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Dries Van Noten & Thom Browne CEO On Creating A Better Fashion Industry



Long before coronavirus was declared a pandemic, cracks had emerged in the global fashion system and they were growing too big to glaze over. While safeguarding public health during this crisis is paramount, many industry leaders think it would be unwise to emerge from it unchanged.

So, via an online manifesto titled Open Letter to the Fashion Industry, published on 12 May, a consortium of luxury retailers and designers addressed the timing of collection deliveries and discounts, suggesting that the autumn/winter season should move back to winter (August until January) and the spring/summer season back to summer (February until July). Led by Dries Van Noten and forged over a series of three video forums, early signatories included Craig Green, Erdem Moralıoğlu, Gabriela Hearst, Marine Serre, Thom Browne and Tory Burch alongside the likes of Bergdorf Goodman, Lane Crawford, Nordstrom and Selfridges.

“We have been forced to step back; forced to look at everything we are doing and decide whether it makes sense,” Van Noten tells Vogue of the grassroots movement, which also sets out the intentions of reducing industry’s impact on the environment and reviewing the traditional fashion show format. Here is a designer who, in the two and a half decades since launching his brand, has circumvented the mainstream of fashion and excelled commercially; refusing to push out pre-collections, and launching his first scent in 2013 — a collaboration with perfumier Frédéric Malle.

Only time will tell exactly what the fashion industry of the future will look like, but a good starting point is speaking to those at the forefront of building it. And with that, we talked via Zoom to Van Noten and Thom Browne CEO Rodrigo Bazan to discuss sustainability, the relevance of seasons and the future of fashion shows.

The open letter to the fashion industry was the product of a series of conversations between industry figureheads with a shared vision. How did these conversations first come about?

Dries Van Noten (DVN): “For the first time in a long time, the world was at home thinking about our future. The forum started with a conversation with Andrew Keith [president of Lane Crawford] where we spoke about the problems the industry was facing. From there, we reached out to designers and retailers and the group organically grew. We were especially worried about the delivery of autumn/winter 2020 collections being delayed to August and as late as October due to the pandemic — with end of season markdowns as early as Black Friday [27 November] — but then it occurred to us that to deliver at this time would both simplify our businesses and meet the customers’ needs.”

Thom Browne autumn/winter 2020.

© Photography Jamie Stoker 

Why was it important for Thom Browne to be a part of this forum?

Rodrigo Bazan (RB): “For Thom and myself selling during the right season is common sense. What Dries has created here is a gamechanger in that you see creatives, CEOs, buyers all together in a video meeting talking openly. This doesn’t happen when things are all going fantastically, it happens when we are facing a crisis.”

Given the calendar is so dysfunctional, why do you think we’ve continued to follow it for so long?

DVN: “A lot comes down to respect. Fashion became frivolous and customers lost respect for it. A month or two after a collection is delivered to stores it goes on sale; discounts are applied before a customer can even start wearing the winter coat they bought in the summer. The whole discount addiction is crazy.

“Before the crisis, people were saying the pressure to produce more collections and have more drops earlier in the year didn’t make sense any more — creativity needs time to mature. I think we needed this moment to stand still, to step back and look at everything we are doing.”

RB: “When we were talking with retailers, what’s interesting is that they said we are suggesting that we wrap a season the way we did before the 2008 financial crisis when there were a lot of early markdowns. This is a global pandemic and a very different crisis. The initial reaction was to, again, start discounting things, but why do that when you know the products are going to be delivered late? What we are proposing is a much healthier pace that creates more time for products to be sold.”

Like many of the designers who have signed the letter, both Dries Van Noten and Thom Browne are catering for a global customer — is there a need to adhere to seasons at all any more?

DVN: “Even when you have customers in Australia, LA and Paris, seasons are important. To elevate a collection from just being a product, you need to tell the story behind it. Of course we include lighter pieces in our winter collections and warmer pieces in our summer collections, but the story has to be complete and make sense.

