It’s widely accepted that fashion is in a state of transition. For the last twelve months we have seen creative directors come and go, men’s and women’s shows merge, brands runway and retail calendars align, and it led us called into questions. While those working in fashion and those observing it continuing to weigh in on these changes, fashion’s most notorious outsider – Raf Simons – has just given his words of wisdom. In a new interview with Telegraph, about his collaboration with the Danish fabric manufacturer Kvadrat, the legendary Belgian designer presents a thought on fashion industry-shaking decision.
“Everyone is paying attention to the wrong thing in my opinion,” says the Belgian designer. “There’s this huge debate about ‘Oh my God, should we sell the garments the day after the show or three days after the show or should we tweet it in this way or Instagram it in that way?’… You know, all that kind of bullshit. Will all that stuff still be relevant 30 years from now? I don’t think so.” Simons continued. Indeed, it seems like the fashion world is in a risky place, such as Instagram fueling a 24/7 street style surveillence and fast fashion and haute couture becoming incresingly indistinguishable, established brands are playing catch up by releaseing more products. Sure, it helps grow profit, but also creates an industry where high-end designs is becoming ephemeral.
The designer also spoke about the increasingly fast-paced industry and the struggle to adjust. "Having the timeline of a year is like heaven for me because at Christian Dior I used to do eight collections a year and each collection could contain up to 150 fabrics." But his new collaboration with Danish textile house Kvadrat is something diffrent. "I've done three fabrics this year for Kvadrat and I really, really pay attention to it. It's beautiful to be able to give a project substantial incubation time. When I did fabrics at Dior I had to choose them within a couple of hours sometimes – seeing everything, deciding, making colour palettes…then hoopla–launch."
Simons doesn't feel the same sense of sales pressure and creative constraint that he did in the fashion world. "There's no hurry. It's very different to how things work in fashion right now. Of course everybody's happy if it's successful, but not once have (the Kvadrat team) ever said to me, 'this is our expectation'. Never. They believe in me, I believe in them and it's a marriage. It's in their nature to collaborate with creative animals."
He also sniffed at the intellectual strangulation brought upon by social media. "These days it's a different way of consuming , it's now looking and then swiping to the next thing – looking, next, looking, next, looking, next, next, next, next, next – there's less dialogue and engagement with it in general." Although it sounded a bit like an old man's complaint, but he has a point, "there weren't that many things reaching us, so that when we picked up on something, we went in-depth. We would investigate, we'd follow, try to understand…whether we liked it or hated it we would still have a conversation about it."
Simons also reflects on his time at Christian Dior, where he held the position of creative director for three and a half years until last October. “It was a fantastic experience and a fantastic time. I wasn’t planning to go there for such a short period, but I was also not willing to sign up there for a long period. So it became complicated and I decided to get out. That is partly due to the system that fashion has adopted. It is speeding up and up. Every season I see so many things evolving at such a speed that I think certain creative people, including myself, are just not willing to do it anymore. I don’t want to. If you work on that level, you miss out on a lot of things."
Simons still divides his time between Antwerp and Paris, but his comparatively relaxed schedule has afforded him the opportunity to indulge in simple pleasures. And his work for Kvadrat suits this more domestic lifestyle. “Working with this Danish company is so small and intimate and it’s something I can do all by myself at home if I want,” he says. “It’s an ongoing project until they get fed up or I get fed up. But that won’t happen anytime soon because it’s extremely satisfying for us both. I think Kvadrat is incredibly original and strong without being trendy just for one season. It’s long-lasting and I like that.”
Read the full interview here.
Photo via Highsnobiety