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Consumers today have more choice than ever over what they wear, how they shop and which fashion brands they want to associate themselves with. At the same time, for those plying their trade in the industry, doing the right thing and enjoying business success has never been trickier. Increased competition is a factor but so too are increasingly savvy customers who prioritise sustainability, manufacturing standards and an item’s longevity.

While it’s great that there is a movement to buy better, not every label is playing by the same rules, with greenwashing running rampant and a broader industry mentality still focused on an outdated seasonal model. There’s room for improvement across the entire world of fashion, from better shop fit-outs to smarter production. And thankfully a creative cast of business leaders is keen to make some important changes happen.

With this in mind we’ve asked a number of the sector’s top players to highlight the issues they will be focusing on in 2022. From the future of the suit – something slouchier but still smart and stylish – to the ingredients in our perfumes, we learn about the ideas they’re cooking up for an overhaul. These solutions will make the business of our high streets healthier, while also helping those manufacturing our clothes to work in fairer conditions.

The aim is to forecast where the diverse and complex industry of fashion is heading and plot a positive course for all of us, whether we’re buying or selling. So come on a journey with us, from Belgium’s best independent fashion retailer to the studio of the designer dreaming up the future of the department store, to learn a little more. 

Interviews by Sebastian Cabrices, Ivan Carvalho, Annabelle Chapman, Aleksandar Cvetkovic, Nolan Giles and Nic Monisse.


1.

Ania Kuczynska on ...

Fashion destinations to watch

“Economically, Central and Eastern Europe are going strong – and so is the fashion here. During the 1990s and 2000s, foreign companies were just producing clothes in the region but the market has changed, with more local designers now. Poland is fresh; its energetic and entrepreneurial people reflected in design. My brand shows how companies here can grow organically. I studied fashion in Rome and Paris, before returning to Poland to create my label here in Warsaw, under my own name. When I was growing up, Poland was changing rapidly and this has had a major impact on my work. My generation still remembers the grey times of communism but also the wild capitalism of the 1990s. This has left a strong mark on me and I have tried to capture it in my designs, which are very monochromatic. This brutalist vibe is trending now, which explains the wider appeal of design from the region.”

About the interviewee: Kuczynska has made a name for herself with her sharp, mostly monochrome pieces for women, which are available in her showroom in Warsaw and online.

2.

Lucien Pagès on ...

The future of fashion communications

“Every industry, including fashion, needs a good image. Traditional media will remain very important for the fashion industry, because we will always need quality journalism to provide the correct information. But in a world full of information and communication, fashion brands need to tell stories about themselves that people truly connect with. The efficiency of a brand’s communications will increasingly rely on the consistency of its story. These stories have to remain authentic. I could think of many ways to improve fashion communications myself, and more sustainable processes is one of them. We could, for example – even if it’s a small gesture – stop sending printed invitations, because everyone can receive them via email now.”

About the interviewee: With his namesake PR and communications firm representing brands including JW Anderson, Schiaparelli and Courrèges, Pagès is particularly busy during fashion months.

3.

Ilse Cornelissens on ...

Innovation in retail

“As a brand it’s important to make your own rules as to when you sell, and communicate it with your retailers. And if they don’t want to accept your rules, then don’t work with them. It’s very important to make sure that what fashion companies make and produce is given enough time to be sold fairly. About five years ago we decided to never put any item on sale in our shop. We thought, ‘If we’re going to do this, maybe our clients won’t understand why.’ Which made us think about ways to really involve our clients in what we were doing; we came up with this second-hand client sale as a result. We ask all our clients to bring in their old clothes and we resell them over one weekend. We do it once a season, emptying out the full store and filling it with only second-hand clothing from our clients. For what they sell, they receive a voucher that they can spend in our shop.”

About the interviewee: Cornelissens is co-founder of Antwerp’s Graanmarkt 13, a restaurant-cum-guest house with a shop that stocks quality, independent labels.

4.

Damien Paul on ...

What buyers should be looking for

“A sense of enjoyment and freedom in fashion has come back in a big way. Whenever you look at history, after uncertain times there’s always been this idea of dressing up as a mood-lifter – and that’s what we’re experiencing now. Customers are focusing on mood-lifting pieces more than ever and using fashion as a kind of feel-good experiment. In terms of how we buy going forward, so much of what we do is about really understanding fabrications and fit. Physically experiencing a new product is crucial. This year we’ll need to find the balance between remote and in-person buying to ensure that someone from our team is always seeing new brands or shows in the flesh and relaying that to the wider team back in London. We’re a global business, so we need to have a global mentality about how we buy and how we curate for different territories.”

About the interviewee: Paul is head of menswear at Matchesfashion. He oversees the introduction of designers and product categories, exclusive collections and studio franchises.

5.

Victoire de Taillac-Touhami on ...

Where next for fragrance?