“And the seasons are changing due to the climate crisis. It’s very important now more than ever to think about the essence of design: is this garment of value? Is it going to be of value in years to come? Can it be worn in lots of different circumstances?”

RB: “Thom believes in the seasons and providing customers with cashmere in the colder months and cooler fabrics in the warmer months. There’s a formula to the way he puts together a collection, and there’s a degree of repetition in his creative process.”

Dries Van Noten autumn/winter 2020.

© Photography Jamie Stoker 

What do you think the future holds for fashion shows and what role will technology play?

DVN: “As a creative person, fashion shows are very important as they mark the endpoint of a collection before moving onto the next. It’s a magical moment when all the elements come together at once — the collection, models, hair, make-up, lights, music, setting. You share that moment with 400 people.

“Next season we will do a digital presentation and it’s great to embrace technology and make it a part of your process. We have to find ways of making shows more sustainable, some designers might decide to do away with them altogether, but for me it would be like a theatre group rehearsing all the time and never performing.”

RB: “Fashion week can be really efficient because you have buyers, press, and so on in the same place at once — it’s an explosion of visibility for designers. In our Zoom conversations, buyers explained that they can buy on a small scale digitally, but for significant budgets they really need to see the products. For as long as we can’t have shows we will come up with interesting alternatives, but when it is possible to show I think that’s the most effective way of communicating creativity.”

With good reason, the sustainability credentials of the fashion industry are coming under increasing scrutiny. How are you hoping to reduce your impact on the environment?

DVN: “When you have the right mentality, everything falls into place. It’s about the small gestures as much as the really big ideas — from reducing the use of the photocopier to rethinking how you ship products. For example, last season all our polyester was made from recycled plastic bottles; we’ve started shipping blazers layered over shirts rather than individually wrapping them — halving the amount of packaging used. During one of the forum meetings, Andrew Keith suggested that we stop branding hangers so they don’t need to be changed from the designers’ to department stores’.

“Unfortunately, fashion will never be completely sustainable, but it’s a big step forward if everybody is doing their best. A garment may be made from organic cotton, but how is it then transported? The conversations I’ve been having with my team have led us to think if we need to provide customers with more information than they are currently getting on e-commerce sites. Do they want to know exactly where it’s made? Do they want to know how it’s made? Do they want to know details about the fabric?”

RB: “I’m picking up on a word that Dries mentioned: respect. When Thom designs a garment, he envisions it in a vintage store in 20 years’ time — it’s meant to last. By designing garments that are as seasonless as possible, as classic as possible; by managing the quantities produced and expanding this rushed three-month cycle, people’s wardrobes would become timeless. On top of that, being more mindful about how we, as an industry, transport collections and source materials — that would already be a significant step in the right direction.”

What do you hope the outcome of the forum will be for your brands and the industry?

DVN: “We’re not trying to become the Fashion Police. Every brand will find their own creative solutions. I’ve never done a pre-collection, but for designers who do, is there a way of incorporating them into one of the Big Four fashion weeks? I like to have separate shows for men and women because I don’t want my menswear to be an accessory to womenswear, but some designers might do co-ed shows. I’ve always communicated the story behind my designs, it doesn’t please everyone but that has never been my aim. Have I done things perfectly? No. Our collections are far too big, and because we deliver three months after the show, we have to preorder fabric so there’s often a lot leftover.

“The only thing we ask is that we have the courage to keep to the timeframe we have been pushed into by the coronavirus crisis.”

RB: “The most important thing is we’re talking about a ping pong of great ideas here. Until now, everyone was following the same schedule for somebody else. The beautiful thing the forum highlighted is that it’s working for neither brands nor retailers. Now creativity has the chance to breathe.

“Dries and Thom have had a similar path to where they are today. Both come from great creatives who have built their businesses steadily over the years and, interestingly, have recently had investment from family-run companies [Puig acquired a majority stake in Dries Van Noten in June 2018, while Ermenegildo Zegna purchased an 85 per cent stake in Thom Browne also in 2018]. They were both healthy businesses because they did things mindfully, but I hope we can get out of this crisis in an even better way.”

