Appropriation and Education

February 21, 2017

 

Text - Marcus Correa / Photography - A-W / Model - Cooper Johnson / Edit - Anna Becker

Fashion as an industry is in constant motion; trends and styles have a shelf life, and whether you are consumer or creator, we all know the only constant in the industry is change. Due to the fast-moving cycle, we see designers draw their inspiration from seemingly everywhere. Among the sea of inspiration, many designers over the years peppered their collections with themes of various cultures and subcultures around the world. For years, fashion was purely a top-down industry, innovation started at the top and trickled down to the different social classes. It was not until the late ‘50s and early ‘60s until we saw the reverse of this, low fashion or streetwear was a budding culture. Cuffed denim and a T-shirt was not only accessible, but preferred across classes.

 The low fashion movement took off in the ‘70s when Vivienne Westwood, a designer rooted in the punk movement, and boyfriend Malcolm McLaren, manager of the Sex Pistols, gave voice to the new look by introducing a rebellious niche to the world of fashion. Shortly thereafter, we saw a rise in the unique and creative style. Icons such as Fujiwara, Stussy, Nigo, Takahashi, and a host of others soon released their interpretations on the ruggedly chic look.

Now as streetwear continues to boom, creativity is steered and overshadowed by profitability. The people want what they want and this is certainly not a knock on any brand or retailer, but simply the reality of a growing industry Connect Fashion is now valued at an estimated 75 billion dollars worldwide.

 Fashion has always borrowed from cultures and lifestyles from across the world, sometimes celebrated and other times scrutinized. In the past, by the time the media rose in protest of a collection, we were already into the next season of fashion. We now find ourselves in an interesting time for fashion, where easier entry and a more inclusive industry allows for more diverse lines and marketing. Those at the top have certainly taken notice and adapted. Big brands understand they cannot fight the current of pop culture and expect to remain relevant.

 

"Sales and profits are easily calculated, however, impact is more difficult to quantify"

 

 Now, we see runway ready to wear collections completely influenced by the idea of low fashion; we see it with Louis Vuitton X Supreme, Gucci, Marc Jacobs, and Vetements. So it begs the question, is this an exploitation of street culture? In past years we saw high fashion and streetwear as opposing forces, today we simply see streetwear everywhere. Marc Jacobs had his runway show literally on the street to pay homage to The Hip Hop Movement, while new designer Daisuke Obana had a runway inspired by homeless youth.

 

 

We know streetwear made an impact, but do high fashion labels get a pass for now adopting the style? Kim Jones, creative director of Louis Vuitton, seems to have taken the, “if you can’t beat em join em,” approach by teaming up with labels such as Fragment and Supreme over the past year in order to build hype around the Parisian fashion house, the fashion capital of the world. In the case of Gucci, Director Alessandro Michele has somehow managed to stay true to the roots of the fashion house all while bringing in contemporary ideas into the mix. A prime example of this melding of street culture with high fashion is Michele’s collaboration with graffiti artist and creator of the Gucci Ghost movement, Trouble Andrew. Trouble was recruited by Michele to make designs for bags, shoes, and tees within the Gucci line. With high fashion labels not only looking for inspiration from street culture but also crediting it, there is now a new interaction with the clothes we see on the runway and on the street; a new wave of ideas is now represented.

 

With inspiration now coming from the street and moving up, along with the new marketing platform of social media, we now have the most diverse group of designers never before seen. Fashion Weeks worldwide are now filled with an array of designers from various backgrounds. With this being a direct response of change the fashion world both wants and needs, it poses a new set of questions for designers and consumers alike.

 Instead of a fashion house drawing inspiration from a culture for a given collection, it seems as though we have representatives of these cultures designing whole lines based upon their own experiences. Cult favorite brands are not exactly new, but this generation of designers has a myriad of different styles and appeals, all with higher-end manufacturing and production. Key example would be the Comme Des Garcons backed Russian designer, Gosha Rubchinskiy. Gosha has been dominating the fashion scene as of late with his high-end interpretation of Russian street culture. Gosha draws his inspiration directly from his own culture thus adding a new flare to the world of high fashion, which in the past was influenced by luxurious lifestyles including yachts and country clubs. With such a revolutionary change, does this new generation of design call for a new generation of consumer?

 

"Fashion as an industry is in constant motion; trends and styles have a shelf life, and whether you are consumer or creator, we all know the only constant in the industry is change"

 

As culture moves away from mere inspiration for a collection and instead as the platform for a whole brand, should that change the way we interact with culture? In the past, we have seen cultural influence here for a season and gone the next. Now we see designers selling you a window into their very own lifestyles. It is groundbreaking a post-soviet skater can be successful without conforming to traditional fashion and instead carving his own lane into the industry. The same can be said for the New York-based Californian designer, Willy Chavarria, who came off a New York Fashion Week show displaying a high-end line rooted in cholo culture. As many others emerge each season, the hope is with great clothes being produced, we also see a spotlight, education, and progression of culture.

