Rosalía has reached the rare upper echelons of pop stardom where she can wear just about anything that strikes her fancy. Her wardrobe is dotted with trendy brands like Saks Potts—she posted three different versions of those candy-colored fur-trimmed coats that have quickly become a fashion girl staple to her Instagram a few months ago—and designer pieces from legacy houses like Louis Vuitton, as she wore onstage in Rabat, Morocco at a festival performance in June. Burberry’s Riccardo Tisci even created two different custom black, crystal-adorned outfits for the artist’s MTV VMAs experience this year (she walked the red carpet in one and performed in the other).
But in spite of this unlimited fashion potential, Rosalía consistently sports pieces from small, DIY brands and emerging labels. Just take the patchwork pants she wore last month (with a Prada T-shirt, no less) from Los Angeles-based designer Julie Kucharski, who creates custom, pop culture-inspired garments under the name Left Hand L.A.
Now, Rosalía is spotlighting a piece from yet another emerging designer. While in the City of Lights for Paris Fashion Week, the Spanish artist posed in a cinched shirt dress, which she paired with a deep blue flame and snake-printed bag—with matching shoes, of course—from British designer Asai. You might recognize Asai’s signature semi-sheer, patchwork, tie-dye shirts from your Instagram feed, or from major editorial shoots with SZA, but Rosalía has now proved that the fledgling designer could have what it takes to enter the accessories big leagues, too.
Rahemur Rahman’s chat is rapid. He has a lot of ideas and talks quickly to cram them all in. Hailed as a breakout star from London fashion week men’s, his naturally dyed, organic fabrics, and the jackets and trousers he tailors them into, are winning the 28-year-old fans from the UK to LA.
Rahman’s road hasn’t always run smoothly. At school, he felt like a misfit: “They all came from a Bangladeshi community and I grew up in Millwall [where his parents settled when they came from Bangladesh in the 80s], which was predominantly white.”
He found his way to Central Saint Martins via a youth arts organisation, and at first his work “rarely touched on my culture”, inspired instead by “the London scene I grew up in – grime music, the contrast between rich and poor in Canary Wharf, the history of Brick Lane and tailoring”. But when Rana Plaza happened, Rahman had “an awakening” and became set on creating designs that spoke to the craft and heritage of his parents’ homeland. Inspiration comes from the mishmash that is his dad’s personal style, with a colour palette taken from old family photographs.
Last year, he took his first ever trip to Dhaka – “I was like, mind blown,” he says. He now markets his brand as made in Bangladesh: “The textiles are made there and I’m made there, too.” EVB
The big easy
Serena Bute’s louche clothes may be airport style goals, but people will, she hopes, “do more than travel in them. Go to lunch, to yoga, dress them up for dinner.” Versatility and ease are key to an eponymous collection that can be worn by Bute, by her kids, her mother and, of course, by you. EVB
Patchworks at Coach
Sometimes the finest ideas are staring you in the face – something certainly true of Coach creative director Stuart Vevers’ AW19 stimuli. He was inspired to work with legendary textile designer Kaffe Fassett when he plucked one of Fassett’s books from his shelf. “The best collaborations are the ones that are personal, with great creatives who bring something different to the table,” enthuses Vevers, who incorporated Fassett’s colour-pop prints and patchworked blooms into leather donkey coats, dipped-hem dresses and Lurex sweaters. With both men influenced by the American west coast, the juxtaposition of homespun and haute results in a textural feast. SC
Hail, hail rock’n’roll
Bottega Veneta’s creative director Daniel Lee is to 2019 what Gucci’s Alessandro Michele was to 2016. If that doesn’t mean much to you, suffice to say he’s this year’s most hyped man in fashion. The 32-year-old Brit, a former Phoebe Philo protege at Celine, started the year by teasing an ad campaign that saw Philo worshippers immediately herald him as the natural successor to her understated minimalism. For autumn, however, he confounded expectations with a collection that combined men’s and womenswear, and added far more rock’n’roll swagger than the upscale normcore look Philo fans would have expected. Tailored pencil dresses, motorbike trousers and belted, oversized coats came in leather of all finishes – from a cushioned version of the label’s signature Intrecciato weave to an open loop design similar to chainmail. The shoes and the bags were instant hits.
