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Menswear Milan 2015

by Bernardo van Eekhout in Lifestyle & Fashion , 21 maart 2015


At a first glance, fashion and politics seem two different worlds, but they are getting more and more intertwined. The Chinese government, for example, is taking drastic measures against the typical Chinese “gifts culture,” for instance in the business world, where expensive designer items are given to business associates.

This corruption among officials and wealthy businessmen is being significantly restricted by the government, which means a financial setback for many foreign luxury brands. And because of the falling Rouble, political unrest and sanctions, fewer Russians are traveling to Italy to purchase luxury goods. The Chinese and Russians combined constitute twenty-five percent of spendings in Italy. But how politically correct is the fashion business?

As a result of the collapse of a garment factory in 2013 in Bangladesh, in which more than 1,100 people died, international politics has also started to interfere with the fashion industry. After this biggest disaster ever in the clothing industry, an emergency fund was set up to compensate all the victims and next of kin. Ministers in France, Spain, the UK and Italy promised they would do their utmost to get fashion brands to donate money to the Rana Plaza Fund, as only half of these brands that had their garments manufactured in Rana Plaza actually did so.

After this disaster, the supervision on luxury brands that have their products manufactured in the Far East has become more strict. The Italian television channel RAI, for instance, revealed that Gucci employees in Chinese factories often work much more than is indicated. Because of this, Gucci is inspecting the factories that produce their garments more often, to see if their employees are not working too much. If so, they promised to take immediate action.

But those are not the only problems that Gucci is currently facing, as the brand seems to have lost its luster. Consumers are turning away from the brand as it no longer seems special and unique. It lacks exclusivity and is not innovative enough. Gucci seems to have lost its way and seems the victim of its own success. The brand is so well-known that consumers worldwide seem fed up with big brand names. Furthermore, Gucci has removed a lot of affordable items from its range to regain something of its exclusivity.

Over the last five years, its prices rose by about forty percent. Gucci has been facing falling sales since 2013, and in the third quarter of 2014 again, sales decreased with 1.6 percent. And also this time, the collection is based on the same concept as previous collections, this time giving the garments a nautical touch. Double breasted blazers with golden buttons and contrasting revers, nice three-quarter officer trench coats in natural colors, and fresh trousers with rolled-up cuffs, with everything in black, white, red and blue. For shoes, the very well-known Gucci loafers and matching XL backpacks, worn sideways over back.

“This season, the Gucci man has two faces: the face of the jet-set clothes manufacturer, and the face of the liberal world of rock-and-roll,” Giannini notes. “But still very glamorous and luxurious, as always. The navy world is the source of inspiration this time.” Gucci seems to be a sinking ship, however, and has started a drastic clean-up operation. Gucci’s CEO Patrizio di Marco and creative director Frida Giannini will leave the company. Last January, Giannini was to show her latest Gucci menswear 2015-2016 collection, but it was completely redesigned by Alessandro Michele at the last moment.

Michele is the current designer of Gucci’s accessory line. His collection has a completely different look than the look that Gianni has given Gucci over the past ten years. Eventually, Alessandro was also appointed Frida Giannini’s successor.


Moda Revival

Prada
also had a difficult year, financially speaking. The company’s net profit fell to 319.3 million Euros over the first nine months of 2014, a decrease of 27.7 percent compared with 2013. This was caused by a falling demand in Europe and Asia. In recent years, Prada also has been lacking the innovation that once made it so popular. “This period has been ruined by a number of geographical and political issues. On top of the difficult international economic factors, the luxury goods market is also undergoing readjustments of which the duration and nature are not quite clear,” Prada’s CEO Patrizio Bertelli notes.

And again, Prada has a very realistic collection that shows clothes like those worn in the 1970s as if from a time capsule. This without startling surprises, and again with female models on the catwalk. Miuccia Prada: “I want to design the things people want. Something that’s truly real. I think of people, not in different genders. Every time I do a men’s show, I think how great the show would be for women. Ever more, it instinctively feels right to translate the same idea to both sexes.”

In 2015, the musty 1970s silhouette is dressed up and refreshed with large white stitching as the thread through the entire collection. Strait jackets with patch pockets and big collars, knitted spencers with graphic patterns and high-necked plaid shirts. It looks like clothes from a second-hand shop, but with an expensive Prada price tag. “This collection is somewhat conservative, as it seemed the only think possible that is new. A more realistic approach fits the times. I do not like men’s clothing to be too exaggerated. One should limit one’s creativity, as now is not the time for crazy things.”



A lot more optimistic and also more cheerful is the collection of the immensely popular 1980s brand Moschino of the Italian designer Franco Moschino, who unfortunately died too young. Like no other, he ridiculed the (fashion) excesses in the 1980s with striking slogans / prints and made fun of famous fashion houses with a great sense of humor. After the arrival of the thirty-nine-year-old American designer Jeremy Scott, this fashion label is now undergoing a true revival.

