Who said fast fashion is dead?
Aesthetically striking. symbolic and eccentric the history of Boho chic dates back more than 200 years.
Beginning in the mid-19th century, French intellectuals/Romantics created an eclectic mode of dress that mirrored their passion for Romantic art with coordinates that had lithe and graceful elements and Asian influences. Brightly colored textiles set off by gypsy-style accoutrements,loosely tousled hair and well–loved coats made them quite distinctive.
While the first innovators of BoHo were artists motivated by a combination of extreme poverty and a desire to produce art, throughout history, it’s become associated with the hippies of the 60s and 70s and is now considered a mainstream trend.
Still highly decorative and lovely the characteristics of the trend are natural fabrics, a soft woodsy palette of greens, browns and other complimentary shades and loose silhouettes with a global appeal.
Thea Porter (Dorothea Dorothy Noelle Naomi Thea Porter 24 December 1927 to 24 July 2000),a British fashion designer, was one of the most prolific BoHo chic advocates during the 60s and 70s. Her vintage designs today can range from $398.66 for coat (1st dibs https://www1stdibs.com) to $2850 for a “chiffon maxi dress (thewaywewore http://thewaywewore.com).
Don’t despair if your budget won’t allow you to invest in vintage BoHo chic by designers like Thea Porter because there’s still plenty of great contemporary pieces at Ross Dress For Less and TJ Maxx.
In the mid-‘80s,while attending CSULA as a Fashion Merchandising major I was struck with a big dilemma – how to look stylish every day at school and work.
My department insisted we walk the fashion walk at all times to represent the industry. For me this was a requirement I had to think outside the box to meet, because at the time I operated on a small budget that only allowed me to shop at thrift stores and deeply discounted sales racks at major department stores and small chain stores.
Drawn to the ultra-cheap Chanel knock-off skirt suits and comfy cardigans at “Daniel Freeman Thrift Auxiliary” and “The Discovery Shop” in Inglewood, California I collected some of my most memorable vintage pieces from their racks.
To this day I’m still drawn to cardigans and boxy jackets that I love to pair with jeans, khakis, skirts and jumpsuits. The trick is to mix the components subtly so you don’t look too costume-y or passé.
My suggestion? Grab a vintage cardie, throw it over a modern white tee, then accessorize with a fun scarf or necklace. In the accompanying photos, to this post, I coordinated an early 60s black cardie with a white Universal Threads x Target tee, a pair of floral print black and red pants and a red bead necklace from Kohl’s
Besides your favorite thrift shop an excellent place to buy a vintage cardigan is Etsy.com (https://www.etsy.com/). Priced from $25 on up they offer a wide and exciting variety to choose from.
While attending the Academy Of Arts University for my MA program in Fashion Journalism one of the requirements was to create a blog site to show the work we created in class. Now, after graduation, I’ve had new experiences that have expanded my creative vision so I’m creating a daily blog for this site too called “Vicqui’s Edits”.
Similar to what I’m doing daily in my Lookin’ blog site with Outfit of the Day https://www.lookingoodfeelingood.wordpress.comand in my Every blog site https://www.victoriawordpresscom587.wordpress. with my scheduled daily posts featuring fashion Inspo, fashion coordination, fashion wishlist items, fave fashion looks of the season, fashion finds, vintage spotlights and observations of the week, the new daily feature, for Stylish, will be more editorial and educational.
Instead of always looking outside to add something totally new this feature will tell you:
1) How to mix contemporary with vintage.
2) How to examine the history behind a look.
3) Which websites and stores are offering great merch.
4) How to examine and utilize the tools of icons from the past and ones popular today.
5) How to create a great office uniform or from a capsule.
6) How to wear accessories.
7) How to look at fashion in a new way through a creative portrayal.
In 2019 while earning my MA in Fashion Journalism online at the Academy Of Art University I was enrolled in Danielle Wallis’s Fashion Styling class. After enduring weeks of preliminary lessons where we learned how to style for a client, photograph accessories, and analyze magazine editorial layouts, we finally reached the final project.
Since one of my goals, as an African American fashion/feature writer is to incorporate my culture into my writing, I wanted to choose a final project concept that reflected that. Compiling various ideas from five influences, representing art, literature, music, dance, and fashion I came up with a cohesive story that I called African Americano.
