Sustainable Fashion and Guilt-free Profit

The IPCC tell us we have 12 years left. 12 years until climate change is out of our hands and we are at the mercy of mother nature. It’s blasted all over twitter and facebook that we can make a change. Recycle, they say; walk or take the bus, they say. But now we’re given a new slogan. Conscious consuming.

What does it mean to be a conscious consumer? Well, every time we walk into a shop or restaurant, we are mindful of the ethical and social consequences of buying from such an establishment. We have a boycott, or buycott mentality. Does this firm give back? How big is their carbon footprint? Corporate responsibility has slowly seeped its way through the system and into the lap of the, often millennial, consumer. This consumer is one that is determined to reverse the mistakes of the past, often because the implications faced are very real future problems for themselves. Environmental issues are particularly emphasised because they are the issues that are closest to home. There’s a water shortage in South Africa today, and before you know it there’s an avocado shortage in your fave LA coffee shop tomorrow.

As we all know, this generation is also consumption-mad. The short attention span of my generation drives us to be constantly after new things. The emphasis on sustainability and newness come together to form conscious consuming. We needn’t give up our lifestyles, provided that we do it correctly.

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The truth is, a brand can label itself sustainable by merely focusing on one aspect of their manufacturing process and evolving it. It is almost impossible to create an entirely sustainable brand. The consumer also needs to be conscious of the fact that a face-value “eco-friendly” brand might also be doing more harm than good. If those board shorts are handmade out of regenerated recycled plastic, but flown to you on complimentary next day delivery, then is it truly sustainable? The consumer cannot dictate where the profits end up either. What if the CEO of this ethical firm is in fact spending their bonus on an expensive and fuel-inefficient car which they run the kids to school in everyday? The firm can carry on with a larger consumer base due to their “sustainable” branding, guilt free. They’re doing their bit, they think.

We are not at a loss when it comes to this problem, however. Technology is on our side. The app Good on You (which has recently gained support from Kering as part of the luxury conglomerate’s sustainability push) is one that helps you analyse the sustainability levels of a company before you purchase clothes from them. You can even search for the type of item you want to buy and the app will recommend retailers to buy from that are the best for the environment. They provide thorough and comprehensive  reports, with quantitive grading and well-rounded analysis. This guarantees that the firms claiming to be sustainable are called out about the other aspects of their firm structure that could be improved. Ultimately, I highly recommend this app to anyone looking to be one step ahead in terms of sustainable fashion.

Click the image below for more details about the app.

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Fashion and the Catholic Imagination: My Met Gala Predictions

The first Monday in May is almost upon us, and many couturiers are no doubt stitching and designing wildly in order to ensure that their outfit is the most admired of the evening. I, myself, am by no means a design magnate, I cannot conjure up a tulle spring daydream out of my teenage head, but I can most certainly make predictions of the themic manner with regards to the Met Gala.

  1. Lapis Lazuli

The tone of blue used to depict the virgin will no doubt have presence on the red carpet, especially considering it is the most consistently used colour in Catholic religious art. I used it here on an image I created from an instagram post of Kylie Jenner’s to create her shawl, perhaps she’ll be donning something similar the Monday after next?

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2.  Versace

Given her home country is the womb which encompasses the church itself and her presence at the press day, Donatella has no doubt got a few ideas cooking away for those invited to wear Atelier Versace.

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3.  Virginal whites, cardinal reds and papal silhouettes.

When we think of the pope, we often think of his white garb surrounded by a sea of red cardinal cloaks. The met gala will surely be no different, but with Kim Kardashian taking the lead role of the evening rather than his holiness.

4. Dolce and Gabbana

These guys take pride in the religious backgrounds of their collections, from gilded tiaras to Giotto-esque and Byzantine images printed onto full-length ballgowns.

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5.  Rosary bead accessories

The go-to accessory associated with any catholic granny dripping in black, this particular accessory will certainly be a centre piece feature.

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The LVMH-Supreme Relationship

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will know of the Louis Vuitton Supreme collaboration. Slapped onto every imaginable instagrammer’s feed, if you were anyone or wanted to be anyone, you’d need something red, white and LV all over in your wardrobe. The supreme-LV monogram phone case became a staple piece for the elite and a somewhat membership requirement to be considered “relevant”.