 Gosha mainly street-casts his models. His shows mainly comprise of young Russian skaters, who he feels represent younger versions of himself.  Gosha’s  tribute to Russian artists and themes are evident throughout  his brand. Is this truly appreciated by his fan base or is this process a moot point for the high level of consumption we see from his fans? Gosha is often times put in the same box as a Supreme due to crossover skate and graphic appeal, and the insane sell through resale of his product. In addition, like Supreme, he has drawn some of the label-crazed hypebeast demographics that wear more for the status than for what the brand stands for.

Sales and profits are easily calculated, however, impact is more difficult to quantify. With this new revolution of designers are cultures appreciated or simply consumed? Fashion moves at a rapid pace and every year and every season this pace seems to pickup speed. Of course it is not possible to expect everyone who wears a brand to represent the culture behind it, that is the beauty of fashion- the opportunity for interpretation. How can we gain familiarity with a designer and the message or intent behind their art? Regardless of the plausibility or necessity of this notion, the biggest positive of this new wave is its diversity and ownership among brands. Gosha and Chavarria are just two of many new streetwear-influenced labels currently in the scene. Regardless of what happens with consumer behavior, as streetwear and high fashion mix, we now see the money going to the authenticators of the movement. Cultures might always be exploited and appropriated, but these new designers signify a monumental shift for creatives in every corner of the globe. This high-low reversal we see today marks a historical shift breaking the rules, lifting cultures, and taking down barriers.

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 The low fashion movement took off in the ‘70s when Vivienne Westwood, a designer rooted in the punk movement, and boyfriend Malcolm McLaren, manager of the Sex Pistols, gave voice to the new look by introducing a rebellious niche to the world of fashion. Shortly thereafter, we saw a rise in the unique and creative style. Icons such as Fujiwara, Stussy, Nigo, Takahashi, and a host of others soon released their interpretations on the ruggedly chic look.

With inspiration now coming from the street and moving up, along with the new marketing platform of social media, we now have the most diverse group of designers never before seen. Fashion Weeks worldwide are now filled with an array of designers from various backgrounds. With this being a direct response of change the fashion world both wants and needs, it poses a new set of questions for designers and consumers alike.

As culture moves away from mere inspiration for a collection and instead as the platform for a whole brand, should that change the way we interact with culture? In the past, we have seen cultural influence here for a season and gone the next. Now we see designers selling you a window into their very own lifestyles. It is groundbreaking a post-soviet skater can be successful without conforming to traditional fashion and instead carving his own lane into the industry. The same can be said for the New York-based Californian designer, Willy Chavarria, who came off a New York Fashion Week show displaying a high-end line rooted in cholo culture. As many others emerge each season, the hope is with great clothes being produced, we also see a spotlight, education, and progression of culture.

Sales and profits are easily calculated, however, impact is more difficult to quantify. With this new revolution of designers are cultures appreciated or simply consumed? Fashion moves at a rapid pace and every year and every season this pace seems to pickup speed. Of course it is not possible to expect everyone who wears a brand to represent the culture behind it, that is the beauty of fashion- the opportunity for interpretation. How can we gain familiarity with a designer and the message or intent behind their art? Regardless of the plausibility or necessity of this notion, the biggest positive of this new wave is its diversity and ownership among brands. Gosha and Chavarria are just two of many new streetwear-influenced labels currently in the scene. Regardless of what happens with consumer behavior, as streetwear and high fashion mix, we now see the money going to the authenticators of the movement. Cultures might always be exploited and appropriated, but these new designers signify a monumental shift for creatives in every corner of the globe. This high-low reversal we see today marks a historical shift breaking the rules, lifting cultures, and taking down barriers.

Fashion as an industry is in constant motion; trends and styles have a shelf life, and whether you are consumer or creator, we all know the only constant in the industry is change. Due to the fast-moving cycle, we see designers draw their inspiration from seemingly everywhere. Among the sea of inspiration, many designers over the years peppered their collections with themes of various cultures and subcultures around the world. For years, fashion was purely a top-down industry, innovation started at the top and trickled down to the different social classes. It was not until the late ‘50s and early ‘60s until we saw the reverse of this, low fashion or streetwear was a budding culture. Cuffed denim and a T-shirt was not only accessible, but preferred across classes.

 The low fashion movement took off in the ‘70s when Vivienne Westwood, a designer rooted in the punk movement, and boyfriend Malcolm McLaren, manager of the Sex Pistols, gave voice to the new look by introducing a rebellious niche to the world of fashion. Shortly thereafter, we saw a rise in the unique and creative style. Icons such as Fujiwara, Stussy, Nigo, Takahashi, and a host of others soon released their interpretations on the ruggedly chic look.

