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Via Bag, Borrow or Steal Instagram Account @bagborroworsteal

The buzz phrase “ethical fashion” has been tossed around for some time evoking concerns regarding fair labor practices and wages, processes that take the preservation of our environment and animals into consideration and supply chain transparency.

Often ethical fashion is confused with sustainable fashion, and yet there is no doubt the two are interrelated. Ethical practices lead to more sustainable processes which in turn mean healthier workers, an environment that can support generations of fashionistas to come and of course, clothing consumers can feel good about wearing.

But what if emerging and independent designers could take all that we’ve learned about both ethical (and sustainable) fashion and roll it into a business model that is growing in popularity and in my humble opinion, might be a way for young fashion businesses to stay afloat?

Hear me out…

The other night I was at a dinner party where several of the guests were talking about how much they loved their clothing subscription/rental services. The conversation went like this:

“I love your skirt.”

“Thanks! It’s from Le Tote.”

“Le Tote? I’ve never heard of that store. Where is it?”

“Oh, no! It’s not a store, it’s a subscription service, you know, like Rent the Runway. If I stay on top of wearing items they send and sending them back, I can get up to 4 new pieces a week. And if I really like something, I can keep it, pay for it and it’s mine. Otherwise, I wear it once or twice and send it back for the next person to try!”

Via Le Tote’s Instagram Account @letote

As the two talked, I started thinking of all of the sustainable advantages of renting a wardrobe. On behalf of the consumer, subscription services mean fewer unworn clothes packing closets and eventually ending up in landfills. And by giving clothes a “test run” and only keeping those items that the consumer is partial to (or as one guest mentioned, “get a lot of compliments from others”), more thoughtful purchasing choices can be made. Then, of course, there is the option to rent special occasion garments you may only need to wear once…

As a subscription service retailer, there are fewer risks of unsold inventory (and therefore waste in terms of dollars and garments), not to mention real time data revealing what consumers want which can guide future purchasing, order by order. Like the consumer, the retailer enjoys a more thoughtful way of approaching buying and selling in the fashion industry.

When it comes to ethical standards, it is still up to both rental services as well as the consumer to find out how the clothes they rent out (or in) are produced. After my subscription service curiosities were peaked, I did a bit of research only to find companies that curate plus sizes (Gwynnie Bee), bags (Bag, Borrow or Steal), just about any fashion item your fashion-loving heart desires from a wide variety of designers.

Via Gwynnie Bee’s Instagram Account @gwynniebee

But what I did not find is an independent designer who follows this model.

What if (on a smaller scale) independent designers could create a scenario where they could design and produce adhering to their own ethical standards and then rent their pieces in a way that is not only environmentally sustainable, but spares their business from the pitfalls that often cause independent designers to close their doors?

Feeling like I had to be missing something, I tried to create a real life scenario using the wide variety of samples I’ve created and are now tucked neatly away in my storage unit. I could photograph them, write product descriptions and create a website, but instead of selling these samples, I could rent them, earning income, while I designed additional styles. True, I would have to figure out shipping and how to protect myself against damaged garments. I’m sure I might get some pushback for not having a full size range in most styles, but wouldn’t it be amazing for these styles that I still love to see some light of day?

I wouldn’t have to worry about retailers placing an order for my most current (hypothetical) collection and subsequent production, and with the power of a social media following, I could advertise availability of garment rental to those who I already know are fans of my work.

I’m a firm believer that good design is timeless. Just the other day, I was admiring how Thom Browne posts pieces from collections past periodically on Instagram and I can rarely decipher which suit is from 2014 and which suit is from his most recent collection. Does this make me a bad fashionista? Probably. But I believe that we as a culture are trending away from the incredible amount of stress put on designers to produce season after season. Instead, wouldn’t it be incredible to generate revenue, which for a new designer could mean designing and producing the next collection, from styles past that we still love through a rental option?

Emerging designers, I’d really love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Are there additional benefits of this model you can think of? Perhaps pitfalls that I haven’t considered? I’d love to know…

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Prabal Gurung created political statement T-shirts that were worn by social media influencers and street style stars during NY Fashion Week 2017.  From Left to right: Shea Marie, Caroline Vreeland , Bryanboy, Tina Craig, Irene Kim,  Aimee Song  and Chriselle Lim . (Photo Courtesy of Forbes.com)

The Men’s Spring 2020 shows have just wrapped up, and while the runways were filled with plenty of notable trends, such as soft suiting at Givenchy, gender bending at Comme des Garçons, nautical looks at Prada, and romantic prints at Louis Vuitton  – the one trend that has been gaining momentum is the “designer as activist.” Fashion activism is nothing new. In the 1930s the Keffiyeh became the became a symbol of political uprising and rebellion. In the 1960s, designers gave us peace symbol T-shirts in protest of the Vietnam war and mini-skirts, which became the symbol for women’s rights and sexual liberation. In 2017, Cosmopolitan listed 22 designers who used their runway show to promote a cause or in protest of global injustices. From pussy hats to white bandanas with the hashtag #TiedTogether (a symbol of inclusivity and acceptance), according to designer Talbot Runhof, “If you have a platform to say something and you don’t, then shame on you.” In the age of social media and the internet, where opinions and messages are delivered in lightning speed, designers, actors and other influencers feel duty-bound and a certain responsibility to bring attention to the relationship between fashion, politics and social change.

