Fashion Friday: BART Edition

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Talia, a multimedia staffer, ventures into BART to find some of the latest fashion trends for this weeks episode of Fashion Friday.

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Fad Or Fixture: How Relevant Are CGI Models To The Fashion And Beauty Industries?

Balmain campaign

Balmain campaignBalmain

Lil Miquela has 1.5 million followers on Instagram. She’s 19-years-old, based in Los Angeles, a model and a musician.

The thing is, she’s also not real.

This computer-generated supermodel is the digital brainchild of an LA-based agency called Brud, which has recently received around $6 million in its latest funding round, led by Silicon Valley investors including Sequoia Capital.

That comes off the back of the fact that Lil Miquela, otherwise known as their resident “influencer”, make-believe though she is, is receiving real work.

Out front hiring her and various others that have been created, is the fashion industry, with brands from Balmain, Dior, Prada and Louis Vuitton having all jumped on the virtual avatar train.

Most recently, Lil Miquela featured in UGG’s 40th anniversary campaign, blending in seamlessly alongside two real-life influencers as though she were a natural part of the cast. For the unsuspecting onlooker, it’s not immediately clear she’s not.

The question is, do CGI models hold true value for such businesses, or is this just a fad? On the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent, I debate the topic with tech expert, Liz Bacelar

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The Moscow Seven: Meet Russia’s Future Fashion Stars

In times of strife and struggle, Russia has always placed its biggest trust in human resources. “We’re rich in minerals and minds,” goes an old saying. While the population of the world’s largest (by territory) nation has steadily declined since independence in 1991, recent years have marked a potential reversal of fortunes with ‎0.05% growth recorded in 2017. The government aims to prevent the dreaded brain drain, but it’s the creative industries that often are the most flexible to adapt to new challenges.

One of Russia’s leading fashion designers Igor Gulyaev closed MBFW Russia with a blockbuster show inclusive of his Insta-famous cat!Courtesy of MBFW Russia

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia just took place in Moscow in October 13-17. Its Fashion Futurum program is an example of successful strategic support for emergent talent within a specific economic sector. Last year, the organizing committee co-launched FashionNet as part of the National Technology Initiative to boost domestic apparel market coverage up to 70% by 2035. While all eyes were on the fashion capital’s brightest stars Yasya Minochkina, Pirosmani, Artem Shumov, Alena Akhmadullina and Igor Gulyaev, we decided to spend time with the participants of the Fashion Futurum Accelerator, a program that helps promising designers set up a business from scratch. These future stars spend the past couple months in an intense mentorship program in Moscow working alongside established brand managers, buyers, investors and consultants to perfect their vision and set up sustainable production and retail channels. In between the shows, I asked them what participation in the Accelerator meant for them as they prepared to develop and present their full debut collections next season as part of the platform.

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How Technology Could Revolutionize Online Shopping In The Near Future

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How often are you satisfied with the size and fit of your online purchases? In the past few years, return rates for clothing purchased online have reached close to 40%. In a poll reported on by BBC, 56% of respondents who purchased clothing online six months prior to May 2016 said they had returned at least one item. Apparel Magazine reports that 70% of all online clothing returns are caused by problems with fit.

In the U.S., online apparel sales accounted for more than 25% of overall apparel sales in 2017. But why do people shop online even though they have to return clothing that does not fit? How many more people would shop online if they could be certain about fit and size?

As retailers play with free delivery and free returns even if it hurts their business, the cost of returns continues to grow along with the rate of returns. Currently, each order sent back costs retailers from $3 to $12.

The number of returned goods also has a negative impact on the environment. The destruction of unsold and returned garments, especially in the luxury sector, has caused people to ask questions. The fashion industry is known as one of the largest polluters in the world.

Based on my research into the struggles of today’s retailers and what I’ve learned founding a company that develops 3D body modeling technology, I believe that solving fit problems could result in growth in the number of online shoppers, reduced returns and less waste. Thankfully, I’ve been observing innovations coming out of the technology sector that could help make significant progress in solving this industrywide issue.

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Urban Fashion Spurs Levi’s Upcoming IPO

Kris Kross during 1993 Kid’s Choice Awards in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)Getty

Levi’s is considering returning to the stock market more than 30 years after it went private. The company is reportedly planning and IPO that values it at up to $5 billion sources told CNBC, despite many stores closing that sell Levi’s brands. As culture changes and sub-cultures spring up, is now the right time for Levi’s to become a publicly traded company once again?

Hip-hop’s love affair with jeans is as diverse and varied as the genre itself.  Straight legged denim, like Levi’s classic 501 or 505 jeans, kept your favorite old school rappers looking fresh back in the ’80s . While current lyricists look to a more tailored approach from Levi’s, like its skinny jeans to keep their wardrobe fresh.

CultureBanx noted the denim maker has been around the block a time or two, they first went public in 1971, before family members took it back private in 1984 through a leveraged buyout. Levi’s is looking to raise between $600 million and $800 million for its new IPO and investors seem to think that’s a fair price. Since Levi’s bonds are publicly traded, which means it has to report quarterly earnings to the SEC, during the first nine months of the year revenue has gone up 16%. Net income jumped 44%, mainly due to demand for its jeans at both retail stores and online.

