One of my favourite newer(ish) designers is Clare Waight Keller, who is the Artistic Director of Givenchy for whom she produces some jaw-droppingly beautiful clothes, which I will never buy new. Because a) too expensive b) I don’t want to give LVMH (Louis Vuitton, Moet, Hennessy) my money.
It’s hard, but I try not to contribute to multinationals. I fail constantly. Pharmaceutical companies alone make it impossible.
It’s probably only fashion where I can avoid giving my money to the likes of LVMH or Kering (Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent. Alexander McQueen etc) or Richemont (Azzedine Alaïa, Cartier and Chloe etc). By only shopping vintage and small, independent, ethical, sustainable designers I avoid giving money to men in suits, who control fashion, and hire and fire some of the most creative people in the world.
I get why folks like Waight Keller go with the money. Making beautiful clothes is expensive. All the haute couture houses, and many of the high-end ready-to-wear brands, run at a loss, making up for it with perfume and handbag sales. Their top of the range clothes are an extremely expensive ad for accessories and scents.
Very few of the big-name labels are independent and/or still controlled by their original creator. When multinationals take over they often wind up firing the creators: eg Halston and Ungaro.
It weirds me out that since 2013 clothes labelled Ann Demeulemeester weren’t designed by her. Or that Christian Dior hasn’t been designed by Christian Dior since 1957 (though, yes, it would have been weirder if he kept on designing, given that he died in 1957). The revival of Elsa Schiaparelli’s and Madeleine Vionnet’s brands squicks me out.
Imagine if Jane Austen novels were still being published or Victor Hugo’s? Post-mortem creations shouldn’t be a thing and they definitely shouldn’t bankroll multinationals for generations, making the executives richer than the creatives, without whom the companies wouldn’t exist.
But if Christian Dior’s company hadn’t outlived him what would have happened to the women workers of his atelier? Writers typically don’t employ hundreds in our businesses . . .
When Dior was alive he wasn’t doing six or more shows a year, which leads me to the more important reason I don’t want to give my money to the fashion juggernauts: the ridiculous schedule the big brands’ creative directors are kept to. It’s not sustainable.
Do we really need Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter and Cruise/Resort and Pre-Fall and Pre-Spring collections? Not to mention the many capsule collections. It’s exhausting.
It’s terrible for creativity–that ridiculous schedule is why John Galliano1 and others have cracked up–and even worse for the planet. We don’t need that many new clothes every year. Especially when so many of them don’t sell.
The big-brand fashion cycle is deeply broken: from overworking designers to making clothes unsustainably and exploiting garment workers. I can’t support it.
- I believe Galliano’s crack up exposed the anti-Semitism he’d previously managed to hide. [↩]