Now as streetwear continues to boom, creativity is steered and overshadowed by profitability. The people want what they want and this is certainly not a knock on any brand or retailer, but simply the reality of a growing industry Connect Fashion is now valued at an estimated 75 billion dollars worldwide.

 Fashion has always borrowed from cultures and lifestyles from across the world, sometimes celebrated and other times scrutinized. In the past, by the time the media rose in protest of a collection, we were already into the next season of fashion. We now find ourselves in an interesting time for fashion, where easier entry and a more inclusive industry allows for more diverse lines and marketing. Those at the top have certainly taken notice and adapted. Big brands understand they cannot fight the current of pop culture and expect to remain relevant.

 

"Sales and profits are easily calculated, however, impact is more difficult to quantify"

 

 Now, we see runway ready to wear collections completely influenced by the idea of low fashion; we see it with Louis Vuitton X Supreme, Gucci, Marc Jacobs, and Vetements. So it begs the question, is this an exploitation of street culture? In past years we saw high fashion and streetwear as opposing forces, today we simply see streetwear everywhere. Marc Jacobs had his runway show literally on the street to pay homage to The Hip Hop Movement, while new designer Daisuke Obana had a runway inspired by homeless youth.

We know streetwear made an impact, but do high fashion labels get a pass for now adopting the style? Kim Jones, creative director of Louis Vuitton, seems to have taken the, “if you can’t beat em join em,” approach by teaming up with labels such as Fragment and Supreme over the past year in order to build hype around the Parisian fashion house, the fashion capital of the world. In the case of Gucci, Director Alessandro Michele has somehow managed to stay true to the roots of the fashion house all while bringing in contemporary ideas into the mix. A prime example of this melding of street culture with high fashion is Michele’s collaboration with graffiti artist and creator of the Gucci Ghost movement, Trouble Andrew. Trouble was recruited by Michele to make designs for bags, shoes, and tees within the Gucci line. With high fashion labels not only looking for inspiration from street culture but also crediting it, there is now a new interaction with the clothes we see on the runway and on the street; a new wave of ideas is now represented.

 Instead of a fashion house drawing inspiration from a culture for a given collection, it seems as though we have representatives of these cultures designing whole lines based upon their own experiences. Cult favorite brands are not exactly new, but this generation of designers has a myriad of different styles and appeals, all with higher-end manufacturing and production. Key example would be the Comme Des Garcons backed Russian designer, Gosha Rubchinskiy. Gosha has been dominating the fashion scene as of late with his high-end interpretation of Russian street culture. Gosha draws his inspiration directly from his own culture thus adding a new flare to the world of high fashion, which in the past was influenced by luxurious lifestyles including yachts and country clubs. With such a revolutionary change, does this new generation of design call for a new generation of consumer?

 

"Fashion as an industry is in constant motion; trends and styles have a shelf life, and whether you are consumer or creator, we all know the only constant in the industry is change"

As culture moves away from mere inspiration for a collection and instead as the platform for a whole brand, should that change the way we interact with culture? In the past, we have seen cultural influence here for a season and gone the next. Now we see designers selling you a window into their very own lifestyles. It is groundbreaking a post-soviet skater can be successful without conforming to traditional fashion and instead carving his own lane into the industry. The same can be said for the New York-based Californian designer, Willy Chavarria, who came off a New York Fashion Week show displaying a high-end line rooted in cholo culture. As many others emerge each season, the hope is with great clothes being produced, we also see a spotlight, education, and progression of culture.

 Gosha mainly street-casts his models. His shows mainly comprise of young Russian skaters, who he feels represent younger versions of himself.  Gosha’s  tribute to Russian artists and themes are evident throughout  his brand. Is this truly appreciated by his fan base or is this process a moot point for the high level of consumption we see from his fans? Gosha is often times put in the same box as a Supreme due to crossover skate and graphic appeal, and the insane sell through resale of his product. In addition, like Supreme, he has drawn some of the label-crazed hypebeast demographics that wear more for the status than for what the brand stands for.

Sales and profits are easily calculated, however, impact is more difficult to quantify. With this new revolution of designers are cultures appreciated or simply consumed? Fashion moves at a rapid pace and every year and every season this pace seems to pickup speed. Of course it is not possible to expect everyone who wears a brand to represent the culture behind it, that is the beauty of fashion- the opportunity for interpretation. How can we gain familiarity with a designer and the message or intent behind their art? Regardless of the plausibility or necessity of this notion, the biggest positive of this new wave is its diversity and ownership among brands. Gosha and Chavarria are just two of many new streetwear-influenced labels currently in the scene. Regardless of what happens with consumer behavior, as streetwear and high fashion mix, we now see the money going to the authenticators of the movement. Cultures might always be exploited and appropriated, but these new designers signify a monumental shift for creatives in every corner of the globe. This high-low reversal we see today marks a historical shift breaking the rules, lifting cultures, and taking down barriers.