22 March, 2012

lafw? what's lafw?

i love thinking about fashion. i love dissecting the ways in which individuals make style choices, and i love love love to look at fashion trends, and how they differ from place to place.

i often wish there was a bit more intellectual discussion in fashion..... and sometimes i feel really lucky, when real discourse emerges.

it might be considered strange to move to la, in order to be exposed to more of this discourse. certainly, la is not the center of american fashion....

... but in fact, that's exactly why i find it an interesting place to talk about fashion. many of the people working in the industry here have experience elsewhere, and have a great sense of perspective on how things are doing here vs other cities, countries or continents.

fashion moves at a slightly slower paces here, and i find that really refreshing, not the least because it gives us time to talk and think about what we're really doing.

which brings me to to the subject of los angeles fashion week.

did you know that existed?

don't worry, if you didn't..... neither does anyone else! but it does. and it turns out that there is a lot of debate about whether it should.

(photo via wetpaint.com)

i actually think that lafw could become a completely exciting and relevant part of the fashion industry schedule. but it certainly doesn't live up to that standard now.

there's really no room for any "real housewives" on the runway of any self respecting fashion week.

and i think that therein lies the problem. i'm not sure that the a fashion week in la really commands respect.

this is not because there are no respectable brands in this town! brands large and small exist & thrive here - from bcbg, raquel allegra & rodarte to ld tuttle, clare vivier & trovata (which is a short & subjective list) but not one of these brands shows at lafw. why?

because they already have thriving businesses, and have found ways to connect to national & international buyers. the kinds of buyers that don't come to lafw.

why don't these buyers come to lafw? because there's not much new or innovative on the runways.

(photo courtesy of george kim/snapstarlive.com)

why would a buyer come to a multi-label runway show put on by another retailer? what is the point of this kind of show?

successful, relevant fashion weeks are essentially trade shows. the designers put on shows, in order to sell their collections to retail buyers. the public is not invited, and there's no reason the public should be invited.

there are some labels who show real collections, and i've pulled some images of a few of the brands-


(photos courtesy of wwd)

laili lau:

(photos courtesy of wwd)


(photos courtesy of wwd)

i'm not a fashion critic, and i don't want to go through the exercise of what i think is good and bad.

however, on the whole the collections that are shown at lafw look like second string to nyfw. regardless of personal taste, there are technical aspects of cutting, draping and fitting that are not negotiable in apparel.

which makes the question "how relevant is lafw?" a very viable one. what exactly is the point of hosting a fashion week, if you're not able to show designers who can compete with the other cities that currently have rosters of very exciting and significant brands?

over all, la designers really need to focus on sending out looks that are on par with the shows in new york, paris & milan. the cuts & fits (and styling!) have to be absolutely rock solid, before a look goes down the runway. some of the shows, here are closer to getting there than others.

to my mind, there is no reason that lafw needs to feel like the jv team to nyfw's varsity. there are some incredibly talented designers here in this city.... however, these talented designers won't show their work next to second rate collections, which won't be full respected by the industry...

in the end, the relevance of lafw depends solely on the commitment of the designers not to show anything other than world class collection. it's incredibly hard to edit one's own work, and be highly demanding of yourself and your team. but no one ever said that being successful in fashion is easy.

cities like barcelona, copenhagen and berlin have thriving fashion weeks that do not rely on brands with huge names like new york, paris & milan. however, the work shown at these smaller fashion weeks is not second string.

the designers who represent these smaller markets have a real opportunity to show work that is innovative, exciting and really fresh, because there is usually not as much pressure to be commercial. 

la absolutely deserves to be among these smaller cities in its reputation in the fashion industry.

i am pretty sure that when the majority of designers shown at lafw have really put their heads down, and worked their asses off to show collections that are on par with the rest of the world.... la fashion week will immediately gain relevance on the fashion month calendar.

until then, personally, i don't see much need for it.

 (image courtesy of google image search)

you can read some other thoughts on this subject, if my long-winded exposition hasn't been enough for you:

robin givhan sort of agrees with me, but is maybe a bit more harsh, here.

kpcc (my favorite la radio station) covers the same piece, here. (i especially like the audio bit.)

and the blog los angeles i'm yours gives a bit of an outsider perspective, here.

1 comment:

  1. I have to admit that I don't know much about fashion, much less about fashion weeks and why they are successful or not, so this was a very interesting read for me. Thanks, J!