Tumultuous is the word to describe the year for the fashion industry. Apart from countless reports of low spending in luxury, 2016 saw brands scrambling to change in a bid to stay relevant to consumers in an increasingly fast-paced global environment.

While some fashion houses such as Gucci have managed to successfully reinvigorate themselves, others were trying hard to retain loyal customers while capturing the attention of new ones. There’s no easy formula to do this, not with the current set of conditions anyway. From collaborating with celebrities who have a strong social media following to adjusting the speed at which clothes go from the runway to the wardrobe, 2016 was all about change.

Making Moves

A photo

The year saw top designers in a game of musical chairs of creative appointments. Raf Simons confirmed his move to Calvin Klein after months of speculation. Maria Grazia Chiuri left Valentino to become Christian Dior’s first-ever female creative director. Berluti and Ermenegildo Zegna filled their vacancies with Haider Ackermann and Alessandro Sartori.

At Brioni, Justin O’Shea was hired in March but ended his stint in October. During his short tenure, O’Shea overhauled the Brioni logo and featured Metallica in his first campaign. Kering probably wanted to replicate the success of hiring an unconventional persona as creative director (something it did well with Saint Laurent and Gucci) but in this case, it veered too far off its DNA.

Shifting Winds

Burberry spearheaded a call to shift the industry’s pace in February. The announcement was received with mixed feelings. Some thought the system shouldn’t be tampered with even though it was flawed. Others joined its rally for change. In September, the big boys put it to the test. 

Burberry overhauled its entire production with a new show venue and merged menswear and womenswear. In New York, Tom Ford also combined collections into one and for the first time, released them for sale online.

Brands like Off-White and Prada curated selected pieces for immediate consumption, testing the waters, but something tells us the future is going the way of “see now, buy now”.

The Kimye Effect

Zayn Malik and Donatella Versace

Gigi Hadid and singer Zayn Malik are now fashion’s ‘it’ couple. The pair has graced the pages of US Vogue and individually scored collaboration deals with fashion brands. 
Hadid’s AW16 collection that she “co-designed” with Tommy Hilfiger was well-received enough to land a second collection. Zayn Malik, on the other hand, will be releasing a mix of menswear and womenswear for Versus Versace in May. We aren’t calling them fashion designers, but fashion frontmen? Definitely.

All The Small Things

A photo

The next big luxury splurge is palm-sized. Moments before showing his spring/summer 2017 collection for Louis Vuitton, Nicolas Ghesquiere released a photo of him using an iPhone wrapped in a trunk-like case. The proceeding show reinterpreted the Parisian woman’s wardrobe with deconstructed suits and dresses but all eyes were on the petite malle iPhone covers clutched by the models. 

Taking Back The Streets 

One of Vetements’ looks for AW16

You can thank Vetements’ Demna Gvasalia for oversized jumpers with unreasonably long sleeves. Since taking creative charge of Balenciaga, the lesser-known designer gained a following for his exaggerated designs that comes with an unbelievable price tag (approximately $800 for a cotton Vetements jumper). Yet, that hasn’t stopped the cool kids from copping an original or creating inspired looks. Looks like it pays to be different.

This article was first published in the December 2016 issue of AUGUSTMAN

written by.

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