Long before today’s slim cuts or the baggy jeans of the 90s, Run DMC and Big Daddy Kane were rocking straight-legged jeans. In 2013, Jermaine Dupri paid homage to the memory of Kriss Kross member Mac Daddy by wearing his Levi’s backwards to the funeral, a style popularized by the group. Present day rappers have moved beyond just sporting the company’s jeans and are mixing Levi’s Trucker Jackets with other brands, as a way of taking a menswear staple and re-contextualizing it.

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Meet Fashion Designer Şansım Adalı Of Sudi Etuz At Her Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi Debut

Şansım Adalı of Sudi Etuz and models in the collection after her show.Courtesy of Mercdes-Benz.

A big challenge for emerging fashion designers is to show their collection abroad, and the Mercedes-Benz International Design Exchange Program allows for many to do that. Turkish fashion designer Şansım Adalı traveled to Georgia, where she presented her label Sudi Etuz internationally for the first time as part of the Mercedes-Benz International Designer Exchange Program

(IDEP) during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi. The designer’s Spring/Summer 2019 was a love letter to Istanbul, with references to the city through its geography and opulent buildings. Bulbous sleeves were shaped like Palace doors, while the decolletage of a bandeau top traced the outlines of the famed Bosphorus Strait that links Asia to Europe. Delicate ruffles and swathes of tulle gave the collection and ethereal touch, ideal for that staid woman who lunches, and the fun, young debutante alike. Adalı spoke to a group of reporters after her show, where she discussed her first time traveling abroad, her ode to Istanbul, and the challenges of being an emerging designer.

How did you get the opportunity to present at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tbilisi?

Last season I was presented by Mercedes-Benz in my hometown, Istanbul, and they gave me a chance to do an exchange program. There was a list of some cities in which Tbilisi took my attention because the emerging designers are so cool. Fashion week goes really well. I really wanted to be a part of it, and thanks to Mercedes, they just placed me here, and replaced me with a Georgian designer, and the experience improved me a lot because I’m out of my country for the first time, so it was a really great experience to be a part of it, and working with Georgian models and a Georgian team.

Turkey shares a border with Georgia. Is there a strong connection between countries?

Yeah we do. We don’t even need passports to fly. We’re just neighbors. We’re so close.

Were you exposed Georgian culture growing up?

In Istanbul I have some Georgian friends, and my teacher from fashion school was Georgian, so she was telling me stylist friends who are visiting Tbilisi Fashion Week, they are always telling me a lot about it, like how cool the places are, and how the street style so good, and how international press is giving much attention, and the city is inspiring. I didn’t expect this much. They preserved all the buildings, everything really good, and inspired me. Being in the city gave me so much inspiration.

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Stars Of Style To Lead Lively Forbes China Lifestyle Discussion

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Stars of style and social media from China and afar will join a lively discussion of lifestyle trends to be hosted in Shanghai on Nov. 27 by Forbes China, the Chinese-language edition of Forbes.

Speakers will include billionaire Gao Dekang, chairman of down apparel leader Bosideng International, Macau entrepreneur Sabrina Ho, and Wendy Yu, CEO of fashion industry investment firm Yu Holdings.  Gao and Yu have appeared on Forbes China covers this year. Samantha Cameron, founder of UK fashion firm Cefinn and wife of former British Prime Minister David Cameron, will also attend.

Other participants include Meme Tian, author of “The Things Money Can’t Solve” and actress, as well as architect Yu Ting. Yi Wang, co-founder of Laix (formerly known as Liulishuo), the U.S.-listed education company headquartered in Shanghai, and investor Harry Hui, partner of ClearVue Partners, will also be on hand to discuss what’s new and what’s not at the Wanda Reign on the Bund.

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This #XLBossLady Brings Plus Size Fashion To LA

Jessica Hinkle, Owner of Proud Mary FashionJessica Hinkle

Access to fashion has arguably been one of the greatest struggles for the plus size community. Clothing isn’t just fabric we use to cover our bodies. It’s how we articulate who we are in the world. Few people know this better than Jessica Hinkle, the owner of LA-based Proud Mary Fashion. I interviewed Jessica about her journey into becoming an #XLBossLady:

I’ve been fashion-obsessed since I was a child. My parents would buy me notebooks and I would fill them all up with sketches. I’d sit in front of the tv watching runway show clips and sketching clothing. I also knew from an early age that the fashion industry wasn’t accessible for someone like me (fat and poor.) It always felt worlds away, kind of like trying to become a movie star. My parents moved us to Florida my senior year of high school. When I found out my new school offered apparel design classes, I immediately signed up. On the first day, the teacher talked me out of taking the class (to make way for freshman she said) but I really was made to feel like it wasn’t a place for me. I felt really judged and pushed out. I was heartbroken because I finally felt excited to find a resource to learn the things I wanted to that wouldn’t cost anything. After that, I had approached my parents about attending art school but they said absolutely not.

