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Digital pressures on the fashion industry — a new show cycle and a more complicated logistics process — have trickled down to the designers themselves. A string of high-profile departures from creative directors last year were caused, say observers, by the increasing “designer burnout” in the industry.
In this week’s Glossy Podcast, we brought on Timo Weiland, co-founder of his eponymous brand, to discuss how a relatively new designer gets affected by an industry in turmoil. Joining him is Steven Kolb, CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which hopes to be the guiding light for many of these designers.
Edited highlights below.
Too many people want to be designers
The saturation in social media and an increased pop cultural interest in fashion has convinced too many people that they can be designers, said Kolb. “It’s this notion that if you like fashion you become a creative director,” he said. There are exceptions: The Row, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s company, did well because the designers put aside their actress careers to the side, he said. “It’s about learning, not just slapping your name on something.”
And that means more pressure for successful designers
Weiland, who said his work is all about simple, wearable and classic designs has found that establishing an identity becomes harder because of the increased competition and saturation. He makes efforts to go to seminars and hire many interns. But he’s turned off by how distracted so many of them seem. They say, “’I’m interested in PR and design’,” he said. “And I just say ‘no’.” The problem becomes one of lack of focus amid too much excitement.
See-now buy-now isn’t the big change everyone thinks it is
Designers are “directly impacted” by the shift in fashion calendars, said Weiland, who said he’s paying more attention to forecasting and data — and creating a more cohesive “signature look.” But Kolb said that people make the shift more complicated than it needs to be. So if a designer is showing a Spring collection in September, he can still show to editors and buyers and embargo the images, or release a smattering of them as a “preview” before showing Fall clothes to consumers at the same time. So things are actually pretty much business as usual, just on a smaller scale. “There is an argument because this is a bad idea because trends won’t evolve,” he said. “But that’s not true because it is happening just in a smaller way.”
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