“I haven’t felt like this in years!” said influencer and shoe enthusiast Sandra Hagelstam on her Instagram account as she posted a picture of five box-fresh pairs of slip-on square-toe heels. The outerwear items will no doubt be hit items when temperatures drop. With waiting lists already amassed for much of this inaugural collection, let the Lee effect commence. SC
What every modern human wants
Nanushka has won over its female fanbase with its vegan leather and super-sleek silhouettes, but this season it’s widening its horizon to menswear. “It was always there in the back of my mind,” says Sandra Sandor, who founded the Budapest-based brand in 2006. “I was just waiting for the right time to launch it.” The transition should be a smooth one: the cut of signature pieces has always been unisex, and a recent overhaul has seen Nanushka enjoy the hype of a new label, with Yara Shahidi, Sienna Miller and Hailey Bieber all fans.
Echoing its promise to deliver “a modern, versatile, day-to-night wardrobe for the modern human”, Sandor says she wants “to explore the fluid relationship between men and women, creating a genderless wardrobe with pieces that are beautiful but functional”. The new collection features relaxed suiting, workwear-inspired shackets and a good line in wide-leg trousers, peppered with paisley prints and a pastel palette. “Inclusive and effortlessly modern is the best way to describe it,” Sandor says. SC
New womenswear brand Ssōne puts an emphasis on organic cottons, reduced water usage and the “humanitarian side of working in fashion”. It is important to founder Caroline Smithson that as much work by hand as possible goes into the brand’s clothes – but that it doesn’t come across “too make-your-own-yoghurt”.
Shunning the seasonal model, Ssōne instead hopes to develop a kind of uniform. The aesthetic is utilitarian with moments of romance – Smithson is inspired by 70s feminists “who were super-glamorous, but wearing overalls and picketing”. And designers may well use their leftovers on their clothes: one jumper has been naturally dyed using everything from foraged nettles to avocado stones from the team’s lunches. It looks good enough to eat. EVB
Nigeria, Naomi and more
When Naomi Campbell walked in little-known Nigerian designer Kenneth Ize’s AW19 show, he was little known no longer. “Everything is always Naomi’s idea,” Ize says. “We love her for her support.”
The attention, if sudden, is a long time coming. Lagos-based Ize (pronounced e-zay) has been honing his craft since he started his eponymous menswear brand in 2015 after studying at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna under Bernhard Willhelm and Hussein Chalayan. Championing Nigerian craftsmanship, Ize uses local weavers to make the fabric for his multicoloured suiting, hoping to redefine luxury and shine a light on the country.
“There is an increased awareness of the nuances of Nigerian fashion,” says Ize, who caught the eye of this year’s Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) prize judges. “Younger designers are finding ways of reinterpreting this heritage and increasing its exposure, and I am very excited to be part of it.” SC
Heaven for leather
Effortless, intelligent, liberated, political, sexual: that’s how Lulu Kennedy, founder of new talent initiative Fashion East, describes designer Mowalola Ogunlesi. Let us add one more: brave. In the last year, the Nigerian-born, Surrey-raised designer left Central Saint Martins mid-MA to get to the frontline of fashion her own way, designing clothes for Skepta to wear in a video and kitting out the likes of the Nigerian football team after gaining notoriety with her BA collection.
The Mowalola brand celebrates what the designer has called “fluid masculinity”, with hand-painted leathers her MO. No wonder Kennedy nabbed her for Fashion East’s AW19 show – Ogunlesi’s catwalk debut. “Her singular vision comes from her heart,” Kennedy says. “She’s the punk queen and inspiration we all need.” SC
Real life, but better
What do you get when one of fashion’s favourite style curators teams up with a brilliant business brain and a talented designer? Deveaux New York. Not to be confused with the world’s oldest leather goods brand Delvaux, the label, founded by Matthew Breen and Andrea Tsao in 2016, brought street-style photographer Tommy Ton on board as creative director in 2018. Ton’s photography was a major instigator of the fashion industry’s current obsession with street style, so who better to consult on what the brand calls “street style reimagined”?
The result – a mix of cashmere crew-neck jumpers, double placket shirts and tailored “architect trousers” – pricked the interest of matchesfashion.com which is stocking the brand for AW19. “The team have told me how they always consider the ‘real life’ factor – they wear the samples to see if they work on the morning commute and they’ll wash pieces, walk their dogs in them and so on,” says Damien Paul, head of menswear. “This allows them to develop a fairly minimal aesthetic but create best-in-class product.” SC
In the club
You, like 994k people on Instagram, might well have heard of Peggy Gou – the South Korean DJ sensation who plays to sell-out crowds from Berlin to Rimini – but for music, rather than fashion. This season sees Gou branch out and launch her clothing label Kirin, named after the Japanese word for her favourite animal, the giraffe. All head-to-toe prints, athleisure accents and jolty colour palettes, it was launched at Paris fashion week in February and smacks of the energy she emits from the DJ box – as well as what she herself wears for those gigs.
