Much has been made of late about the dismal state of the economy and its effects on the high-risk world of high-fashion. Lacroix, one of Paris' most celebrated couturiers, risks losing his company to bankruptcy in one of history's most epic fashion tragedies. Further, the colonialist expansion of luxury mega-brands into emerging markets juxtaposed with the recent shutterings of promising young lines such as Emma Cook and Veronique Branquinho, can only confirm that we are in a state of flux, a seismic shift in values.
This weekend, Cathy Horn published an essay, The Bigger Picture, on her New York Times blog that had fashion folk atwitter. Providing a thought-provoking, if directionless, musing on the current state of fashion, Horn reignited ideas of fashion vs. style and luxury vs. "luxury". Check it out, it is quite good.
If we are in a state of reassessing values and notions of modernity, the giants above had better take heed. How can a company as pedigreed as Hermes expect to maintain an ivory luster when their CEO admits to breeding crocodiles in order to keep up with demand for exotic-skin handbags? If I were to honestly express my vile fashion romanticism, my $80,000 Birkin had better be tailored from the skin of a specimen caught in an imaginary feat of danger and bravado. Is the crocodile-skin Birkin fated to the same genetic oddities as a Purdue chicken?
Let us take a step back and reassess our relationship with our clothes. I recently sold off a healthy portion of my closet to consignment and thrift shops. Coming to the realization that an overflowing, hunchbacked rack of insignificant options and show-pieces only serves to create more anxiety in an already hectic time was crucial. Now I carry less, and care more for the things I own. If consumers begin to make similar realizations, perhaps the Darwinian nature of the fashion world can fertilize itself on innovation, quality and progressive thought.