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Then, in more recent times, as the initial explosion that followed the collision of these two massive presences translated into a soft lull, in comes the RIMOWA. As if it has almost been dipped into a vat of supreme logos, then quickly removed, this case would be unmissable on any luggage belt in the airport, although, I’m pretty sure the main demographic of purchasers of this particular release would be flying through the world by less public methods.

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So the firm LVMH have not only bagged one, but now TWO Supreme collaborations. I have no doubt that this was no small accident. This is for two reasons:

ONE – LVMH, despite its success, is a company that always bids for keeping up with the current market. Where many firms have been left stuck in their tracks, the ability of LVMH to maintain a presence and relevance in a modern market is certainly praiseworthy. I believe this lies in a lack of complacency, a somewhat necessary trait in an industry that is so fast-paced. LVMH, being as omniscient of the fashion industry, could probably have smelt the success of Supreme a mile off, and therefore could get in there early in terms of building a relationship with the brand. LVMH is not afraid of evolution, or confronting new and controversial ideas. LVMH also has the rare gift of setting out to be ‘cool’ and actually pulling it off, this comes with a lot of insider knowledge.

TWO – for a while, they had an inside man. Now I want to emphasise that until more information comes to light, this could be purely speculative. I have very few sources from which to deduce information, but I believe I may have struck gold with this one, we shall see.

Pauline J Brown served as Chairman for North America at LVMH for two years until 2015, just as Supreme was really hitting all those investor notes and getting a lot of attention from the luxury market. Pauline then moved onto Carlyle, the only investment fund associated with Supreme, as a Managing Director. Although the point at which Carlyle first began a relationship with Supreme is unclear, if it was around this time, then it would make a lot of sense if Ms Brown played a part in bridging a relationship between LVMH and Supreme using her previous work contacts. It could even be suggested that maybe this is why Supreme chose Carlyle as investors in the first place, with the promise of not only communication but collaboration with the biggest luxury conglomerate in the world. If so, this woman deserves a whole lot of credit, she’s definitely united two fashion forces in a powerful and certainly profitable way.

Issi x

The Diplomacy of the Fashion Industry

The luxury fashion industry today is very much like Game of Thrones. Hear me out. Admittedly, there’s far less dragons (all bar Gucci’s most recent show) and the most extreme the torture gets is in the form of painfully high heels, however, the concepts of strategy and tactical union are nonetheless prevalent in both.

Firms that take up a sizeable portion of the market such as LVMH and Kering have many factors to think about in order to maintain their positions of power. Among many techniques, one of the most common is that of acquiring new brands to bring into their glamorous folds, whether that be in a vastly different section of the fashion industry, a brand of increasing reputation and sales, or increasing a stake in a firm in which they already have a financial presence.

This time last year, Dior was fully initiated into the LVMH family through a series of complicated transactions. Now, a year on, Kris Van Assche is stepping down from his role in Dior Homme as creative director, allowing for Kim Jones, of Louis Vuitton, to take his place. This template would make for a classic Game of Thrones or royal drama plot line. LVMH needs its most recent acquisition onside, to not make a fuss, sit quiet and comply. One way of looking at the method of how they’ve brought this about is by arranging a diplomatic marriage. LVMH have, in a sense, ‘gifted’ Kim Jones to the house of Dior, a man who has already enjoyed plenty of hype and success in recent years. In addition, Kim Jones, naturally very grateful to LVMH for the number of opportunities he has been given over the years, and the positive contribution the firm has made towards his success, would be more than happy to pass any information on up the ladder if need be. If Jones felt a disturbance or a sense of unsatisfaction within Dior, he could easily inform the parent board of any issues which could be quashed in a more rapid fashion than before.

The natural competition between the two large firms, Kering and LVMH, could also be likened to a rivalry of two houses, each competing in similar fields to outdo each other. This is not necessarily solely prevalent in sales, revenue and profit, but also in philanthropy. Much like the Medici, LVMH and Kering  develop many public projects as an assertion of dominance and presence within the public sphere. An excellent article that touches upon this is that of Vanessa Friedman for the New York Times, which I  thoroughly recommend and have linked below.

