May 23, 2024

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What Fashion Designers Need to Know Today

7 min read

Discover the most relevant industry news and insights for fashion designers, updated each month to enable you to excel in job interviews, promotion conversations or perform better in the workplace by increasing your market awareness and emulating market leaders.

BoF Careers distils business intelligence from across the breadth of our content — editorial briefings, newsletters, case studies, podcasts and events — to deliver key takeaways and learnings tailored to your job function, listed alongside a selection of the most exciting live jobs advertised by BoF Careers partners.

Key articles and need-to-know insights for fashion designers today:

1. Luxury Market to Grow 4 Percent This Year

The personal luxury goods market is set to reach €362 billion ($387 billion) by end of year, growing 4 percent at current exchange rates from 2022, consultancy Bain & Company said in a joint report with Italian trade group Altagamma. That’s at the low end of earlier estimates between €360 billion and €380 billion.

Brands will need to sharpen their strategies, focusing on having a differentiated approach from competitors. “Things are moving in different speeds and different directions. It’s a phase [calling for] bold choices by brands,” said Bain partner Claudia D’Arpizio. “Brands will need to choose their battles in terms of which customer they are going after.”

Related Jobs:

Sampling & Development Manager, Saloni — London, United Kingdom

Leather Goods Product Developer, Alexander McQueen Florence, Italy

RTW Designer, Dion Lee — New York, United States

2. The Secrets Behind Totême’s Success

Totême co-founders Karl Lindman and Elin Kling.

When Swedish husband-and-wife duo Elin Kling and Karl Lindman started their minimalist fashion brand in 2014, the broader industry was in the midst of a transformational shift. […] In the luxury sphere, the worlds of streetwear and high fashion would soon collide, powered by the likes of Off-White and Vetements. A new Gucci, under the creative direction of Alessandro Michele, would catapult quirky maximalism into the zeitgeist. Logomania was about to become luxury’s driving force.

But the couple refused to compromise on their broader vision despite the fast-changing industry landscape. […] With Totême, Lindman and Kling sought to build a Swedish fashion label that felt timeless. And their approach has paid off. Last year, Totême, which has been profitable since 2015, surpassed €100 million ($106.8 million) in annual sales, up from about €10 million before the pandemic. The brand now boasts a network of nine stores, with six more set to open over the next few months in hot spots like Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles and Mount Street in London.

Related Jobs:

Freelance Womenswear Designer, Omnes — London, United Kingdom

Product Developer, Holzweiler — Oslo, Norway

Senior Hardware Designer, Coach — New York, United States

3. How Regional Brands Go Global

NBA star Kyle Kuzma wearing Spencer Badu's black cargo snow pants. The Canadian-Ghanaian designer's roster of influential stockists has helped to attract several high-profile clients, including K-Pop group NewJeans.

When Toronto-based designer Spencer Badu was accepted into a well-known showroom in Paris, he was sure it would be his ticket to fame — or at least recognition from buyers and key editors during fashion week. But Badu soon realised the showroom’s sales agents were too busy steering buyers to the higher-profile brands on display than to his own. So he took matters into his own hands the next year, renting an Airbnb and a couple of clothing rails before reaching out to buyers directly, inviting them to check out his genderless ready-to-wear line, which today includes cargo pants, track jackets and other staples.

But the changing dynamics of the industry has created new opportunities. During the pandemic, brands were forced to embrace virtual appointments for buyers and VIP shoppers. For many, these Zoom meetings have persisted, levelling the playing field for small remote brands that may not have the means to travel for every potential order. Meanwhile, consumers’ growing comfort in shopping online meant lesser-known brands with eye-catching social media feeds were able to attract shoppers far beyond their immediate locales.

Related Jobs:

Design Assistant, Adanola — Manchester, United Kingdom

Studio Assistant, Icicle — Paris, France

Footwear Designer, On — Zurich, Switzerland

4. What’s Blocking the Rise of More Sustainable Materials?

A white pile of Circulose pulp, the branded cellulosic pulp produced by Swedish textile recycler Renewcell.

Since Swedish textile recycler Renewcell began operations at its first commercial-scale recycling plant last year, its biggest focus has been ramping up supply. But in October, Renewcell provided an unsettling update: while production was continuing to ramp up, the anticipated demand wasn’t there; just 129 tonnes of Circulose — the branded cellulose pulp it produces — was delivered in October, a sharp drop off from 1,500 tonnes in September.

Though big brands need materials like Renewcell’s Circulose to scale to meet sustainability commitments, the industry is poorly structured to translate that intention into real demand. Supply chains are fragmented and opaque, meaning innovators need to convince a complicated web of players to buy into what they’re bringing to market. Meanwhile, sourcing teams, who make purchasing decisions about brands’ material mix for each season, are typically disconnected from sustainability strategies — more focused on lowering costs than environmental impact.

