Plus, their views on how this will affect fashion long-term.
This pandemic may fundamentally shift the way many of these businesses operate. Before all this, the fashion cycle was built on major fashion weeks across the world—designers were under pressure to design and produce at a rapid rate to keep up with everyone else. All these tent poles have been hindered by the current state of things, and their necessity has therefore been questioned, leaving the future of the industry in a bit of a haze. We decided to ask a few of our favorite designers to clear this up for us. These three industry veterans shared how they are getting along and their thoughts on the future of fashion.
Amy Smilovic of Tibi
“I think all of us need our emotions to settle before we really start putting things onto a sewing machine again.”
When they do think of production, their minds gravitate towards change. Smilovic and the Tibi team have been considering breaking from the fashion cycle for years, but have been struggling to find an appropriate time to get off the “hamster wheel.” “We were on such a drug of big e-commerce players and big orders and big department stores,” she says. Their new vision includes both producing less and producing better. She revealed to us that they are not afraid of a world without a fashion week and actually see it as a benefit for younger designers.
On a less fashion-centric note, the Tibi team set aside 1,500 pieces to distribute to healthcare workers through a nomination process. Each piece they sent included a handwritten note from someone on the team. They thought this was the best way to use their own resources to make a difference, and the benefits were much greater than they could have foreseen. Not only was the receiver thrilled, but the nominator was extremely grateful to be involved, along with the employees that got to have a hand in the process. “At least three people were really touched with each thing we sent out,” describes Smilovic. “We need that ripple effect right now.”
The team has edited their resort collection down to something comparable to a capsule to present to buyers. “It is not so easy because in November, when the people receive the collection, we don’t know how the world is going to be at that moment,” she says. However, her first and foremost concern is always her employees. “What I miss the most is the human connection with my team,” Tcherassi reveals. The company produces in Colombia, which has recently opened back up for production. They are currently using the production of face masks to keep those factories running.
“I believe that opportunity arises from crisis and creativity flourishes after calamity, so I believe we will see a sort of renaissance period for the industry. I look forward to seeing what my peers create in this post-pandemic world!”
The brand doesn’t produce an extravagant show for fashion week each season, but instead hosts a small presentation for buyers and editors to walk them through the newest collection—what many will be forced to do if fashion has to switch to a virtual medium. “We do this so that the product can be fully appreciated and also to establish a personal connection with all of those involved in the process,” explains Tcherassi. She and her team are actually pleased that the stupor of fashion week may be put on pause.
“Big shifts like this put everyone back to zero, and zero can be a great place to start from.”
They have redirected their social media completely in order to better engage with their community. “It came down to us wanting to be generous, loving, and open. We thought about the esprit de corps of our community and what they were needing from us at the time,” says Walker. The team has eased up on using the platform as a mechanism to sell product and instead has focused on sharing the stories of their followers.
The Karen Walker team has also been rearranging their priorities in terms of production. “I think this has really put the spotlight on questions like why, how much, who for, in what way,” says Walker, “all those questions fashion’s been asking of itself for some time but perhaps not fully actioning.” With regard to fashion week specifically, Walker is pleased that this “archaic” system could finally be put to rest. The team itself has not presented at fashion week in years.