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Fashion & Style

Nationals unveil 2019 World Series rings featuring 108 diamonds, ‘Baby Shark’ homage




Unfortunately, the Nationals haven’t been able to have a traditional World Series ring unveiling in front of a packed house at Nationals Park. On Sunday night, though, they had an online ceremony with players airing live on MLB Network. The players have decided they didn’t want to get the rings until they are all together in person and that’s pretty cool, but we now have a good grasp of the design. 

Here’s the video: 

And for those who want it in picture form: 

Some of the features and their meanings: 

  • The “W” logo features 30 rubies, representing the 30 runs the Nats scored in their four World Series wins. 
  • “World Champions” has 32 sapphires, which represents seven walk-off wins, 13 shutout wins, the eight-game winning streak (their longest of the season) and the four playoff rounds won added together. 
  • There are 108 diamonds, representing the number of regular-season wins, postseason wins, one diamond for the World Series title and two additional diamonds to recognize the franchise having been both the Montreal Expos and Washington Nationals. 
  • The top and bottom parts of the ring have 12 rubies, signifying the total number of postseason wins. 
  • On the inside of the ring, there’s a “Baby Shark” holding a World Series trophy. It also lists the four teams the Nats took down with the series game counts (for example, 4-3 over the Astros). 
  • Some of their phrases can be seen around the ring, such as “go 1-0 everyday” and “fight finished.” 

Surely it’s a bittersweet moment for the Nationals players. Each player’s name will be featured on their own ring — as seen above with the Stephen Strasburg example — and that has to be pretty awesome to see. 

The fact that they have to physically wait to see their own rings and celebrate the occasion together has to sting, though. 

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Fashion & Style

The Best Summer Shoes For You, Based On Your Zodiac Sign




The Best Summer Shoes For You, Based On Your Zodiac Sign | HelloGiggles

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Fashion & Style

How to Host a Virtual Wine Tasting With Celeb-Favorite Wines




E-Comm: How to Host a Virtual Wine Tasting With Celeb-Favorite Wines, Kourtney Kardashian, Karlie Kloss, Shay Mitchell

Getty Images; Shutterstock; E! Illustration

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If you’ve been connecting with friends and family via video chat, consider this idea for your next get-together: a virtual wine tasting. Not only will this activity get conversations flowing, but it will also help everyone find new wines they love. Personalized wine club Winc winemaker Robert Daugherty has the perfect wine lineup for you below, and everyone in the group can conveniently have them delivered to their homes via the service.

But first, allow Daugherty to run you through setting up your virtual wine tasting:

1. “Decide on a lineup of wines ahead of time, so that you can taste along together. I’d recommend tasting no more than four wines at once. You can also set a theme for the tasting, whether it’s unique varieties you’ve never tried before, natural wines, or wines from a particular region or country. This will also help inform light bites and food pairings to go with each.”

2. “Assign a host. This person can help lead the discussion and have information on each of the wines readily available. An understanding of where the wine came from, the winemaker who crafted it and context surrounding the wine’s history and narrative makes the tasting more meaningful, informative and engaging.”

3. “Don’t take it too seriously! Have each person talk about what they are noticing and tasting. Flavors, color, viscosity, etc. Adding a trivia element or making it into a drinking game is always a great idea, too. Have fun with it!”

4. “Decide which one you personally like best. Then fill up your glass and enjoy.”

Daugherty suggests that you always start with sparkling wines and rosés first, followed by white wines and lighter reds next and full-bodied red wines last.

Check out the wines Daugherty recommends for your tasting below, some of which have a celebrity fan-base.

2019 Pacificana Chardonnay

 The Pacificana chardonnay is dry and fruity with notes of apple, butterscotch, honeysuckle and lemon rind.

2019 Cherries & Rainbows Red Wine

How fun is the packaging of this wine? It’s dry with notes of dark fruits.

2017 Porter & Plot Cabernet Sauvignon

Enjoy notes of plum, red cherry and rosemary in this dry wine.

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