What is the Problem with Fashion Today?
The events in Rana Plaza, Bangladesh on the 24th April 2013 were a tragic reminder that when the fashion industry fails or doesn’t work in a sustainable way, the consequences are far-reaching and dreadful. So what needs to change to make the fashion industry work for the people in it? We asked 30 of our emerging designers, “What is the problem with fashion today”?
It is not a healthy industry, in terms of economic profit, social (and beauty) ideals, or environmental affection. The ‘look’ is one thing, but responsibility and irmprovement of these aspects have to be included in all industries. Within fashion, these aspects are ignored or work in extreme ways. Since we are not able to produce and distribute fashion without exploiting less fortunate countries and people (also including the great number of interns and assistants working for free in head offices worldwide), the fashion industry is failing to be a profitable and fair business.
Byungmun Seo, London
I think nowadays there is a lack of diversity. Fashion has become more commercial than ever before and it is saturated with pre-existing designers and brands. The budget to manage a fashion business has increased as fashion markets have grown exponentially, and it is becoming more difficult for new brands and emerging designers to survive in the current fashion market. As a result, we are losing out on the opportunity to see up-and-coming, new brands and designers, and it also incurs a loss of diversity in fashion.
Carla Fernandez, Mexico City
Exploitation and greed. There was a great article in MetaMute Magazine about how the introduction of the sewing machine to the fashion industry has made people become slaves to the machine rather than the machine being an aid to production. People saw the speed at which garments could be produced, and time equals money. Factory production has pushed humans to the limit, with disastrous consequences.
Christa Bösch, Basel
Kids working for us! And that every one is so stressed - we should calm down a bit. GO HOME and relax! But that’s not only a problem in fashion - it is our society.
Cres.E Dim, Seoul
It is really difficult to be a designer nowadays simply because there are so many brands existing and competing out there. The industry is crowded and consequently it gets harder and harder to sell and make your mark. From talking to other designers, the issue of selling their product is the main problem they encounter.
Domenico Cioffi, Amsterdam
There is a lot of competition in the industry and many people are willing to sacrifice quality and creativity in order to change their wardrobe every season.
It looks depressing but fortunately there is also great interest towards young designers. The internet helps us a lot and without it the effort to emerge would be tripled.
Harem Royal, Belgrade
Fashion ought to be about expression and narrative, not judgment! If we keep on developing this culture of pure indulgence and judgment around clothing and design, there’s going to be a chilling effect. People won’t dress the way they feel. People will dress the way they think other people want them to feel!
This self-censorship is already the norm. I think that there’s a popular trend away from this sort of behaviour right now, but the trend is very fragile.
House of Sunny, London
For me the forever-speeding-up pace of the industry means that the tranquillity of design can evolve into something it shouldn’t be; redesigned and pulled out of shape, when the original design itself was correct.
The times are always changing and everything needs to be fresh. It’s just a shame it has to be fresh four times per year. I think this climate makes it hard for emerging designers to focus on all elements of their business; sales and strategies have to be reconsidered and innovative to work.
Jade Chiu, New York
The market is pretty much controlled by the luxury brands and high street fashion. It is a niche market for emerging designers, the important roles that create and invent edgy designs. Without established sales strategies and supportive platforms, the creations of emerging designers get ripped off by bigger brands with by stronger teams and lower price points for the mass market.
The problem with fashion nowadays is that there is too much fashion, and everybody wants a piece of it. The cost of luxury fashion is nonsensical and increasing unethical production is destroying the planet.
I think people in the fashion industry need to have a little bit more perspective. There's a lot of hardship in the world, and inane spending in fashion undermines it.
Ksenia Schnaider, Ukraine
It’s changing too fast. This new speed doesn’t have any logic, it is unnatural. But it is commercially profitable which is why I think we’re all keeping up with this new rhythm.
Larissa Hadjio, London
Cheap mass production at the expense of craft and quality. The product suffers, the life quality of the people who produce it is horrible, and everyone who is filling their lives with ubiquitous crap suffers too.
Linda Siető, Budapest
It is too fast and there is way too much of it. It all results in way too many products...well at least for me.
Lisa Pek, London
To work in fashion has become a mega-trend. This leads to the fact that a huge mass of people are working in this industry and so it’s hard to stand out or even to survive.
Macabre Gadgets, Kiev
In our opinion, the modern fashion world has no problems. Everything has been developing properly: swiftly, surely and steadily.
In Ukraine, things are a little bit different. Let's start with the fact that in Ukraine, major fashion development began not so long ago and fashion is only considered a serious business by 10-15% of the population.
The second, and perhaps the main problem here is that most consumers of fashion nowadays do not possess authentic views and opinions. The person trusts what is written on the label or in a magazine, more than themselves. There is a feeling that no one dares to say what they like. There is a stereotype that 'Made in Ukraine' cannot mean anything good. However, objectively, this is no longer the truth.