“Peggy’s own style embodies the mood and direction our customer is interested in right now,” says Sebastian Manes, buying and merchandising director at Selfridges, where Kirin is stocked for AW19. Like Gou’s career up till now, the brand is set to go stratospheric. This is partly thanks to a deal with New Guards Group, the conglomerate that launched Virgil Abloh’s Off-White, among others. Kirin came into being after the New Guards founders approached Gou at – where else? – a gig. It’s this connection to the party scene that Manes says makes Kirin more than a celebrity label. “[She] is uniquely placed to bring together club culture and high fashion through design [as well as] a global perspective and network.” SC
Bellissima! Italy’s fashion gets real
The Italian look – either power dressing or power glamour, right? Not any more. A new generation are finding their power by revisiting traditional craftsmanship and adopting a more conscious approach.
In Milan, Sunnei designers Loris Messina and Simone Rizzo use their brand to bring together creative communities (its last menswear show was staged in an urban regeneration project it funded on the outskirts of Milan), working with artists, musicians and charities on its critically acclaimed collections. Further south, Giuliva Heritage Collection, run by husband and wife Margherita Cardelli and Gerardo Cavaliere, champions the lost art of traditional Italian tailoring, designed from Rome, where they will open their first shop next month. “Special talents need to be nurtured as they define a nation,” Cardelli says. “It’s our duty to keep alive this great Italian talent.”
Meanwhile the collective Legres, launching on matchesfashion.com this month, is using Italian craftsmen and women to create its “minimalist nonconformist” footwear.
The common thread with this Italian new wave? Authenticity. “Being totally transparent is something truly inspirational,” Cardelli says.“Our approach to life reflects what we do.” SC
On the morning of June 25, mega-fashion influencer Arielle Charnas, who’s collected more than 1.2 million followers on Instagram and has her own clothing line Something Navy at Nordstrom, announced when Amazon’s Prime Day would be kicking off this year.
It was a not-so-subtle signal about what Amazon hopes to accomplish with its annual deals extravaganza this year. It still wants to be a bigger name in fashion.
When you think of Prime Day, you might be thinking about deals on Instant Pots and Amazon Echo devices — not half-off dresses and designer heels.
But the market for apparel and accessories globally is worth more than $1 trillion, so Amazon clearly sees there’s a lot at stake here. It’s using Prime Day to tout fashion deals. And it’s also had a slew of recent initiatives and tie-ups with fashion influencers — beyond Charnas — to show it’s trying to establish the site as a place to shop for more than just the basics. It hopes to take market share as other apparel retailers are struggling. And it hasn’t been afraid to experiment.
Typically, when it comes to selling clothes, Amazon is really good at “the boring stuff,” Wells Fargo retail analyst Ike Boruchow said.
Wells Fargo has estimated that Amazon generated roughly $35 billion in sales in 2018 related to apparel and footwear, out of $232.9 billion in sales overall. For context, athletic apparel retailer Lululemon brought in $3.3 billion in sales last year, while Gap Inc.’s net sales were $16.6 billion, and Costco has said it generated $7 billion in sales in 2018 from clothes and footwear. Amazon dwarfs them all, even combined.
But a lot of those transactions for Amazon stem from “commoditized” clothing items like white T-shirts, jeans and underwear, according to Boruchow. Amazon’s in-house brand, AmazonEssentials, is popular for that sort of thing — selling a four-pack of women’s camisoles for $24.50, or a 10-pack of cotton crew socks for kids for $9.45.
Bezos’ vision for fashion
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos frequently told colleagues in the early 2000s: “In order to be a two-hundred-billion-dollar company, we’ve got to learn how to sell clothes and food,” according to the book profiling Amazon’s ascent, written by Brad Stone, called “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.” At that time, Bezos set his benchmark based on the size of Walmart’s sales, Stone said.
Amazon surpassed $200 billion in annual sales for the first time in 2018. That figure includes revenues from its other businesses like Amazon Web Services, not just retail. Meanwhile, Walmart’s total revenue was $514.4 billion for its latest fiscal year.
