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Julie Gilhart on the Current Fashion System: "Pity the Poor Designer"

Julie Gilhart on the Current Fashion System: "Pity the Poor Designer"

>> In the latest edition of's "Future of Fashion" series, Julie Gilhart maintains that live fashion shows are still a must — "If the Rodarte girls didn’t have a fashion show, would you be able to get the essence of that collection?" — but says that the runway collections should be edited down in size, as they are becoming less and less aligned with what is actually sold in the stores:

"The runway collections actually come late in the season, and the reality of the way American retail is set up, things go on sale not that long after the runway pieces come in. So there should be less pieces in the runway, and our buys shouldn’t be weighted in the runway. They should be weighted into the pre-collections, so you have longer to sell, and you can put a mix together and it looks like a more edited exclusive product in the store. Balenciaga is one of my favorite shows to go to because Nicolas [Ghesquiere] only does 35 exits, which is really small for a show, but you can almost memorize those 35 exits. They’re put on, they’re shot in every single magazine, they’re everywhere — so by the time they come in the store, I don’t know if I so want the whole runway exit thing. Maybe I want a piece of it, but the bulk of what we’re going to sell in a collection like Balenciaga is going to come in before those runway pieces come in."

One "top" designer is "burned out" from turning out so many collections »

Gilhart thinks that all the exposure is doing brands a disservice: "One of the things with the big brands right now is that the customer is really reacting to them in the sense that they’re so over-marketed. [Customers] don’t want that anymore. They don’t want to see what they’re buying everywhere. They want to be able to buy something that is more special. And when they see it advertised and editorialized and on celebrities too much, then I think their reaction is a little bit not as it was. That old formula is not working."

And the incessant production of new products and collections is really taking a toll on the designers, in her opinion:

"Everything is moving too fast, way too fast . . . pity the poor designer. Oh, my God, I talk to so many of them. Most of their job is working on things that continue their brand but aren’t necessarily the creative part of what they love to do. I don’t think that’s really appropriate, to tell you the truth. I mean, it’s like an artist having to sell his paintings and do all the cataloging. Really, his talent is doing the art, so let the guy do his art. Let’s give him enough time to do his art, and if he needs to run the business, time to do that. But they’re all scrambling. It’s really a lot. I talked to someone recently and he’s definitely one of the top designers in the world and he’s burned out. I’m like, oh, my God, I feel so bad for this person, because he works so hard and it’s just not right. He’s super successful, at the top of his career, but just struggling with the amount that this business requires of this person."

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