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Why Fashion Revolution is a failed attempt to fight Fast Fashion

Let’s be honest. We. All. Agree. That fast fashion is unethical. And. We. All. Know. That fast fashion is bad. It’s made by children, in unsafe conditions, with polluting materials. And it’s cheap. And seriously, no one looks good in Primark outfits.

But while H&M and the misguided MIA successfully pirated Fashion Revolution’s Week with their own initiative based on the Recycling idea, we can’t help but point out that our green fashion friends are also misguided in their online outraged rants.

Of course H&M’s initiative is greenwashing. Of course it is commercial. But that’s the point. They are relevant because they are still doing business while addressing ethical topics.

On the other hand, Fashion Revolution’s community opposes : Questions. As if questions will change the game.

Sorry, but no. Business will change the game. The only way for the fashion industry to evolve is to improve business operations while including ethical and responsible decisions.

Many young ethical brands fail, because their brand is focusing too much on activism, marketing their fashion through its ethical quality only, while what sells for a fashion brand (however ethical it is) is design and trend relevance. And business efficiency.

If your brand uses great materials, names itself “green something”, and keeps tweeting about Fashion Revolution, but has not invested in : creative direction, production management and sales development. Then you will fail. And there will be no impact in complaining about H&M’s marketing games.

Ethical Fashion now needs investors. As an industry. Not ambassadors. It is not a cause anymore. If it remains one, it will be lost.whomademy-bg2

 

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Hedi Slimane, wild at heart

In 2006, for my final year of political sciences, I was writing an essay about how Rock and Roll was once a rebel culture and had since become a style for luxurious fashion brands. By 2006, Hedi Slimane had fully transformed contemporary fashion by re-inventing men’s fashion at Dior Homme. For the skinny jeans, all-black outfits and multiplication of loose tee-shirts on runways, fashion can thank Hedi.

Although I’ve never met him personnally, it seems like I’ve known him for a long time. In 2014, I was at Saint Laurent Paris showroom, in a venue which grandeur also matched its roughness. Le Grand Palais was the perfect shelter to Hedi Slimane’s collection, as he had joined the revolutionary (mark the word) and respectable parisian house less than a year before. Everything was manically branded. All-black pencils and notepads were handed out to buyers, refreshments came in the form of bottle of waters bearing the same all-black label, even the napkins were all-black. As a famous hip-hop moghul once said: all-black-everything. And that name stood out, in its white minimal glory: Saint. Laurent. Paris.

Every classy woman in the world must have gasped in 2013, when they saw their beloved YSL monogram disappear from the tags, to let the brand become Saint Laurent Paris, letting the first name Yves settle into history. The fashion industry had rarely seen such a drastic rebrand, even less so when it comes to iconic brands. But Hedi Slimane is a man of integrity and his vision requires revolutionary actions to fulfill his full potential.

Upon his appointment at Yves Saint Laurent as Creative Director, not only did he request a rebranding which would allow to transform the brand into a timeless concept which would keep a legacy of Yves Saint Laurent – what marketers would call its DNA – but which would also be free creatively. He also requested that the creative studio was moved from Paris to Los Angeles, at great costs for the company. Materials have to be shipped between the two cities as well as brand executives and staff.

The recent rumors of Hedi Slimane’s departure from Saint Laurent Paris, 3 years after his arrival have uncovered more about the controversial designer. His requirements were of course dramatic, but the brand grew a lot in return. Commercial success was definitely achieved, and even our market – Vietnam, will soon have its first Saint Laurent Paris store, opening in Union Square, Ho Chi Minh City.

While the suspense amounts on whether Hedi Slimane will stay at Saint Laurent, let’s review his contribution and how his design style has made a mark in our closets. Before he took the direction, Yves Saint Laurent was viewed as a traditional brand with great class and elegance, representing Parisian glamour. But most of us often forget how controversial Yves was. One of the two biographic films that have released in cinemas in the past years narrates Yves Saint Laurent’s carreer with all his personal struggles, related to his love life and different abuses. While we all know creative geniuses have their dark side, our culture nowadays tends to forget that drama fuels the designer’s imagination as well as our own fantasies.

With his grunge collection released within one year at Saint Laurent, worn by super-pale skinny models, styled with rough make-up and disheveled looks, Slimane reinvented the brand’s rebellious DNA. While Yves had emancipated Women by creating Ready-To-Wear collections in opposition to Couture, one could say Hedi has reinvented the concept of Woman, acknowledging that a woman was once a girl, and can be both at the same time.