Amazon is trying to sell more fashionable clothes today as mall-based apparel retailers like Victoria’s Secret, Chico’s, Dressbarn-owner Ascena Retail Groupand Forever 21are closing stores and struggling to draw-in shoppers. And department store chains like J.C. Penney and Macy’s, which have historically been reliant on their apparel businesses to drive sales growth, are shrinking. It’s been estimated retail store closure announcements could reach 12,000 this year, setting a record, with many of those stemming from apparel-based businesses like Charming Charlie and Charlotte Russe.
This Prime Day, which kicked off Monday at 3 a.m. ET and runs for 48 hours, will put Amazon’s latest efforts to be a bigger fashion destination to the test.
Lessons from Prime Day
Prime Day 2019 will include hot deals on staple items, like sweatshirts and socks, but also is promoting Amazon’s own fashionable items to highlight the range of clothing it offers.
Ahead of Prime Day this year, Amazon was pushing deals for as much as 50% off leggings, accessories and more, Jacquelyn Cooley at analytical intelligence company 1010data said. Fashion items very well could be on the top sellers list this year, considering how the deals are panning out, she said.
On Prime Day, Amazon is touting 30% off Calvin Klein and deals on some of its own exclusive apparel merchandise.
On Monday morning, button-down shirts from Amazon’s Goodthreads line were 30% off, its own Lark & Ro dresses were 50% off, and certain Calvin Klein and Adidas merchandise was 30% off. Charnas took to social media again to tout her #PrimeDayPicks, including items from Amazon Essentials, Splendid and Rebecca Taylor.
Overall, this year’s Prime Day could bring in as much as $5.8 billion in sales globally, up from an estimated $3.9 billion in sales in 2018, when the event ran for just 36 hours, according to Coresight Research.
Beyond Prime Day
But a fashion business isn’t built on a two-day sales event. Amazon has seemingly been amassing an army of fashion influencers on social platforms like Instagram, bringing with them tens of millions of followers altogether, to write posts with taglines like “I #FoundItOnAmazon.”
Women including Paola Alberdi, Sierra Furtado, Emi Suzuki, Leonie Hanne and Patricia Bright each have more than 1 million followers on Instagram. Now, they all share something else in common. They’re working with Amazon to promote the platform as a fashion destination — alongside their posts about Reformation, Revolve, Channel, Rebecca Minkoff, and other trendy and luxury labels.
One of Amazon’s new influencer-focused ventures called “The Drop” went live in May.
With The Drop, Amazon is partnering with fashion influencers like Bright, a U.K.-based vlogger known for posting chic looks and night-out outfits to her Instagram, and Furtado, an LA-based YouTuber known for her more laid-back style. These partners are designing limited-edition apparel and accessories collections that Amazon will then create in-house.
There’s a scarcity element involved because shoppers are only given 30 hours to shop each influencer’s collection before the next one is dropped. A text alert notifies shoppers when a drop is happening. Amazon also says on its website it only makes limited quantities of each drop, so products are expected to sell out.
The Drop sounds a lot like fast-fashion retailer Zara’s strategy, which has found success by never making the same thing twice, only shipping limited quantities of items to stores, and rotating inventory frequently to keep shoppers coming back again and again to flip through racks of clothes. Amazon appears to be taking its own stab at this approach.
In order to be a two-hundred-billion-dollar company, we’ve got to learn how to sell clothes and food.
Amazon also has its own subscription box program akin to Stitch Fix called Prime Wardrobe, where users can pick out a handful of clothing items, try them on at home and then only pay for what they want to keep, shipping back what they don’t want.
And just last month it launched an artificial intelligence tool called “StyleSnap.” Within Amazon’s app, users can either take a photo or upload an existing image of an outfit, and StyleSnap will use machine learning to “match the look” with clothes for sale on Amazon.
Making shopping fun
Still, analysts and fashion experts agree that navigating Amazon’s website for clothes often is more arduous than it is enjoyable. The website’s design isn’t desirable for discovering new things or new brands. Most people shopping on Amazon go there knowing exactly what they’re looking for. With fashion, Amazon must figure out how to make the experience more fun.
There’s also reluctance for brands to partner with Amazon because they lose autonomy over pricing and marketing, founders have told CNBC.
On the whole, it hasn’t been easy for Amazon to entice popular fashion brands to sell there. The majority of product listings on Amazon’s fashion page are from third parties. This is likely one of the reasons why Amazon has been incubating so many of its own apparel and accessories lines in-house. It has more than 60 today, according to tracking by TJI Research, like Core 10 for women’s leggings and sports bras, and Goodthreads for men’s khaki pants and button-down tops.
