heroes & the time

the right: being creative… in the business side

the heroes shape the time, or the time shapes the heroes?

in the case of fashion, i would definitely say it is the latter. coco chanel once pronounced: “i set the fashion for a quarter of a century. why? because i knew how to express my own time.” since the best fashion always reflects its period, the great designers were mostly shaped and determined by their time and environment. chanel liberated women with jersey, with the little black dress, etc. christian dior gave women the new look. yves saint laurent empowered women with his le smoking tuxedo suit. none would be possible if they did not realize their time and place in fashion with regards to their social period.

what else is essential to become a great fashion designer? creativity? a great point of view? a handsome face? good relationships with the press? yes to all of the above, but the most important is the right business partner – a fashion ceo with a capital f. it is not just any ceos; she/he has to love fashion more than cash. understanding of the long-term nature of identity building and the intangibles of a designers’ brand is a must, while never loses sight of the company’s balance sheet. absent of an ego is imperative to co-exist with designers who egoistic being one of the defining quality. in this business, communication skill has to be second nature: the fceo has to be able to communicate as easily and flawlessly as breathing. she/he is like the king of its world but ultimately serves its queer (correction: queen). it really could be done: pierre bergé to yves saint laurent. barry k. schwartz to calvin klein. domenico de sole to tom ford. robert duffy to marc jacobs.

those are qualities that are not exactly second nature for our chinese people; none of our ancient kings severed their queen. teamwork is fine as long as she/he is the cristiano ronaldo of the real madrid. is it a surprise that none of our national teams consisted of more than 2 people succeeded in the beijing olympics? it is really hard to find good fashion management talents, just like it is hard to find someone to play defenders on our national soccer team. every one wants to score those gorgeous and glamorous goals, but no one is willing to do the dirty work and play the under-appreciated defense.

the irony is: the part that really needs creativity is the business side of fashion. coach turned itself from a manufacturing business to a marketing business offering “affordable” luxury with great timing. zara got creative on their logistics to create amazing value for their customers. h&m practically invented fast fashion. polo paved the way for lifestyle fashion. calvin klein owned the underwear and fragrance business with his ads. duffy once said on twitter: “marc is the dreamer; it’s my job to make it a reality.” he accomplished that creatively, and more. we need more people like that for fashion design to flourish in china.

(first published in the jun. 2010 issue of his life magazine)

英雄造時勢, 或是時勢造英雄?

时尚界发生的那些奇迹,归根到底都是“好时机”的产物。香奈儿女士曾经说:“我成为近半个世纪人们认可的时尚偶像,为什么?因为我懂得善于时代。”于是,生命力最长久的流行趋势总是传达时代的声音,伟大的设计师们的作品大多由他们所处的时间和环境决定的。香奈尔呼应妇女解放的球衣与黑色小礼服、迪奥给予妇s女新面貌的“new look”、伊夫•圣罗兰与他的权力西装燕尾服和吸烟装。武断地说,倘若设计师们对他们所处的社会形态毫无感知,这些成功都将灰飞烟灭。

还有哪些因素是成为一个伟大设计师的条件?创意?良好的视觉剪裁?一张美丽的模特脸?出色的宣传?当然基于上述因素外,更重要的是选对商业合作伙伴——他一定要对时尚狂热,而非金钱。理解并支持设计师的表达,同时帮助设计师建立长久发展的个人风格,但又能保证财务方面的平衡并且控制设计师天马行空的表达被确定在一个标准。在这个行业,社交与传播能力已成为成功与否的第二考量:作为设计师背后的金主,他必须让各个生产、设计、售卖的环节顺畅自如。他是世界之王,但最终服务的王后(设计师)。一些成功的榜样可以说明问题:pierre bergé之于yves saint laurent、barry k. schwartz之于calvin klein、domenico de sole之于tom ford……



(第一次发表: 2010年6月 他的生活杂志. 翻译: 朱婷婷.)

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