While many brands such as Marc Jacobs had chosen to design for women then diverted a line for younger girls (Marc by), Saint Laurent is an integral brand, both for lolitas and youthful mothers. The Woman by Hedi Slimane is one who knows what she wants, but knows what to let go. Rock and Roll was initially dismissed as a “silly” youth culture, but we now know that it was truly a culture for the smart. Hedi Slimane has successfully rebuilt Saint Laurent, connecting it better to contemporary lifestyle and the rich cultures shared by his clients.

Powerful women wearing Saint Laurent are the ones who know their art, who can share coffee with writers, who invest in young talents – like Hedi who surrounds himself with up and coming talents as icons too, instead of chosing huge celebrities. Whether we’d like to wear torn jeans or not is not really the matter when it comes to understanding Hedi Slimane’s collections.

It is all about feeling empowered and meaningful. The style is loud and uncompromising. Saint Laurent is what Yves Saint Laurent was: a haven for creative explosion and total control of your identity.

Who are the most admired people in the world? The ones who are true to their heart, faithful to their mission. This is the essence of Hedi Slimane’s work: to pursue a wild path of creation, where cricticism and controversy means you matter.

For us, wearing Saint Laurent is a statement of boldness and honesty.

I may not always be a fan of Hedi Slimane’s collections at Saint Laurent. But I can say that I admire the energy, the confidence and the intelligence that transpires from the women he dresses up.

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“Fast and Furious Fashion” – the ascension of Anthony Vaccarello

When Saint Laurent Paris announced the introduction of Anthony Vaccarello as the new Creative Director of the brand following Hedi Slimane’s exit, my curiosity was piqued by a friend’s anecdote on Facebook.

Victoria, a former “ticket girl” at Lambert & Associates – a leading fashion office and trends spotter agency with clients such as Neiman Marcus or Bergdorf Goodman, commented on the nomination with a throwback to 2013.

“And then you remember yourself calling this guy a few years ago and hear him explain as calmly as possible that no he didn’t get my messages and has no idea what urgent matter I am talking about because he is alone and going crazy.”

The urgent matter was a seating issue for his upcoming show. As Victoria explained, the office scouts promising designers such as Vaccarello in 2013 and arranges for them to be seen by influential buyers. The other way around, department stores get an insightful update on what is going to break through in creativity and trends. Among the missions coordinated by the agency is the “ticket run”. Victoria was in charge of arranging seating plans for the show, and as one would expect, that is the most political and sensitive part of the Fashion Week Circus. Who gets front row? Who is going to cancel attendance to go grab a McDonald’s getaway? Who may be offended by this sudden change of plans?

Victoria’s comment reveals how fast and furious the fashion world can be. The big picture being within 3 years, a talented designer went from the struggles of independent label development to the pressure of a massive house’s legacy. In the details of the story, we can also witness a breathtaking disproportion between the investment necessary for a young designer label to develop (creative input, production management, PR support, sales pressure) and the actual scale of loneliness that one can experience.

With a whole industry looking at his work since 2010 and support provided, Anthony Vaccarello still felt alone at the helm of his label, hours before his shows. Will this experience help him coordinate the machinery that is Saint Laurent Paris?

Looking back at Hedi Slimane’s very specific habits as a director, we can only ask ourselves if his secret wasn’t that he mastered the loneliness of the designer so that it drove the brand forward.

While we wish Anthony Vaccarello all the success deserved at the helm of Saint Laurent Paris, we can’t help but be wary of the ongoing furiousness of designer’s life. At every level of the industry, it seems that they need more support, and not only from ticket girls.

 

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A worldwide tour of styles that Jules Verne would have loved

Letting go.

 

Two words that read like a welcome combination in response to an excess of pressure. Two words that are almost militant in these hyper-connected days. This is the impression that Marcela Makarova and her companion Philippe-Henry offer us in their travelling exhibition (and soon to be book) Around the World in 80 Styles. The idea? Navigate across continents in search of new styles, but also to tell the stories belonging to the many people they met. This interview with Marcela and Philippe-Henry took place at a rest stop between two destinations. We talked about photography, travel, and modern narratives…

 
“Street-style” sounds like a hackneyed discipline, especially given the glut of content available online and the circus of the hundreds of different Fashion Weeks. And yet, in your world tour, every style is striking. Is this more of an ethnographic study than a work about fashion?
Of course, our approach focuses on travel and discovery, so our editorial angle is very open in terms of the styles that we want to capture. Our only criteria was that the person’s style must call out to us, whether it is eccentric, traditional or fashionable. The originality of our photos also comes from our desire to capture both the person and the setting where we found them. To do this, we chose a wide-angle lens, allowing us to have the background and the person in the foreground both in focus. Each photograph is thus both a portrait – an encounter – and an invitation to travel, given the environment and the context.