My parents both grew up poor and neither graduated high school. I think they felt like art school was lofty and impractical. They didn’t think that a fat girl could make money in fashion and the student loans would be outrageous. I wasn’t confident enough to push back or in a position where I felt like I could make it work without their support. So I figured I could at least study Creative Writing at the community college and one day get a job working at a fashion magazine.

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Q&A With Paris-Based Singaporean Fashion Designer, Andrew Gn

Andrew Gn, the only Singaporean fashion designer on the official Paris Fashion Week calendar speaks about how the industry has evolved over the past three decades.

Singaporean fashion designer Andrew GnPhoto Anne Combaz

In your opinion, how has the fashion industry evolved over the past three decades since you first started in the business?

When I started, fast fashion had not become the mass phenomenon it is now. With their strategies of continuously offering new styles in order to attract customers more frequently into their stores, these new actors have commanded a change of pace in the industry, more collections, a much higher turnover of designs, and probably some market saturation and customer fatigue. Another significant change has been the ever-increasing role of social media, spreading looks and trends around the globe like wildfire, thus pushing true designers to fight for their own identity. And lastly, the interconnection of fashion and show business, with showbiz stars becoming promotional vehicles for fashion, or even turning themselves into fashion designers, with varying degrees of success.

Although Singapore isn’t known for its fashion scene, how have you created an international fashion brand that’s worn by high-profile celebrities? What were the keys to your success, and what were some of the preconceived notions about Asian fashion designers that you’ve had to overcome?

From the beginning, I’ve not been designing with a specific geographical market in mind, but for any woman around the world who loved beauty and refinement. This is why my house has grown a very international clientele, attracting celebrities and their stylists from the West as well as the East. I don’t feel that I was ever perceived as an “Asian” designer, but more as a Singapore-born designer who chose to establish himself in the West.

Why have you chosen to be based in Paris, and why would fashion designers choose to be based overseas versus in Singapore and vice versa?

I first came to Paris as a young boy. I was so enthralled by the city that I told myself that someday I would live there. I came back to Paris after my fashion studies in London, New York and Milan to take my first job with Emmanuel Ungaro. And I’ve stayed on because I believe Paris does remain the fashion capital of the world. Here I can find the talent, resources and savoir-faire to produce my collections with the degree of refinement I’ve always been yearning for.

Describe to me your sources of inspiration, especially history, art and nature, and how that has influenced your work. Do other fashion designers use similar inspiration?

I can’t really speak for others, but for me, art, history, nature and flowers are (besides food!) major passions. When I turned 15, my father gave me a complete set of Les Histoires Naturelles by 18th-century French naturalist Buffon. I treasure these books, they have inspired me on several occasions. I love visiting museums and art exhibitions, whether classic or contemporary. I am an avid collector of ceramics and textiles. All this, plus a profuse image library within my head, are my sources of inspiration.

Why is it important for you to draw from your Asian roots and heritage in your collections?

I was born and educated in Asia. My Asian heritage comes naturally in my designs. My father was a merchant and was traveling a lot around Southeast Asia when I was a child. He would bring back for my mother wonderful hand-dyed batiks from Indonesia, beautifully woven and embroidered kimonos from Japan and amazing silks from China. My mother would then go to her tailor and have them transformed into dresses, suits and cheongsams. These childhood memories are still very vivid and bring me constant inspiration, as you can see from some of my very recent collections.

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A New Accelerator Model Tackles Fashion Industry’s Supply Chains

Factory45 and Market45 founder Shannon Lohr wants to help smaller startups in the sustainable fashion space.Factory45

After launching her own apparel brand {r}evolution apparel,  Shannon Lohr was burnt out. She had raised more than $60,000 on Kickstarter in 2011 to bring the idea to life and then taken it to stores across the country. But she needed a break.

She did just that and came back with a new approach to changing the fashion industry — consulting new up-and-coming brands. Her latest platform, Market45 complements Factory45, an online accelerator program that takes sustainable apparel brands from idea to launch. Market45 offers to house their creations and connect them with online customers.

Lohr says that it was her firsthand experience of starting a company and how difficult it can be that led her to set up Factory45. Specifically, she says knows the uphill battle that it takes to break into the fashion industry where supply chains are complex and often inaccessible to smaller brands. Factory45 was the first part of the solution: a business school for sustainable fashion startups, helping connect entrepreneurs with sustainable suppliers around the world.

But this realization took time, nearly a decade. In 2011, Lohr and a friend decided to launch sustainable fashion brand {r}evolution. Following a Kickstarter campaign that became the highest-funded fashion project in Kickstarter history at the time, the pair tripled their goal and quadrupled their first production run. After a sustainable fashion tour of the Pacific Northwest, the two were exhausted though.

At the end of 2012, Lohr sold her portion of the company to her co-founder and moved into consulting, putting to use all the skills she’d picked up during her own stint as an apparel entrepreneur. Although she had stepped away from running her own brand, Lohr realized that all the time she had spent fighting to get her foot through the door could save other designers the effort.

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