Related Jobs:

Head of Technical, Me + Em — London, United Kingdom

Garment Technician, AWWG — Madrid, Spain

Designer, Old Navy — San Francisco, United States

5. Balmain: The House Olivier Rousteing Rebuilt

Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing.

Raised in the bourgeois city of Bordeaux, Olivier Rousteing now reinterprets the codes of French glamour for a cosmopolitan, radiant woman who knows neither taboos nor borders. “Heritage, modernity, and inclusivity are the elements that have fuelled my longevity in the house and sum up my career at Balmain,” Rousteing says. From partnerships with Kim Kardashian and her family to Beyoncé, for whom he has designed costumes for music videos and tours, Rousteing has renewed Balmain’s historic ties to celebrity while taking them to new, global heights.

Those partnerships have electrified the designer’s Instagram account — which now counts 10 million followers — as well as powering exponential growth for Mayhoola-owned Balmain, where sales have increased more than ten-fold during his tenure. “What matters most now is embodying the house with very strong codes, with a style that doesn’t succumb to trends. I believe the prestige of a house depends on staying true to itself. I played with the house codes until those codes became mine. Embodying a house means imposing a style, then your own: this is what makes your longevity,” Rousteing told BoF in an exclusive interview.

Related Jobs:

Pattern Cutter, Halfpenny London — London, United Kingdom

Womenswear Design Intern, Hugo Boss — Germany

Designer, Vetements — Zurich, Switzerland

6. Phoebe Philo’s First Drop, Explained

TK

Star designer Phoebe Philo has released the first drop from her long-awaited namesake brand via phoebephilo.com. […] The drop is the first delivery of what Philo is calling A1, the first instalment or “edit” from “a seasonless, continuous body of work.” The collection contains 150 styles across ready-to-wear, bags, shoes and other accessories, all with little-to-no branding. Sunglasses start at $450, while shearling jackets top out above $20,000. Leather bags run from $3,500 to $8,500.

Philo’s first drop is available only via her own website. There is no physical retail, nor wholesale distribution, keeping costs low and margins high. Volumes have been sharply limited so the site offers “notably less than anticipated want.” The focus on scarcity, in some ways reminiscent of the model perfected by streetwear giant Supreme, is designed to ensure demand always outstrips supply, creating a sense of urgency amongst would-be shoppers and eliminating the risk of unsold inventory.

Related Jobs:

Product Developer, Zimmermann — Paris, France

Tailor / Fitter, Neiman Marcus — New York, United States

Design Director, Kate Spade — New York, United States

7. Does Fashion Need a New LA Fashion Week?

Gypsy Sport's Spring/Summer 2023 runway show at Los Angeles Fashion Week in October 2022.

The city of angels has long been a key fashion market. During the post-pandemic US luxury boom, mega-labels from Dior to Gucci touched down with elaborate runway spectacles in a bid to tap local clients. Los Angeles is also a key clothing manufacturing hub and home to scores of denim and DTC labels. […] Now, after acquiring the intellectual property for LA Fashion Week in January 2022, N4xt Experiences — a group of executives from fashion, beauty, finance and entertainment that includes former Fenty chief creative officer Ciarra Pardo and Spring Place co-founder Imad Izemrane — is trying to […] put Los Angeles on the global fashion week map.

“There is no competing with the other fashion weeks of the world, their legacy — they’ve been doing what they do for a very long time,” said Pardo. “Los Angeles hasn’t been able to stick for a very long time. The only way for it to create its own lane is to do it differently.”

Related Jobs:

Assistant Designer, Calvin Klein — New York, United States

Couture & Eveningwear Pattern Maker & Developer, Nardos — Dallas, United States

Accessories Designer, Amiri — Los Angeles, United States

8. Are Those Feathers Faux?

Gisele Bündchen attends the Met Gala in a white feather cape.

Microscopy and chemical solubility testing on products sourced from The Iconic, Boohoo, Selfridges and Asos confirmed that supposedly faux feathers had been mislabelled, according to a report launched in October by Collective Fashion Justice and animal welfare organisation World Animal Protection. […] Boohoo, Asos and Selfridges said they had removed the products identified by the investigation from their websites. Asos’s own testing confirmed the results, while Selfridges found a factory had mislabelled a product containing both Turkey and faux feathers.

All three companies already have policies governing the use of feathers, which they are looking to tighten in various ways. Net-a-Porter also removed and updated a listing after finding a technical error had led to mislabelling. The Iconic has worked with World Animal Protection and Collective Fashion Justice to create its own policy prohibiting the use of decorative feathers in response to the report.

Related Jobs:

Product Developer, Cos — London, United Kingdom

Fashion Designer, Massimo Dutti — Barcelona, Spain

Womenswear Designer, Mac Duggal — Burr Ridge, United States

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