Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fashion Marketing: Tour de France

If you want to get noticed in the crowded fashio world, marketing is key.
Basically, there are two type of marketeers, the ones that prefer to spend a lot of money on add campaigns, commercials and the likes, and the other type, that prefers smart-marketing: gathering attention for free.
Schutrups, a Dutch shoe store clearly is the latter type.

In Europe, this summer is a Sport summer: European Championship Soccer, later on the Olympics and right now, the famous Tour de France!

This last event obviously inspired the Schutrups to come up with a novelty. They commissioned a set of Tour-de-France inspired shoes with Kops-schoenen, one of the few remaining  shoefactories, that once were a big source of employment around the Dutch city of Tilburg. Together with a designer of Kopsschoenen, Schutrups spawned a series dedicated to the worlds most famous cycling tournament.

The shoes are designed around the well-known shirtcolour that can be earned in the tournament, the Green, Yellow, Orange and of course the polka-dot shirt for the mountains classification.
Shutrups commisioned them for the  Dutch former cyclist and co-presenter on a Tour de France TV program, Tour du jour. And in case you wonder: yes, he wore them on TV as well.

Kops, happened to be the only company able to design and produce 11 of these shoes within the 10-day window between idea and start of the tour de France.
They have received quite some attention from different media with the production of these shoes. They are not cheap (400 euro's a pair) but its definately reasonable if you take in account that each pair takes several hours of hand-production. And for that price, you get not only a pair of wonderful, handcrafted shoes, but also a pair of conversation starters. They sure leave an impresion!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fashion Technology: BioCouture

When we go to the store to look for a new dress, a pair of shoes or some other fashionable items, technology is in general not what springs to mind. But in fact, Technology and Fashion are not as far apart as you might think.

Ok, now you think this blog is going to be about the development of Looms, or CAD / CAM like production streets. No, that IS a reality, and maybe one day food for another blog, but this a little bit more laboratory-like. This one is about  biotech, yes, about growing your own garments.

Enter Suzanne Lee. London based Lee is founder of BioCouture, and a research Fellow on Central St. Martins College of Arts and Design.

She explains the process:

"The process uses a sugary green tea recipe, to which, a bacterial culture is added. It takes about 2-4 weeks to grow a sheet that is thick enough to use. Sheets are then dried down; either shaped over a wooden dress form--like the ghost dress and ruff jacket [images, below]--or sewn together conventionally. Depending on the recipe the material can either feel like paper or--more desirably--like a vegetable leather.
In testing with dyes we found no need for mordant [a substance used for dyeing fabrics] and an incredibly small amount of dye goes a long way so it's eco-credentials go through the entire process. We also recycle a percentage of the fermentation liquid."
The result is a seamless piece of clothing, and I must admit, it has definately got some sort of Eco-Look-and-Feel to it, but in the positive sense.
Right now its not yet commercially available, but I guess its a matter of time before you will be able to buy it prêt a porter or even made to measure!
[All pictures: courtesy of Suzanne Lee]

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fashions next big thing: China

While the fashion magazines are sending their editors and journalists to Florence, Milan, New York and Amsterdam, more and more pundits are predicting the next Big Thing is not coming from either of those cities. No, neither is it coming from Italy, The US of A or even France, The next fashion wave that will hit the market will be coming from: China! Designer and retailer Elio Fiorucci told Reuters lately, “the next big issue for fashion is not China’s economic boom but Chinese creativity, and while the Western world knows little about China’s aesthetic sensibility, China’s emerging designers may surprise us, since they have the talent and a deep knowledge of the Western fashion world". I think that Elio could be right, although Gianluca Brozetti, Chief Executive of Roberto Cavalli, qualified these sentiments by saying that" while the culture and creativity of Chinese designers will certainly be appreciated in the West, it will take time to make a major impact due to the lack of economic power". Well, I wonder when was the last time Gianluca visited China, he probably still has a 1960's  travel guide on China on his bookshelf.
Ji Cheng,
(photo courtesy of Ji Cheng)
China has built up a reputation of cheap copycats and lacking quality, at least this is the perception of many Westerners. But they forget that almost EVERYTHING they use daily, from their ├╝bergerman Miele washingmachine to their Ultra Swedisch SUV Volvo has Chinese-made components in it. Yes, even their Good 'ol American iPhone is almost entirely built scratch up in China. The money those Chinese made with all of that is, for now, happily spent on Western brands such as imported Mercedes Benz's  and French Chateau Latour. But deep inside we all know that this is just a phase in which the Chinese will endulge themselves in what for long has been considered something forbidden. And we all know that, forbidden fruits are the sweetest.... until they are no longer forbidden. THAT is when the true road of self-reflection will start, and China is about to embark on that road. Its puberty is ailing, and adulthood is on the brink. Adulthood that comes with confidence. And its just the confidence that some Chinese designers still lack.

This is also the vision of Chinese media Mogul Hung Huang, or as westerners would say, Huang Hung. Hung is one of China's most influential Fashion critics, Publisher of iLook magazine, author, actress and a media figure, by CNN compared to Oprah Winfrey. She know also has a column Womens Wear Daily. Hung also thinks that confidence is all that is lacking. Jenny Ji, or rather Ji Cheng since I am not a supporter of the adopted western names by Chinese, designer behind the LaVie label is one of the promising designers in the new China. Having had her training in Milan, she clearly makes the connection between East and West in het ravishing designs. The Fall/Winter 2011 collection was marked with exquisite embroidery, a true feast of the eye, her Fall/Winter collection shown in London, calles Zen Awakening was far more contemporary, tremendoulsy wearable but still with the connection to its Chinese heritage. I predict a bright future for China's fashion industry, and when I say "Industry" this has less to do with Looms and more with design!
From Ji Chengs Zen Awakening line: [Photo: Christopher Dadey]

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A preview to Summer 2013: Mens fashion

Its just a few days to the Amsterdam International fashion Week, but of course we have already seen some designs in the designer presentations that have been made in Florence, Milan and Paris.
If we are to believe what the male fashion for summer 2013 will bring, its among others male legs!

Some top designers like Mugler, Viktor & Rolf, Raf Simons and Louis Vuitton have shown their men-collection for summer 2013, and short pants are going to be the norm!

Some impressions from LV's catwalkshow in Paris
Louis Vuitton did it in an almost old-fashioned way, with nautic themes: Blue, and white marine like colours, knitted pullovers for the cooler summer evenings and here and there a bright yellow coat. Kim Jones, with Louis Vuitton responsible for the male fashion line, definately went back to the eighties and made sure it was all wearable and not over the top!

Belgian designer Raf Simons Made more of a fashion statement: combining daring prints with no-so-out-of-the-box combinations of oversized and tall, almost dress-sized shirts with short trousers, definately brought a feminine touch to its collection for 2013. The collars were high-cut or alltogether gone. But he too decided in a way to go back to the eighties: The punk-like hairdress of the models as well as the feminization of the male, all well remembered from bands like The Cure The Cult and Culture Club is suddenly back again!

But Nicola Formichetti, Thierry Muglers Creative Director is definately the one that pushed the envelope when it comes to daring design for next year. Nicola combines blazers with short trousers, front-open short trousers and even pantyhoses for men!
Thierry Muglers male fashion for s/s 2013

Lets see what Amsterdam will bring next week!