“The fragrance industry should follow what is happening in cosmetics, which is becoming transparent about ingredients and composition. It should not only be about the name on the bottle. When people buy from the big commercial brands, it is first of all about the name, followed by the scent and the physical bottle. But there should also be an awareness of the ingredients. Niche perfume brands are gaining more of a following now because people want to buy real stuff. At Buly, we committed to water-based perfume when no-one was doing it. My husband’s vision was to find a way to make perfume without alcohol. It was a challenge but it has been a big success: water-based perfume accounts for 30 to 40 per cent of our sales. The next thing in the fragrance industry should be a greater commitment to traceability – as in the food industry. It is happening already, though it will be a long journey.”

About the interviewee: De Taillac-Touhami and her husband Ramdane Touhami built their fragrance company Buly on the foundation of an older French perfumer that they bought in 2014.

6.

Nathalie Jean on ...

The future of jewellery

“Jewellery’s future is looking bright. People now look more and more for customised service and truly personalised pieces. This extends even to ‘recycling’ jewellery heirlooms one has in the family and transforming them into more contemporary creations, which in a way is ecological. Man-made or lab-grown gems have recently started to appear on the market; it is still a bit early to understand how people will react but they potentially will be favoured by millennials. Shopping for jewellery online is, of course, on the rise. For now, though, most luxury shoppers use websites and social media to gather information and compare prices prior to an in-store purchase. When people put their money into serious, high-end pieces, they want something classic, as it is an investment that will maintain its value.”

About the interviewee: Jean designs her jewellery line in Milan and is co-owner of Jean/Prampolini, a consultancy that develops haute jewellery and contemporary pieces for high-end luxury brands.

7.

Mats Klingberg on ...

Where menswear is heading

“We’ve exhausted the leisurewear and loungewear thing that’s dominated menswear for the past couple of years. It’s still going to be there but now it’s more about how to dress up in a softer, more comfortable way. Tailoring is going to be less about wearing armour and more about unstructured, casual separates. We’re also expecting customers to return to shopping in-store in a big way, now that physical shopping is possible again. Certainly, we’ve learned that our customers prefer to shop in person – to be with other people, to interact and get advice, touch and feel the clothes. There’s a lot of talk about new online tools and avatars and so on but consumers have realised that in-person shopping is the best way to have an enjoyable experience and create a long-term relationship with a brand that’s built on trust.”

About the interviewee: Klingberg is the founder of Trunk Clothiers, a brand affiliated with monocle. It serves a menswear audience from its shops in London and Zürich and its website.

8.

Ellen Van Loon on ...

The design of department stores

“The issue with our recent redevelopment project for KaDeWe in Berlin was thinking about how a shopping environment of such a large scale operates in the future. Is it about quantity of product or experience? In Europe you see many old department stores with beautiful glass windows and plasterboards put up in front of them, just to create more shelf space for what’s being sold there. This is not what a customer wants anymore. Department stores should be about quality of product and space. What we’ve been trying to provide, for many years, are simple things like getting the windows open again, providing terraces, exterior spaces and public access to the roof. For an architect these are the most normal things but somehow in retail this was totally neglected. You don’t want to be in an office without daylight, so why would you want to shop in an environment without daylight?”

About the interviewee: Van Loon is a partner at Rotterdam-based architecture firm oma, working on shops from South Korea’s Galleria Department Store in Gwanggyo to blox/dac in Copenhagen.

9.

Dalena White on ...

A more sustainable fashion industry

“I’m very optimistic. I was really depressed after what I saw in Bangladesh, Cambodia and India, I’ve seen ‘indigo rivers’ [where dye affects the water supply], child labour and horrific pollution. This was all caused from the pressure at the top of the industry to go cheap. For the first time I’m feeling like there is the will to change this. The EU has its pef process, which will trace a product’s environmental footprint. The International Wool Textile Organisation [iwto], where I work, is involved in it. We’re getting to a point where for the first time in history, globally, there will be a group of legislative people getting involved and saying, ‘OK, this is where we’re going to draw the line and actually legislate the fashion and textile industry.’ Many countries are watching what will play out here, so it’s imperative to get it right.”

About the interviewee: White is the secretary-general at the iwto, which is currently working with the EU’s pef programme, developing ways to measure the environmental effects of consumer goods.

10.

Claudio Marenzi on ...

The future of men’s tailoring

“The suit jacket, tie and shirt haven’t seen so much daylight recently but people are now coming back to being more dressed up. However, they’re no longer going to sacrifice comfort in doing so. It puts a lot of pressure on the jacket, because it’s the piece at the centre of what I call ‘new formal’. We’re in a period of reinvention that personally excites me. This garment [the jacket] should anchor your look, whether that is being dressed up for serious events, or being more casual and wearing it with jeans and sneakers. From a design perspective, it’s difficult to achieve this more relaxed look, because everything is about proportion. Garments need to be bigger or looser but without looking too ‘street’. It is a fine art getting the proportions right; we’re talking millimetres, not centimetres. This is something that Italian companies have the skill to do, so it gives our industry here an advantage.”

About the interviewee: Marenzi is the president and ceo of Italian fashion company Herno. He’s also president of Pitti Immagine, leading the world’s most important menswear event, Pitti Uomo.

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