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A Fashion Review as Dumb as Trump #YeezySeason4

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WWD casually dropped a raging review against Kanye West‘s latest fashion show, signed by Jessica Iredale. While criticising the design work is necessary, and we’d expect the review to address conceptual approach, cultural relevance and crafting demands, the journalist focuses instead on attacking Kanye’s position in the industry.

Iredale’s point is probably that West is a fraud. But we actually feel her intentions are worse. Her bottom line reads:

“Someone make it stop”.

Does she sound like a rape victim? Yes. Here is some more curious material:

“We’ve been world-class enablers of Kanye West, allowing him to put us at his mercy.”

Does this sound like the complain of a conservative politicians regarding crime committed by poor people of color and refugees? Yes.

While we’re very careful of not edging too easily on the trendy outrage against white privilege, we can’t help but see this other comment as demeaning and condescending: “This is behaviour that would not be tolerated from true design visionaries”.

Would this statement sound original in the mouth of a 19th century cotton field Missus? Kind of.

While we attempt to snap back to the usually more trivial field of fashion, we realise criticism of Season 4 only relies on Iredale’s perception that everything is boring and deja-vu. Suddenly, the journalist feels entitled to declare the rule of good fashion: it should be novelty and surprising. How sad this is for creative criticism, we can’t begin to describe.

In conclusion, there are many consequences and topics to pull from “Whatever political or cultural statement West was trying to make by casting only black models for his show”, including the fact that curiously some audiences have uproared at the consideration that “multiracial women only” meant mixed-ethnicities, but Ms Iredale simplifies and calls these models black.

The fashion world is getting dumber, and we have to say, maybe Kanye West is actually proving the contrary by letting the Trump and Dumbers call themselves out.

According to WWD's journalist: this is a "black model". Photo: Hypebeast
According to WWD’s journalist: this is a “black model”. Photo: Hypebeast

 

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Are Adidas NMDs over-rated?

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Not one days seems to pass without a notification of a new NMD release.

The range seems to be endless: new colors, new materials, new variants. But at the same time, none is ever really available.

Adidas and sneakerheads may feel this is exclusivity, therefore it is desirability, therefore it is a relevant product.

But looking at the streets (even more here in Asia – where counterfeits are legion), NMDs are already everywhere, contradicting the idea seeded by the SOLD OUT tags that this must-have is rare.

Somehow, Adidas seems to have created a mutant product: part Air Max for its ubiquitious success, part Yeezy for its limited assortment.

So should most discerning style men find a way to cop their own pair of NMDs? Not so sure.

I’ve walked around Atlanta, Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City with a pair of widely available Tubular X Primeknit, and somehow caught great attention and awe from bystanders and friends. Had I run around the same places with a pair of NMDs, I would have looked like any other desperate consumer. Sorry fuccbois.

Faux-Rarity is already over-rated.

 

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Why Fashion Revolution is a failed attempt to fight Fast Fashion

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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.

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Hedi Slimane, wild at heart

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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

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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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Falcon Haters gotta hate Yeezy Season 2

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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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Instagram account to follow : @thescooterist

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Put together energy and passion of youth, a sparking duo of lovers, a country with unrevealed beauty, a bunch of vingtage Vespas, a stylish gang, and you have probably the most exciting Instagram account in Vietnam.

TheScooterist is the account that documents the adventures and inspirations of two young photographers, taking on the road and giving a unique cool touch to wedding photography along their way.

Cheer for the nice view. #vespa #vesparally #vespavietnam #vespaadventure #scooterist #thescooterist

A photo posted by Đá Nguyễn aka The Scooterist (@indiephotography.vn) on

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Unboxing Brand : Acne Studios

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Brand Concept

Rational: Acne Studios have evolved from a division of a multi-disciplinary creative company into an independent luxury fashion house. The brand offers ready-to-wear collections for men and women, as well as footwear, accessories and denim. The brand is characterized by specific attention to details, and innovative choices in tailoring and materials. Acne Studios clients are high-end consumers looking for strong differentiation. The brand is associated with a laid-back lifestyle of sophisticated people – picture creative professionals playing the street-slouchy card.

Emotional: Acne Studios offers a creative edge that is hinged on all the cultural shifts that the brand interprets. The brand ambitions to give creative expressions to relevant ideas that come from actual people. Democracy and participation in the creative process is at the heart of the brand. For the customer, that means Acne Studios offers a product that is very close to each individual’s own insights.

Visual Identity

Core Assets: Acne Studios recently adopted a new identity, based most strikingly on a change of logotype. The original typeface was a custom version of Times Modern (serif), conveying classicism with a twist, and only typed Acne. The brand has since detached into several entities, and the fashion house added “Studios”. The new logotype is much more minimal and contemporary (sans serif), with bold spacing, suggesting room for creativity and innovation, as well as hinting at a standard for a new generation of luxury brands.

Image: Acne Studios is perceived as an edgy designer brand, and communicates with a subtle mix of luxury codes and street-smart codes. Sophistication in the details and boldness of little things seem to be the key to the brand image. Still, the brand is identified as a go-to, reliable provider of basics to mix and match with more status-proving brands.

 

Brand Rating

A+

Acne Studios have made a relevant move in evolving its visual identity to become a better vehicle for its recently found new brand position. A leader of trends, challenging perceptions and social concepts, innovating but always respecting the fundamentals.

 

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New Brand To Watch – Bazar-14

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BAZAR-14 is an independent British label launched in 2014.
Taking inspiration from Russian youth and thug culture – the signature Cyrillic-street handwriting and bold geometric aesthetic has become instantly recognisable.
BAZAR-14 has become unique in its uncompromising facelessness, challenging the status quo amongst emerging British menswear brands to rely on a designer ambassador.

Quickly establishing a high profile customer base it has been consistently supported by urban talent emerging artists including A$AP Rocky, Rihanna, Skepta, Wiz Khalifa, Lil Wayne, Drake, Wiley and A$AP Ferg amongst others.

 

 

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Inbox : Colette x Fricote, Sperry x YMC

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Indie french brand OLOW has invited illustrator Jean Jullien (also famous for his #jesuischarlie sketch) to co-produce a limited edition tee-shirt about gastronomy. Food and Design expert magazine Fricote is of course in the mix, supporting the launch of the tee at Colette. The artist will attend to the launching event on June 22nd at the unmistakable concept store, rue Saint-Honore.

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While one of our favorite brands – Band of Outsiders – is folding, other youthful preppy and heritage brands strike alliances to keep the style alive. We received a note about this interesting Sperry x YMC collaboration.

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