective star power of the whole Gerber family.
05 – 06 RETAIL REBIRTH Trends move in swings and roundabouts. One trend will always precipitate another in reaction to it. One such example is the return to a focus on retail shopping by luxury brands as a response to the explosion of online commerce. Realising that they’re able to offer exclusive experiences that are absent online and that transcend the simple transaction of buying something, brands like Louis Vuitton have stepped up their physical retail game to draw customers back into stores. The venerable French brand’s new multilevel Place Vendôme flagship in Paris is a monument to all things Vuitton, celebrating the art of shopping at a level that few other retail spaces around the world have achieved. Showcasing its heritage (the Place Vendôme is, after all, where the founder opened his first trunk shop 160 years ago), architect and long-time Vuitton collaborator Peter Marino has provided a modern twist to a literal journey through the brand over various floors – from womenswear and menswear to accessories, the Objects Nomads collection, to specially curated artwork and the historical trunk collection. The space is designed to delight and celebrate old and new in true exciting Marino style, making a real case for bricks-and-mortar retail over online.
07 – 08 THE RISE OF REAL In the past, luxury brands have leaned towards selling a glossy lifestyle to their consumers. The backlash of this long-term focus on glamour and one-upmanship is a demand by consumers for a return to realness and a sense of authenticity that’s aspirational rather than envy-inducing. Brands like Panerai are heroing leaders in their fields rather than celebrities in campaigns that celebrate talent and excellence rather than fame. For its Traits series, the Richmond subsidiary put together a selection of personalities, including photographer Jason Peterson (left), professional free diver Guillaume Néry (below), Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura and designer Costas Voyatzis to celebrate Panerai within the context of their work and lifestyles. The four beautifully shot chapters feature various timepieces, and their focus on real people living their lives makes the brand infinitely more relatable.
09 – 10 THE AFRICA FACTOR Eyes are increasingly turning to the African continent. This time, it’s not just for aesthetic inspiration – as was all too common in the past – but for collaborative design opportunities available in the vast resources of untapped talent. Designers like Trevor Stuurman are making great strides in raising the profile of African creativity, and specifically South African designers, with a forward-thinking approach. A recent campaign by Dutch brand Vlisco features images from a photo booth set up by Stuurman at the One Source Live festival in Johannesburg, an event celebrating the transformative power of African creativity in music, fashion, art and photography. The striking visuals showcase African style in garments made with Vlisco fabrics, presenting a perspective of fashion on the continent that does away with outdated faux-tribal clichés. Another recent project by Stuurman, in collaboration with local millinery brand Simon and Mary, offers an equally contemporary and nonstereotypical slant on the fashion industry in Africa – one that’s progressive and on par with international trends.
TEXT Julia Freemantle PHOTOGRAPHS Earl Abrahams, Olivier Saillant, Jason Peters, supplied