In homage to my paternal grandmother, who was half Italian and half African American, I cautiously presented it to Professor Wallis. Once I further explained, in my bubble map and mood board, that I was also going to represent the 1960s and 1970s, and my muse was going to be Tish Rivers from James Baldwin’s novel If Beale Street Could Talk she became excited as well.
Two of her requirements that almost halted the project before it began, however, was that I look for clothes and accessories within my zip code and the outfits had to be realistic. So anything with an African American flair had to be thoroughly incorporated and make sartorial sense. In the film, based on the book, Tish Rivers worked in a department store, but in my fashion story I widened her scope and gave her a wardrobe that would be just as appropriate if worn at school, in an office, or a bank.
Within my zip code, 90008, the shops I chose were within the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and the surrounding areas. What I couldn’t find there I found in my closets. Edited down to five outfits, which I also modeled and photographed, the African American touches-a multicolored cloth bag from Malik Books, two African necklaces from the Pan African Film and Arts Festival, a Notorious BIG t-shirt from Ross Dress For Less and a black and white Black Panther tote from the Soul of a Nation exhibit at the Broad Museum-embued my styling with a uniquely ethnic flavor.
Now as I look back at African Americano, and put it into context with the other projects I completed at the Academy Of Art University before receiving my degree last December, I have to say it was definitely the one that made me proudest to be an African American.
Spring 2021 Trends:
If I were to describe the trends for Spring 2021 I’d classify them as pandemic and post-pandemic. In the first group, which centers on quarantining, sheltering at home, and Zoom correspondence they include: face masks, fashion gloves, leisurewear, sweatsuits, and Zoom jewelry. In the second group they include clothes that “shine” with “crystal embellishments, sequins, and reflective patent leather,” fun colors like silver, soft pink, and vibrant orange, “clashing prints,” and “head-to-toe playful prints”. Besides these trends there are those that carryover from other seasons or have a retro vibe (i.e., transparency, “statement collars,” neon brights, “exaggerated shoulders, bubble hems, and stripes, etc.,) along with the risqué and futuristic genre of bra and crop tops, utility garments and netting.
Snow Xue Gao:
Following close examination of these trends from New York, London, Paris, and Milan via fashion journalism commentary in vogue.com, Refinery29.com, FashionMagazine.com, WWD and others, then analyzing Vogue, Elle, and InStyle magazines I realized the Chinese designer, Snow Xue Gao, presented the most unique and innovative fashion show for Spring 2021 in New York City.
Not only did her designs cleverly reflect the “ease and comfort” we’ve all become accustomed to, while under quarantine during the pandemic, her mash up of Eastern and Western influences provided a prototype for her target customer once she emerges from quarantine during the post-pandemic period. Conceived for the professional woman who enjoys expressing her individuality and prefers buying wardrobe additions instead of trends and fads the creativity she brings to her garments blends classicism with futurism effectively.
Born in Beijing, Gao began her studies at the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology before moving to New York to work on an MFA in fashion design at Parsons School of Design. After graduating in 2017, and being shortlisted for the LVMH Prize competition, she launched her brand and started getting noticed by Vogue, WWD, and others in the press. Influenced by both the suiting popular in Western fashion and the “silks, prints and cultural motifs” from the East she’s particularly known for her eclectic approach.
“Ease, comfort and versatility have been keywords that have popped up during Zoom calls, and were all mentioned in Snow Xue Gao’s spring collection, which featured a more relaxed design approach without losing its East-meets-West mixed media identity.”Andrew Shang
“Ease, comfort and versatility have been keywords that have popped up during Zoom calls, and were all mentioned in Snow Xue Gao’s spring collection, which featured a more relaxed design approach without losing its East-meets-West mixed media identity,” wrote Andrew Shang in the article Snow Xue Gao RTW Spring 2021.
By taking the “clashing prints” trend and mixing it with deconstructionism and the pandemic-related trends of “pajamas as outerwear,” florals and plaids she’s achieved a look that seamlessly works as well at home as it does for quick errands out with a mask worn for protection. Titled Love, Family, and Friends Gao said about the collection in the article Snow Xue Gao Spring 2021 “I really hope that my clothes can give people a feeling of happiness, relaxation and casualness.”
