Gill Linton: Boycott Beige

Now that designer style has become so accessible, thanks to fast fashion knock offs, everyone looks the same. In his book Paris New York Shanghai’, Dutch conceptual artist Hans Eijkelboom intricately proves that although people perceive themselves as being very independent, they actually look very much alike. Which is what’s so [...]

Image Credit: Getty Images, Ryan McVay/Flickr

Is Creativity is Still Alive?

Of course there are brilliant designers creating unique clothes and creativity, I put Gareth Pugh at the top of this list, but something’s getting lost in translation, and when we’re done mixing and matching, the result is, well, beige. We end up looking the same.

Raoul Shah, the CEO of Exposure, an interactive communications, reassures me that, “Creativity is still alive and well in every corner of our planet. It’s just harder to spot”.

It’s harder to spot because the business savvy of H+M, Target and Top Shop etc, who commercialize the talents of niche designers, is so overpowering. I seriously question the millions of dollars spent on consumer research that claims today’s fashion conscious consumer is independent and in charge of their own unique identity, and Eijkelboom’s work proves it. The influence of creative extremes is being watered down to lowest common denominator before it’s had a chance to challenge us, and it’s culturally stifling.

Fast Fashion

Julie Ragolia, City Magazine’s Fashion Director doesn’t think the fast fashion houses are to fault for such a hegemony. “The issue is more sociological as people look to less varied sources for fashion inspiration. Fast fashion retailers offer styles that easily support individuated style, but that consumers should opt toward the same racks is curious to me”.

Rather than pushing varying shades of beige, the goliaths of fast fashion have the power to inspire sub-cultural identities with a more diverse fashion democracy, but crucially, without biting the hand that feeds.

Simon Doonan, creative director of Barney’s says, “Today’s fashion landscape is vast. The old frameworks no longer apply. We need to approach it without any preconceived ideas”.

The challenge for fast fashion is to evolve beyond the tired capsule collection marketing machine, that keeps us stuck in this cultural rut. Jimmy Choo for H+M, (sigh).

John Lee, publisher of Theme magazine points out that fast fashion brands may churn clothes out quickly, but they’re slow to step up their marketing game. “If they were really smart, they would use their re-invention opportunities to create content which break them out of the rest of the mainstream, (and I’m not talking streetwear collaborations, or large music sponsorships)”.

According to Shah, “smart entrepreneurs are still ready to back new ideas”.

Whoever proves to be the smartest entrepreneur, better do it fast.

Gill writes about what’s happening in the business of fashion for the fashion trend forecasting site Mudpie.co.uk. If you’re not a paid up subscriber of Mudpie, you can now read her musings here on PSFK.

Gill is the co-founder of The Joneses. Contact her at Gill@thejoneses-nyc.com

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