Business of fashion

Quote of the day: Douglas Keeve on Unzipped



Unzipped Isaac Mizrahi

“There were all these small designers who were kind of mad geniuses doing what they wanted, and it was about the beauty of [fashion]. And it went from creativity to commerce; now it’s all commerce—it’s all about numbers and [the] bottom line and focus groups. That’s what drives fashion now. It’s different worlds. It’s just different. It doesn’t mean there aren’t great people out there; it means that the business of fashion has superseded the art.”

Director Douglas Keeve on the 25th anniversary of his Unzipped documentary. This conversation between him and designer Isaac Mizrahi in Vogue is a delight!

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGE: Unzipped
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links* and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

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Retail reset: is Nike’s House of Innovation the answer?



Vogue Paris Nike by Geordie Wood

While it’s doom and gloom in the world of retail (Selfridges is letting 450 staff go), I can’t help believing that there’s still life in the physical retail model. And now is the perfect time for some fresh thinking.

Nike has just built its new Paris flagship, a ‘House of Innovation’ (below) serving as a temple for its most loyal worshippers. As it moves away from the wholesale model to focus on selling directly to these loyalists from its own stores, its goal is to focus on full price products that die-hards don’t mind paying for.

Sounds like a good move. Despite being decidedly unsporty, NikeTown has always been one of my favourite retail destinations. Cathy Sparks, global vice president and general manager of Nike Direct stores hinted that Oxford Street’s NikeTown store will be next for the House of Innovation treatment.

Nike House of Innovation Paris

In other retail news, what happened to curation? A Continuous Lean has this deep dive into how to make J Crew great again, reminiscing about its game-changing days of perfectly chosen brand collabs. Unfortunately, too many competitors leapt onto this playbook bandwagon and J Crew failed to maintain its pace ahead of that curve. Now that retailers are dropping like flies, it would be a good time to see some truly selective buying to help stores stand out in the market. Maybe it’s time for buyers to trust their instincts and not just what’s trending on Instagram.

And another reason online isn’t the be all and end all: bots. Vogue Business reports on the nightmare scenario for accessible luxury brand, Telfar. No sooner had it restocked its signature $150 bags online, than a swarm of bots bought them all and instantly ‘flipped’ them at twice the price, crashing the Telfar site in the process. Not luxe!

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Nike by Geordie Wood for Vogue Paris; Nike House of Innovation Paris
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

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The culture of fashion: Dior SS21 menswear ‘portrait of an artist’



Dior SS21 men Amoako Boafo

Some more menswear SS21 highlights. On the maximalist craft tip, Dior hit the top notes again with a fab collab with Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo. (See the collection video here.)

Dior’s creative director Kim Jones first met him last year during Art Basel Miami. Boafo was the artist in residence of the new Rubell Museum, opposite Dior’s fall show venue. As Jones’ artist collaborations are now a mainstay of his collections (tying in nicely with Mr Dior’s gallerist past), it made perfect sense for the two to collaborate. Jones already has a connection to Africa having grown up in the continent, while Boafo has a connection to fashion, with his fantastically wardrobed portrait sitters always dressed in attention-grabbing prints and colour combinations. (more…)



On digital fashion weeks, craft and context



Loewe SS21 menswear

I’m catching up on the ss21 menswear collections that designers have been producing during lockdown.

An early trend is for three-dimensional or heavily crafted pieces and those with intricate surface decoration. Collaborations with artisans are another ‘thread’ to a brand story that designers can weave, showing support for their craft, or putting the spotlight on their own pattern makers.

Two standout videos I’ve enjoyed – Berluti and Loewe. Both feature their designers discussing the thought and making process of their collections. Berluti SS21 especially comes to life with Kris van Assche talking to ceramic artist Brian Rochefort about colour, patina and design. It really makes you appreciate true luxury. (Watch it here.)

Below: Berluti SS21

Berluti ss21
Berluti ss21


Berluti ss21

Meanwhile, Jonathan Anderson sent out miniature ‘shows in a box’ to the press who were watching the ‘shows’ from home. This is what they do with influencers. Send visual toys for them to dutifully display on their Instagram. The press obediently followed suit, promping followers to go to the website and view.

Anderson’s Loewe men’s SS21 collection is beautiful without the ‘noise’ of show-biz. He flagged basket craft, shibori techniques and tapestry, which have been translated into architectural shapes that were displayed on mannequins in a quiet studio setting. It works well, but better for having the accompanying explanation. The trench coats and shibori pieces are my favourites, along with the bags. I actually thought this was the women’s pre-collection rather than men’s, which goes to show that gendered clothing is kinda pointless. (Watch the video here.)


Below: Loewe SS21 menswear

Loewe SS21 menswear




Loewe SS21 menswear
Loewe SS21 menswear

I wonder if it was a huge anti-climax for the designers pressing the go-live button on their content compared to the headlines and air kisses of Fashion Week? Or if they did it on a Zoom call with their team?!

Another question is how trends will translate to the consumer. As we’ve seen before, when designers design clothes to be viewed by a screen, they go for bright colours and statement makers. But as shoppers have less money to spend and fewer places to go in the coming months, will they want these bold pieces, or functional classics? Perhaps by spring When All This Is Over, we’ll be gagging for colour and excitement again. For now, my guess is we’ll see a similar pattern as before; statement pieces for ‘runway’, and the more wearable versions for retail.

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Berluti; SS21 Loewe men’s 2021
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

CLICK HERE to get Disneyrollergirl blog posts straight to your inbox once a week
CLICK HERE to buy my book The New Garconne: How to be a Modern Gentlewoman