What were the criteria to keep the best portraits?

It depended on each part of our project. During the trip, we were writing columns for a couple of web magazines and the choice of pictures was quite large in order to illustrate our impressions of each country. From one photo to another, a journey would unfold in front of the readers’ eyes.

In the book, the series takes on its full meaning; the portraits resonate with each other and allow for a glimpse of the world through clothing style.

Finally, for the exhibition, we privileged the photos that were the most striking visually.

 

You show that there is still room for original stories. What advice would you give aspiring photographers?

I’m not sure that we are legitimate enough to give advice. We wanted to have a project to complete throughout our trip, but in conditions that suited us. And we wanted it to remain fun. Telling a trip, or rather having people travel through portraits, or photos, seemed like an interesting and feasible idea.

 

Does working as a couple bring a different perspective to the photographs you take?

For us, working as a duo was essential from the earliest stages of the project. When we’re shooting, it allows for a second opinion, and thus helps us avoid certain errors related to the urgency of shooting on the street. It also allowed us to divide up tasks: one of us was taking photos while the other was asking questions and taking notes, leaving us the opportunity to create a link and make real encounters. For everything else, working together also provides two complementary perspectives, and therefore inevitably enriches the content and result.

 

When are you hitting the road again ?
Every time we travel, we naturally continue to make portraits. However, right now, we are focussing on our exhibitions in France and putting a book together. We’re also already working on some new ideas… to be continued.

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The LED shoes phenomenon: when dance meets Instagram

Remember L.A. Gear shoes? The “street” brand with funny LED that would enlighten kids’ walks?

 

The light-shoes phenomenon is back on track, thanks to the so-called “LED shoes”. Highly popular in Germany, but also in Asia, it’s booming since last November. Apparently, Soulja Boy was one of the very first to launch some cool products, but got a pretty tough review from Complex.

 

Dance meets Instagram

basket-ledLED shoes are made for Instagram

Dancers love LED shoes, as it’s a way to promote their amazing moves in social networks. The energy of their steps is sublimed by LED, which can really highlight on small screens what they’re doing. An easy and DIY FX, so to say.

 

Chill #girlsthatshuffle #cuttingshapes #shufflenyc #globalshapes #ledshoes A video posted by Natasha Ashby (@tashanaomi) on

The most popular item seems to be a white pair of sneakers; white is cool as it’s better to “absorb” the LED colours. The shoes have a USB system to charge their batteries. Smart shoes for smart people.

DIY communities love them

It’s possible to buy LED online, to customize the sneakers. On YouTube, there are tons of tutorials to make the most amazing LED sneakers.

 

Many websites are launching, so customize more classic sneakers like Nike Air.

It’s funny to see that LED is a sort of fashion phoenix, appearing many times in the recent history, from Tecktonik to Smurf.

It you’re fan of LED shoes and have some cool Instagram pictures, share them!

 

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Falcon Haters gotta hate Yeezy Season 2

This morning, it’s very interesting to witness two diametrically opposite responses of high-profile fashion editors to Kanye West’s new collection with Adidas Originals.

On one hand, the patronising lady of the institutional NY Mag – Cathy Horyn – went all in on Kanye West by dismissing the collection in two mere paragraphs that one could boil down to:

  • a comment that is borderline or quite straight-forward racist, playing on the trendy WASP fear of (racial) riots, or the result of the impressive stage play for All Day at the 2015 Brit Awards who knows?

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  • a somewhat twisted fiction (sick addiction?) of conspiracy that leads straight to condescension, without much of a cultural or aesthetical analysis

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On the other hand, the playful and open-minded Andre Leon Talley gave Kanye West a chance to explain briefly his vision, leaving the audience to judge whether any of this makes sense or not.

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Does that make Yeezy an all-the-more interesting candidate for Presidency? Seeing the flak Conservative editors such as Cathy Horyn gave him, we definitely think he deserves to stir the debate on the bigger stage of politics where bright minds like Donald Trump can fire shots at him with all the shameless racism involved.

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“Here now”, by Gregg Araki for KENZO

It’s unbelievable how Kenzo is now a visionary compared to its competitors. While a lot of brands keep doing the same old boring ads, highlighting bored models in a bored black and white city, or sometimes showcasing some celebrities du moment, Kenzo dares to highlight a short-documentary led by one of the icons of gay and lesbian culture.

