The Volatile World of Fashion

November 23, 2016


Lately, it seems as if every month there’s a fashion eruption. Is it our imagination? No, it’s not. Let’s take a look. 


The standard contract for a fashion designer is three-to-five years. However, since July 2015, there have been EIGHT designers who have left a brand after a single contract stint. And, according to Vanessa Friedman of The New York Times, “This is not a fluke, it’s a trend and it’s not a good one.”


Because of his illness, Oscar de la Renta chose fashion designer, Peter Copping, to be his successor – for a smooth transition. At the time, it seemed like a wise move because Copping was the Creative Director at Nina Ricci, and, like de la Renta, he had worked at Balmain (see our A Countess and a Creator).

Oscar de la Renta

On paper, it all looked perfect, but less than two years later the company issued a statement saying that Copping was leaving “for personal reasons.”

Earlier, two young guns at the company who were expecting to inherit the title of “co-directors” left abruptly and set up their own company.

Best friends, Laura Kim, 34 and Fernando Garcia, 29 named their company, Monse and, within one-year, had gone from a fashion-industry newcomer to one of the buzziest new labels. Then astoundingly, in September 2016 they were both hired BACK at the Oscar de la Renta fashion house as co-creative directors.


Now, let’s take a look at the stalwarts: Ralph Lauren (see our Ralph Lauren: The Way Forward), Calvin Klein and Donna Karan who have lost their luster.

The recent buzz about Calvin Klein is that the brand, owned by conglomerate PVH, with its $8.2 billion in global retail sales has lost its way. In June of this year, Klein told talk-show host Andy Cohen, “It’s been a long time since I saw something exciting.”

Former Christian Dior designer, Raf Simons, was brought in to revitalize the brand. And Kendall Jenner was featured in the company’s advertising – much to the dismay of Klein himself. “I would never have picked her,” he said. Let’s see if this new direction works.

Finally, there’s Donna Karan, where by the time the 67-year-old designer left her brand in 2015, it too had veered off course. In 2001, French luxury group LVMH thought it could reenergize the company and bought it for $643 million.

The problem, according to insiders is that Karen herself had lost interest in the brand. Now LVMH has sold this money-losing company that, at its peak, realized $800 million in sales – but now brings in only $300 million.


Some say it’s a question of “evolution” because for decades fashion was the defining cultural touchstone for young adults. Today, it’s technology.  “When the tech business is more fashionable than fashion, that’s a problem,” says Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group.


I believe this is an excellent point because I’ve just finished reading a terrific book titled, “Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley by Antonio Garcia Martinez. It’s a gripping page-turner that I started reading at 3:00 pm in the afternoon and finished at 5:00 am the next morning. It’s an insider’s view (warts and all) of Twitter, Facebook and start-ups. In short: 528 pages of pure drama.


Why fight the crowds in the old brick-and-mortar standbys? Adea’s got a great selection of layering tops that are just a click away.

Shaun Nelson-Henrick


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