LinkedIn, McKinsey, BoF and Moda.es are large platforms where you can find trustworthy information regarding day-to-day events in the fashion industry. I haven’t stopped reading reports, opinion articles from respected experts, and statements from established CEOS regarding the necessary steps a company needs to take in this industry in order to prosper.
They largely coincide in emphasizing the concept of sustainability as a powerful driver of success for these companies in the coming years.
I sincerely and humbly believe that we are mistaken if we think that sustainability only means finding new materials or processes that better respect the environment, circular business models, or more optimized purchase strategies with the goal of reducing stock from the largest industry players.
We live at a time in which the largest retailers sell a marketed idea of design that they have baptized as “user-centered design,” based on what the final customer believes that they need here and now. We are going through a time of cowardly designers.
All of the product proposals from the largest industry leaders are proposals based on big data. There is no space nor time to imbue each product with value and identity, and it truly is unnecessary because these same companies have taken it upon themselves to convince the consumer that this is what they need. Where is there room, then, for the surprise, individuality, character, and therefore luxury that was formerly practiced by designers at the level of Dior, Chanel, Starck, Ive, or Sapper? Just to mention a few.
The question, and what is genuinely concerning, is that this new way of understanding design is what really strikes against the much-desired sustainability. Current business models, based on big data, do not only homogenize and saturate the selection in an already-small world, but are also boring and above all put an end to the value of things (I was going to say well-made things, but that ship sailed a long time ago).
As one of the greatest designers of this industry, Christian Dior, once said, “America is not a country of great luxury, but one of great expense.” That is what the global fashion industry (not including Paris) has become a great expense. A joker named big data has slipped into the game of fashion and become the greatest killer of the concept of design as it has been understood in past decades. It was a tool for creating differential value, for building the identity behind the brand, and ensuring the sustainability of any corporation.