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Student Contributions

Zoe Ward
Upper Sixth
Worcester House

London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week

The devaluing of the Fashion Industry or a Global Strategy?

London Fashion Week is the key event for many designers, buyers, and (dare I say) socialites. With these 6 days, designers are able to showcase their new collections for the coming seasons, and showcase to potential buyers what they can purchase. This concept has been the case since the days of the first ever ‘Fashion Week’ held in New York City in 1943, where fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert held a ‘Press Week’ to showcase American designers to fashion journalists, who previously had only been interested in French designers. Moreover, The NYC Fashion Week was held in order to distract attention from French fashion during World War II (as designers were unable to get to Paris at that time).

Since the days of pleats and wartime rationing, the world’s fashion weeks have taken a bit of a turn. London Fashion Week, which has been taking place this past week, has certainly sparked a few headlines, unfortunately not for the garments on offer. Instead, emblazoned on our front pages are the faces of many ‘celebrities’ who have attended the shows. Gone are the days of fashion being about the fashion and a show’s success being based on the quality of their clothes, the pictures these days are of actresses’ faces showing that, yes indeed, they were on the front row. Notably, the fashion house Burberry have made an impact in the newspapers for having Andy Murray, Laura Robson and Sienna Miller on the front row. Not exactly the traditional ‘front row’ of a high end fashion show (however note Laura Robson wearing a Burberry Trench coat!). Where are all the journalists there to comment on the styles and trends? Where are the competing designers? Relegated of course. Why? Simply because we are living in a world where celebrities are selling clothes and brands; not the clothes themselves. Lisa Armstrong, Fashion Editor of The Daily Telegraph writes about how smaller designers must compete with the "Burberry Front Row" as opposed to Burberry’s new collection. In addition, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (Marks & Spencer’s model, face of Burberry’s new perfume) has been quoted saying "It’s so wearable and sexy" and referring to the peaked pom-pom raffia cadet caps, "I’m going right out to buy one tomorrow". No doubt these two short but significant comments will cause some fashionistas to rush right out and follow in her footsteps; wishing to look like Miss Huntington-Whiteley, opposed to the Burberry models themselves.

In spite of this, perhaps these household names providing advertisement for fashion houses is what Britain needs? The fashion industry is bolstering growth for the UK economy. Perhaps to avoid the predicted 0.1% growth forecast for the end of 2011 by the OECD, even more advertisement is needed? The British Fashion industry contributed £20.9bn to the UK economy in 2009, and demand for luxury goods is set to grow by £37bn to £107bn in 2015. With Burberry profits also increasing, there is more and more evidence suggesting global customers are after their "distinctively British sensibility" (Lord Green and Angela Ahrendts for The Daily Telegraph). Therefore if brands are snatching the headlines through their use of celebrity marketing, and also using the new phenomenon of social media sites such as Twitter (Twitter launched a ‘Tweetwalk’ this week where the shows are streamed live to a global audience) then Britain can increase their aggregate demand by selling more exports. Worldwide coverage of British fashion can help boost our economy, whereas in the past the shows were only seen by those actually at the event. With this new accessibility Britain’s prosperity will hopefully be built on through its achievements in the international markets.

So maybe Burberry’s plants of famous faces in the front row of their show were not demeaning of the fashion itself, but a smart business move? Only time will tell.

26 September 2011

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