Influenced aesthetically by Dries Van Noten and Martin Margiela, her Spring line consisted of structured, belted blazers, patchwork dresses, skirts, tops and pants kept down to earth with flat, black men’s-style shoes. Figure-enhancing, without being overly clingy or body-consciousness, her garments also had a slight 1930s/1940s feel
Writer Laird Borelli-Persson in her collection review about the designer for vogue.com wrote that “Gao is a talented tailor with a distinct signature of puzzling asymmetric “dual” or half-and-half looks together that play softness against suiting.” It was just this attention to her “distinctive ensembles” that earned her the admiration of Rihanna, who wore one of Gao’s jackets at the 2016 Global Citizen Festival in Central Park.
Only time will tell what the future will bring once the pandemic is over, but one thing is certain, talented and innovative designers like Snow Xue Gao will always be in demand as interesting ones to watch.
After considering the “stylish sweatsuits, long tunics, and oversized trousers” from Miuccia Prada/Raf Simons, Fendi, and Louis Vuitton that both defined our post COVID-19 existence and reinforced our sartorial safety nets, to obsess over, I chose a collection I couldn’t get out of my mind-Martin Margiela’s Spring Ready-to-Wear 2021 line.
Presented in a striking film that combined the creation of the clothing and accessories with Argentina and the tango it not only personified where we are now psychologically but also aesthetically. Utilizing “recicle” up cycled pieces, vintage “traditionally loomed Venetian brocades for the dancers’ Mary Jane shoes, leather, glossy wet-looking textures, gauzy white, etc.,” the stark palette of black, white, and red showcased the tattered finery beautifully.
Patterned after the poverty deluxe of the tango dancers John Galliano met in Argentina he slyly injected a variety of trends for his interpretation. Broken down they include: “reflective surfaces, expressive textures, recycled textiles, black and darker tones, and the contrast of red.” Seductive and glamorous, the textile trends utilized for this phenomenal collection definitely reflect the spirit of our times by glorifying our nostalgia for tradition and our desire for fantasy.
If I were to describe my wardrobe, I’d definitely say it’s eclectic, because I dress to tell a story with my clothes instead of adhering strictly to trends. Since I’m a professional fashion/feature writer who often needs stylish gear for interviews, store profiles, fashion shows, and other events, I buy and collect according to the industry’s dress code requirements for individuality. That could mean anything from a secondhand suit bought from an online store, to a vintage dress from Etsy.com, Goodwill, or Council Thrift Store or a jumpsuit from Target, T.J. Maxx, or Ross Dress For Less. Even though I have a wide range of clothes in my wardrobe, the three areas I’ve noticed that reflect significant changes in the field of fashion too include, fast-fashion, secondhand, vintage clothing, and personal style.
“Fast-fashion is a term used to describe an industrial phenomenon associated with companies that accurately and instantly track consumer demands in order to rapidly manufacture and offer trend-driven clothing and accessories at exceptionally low costs,” writes Sara Idacavage in the article The Development of Fast-Fashion. When I examine the fast-fashion merchandise in my wardrobe, I notice quite a bit from Forever 21, H&M, and Uniqlo. While I doubt the sustainability of Forever 21 and don’t agree with how they’ve incessantly copied others, I still enjoy wearing their clothing, especially when paired with something vintage, secondhand, or designer.
“Fast-fashion is a term used to describe an industrial phenomenon associated with companies that accurately and instantly track consumer demands in order to rapidly manufacture and offer trend-driven clothing and accessories at exceptionally low costs.”Sara Idacavage
Although I also agree it’s true what Idacavage writes in The Development of Fast-Fashion about “the fast fashion business model often relying on manufacturing in low-wage countries such as China and Bangladesh” I also believe they provide employment and goods to those in society who might otherwise not be able to obtain either due to where they live, their socioeconomic circumstances, or their race.
Unfortunately, the growth and change of fast-fashion in the “late 20th and early 21st centuries” haven’t been sustainable and have added to clothing’s disposability. H&M with their Conscious Collection is attempting to right some of these wrongs by transforming recycled plastic bottles, etc., into new merchandise. The fact that a lot of fast-fashion ends up at thrift stores and on secondhand websites poses a new argument about its lifespan, because instead of going into a landfill it goes into the wardrobe of another owner, reducing its instant disposability.
As a long-term thrifter and sartorial storyteller, one practice I still adhere to and partly learned from shopping fast-fashion, is combining inexpensive finds with expensive ones for a unique look. “Fashion and social histories have noted that it became increasingly popular to mix “high” (designer) with “low” (mass-produced) fashion during the 1990s,” writes Idacavage.