Nous avons fait appel au réalisateur américain Gregg Araki, un des pionniers du cinéma indépendant gay et lesbien, pour …

Posted by KENZO on Sunday, 6 September 2015

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Yeezy, SEASON 2, is coming

A hardcore developer matching a hardcore brand…enjoy the only info we go in the code:

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builtbylane.com x davidbaker.tv ϟ made in brooklyn
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A history of modern lingerie with Margot Pagès, designer of Miroir de Muses

The world of ladies’ underwear has managed to find a unique niche all of its own, continually adapting to women’s everyday needs so that it can seduce in the boudoir with a thousand layers of lace while winning friends in the gym by providing comfortable clothing for sporty women.  It would be a mistake to think of lingerie as something that is only made for a woman’s partner; first and foremost, it is made for women.  Does it serve to build women’s self-confidence, show their true personalities or just act as a small indulgence?  Surely, it’s a little of all three!  We were lucky enough to meet with Margot Pagès, the founder of Miroir de Muses to learn a little more about this delightful topic.

You refer to a link between the feminist revolution and lingerie: what connects the two worlds?

Lingerie is much more than a mere item of clothing: it is a symbol of femininity.  Just a few centimetres of cloth can still have a lot to say!  Lingerie also says as much about our most intimate relationship – that with ourselves – as much as it does about seduction and our relationships with others.  It’s hardly surprising therefore that underwear has always been closely linked with the history of women’s liberation, acting either as a catalyst for change or reflecting that social change.  In the 1920s, the bra became a symbol of women’s emancipation because it freed women from imprisonment in corsets.  The tomboy look was in fashion and the bra was used to “conceal” the chest with a view to covering up the differences between the genders in an act of rebellion against the constraints that society imposed on women.  This quest for women’s independence was, however, put on the back burner during the austere periods of the Great Depression followed by World War II, but from the 1950s onward women once again turned to their bras as “tools” of emancipation.  The push-up bra and the conical bra were invented to propagate the look of Hollywood icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Lauren and Elizabeth Taylor, who embodied the image of liberated women who embraced and enjoyed their seductive power.

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By the 1970s however, the bra had come to be seen as an enemy, as a tool that allowed women to be objectified as part of men’s fantasies.  Feminists burned their bras on the barricades (in reality, they just threw their bras in a rubbish bin as a symbol of freedom).  As ever in this world of constant change, the bra returned in the 1980s in force, at a time when Chantal Thomas launched ultra-sexy, ultra-feminine corsets and other decorative lingerie as a potent symbol of femininity.  Since then, brands have gone all out to emphasise eroticism and seduction.

This was the start of the fashion for padded and push-up bras, when advertising began to feature images of a demanding woman who was comfortable about putting her own needs first and who was in control of her sexuality.  However, it seems that the media once again went too far in focusing on men’s satisfaction and today’s women have distanced themselves from this depiction of women.  They no longer recognise themselves in the ultra-sexy, artificial image that some advertising depicts, to the extent that some women will have lost interest altogether.

What we are observing today is a new turning point in the movement, which moves in a spiral rather than abruptly switching direction, as it shifts from celebrating femininity to downplaying it.  Today’s women identify with a kind of sensuality that is more authentic but just as clearly expressed.  Lessons in the art of seduction are over.  There’s no need to challenge, to provoke, or to prove anything: women feel fulfilled in their sexuality and naturally know how to be sexy.  Lingerie only needs to connect her with her innate sensuality.

Modern women can pick and choose from different forms of femininity at will to express themselves, and can enjoy lingerie for its own sake and not just as a tool of seduction.  They can, for instance, select a suspender belt and wear it to work simply for the pleasure of feeling like a woman – without anyone knowing it.  They can wear a body and jeans at weekends and reveal a delicate lacy number underneath a blouse in the evening – always maintaining a cheeky sense of freedom!

When putting together the Miroir de Muses fine lingerie concept store, I selected pieces that were in harmony with this new way of experiencing femininity.  The designs always feature a theme of subtlety and seductiveness with delicate, comfortable material and a perfect finish to give a piece that enables women to combine elegance, sensuality and dynamism.

There’s been a resurgence in the world of designer lingerie: what’s behind this explosion in the numbers of labels and designers?