More clothing sales shifting online
Separate data from eMarketer shows Amazon is on track to grab nearly 30% of the market for apparel and accessories sold online in the U.S. this year, up from 22.7%, or about $18.38 billion in sales, in 2016.
But remember: U.S. e-commerce sales still represent less than 15% of total retail sales, according to eMarketer. The majority of purchases are still happening in bricks-and-mortar stores.
RBC Capital Markets’ retail team is predicting 40% of apparel sales in the U.S. will take place on the internet by 2023, up from closer to 30% today. Currently, RBC says e-commerce accounts for roughly 20% to 25% of clothing and accessories sales for most retailers. For specialty retailers it’s closer to 29%, for department stores it’s about 24%, and for off-price retailers it’s just 2%, according to the firm.
And in a survey of 1,000 consumers in the U.S. ages 18 to 34 released in June, RBC found more than 50% of respondents say they start their searches for clothing online on platforms carrying numerous brands, rather than directly from a single brand’s website. That could end up boding well for Amazon.
“We believe Amazon could have a material presence in fashion, over time,” RBC said in a recent note to clients. “That said, we believe that Amazon would need to respond to changing style trends at a faster pace, especially with its own private label inventory. … Also, Amazon could improve its browsing experience for fashion customers — try searching for ‘women black dress’ and you will get over 350 options.”
When it comes to sports footwear, Skechers is a brand known for comfort. Apart from casual daily wear, they also have a lineup of performance oriented sports shoes. The latest in their performance series is the GOrun 7 – a lightweight running shoe with what Skechers calls the ‘Hyper Burst’ midsole.
Thanks to the knitted upper, the shoe gives you a snug fit and unhindered breathability. We like that the insole can be removed if you Find it a tad too tight. The unique design includes two pull tabs on the shoe which allows for quick and easy wearing/removal. The webbing-style lacing system stays locked during exercise and ensures the shoe doesn’t become loose. And at just about 220 grams per shoe, GOrun 7 is one of the lightest running shoes available today.
Another highlight is the new midsole that provides excellent energy return (it’s a noticeable boost while walking/running) without sacrificing on comfort. We used the shoes on surfaces like grass, treadmills as well as concrete roads and found them to be well balanced with superb grip.
The outsole has good flexibility which helps in easy foot movement and provides great support. Skechers has added rubber pods on the outsole that are designed for extra traction while running, especially on uneven surfaces.
Overall, we think the GOrun 7 is amongst the best running shoes in this price range. At this price, you’re also spoilt for choice with good options from Reebok, Puma and Adidas.
Sebastian: I think art and design are two different disciplines. If you create art that incorporates a certain degree of functionality or design that incorporates these more emotional components, then hopefully you’re enriching both disciplines in parallel.
Sebastian: Hi, my name is Sebastian ErraZuriz, and we’re at R & Company. It’s a design gallery based in New York City.
The cabinet series is called “Breaking the Box.” It’s full of pieces that spin, rotate, transform, and shine.
Sebastian: This box is called “Magistral,” and it’s made from 10,000 corn dog skewers. This one needed to look like either a hedgehog or some sort of protecting fur, so that it would seem like it was protecting your belongings.
He’s been building these kinetic pieces for the past four years. After showing the cabinets in small settings, he shared a video of one on Vimeo in 2015.
Sebastian: We made this very crude video, probably with my phone. We posted the video online, and the video had sound. You could hear the ‘tick tick tick tick’ of all the pieces moving together, each one pulling each other. And we immediately had requests from all sorts of press that they wanted this video. And then everyone on social media wanted the video. And that was the first time that I realized I was onto something.
But it’s not an entirely new concept. These kinds of moving pieces have been around for centuries. In the 1990s, transforming furniture played a big role in mid-century modern design.
The pieces can serve multiple purposes, hide secret compartments, or save space.
“The Piano Shelf” was the first piece he created for this functional art series. The “keys” are all movable. They’re each long enough to fit large books or sculptures, and they’re thick enough to eliminate bookends.
Sebastian: Finally, the gaps in between are quite aesthetical but really you won’t have a book that’s thin enough to fall through them. So more or less, everything obeys logic as opposed to aesthetics.
He sees a box as an object to be broken out of.
Sebastian: And I believe if we can constantly revisit the idea of the box and break it down in a variety of different formulas, we’re always inviting the audience to understand that whatever your constraints are, there is always a way to hack them.