So, what do you think? Can you think of any other parallels between the realm of luxury fashion and that of Game of Thrones?

Vanessa’s Article

Issi x

BFAM: A fleeting cultural update_

Hi guys,

I haven’t written anything in ages. That, let me clarify, is not due to a distinct lazy trait in my personality, rather, I have a bad case of deep-fashion-thoughts writers block. Articles about the more philosophical and economic side of the fashion industry are unsurprisingly quite difficult to muster up. I have the occasional one that I’m saving for a later date, but rather than keep you all waiting, I thought I’d lighten the tone a little bit.

I want to reiterate, this is not about to become a blog where I tell you all about my daily routine, what I eat for lunch, my workouts or my organisational tips. I am not at all a person attached to routines, nor do I think much about what I put in my body unless it is gooooood, I definitely don’t workout half as much as I should, and by taking one look at my bedroom and many of you would understand why I won’t be giving you guys wholesome advice about stationery or labelling your clothes drawers.

This, however, is also not intended as a subliminal stab at the more conventional blogger. I’m just not a conventional blogger. It’s not ME and I feel like anyone who reads my stuff is entitled to a depiction as close to my personality as possible. I want everyone who reads my blog to know and (granted, perhaps not always) understand me. That is why, I’ve decided to do an FCU (fleeting cultural update) as often as I can. What books I’m reading, what films I’m watching, what music I’m listening to and the places I’ve been to might interest you, or at the very least, give you an insight into what I’m all about.

So, without further ado, here is your first FCU

(omg that just rhymed)

Films I’ve watched and enjoyed:

I’m a self confessed horror movie buff to the extent that I have watched every good (and bad) one that you’ll find in that genre on Netflix. I’ve also found a new love: spanish horror films. Given the last film I watched, this is a saga I definitely see continuing.

My most recent escapade into the plane of spanish horror involved the viewing of the film “The Orphanage”. Obviously, if you don’t like horror, you needn’t read about this one.

Without giving too much away, it’s a very beautifully shot film, full of clever allegory. There was little to no use of special effects (apart from the occasional deformed and gory face, but no CGI), something indicative of a good horror, and a plot line that baffles and yet solves itself all at one time. You slowly become more and more attached to the protagonist, shifting through her emotions with her as the story (and she) unravels. It’s an exploration of nostalgia and childhood mixed in with a hint of fate and faith.

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I’ve also developed an interest for coming-of-age films. One of which is a film entitled “The Dreamers”, which is a film filled to the brim with the fascination, passion and both sexual, intellectual awakening an adolescent might experience regardless of time or place. The film really does make me want to spend forever in Paris, watch black and white films all day and bathe in my youth while it lasts.

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Now, onto BARS!:

Last night was supposed to be a low key evening, with a maximum of one drink, no bank breaking whatsoever, and yet, I found myself deep in the underground of Florence, at my new home, Rasputin; a mahogany candlelit paradise. The bar beneath the street can only be found behind a series of paintings in a wall, the perfect facade for a speakeasy door in Florence, the home of the Italian renaissance.  A framed sketch slides back and you’re greeted with welcoming eyes. You delve down into chandeliers and darkened rooms and a lull of chat descends upon your ears. I ordered an admittedly extortionate “Rose of the Underground”, the most aromatic yet homely drink I’ve ever had.

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And to round off this little rant, let’s finish with books:

First off, Dante’s Divine Comedy. I’m in Florence, of course I’m going to read it… It’s classic and surprisingly accessible.

I’ve picked up a habit of reading a critical analysis of Alfred Hitchcock films then watching the films, spotting things as I go along. As someone who knows very little about the semantics of film, I would recommend that method of watching any vaguely iconic film, the appreciation of them is always vastly increased.

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Hope you enjoyed this little moment,

Yours truly,

Issi,

your BFAM x

The Future is Now

Not long ago, I was in the attic, looking through some of my Mum’s old school notebooks. One of the questions my freckle-faced and youthful mother had once been asked was “What will we be wearing in 40 years time?”. Flash forward to now, that 40 years later, and there is a stark contrast between expectations and reality. Or is there?