Scott: “I always had great admiration for Moschino and the brand he stands for. A lot of humor and glamour mixed to a deadly cocktail. A sense of humor is something that I do have, but most of the fashion houses do not. And to Moschino, humor was one of the key elements; it most definitely was his unique approach.” All known Moschino elements are combined by Scott: colorful pop-art prints of American soda’s for suits, bomber jackets, and matching sports bags. All-over prints of Smiley showing the flags of all the countries in the world for shirts and Bermuda shorts, with matching Doc Martens shoes.

Knitted polo shirts partly have the British and German flag, with the famous Smiley print in black. All very commercial, but cheerful. Bleached denim has the famous Louis Vuitton Daimler pattern as XL print, and the well-known orange Hermès print with brown ribbon motive is shamelessly copied by Scott on orange denim. “I just want to make clothes people actually can and want to wear. Fashion should not take itself so seriously. Nobody should...”

A lot of the male models wanted to bring the clothes home with them after the show. To firmly reposition the brand Moschino, a substantial number of new shops will be opened in Madrid, Seoul, and Berlin.


Italian Latin Lover

Donatella Versace apparently had to promote new crockery, as the male models carried a plate (with the famous Medusa logo) under their arms, or had their backpacks fully stocked with Versace crockery. For her collection, Donatella was inspired by Cuba in her use of color and a stress-free feeling. Donatella Versace: “This collection is inspired by the easy-going part of the world. This season, I was more at ease, and the Versace male is more relaxed than usual this summer. I wanted to give him a stress-free feeling. It is a celebration of Versace with the soul of Cuba.”

And precisely those garments that have been stripped of all the characteristic overly showy Versace elements look the most modern. Such as the costumes in bleached pink with one golden button, the brilliant blouson-jacks with golden zip-fastener and matching shorts, or the leather jackets with wide pleated trousers. No prints or lavish baroque elements. She will continue on this path in her recently shown autumn collection 2015-2016.

For evenings, there are simple black tuxedos in crepe de chine with narrow waistbands and small gold buckles, all for the still very muscular Versace hunk. He’s a keeper!

Last year, the American investment company Blackstone Group has taken a twenty percent interest in Versace for approximately 210 million Euros. With this financial injection, Versace wants to expand by opening thirty new stores in Istanbul, Rio de Janeiro, and Toronto, among other cities. Over 2013, Versace realized a turnover of about 480 million Euros, with a net profit of sixty-nine million Euros.


Fashion duo Dolce & Gabbana was extremely relieved when it was cleared of accusations of tax evasion by the Italian Supreme Court of Judicature. In April 2013, they had to deal with a suspended prison sentence of eighteen months for tax evasion for the amount of one billion Euros through a Luxembourgian holding company. Both men have always maintained that they were innocent. Loyal to their glorification of Sicily, the Spanish conquest of Sicily (1516-1713) was their source of inspiration this time.

This resulted in an Italian version of the Spanish bullfighter. The danger here is that garments quickly become more theater costume than sellable clothing, which held true for many of Dolce & Gabbana’s outfits. Placards of bullfights were used as a print on T-shirts and singlets.

Three-piece suits in rich brocade print or flamenco polka-dot have a very tight cut, requiring a very slim body indeed. Beautiful are the red / grey shirts with bull print, and short grey bolero jackets with lace print. And with a bloodthirsty final of only red Chantung silk costumes, I say... Olé!

In 2014 Dolce & Gabbana invested seventy-four million in opening new stores and the renovation of existing stores. In total, they opened about thirty new stores.



End of Season

The umbrella organization of the Milan Fashion Week, the “Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana,” hopes that the Italian fashion industry will end 2014 with positive results. “But exports will be solely responsible for that,” president Mario Boselli notes. “The turnover increase over 2013 was four percent, only due to good export figures. Because of the effects of Italian reforms, domestic consumption lagged behind.” Boselli noted that China will become important over the next five to ten years, with some 400 million people who will become consumers. And in his own country, the Chinese man in particular is responsible for about fifty-five percent of luxury goods spending. In other countries it is forty percent.

For Burberry, the Asia-Pacific region makes up thirty-seven percent of its turnover. “I think that a lot of people forget that in the upcoming years, about 100 million Chinese consumers will start traveling to flagship markets all over the world. Therefore we started investing in our flagship stores to give them an even better service,” Burberry’s CEO notes.

But also purchases over the internet have become an important source of revenue for luxury brands, in spite of the fact that only sixty percent of luxury brands offer this service. Burberry was one of the first brands that made it possible to order products directly from the catwalk, to be collected in one of their stores. The Spanish luxury label Loewe also offers this possibility, but they take it one step further. In May, Loewe will offer thirty percent of its upcoming winter collection in stores, with increasingly overlapping seasons as a result. The present-day consumer doesn’t want to wait another six months for the desired product to finally become available in the store.



 







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