For me that could mean a Ralph Lauren shirt with a pair of jeans from Forever 21 or a tunic dress from Prada (Miu Miu) with a pair of joggers from Fallas. By buying clothing to fit in with my existing wardrobe I’m also practicing sustainability because I rarely discard anything after repeated wearings, giving my fast-fashion pieces an extended life.
Secondhand, or as Nicky Gregson and Louise Crewe call it “commodity revalorization” in the e-Book Second-Hand Cultures, is an area that has impacted the fashion industry as well because the resell market is almost as profitable as the retail one. Promoted by fashion bloggers like Sarah Chuck on Instagram, it’s become a reliable way to sustainably acquire and exchange clothing.
Personally, I’ve successfully added things to my wardrobe from various thrift shops and the online sites ThredUp.com and Swap.com and plan to continue as long as the quality of merchandise is maintained. Besides the budgetary plus of the practice, buying secondhand is one of the most constructive ways to extend the life of clothing. Since I’ve learned more about sustainability, I’ve consistently bought clothes this way from H&M‘s Conscious Collection.
Vampire’s Wife x H&M:
Recently, thanks to COVID-19, Zoom meetings, webinars, and working from home, I’ve had to mostly shop online so I’ve become more cognizant of sustainable clothing and accessories on the internet. One dress I bought from H&M was even featured on T.V. as part of their Conscious Collection. Perfectly on-trend, the white fabric is made out of recycled polyester.
Another dress I recently bought from them, a black lace mini (The Mystique Dress) from their Vampire’s Wife x H&M collaboration, is also sustainable and the lace is “made from recycled polyamide”. Basically, what I like about the line is that it’s “mainly made from sustainably sourced materials” and the styles are distinctly gothic and Victorian.
“The collection consists of desirable statement mini and maxi dresses made from recycled nylon or recycled polyester, accompanied by covetable jewelry.”Susie Cave
Susie Cave, the company’s founder and Creative Director told H&M in an interview “The collection consists of desirable statement mini and maxi dresses made from recycled nylon or recycled polyester, accompanied by covetable jewelry.” She also later states, “Sustainable fashion means that the entire life cycle of the product aims to reduce any unnecessary environmental and socio-economic harm.”
A New Mind Set
The criteria we use to measure the value of a successful fashion or product is if it’s qualitative or well-made, attractive, and long-lasting. Today with so much emphasis being placed on whether an item is sustainable or not the criteria we measure it with has changed to include the way it’s manufactured, the materials used to make it, and how kind it will be to the environment when its lifespan is over.
For example, the way Eileen Fisher creates her clothing with the goals to be “comfort driven, quality made, trend adverse, and timeless” exemplifies this new mind set. Intent on a “slow fashion” pace she wants to give her customers something that lasts. In order for the fashion industry to be on board other designers and manufacturers need to do the same.
Fast-fashion and its approach to over-production, over-marketing, and advertising to consumers, then the rapid disposal practices by companies and consumers is a fashion dead end that needs to change. Writer Jim Dwyer in his January 5, 2010 article A Clothing Clearance Where More Than Just the Prices Have Been Slashed exposed H&M‘s practice of tossing “unsellable” merchandise instead of jobbing them or donating them to a charity or a thrift store. Destroying the clothing and accessories further with box cutters and razors so scavengers couldn’t reclaim them and resell them, also creates unnecessary waste and pollution.
From 2010 when Dwyer first reported this story, to 2019 when Elizabeth Segran wrote Your H&M addiction is wreaking havoc on the environment. Here’s how to break it for fast company.com, a few small start-up companies like Cuyana, Ammara, and Senzo Tempo have instituted a new approach to retail that’s dedicated to educating the consumer about conspicuous consumption and how to purchase “less often and more wisely”. Now that so many fast-fashion retailers are experiencing a decline, and these new companies are on the upswing, there are lessons they can pass on that make more sense.
One important lesson is to slow down production and produce less to stem the flow of over-production. Another important lesson is to consider it from the design point-of-view and find creative ways to analyze and interpret prevailing trends, and if there is a case of “unsellable” goods, a solution would be to “re-purpose” or “up-cycle” them into “sellable” ones.
Finally, if Stella McCartney could use “old stock fabrics to create rare, limited pieces for her Spring 2021 collection” so can H&M and other retailers and designers.