Mariella Pilato, Bali
In my opinion the industry holds a sort of monopoly, turning fashion into a few globalised brands that you can find wherever you go in the world. Consequently, this standardises what we wear.
Marit Ilson, Tallinn
There is a really, really big problem - it is not a sustainable system and we cannot afford it. We saw the tragedy in Bangladesh, but the slavery is no different in European fashion studios. In a lot of places interns can't leave the place! They work 16 hours a day and cover all their costs themselves. It’s hard to flick through the 50+ looks in catwalk collections, as I know how many hours and how much free work by interns was needed to produce every designer collection.
If everybody were paid, no one could afford any of the pieces. A few years ago I wrote an essay for an Estonian newspaper about how fashion has lost its soul and how the only fuel for the industry is the enthusiasm of its interns. I got a lot of supportive feedback, because a regular buyer has no clue how the system works. I hope things will change.
Matija Čop, Zagreb
Fashion is change. It strives to change not only in its material form, but also in the very idea of itself. The idea of fashion needs to change, find new languages through which it will communicate, and find new ways in which it will materialise.
Nadine Peters, London
I think a problem with fashion today is that everyone feels they can do it. It's not a problem within fashion but a problem in terms of how people see fashion from the outside. Some people believe that they can easily create a brand or set up a fashion business although they come from a non-fashion background. They have the love for clothing but really don't understand what goes into it. Fashion is a business, it's about generating money, giving a new direction in society, and it is about creativity.
When you explain the process and the time it takes to create or deliver a physical product to someone who has never been through the stages or seen the development process, you are at times are faced with a lack of understanding or appreciation. I find this attitude really hard to deal with, especially in business. I think that's the troublesome problem with the perception of fashion; its ability to fool society into thinking that it's an easy job.
The huge increase of cheap production in emerging countries, where the costs are usually one third of what they are here and the production is accompanied by sweatshops, child labour and pollution.
Petra Ptackova, Paris
Time. Time to learn, to make things perfectly, to really live fashion and experience every piece. Fashion just runs too fast and never slows down. The market makes people buy and buy, insanely more than they actually need. The question is do we have to follow the industry's crazy rules, or can we make it work our own way and still be part of the industry? I think its time to change things.
Can we create valuable fashion in this high-speed tempo? And do we have to? I want to enjoy fashion the same way as the French can enjoy their food.
Rachel Entwistle, London
Fashion can be quite empty and valueless sometimes. And although there has been progress in terms of ethical and sustainability awareness, in some ways there is still a huge way to go.
Businesses generally think about their bottom line, which now I am running a business I can relate to. It is immensely costly just running a fashion business, from production, through to rent, exhibitions, etc. Making ethical and sustainable choices is really important but also not always possible because of the complexity of the supply chain.
I try and use recycled material where possible and am excited to see that the fairtrade gold and silver market is slowly starting to emerge. I think it is important for all businesses to inform themselves of ethical and sustainable choices within the market and help drive awareness and demand for this.
Raw Taste, Montreal
Fast fashion. It is hands down the root of almost all problems in fashion. Fast fashion encourages child labour, excessive consumerism, obsessive consumer behaviour (think of people lining up overnight to get the latest trends and ripping garments out of each others hands) and global waste.
Fast fashion forces independent designers to work numerous jobs. It stops consumers from determining what is a fair price for their goods, and prevents handmade culture from thriving.
Satu Maaranen, Helsinki
Because of international mass production, consumers these days don't appreciate high quality fashion that much anymore, and are not willing to pay for it. Appreciation for timeless design and the desire for long-lasting garments is sadly becoming more and more seldom.
Fashion has become super fast. One collection after another gets thrown on the market. Garments have barely arrived in store before the sales start. It’s manic, and one day it will just not work any more.
Tesler+Mendelovitch, Tel Aviv
In our opinion, large volume production for mass markets undermines an artist’s work. We were interested in John Galliano’s comments during a TV interview, when he described the enormous pressure he felt producing 32 different collections annually, and the implications of that pressure on his creativity and psyche. While this may seem an extreme example, it is a good representation of what concerns us about the industry today.
We place a high value on the long-term sustainability of our designs. Because they are ‘slow cooking’ and not trend dependent, we believe they will stand the test of time. The demand for large production volumes and changeable trends tends to be incompatible with and even discourage thorough research and development.
Yojiro Kake, Florence
It’s hard to develop a really new and unique idea in the fashion industry. There are too many different approaches, all stuffed into the sky like fireworks. Even if you have something unique, it’s very hard to catch people’s eyes.
Williams Handmade, London
It is too disposable. In one sense I think its great that designers produce a different collection each season and the constant pressure and demand for new ideas produces some great things. However, I cannot help thinking that if a designer had a longer amount of time to spend developing their ideas, designs and final products, they would inevitably produce a far superior collection. I am not able to produce a new collection each season, I just cannot work under that pressure and I would prefer to produce pieces which will have longevity.