It has happened to all of us, I am sure, to find a product that you love and covet and wear to the threads and eventually need to replace. But when you go back to the source, it’s gone.
Fashion is detrimentally ephemeral. It is hard enough to find that perfect pair of shoes, that perfect trouser. Why does it have to go away in a matter of months to be replaced by a lesser (or equally transient) version of itself?
There are two kinds of evolution in Fashion that have a hard time co-existing: aesthetic evolution, (ie the personal and creative growth of a designer/brand) and product evolution (ie the amelioration of one single style over a period of time). Working as a journalist, it was always exciting to me to see a designer take a step forward in their craft. It is a tangible thing that can gives you chills and makes you smile and clap loudly when they make their post-show runway bow. And as a designer I have felt it tangibly when I see the improvement of my decision making and how the entire story benefits in major ways from all the discordant elements finding their way together (we hope) harmoniously.
But remove the aesthetic story telling, and what is left is a garment that needs to be worn and perform in active duty. (Men understand this much more than women).
Designs can survive the test of time visually, or they can stand the test of time in use: “That could have been designed today,” or “Oh, I wear these everyday, it’s my uniform!”
The latter are the pieces we can’t live without. The ones that last long enough to become a part of us. After all, we are what we wear. So why aren’t we excited by the perfect boot, but our heart rate rises and our wallet comes out when we see the “Hot,” “It,” “Of-The-Moment” boot.
What happens, inevitably, is that the moment passes, and thus the “’Must Have” boot is now out of style almost as quickly as it came in. While the woman who bought the “perfect” boot (five years ago) is still wearing it, and you probably admire her style when you pass her in the street wearing your conspicuously last season Marant booties.
But when we, the ADD infected receptacles of information that we are, value the new, the ephemeral, and get bored in a minute of the runway shows before the models have even changed out of their clothes and run out the door to their next hair and makeup transformation, where are we to look for a moment to rest the eye?
We are trained to weed out fashion that doesn’t change. It is boring. It’s an unspoken agreement between designers and press: keep generating content and creating news stories to be picked up and diffused. Must make new things. And, I confess, that’s part of the creative joy of fashion for everyone involved. But it can also be to the detriment of the consumer and the brand.
Having signature, forever styles can add brand value, keep the vision focused, and create (decades long, multi-generational) brand loyalty. As designers we shouldn’t sacrifice the “Perfect” for the “Must Have.” And both should be worth talking about, getting excited about, and intrinsic to brand identity.