Ultimately, no. We look nothing like the foil-wrapped, car-flying members of society we were once envisaged to be. However, nonetheless, we’ve embraced some aspects of those future ideas so bravely conjured up by small children all those years ago.

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For example, my kitchen at home is what a younger version of myself might have described as “straight out the space age” with its clean white surfaces and cupboards that ping out on magnets at the lightest touch. With trends like minimalism arising, it is no surprise now that my kitchen is like this and that there are less patterns and pops to our every day lives than other times. Nowadays, our shelves aren’t rammed with trinkets and clutter but instead our cleared out peacefully while our phones and watches speak to us.

Our visions for the future now are perhaps less ambitious and a bit more morally inquisitive. The popular series of Black Mirror has done a remarkable job of helping us confront the future ideals of our society and the damage advancing technology could cause us. I noticed, while watching, all these characters  you encounter on your Netflix binge live in situations that I find fairly relatable. Either their technology is enhanced in a familiar setting or technology already invented is used in an alien one. Overall, the future for us looks like a far less drastic a change than we might have expected.

The new Louis Vuitton collection is a good example of how the future has become now. Their show was inundated with contorted trainers and structured shapes, impossible to manufacture without the precision of a machine. In fact, if you seated a far smaller version of my mother on the front row (lucky her!) it would no doubt have fitted the description she would have whispered quietly to a stern teacher, chalk and cane in hand.

 

So, how have we managed to replicate that vision of the future so precisely? If you haven’t already noticed, we don’t wear funny-looking shoes and sunglasses out of practicality or because something has been invented making it necessary. Instead, when a creative director dreams up a design for the latest wearable technology, they no doubt think “this is the future, therefore it must look like the future.” They then proceed etching and sketching with a whole background of futuristic, metallic, David Bowie excellence in their back pocket.

The future has not yet arrived, it will almost certainly be something just out of reach. What has arrived, is the conceptual future we dreamed up when we were young and wanted to go to the moon

 

Musings on edginess

What makes someone edgy? The immediate answer would be an original way of living and representing oneself in a way not thought of before. But how was this concept born? I would argue that the exotic plant of alternativeness springs from the seed of necessary resourcefulness.

A person who sees past the price tags, and doesn’t want to spend the month’s earnings on only three items of clothing, may look to recycle what they already have in an innovative manner or will seek cheaper options. They will almost instantaneously stand out as subversive and quirky for turning everyday or old items into something truly unique and of use. The moth eaten and oversized charity shop buy that has since been redecorated or the dusty and grainy record player takes everyone by surprise and all at once becomes the new ‘cool’.

This kind of cool lies in the curiosity of the public. In a society obsessed with all things brand new and shiny, it is refreshing to come across something a bit dated or different – something with a story behind it. Naturally, this new find is soon hijacked by high fashion and the high street, or indeed opportunistic people trying to make a quick buck in a niche market before it dissipates into the buzzing void that is the world of the trend, perhaps toxifying all things vintage and indie in the process. This then begs the question, can the most people buying from “edgy” stores and boutiques today consider themselves to be truly a part of the “indie” and alternative community? Especially since they themselves are not innovating nor are they acting out of resourcefulness, as they are not strapped for cash. In this case, they are no longer riding against the trends, but with it instead. These people shy back to their minimalist apartments and overpriced cereal without an original thought having entered their head on their shopping trip.

83FB0E78-0B6B-4011-BA19-CA09576B14DCArguably, the internet and social media has brought an end to true quirk in consumer choices, because no one can confidently say if, when and how they have been influenced in some way. An idea they believe to be utterly their own and untouched may have been implanted in their heads many double taps and up swipes  ago.

Maybe, then, to solve this issue, we should be calling out more copycats, purposeful or not, and praising more innovators, so that we may return to the roots of edge and find originality in its purest form once again.

There are already voices out there acting out and getting this message across. The instagram, Diet Prada, in particular, a collective of curators who regularly put designers to shame who poach the original ideas of others in such an explicit manner, yet go unnoticed. They do so with a keen eye and a loyal and informative fan base. Not only does this account bring a stop to fraud but also brings the need to the think of new ideas to the forefront of conversation in the fashion industry. Following a trend is one thing, pulling off something unique to someone else as your own idea or creation is another entirely.

iz xo