This resurgence is closely linked with this desire to express this new impetus, this new way of experiencing femininity.  Lingerie is increasingly gaining recognition as a fashion accessory in its own right, which has attracted young, talented designers.  These new designers draw their inspiration more from the world of ready-to-wear fashion than from traditional lingerie labels.  In any event, I’m happy to have the opportunity to discover new talents on such a regular basis.  The sector is booming and that makes it exciting!

How is designing lingerie different from creating other items?

Items of lingerie are highly technical pieces.  They demand a lot more precision to ensure a comfortable, flattering and precise fit.  The designer has to get it right down to the last millimetre!  That is why, as a buyer, I have to be sure that the label has complete mastery of the specific techniques involved in lingerie manufacture, and the only way to do that is to test the products by having several women try them on.  Only pieces that meet my standards of comfort and style are chosen.

What should ideally be worn with your products?

The hyper-eroticism surrounding lingerie that I’ve just described has contributed to the underwear drawer being split into two sections: one side reserved for seductive, alluring and whimsical pieces, and another for simple everyday pieces that have little to commend them.  It is as if there were two women: by day, a woman who is devoted to work and in the evening, a woman who is devoted to her man.  On the other hand, lingerie from Miroir de Muses can be worn in the day or at night as a constant reminder to women of their beauty and their allure.

One of my criteria for choosing a product is whether it is easy to wear underneath outer clothes.  There shouldn’t be any pointless (and outmoded) ribbons or froufrou that would confine the item to the bedroom.  It is important to understand that lingerie is the foundation for the figure and that the shape of the bra should suit the style of clothing worn above it.  For example, a conical bra looks stunning beneath a blouse, while a balconette shape looks beautiful underneath a square neckline, while a push-up bra makes a big difference beneath a sweater.  The Miroir de Muses blog is full of fashion tips to help you achieve zero fashion faux pas where lingerie is concerned!

What would you like to achieve in the future?

I’d like to continue to be able to do what I love, and to continue to pursue my project.  I’m right at the start of my business adventure at the moment and I’d like to be able to put a team together quite quickly.  I’ve already identified some talented, enthusiastic people, so please join me in hoping that sales take off and I can start hiring quickly!  I’d also like to see the Muse community grow, so that there can be real discussions and sharing of ideas around the values that shape our concepts of fashion and femininity.

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Hana Tajima x Uniqlo: modest fashion with spirited designs

On 3 July 2015, UNIQLO launched a special modest wear collection, elaborated in collaboration with designer and fashion magician, Hana Tajima. The UNIQLO X Hana Tajima Collection is available exclusively at UNIQLO 313@Somerset and the online store.

We had a chance to meet and interview Hana Tajima in 2013, when she declared that “there has been a reawakening of personal creative expression in young Muslim women“.

In line with UNIQLO’s LifeWear concept, the collection is designed to meet the needs of women who value comfortable and relaxed wear.

“The Hana Tajima collection is an extension of our LifeWear concept in making fashionable, high quality products for all to wear, while enhancing their lifestyle at the same time. We worked with Hana to determine what would be internationally appealing while keeping to the concept of modest wear. We are thrilled with the results of this unique collaboration which produced a desirable collection that does not sacrifice style for utmost comfort!”

Mr. Taku MORIKAWA, Chief Executive Officer, UNIQLO Singapore

This inaugural collection takes inspiration from an international approach in appreciation of diverse culture and style. There’s also a certain focus on technology for this range of outfits; for instance TENCEL, “a soft, botanically derived, wrinkle-resistant fiber is also used, as well as AIRism, which is a quick drying, odour minimising fabric which was developed by Uniqlo in collaboration with Toray“.

Modest fashion: challenging conservative rules

It’s been written everywhere that modest fashion target conservative young Muslims. To my mind, it’s somehow wrong; in a recent documentary on the BBC “Hight Street Hijabis“, we follow YouTube sensation Nabiilabee with her friends, discussing about modest fashion, religion and lifestyle. It’s far more complex than just a style for religious people; actually, in this documentary, Nabiilabee is facing Fatima Barkatulla, Islamic Scholar and Director of Seeds of Change Women’s conference, who warns V-loggers of pushing the limit of fashion vs faith.

“Hijab is an act of worship”

A real generation divide who doesn’t want to be dictated what one’s faith is about. The group of young women all have a different definition of what “modest” means: is it ok to have bright colours or not? What’s the normal size for a modest shirt?

And actually, the only consensus is to mention that “modest” is more a lifestyle than a set of outfits: at the end, it’s all a question of attitude towards others and life than any mandatory guideline.

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