Here are a few noteworthy designers who have shown more than just clothes on their runways, past & present.

OFF-WHITE

Virgil Abloh has developed a cult following with his collections for Off-White and the brand is worn by street style stars around the globe. For his men’s Spring 2020 show, Abloh focused on the negative effects of plastic and saving the environment. According to Abloh, “Plastic: once hailed as a miracle material, now condemned as a major pollutant — and possibly about to be considered a work of art.” The show’s invite was a clear plastic invitation with the words “plastic” printed on it.  Abloh believes plastic can be recycled and used to create something beautiful, such as art. Plastic even made its way in the collection with plastic rain gear and a hazmat suit.

As for the clothes, Abloh looks to street art for inspiration and tapped Futura, a contemporary of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, for the prints in this collection, case in point, a hand-painted white coat, top and pant look.To address his environmental concerns, Abloh featured an aquatic theme throughout the collection with shades of blue tie dye prints and amoeba-shaped appliqué motifs on knits.

The show ended with the models stomping through a beautiful field of white carnations that was created for the show. Abloh’s message was load and clear, we must protect our environment.

Virgil Abloh at his men’s Fall 2020 Off-White Collection. (Photo courtesy of theguardian.com)

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney has been one of the biggest advocates of the environment, a pioneer of sustainable fashion and an animal rights activist, since the creation of her namesake label in 2001.  McCartney Men’s 2020 collection was presented in a lush garden in Milan’s city center. According to Vogue.com, McCartney stated, “Let’s just forget fashion for a moment and savor all the natural beauty around us and talk about flowers!”

McCartney focused on playful tailoring, hand-printed silk shirts, ties and shorts with horse motifs, lightweight dusters and loose-fitting jumpsuits with satellite Earth prints and of course a collection that was fur free. McCartney kept the collection light and humorous, but her fight to save the earth is a serious one.

Stella McCartney’s Fall 2020 Men’s Collection. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Pyer Moss

Herby Jean-Raymond launched his menswear label Pyer Moss in 2013 and followed up with a women’s collection shortly thereafter. In the few seasons Jean-Raymond has been presenting, the designer has quickly become known for his social activist stands. Most notably, he is inspired by the heritage of African-Americans, as well as social issues that this community faces today.

Pyer Moss Spring 2019. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Dior

In July 2016 Dior announced that Maria Grazia Chiuri would be the first female creative director at Dior. Chiuri has been making political statements ever since.  T-shirts screen printed with “We Should All Be Feminists” and “Dio(R)evolution” were sold with proceeds going to Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation, which fights against injustice, inequality & poverty and promotes access to education.

Christian Dior Spring 2017 Collection. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Women’s Rights

Fall 2017 was a big season for designers to speak out about social injustice. Attendees at Missoni’s Fall show each received pink pussy hats (madefamous by the Women’s March on Washington in January 2017). Guests proudly wore the hats, as did the models during the finale.

According to Angela Missoni, creative director for the label, their message for Fall 2017 was all about “femininity in our times, prepared to confront the conflicts and dilemmas of our contemporary society: the conditions, needs, and rights of all women and minorities.”

Missoni’s Fall 2017 Show. (Photo courtesy of DailyNation.com)

Rio Uribe, the designer behind Gypsy Sport, gave a passionate speech before his show which focused on homelessness and refugee tent cities. “I wanted to talk to you guys a little bit about my show,” he said from a mic backstage. “The Fall/Winter ’17 collection was inspired honestly by people who live on the street and just don’t have much fashion in their life or any of the luxuries that we take for granted. … I don’t want anyone who is gay, or Muslim, or disabled, or mentally ill, or a veteran, or a drug addict, or a runaway to have to live on the street just because someone’s not willing to give them a chance.”

Gypsy Sport Fall 2017 Show. (Photo courtesy of cosmopolitan.com)

Prabal Gurung created “The Future is Female” T-shirt for his Fall 2017 show. According to Gurung, “So to me feminism is not just a trending topic. It’s the only way I’ve known, even before I knew what [feminism] was.”

Bella Hadid sporting Prabal Gurung’s feminist T-shirt at his Spring 2017 show. (Photo courtesy of Forbes.com)

“All-inclusive” hit an all-time high in Fall 2017 as Christian Siriano enlisted models of all sizes to walk his runway show, from plus-size & petite to curvy, as well as plenty of racially diverse women. The 2008 Project Runway winner consistently speaks out against fashion magazines’ unrealistic body standards that are set by the modeling industry. He believes designers have the power to change this by adjusting their hiring process and sizing.

A plus sized model walks Christian Siriano’s show during his 2017 fashion show. (Photo courtesy of cosmopolitan.com)

During Tommy Hilfiger’s 2017 extravaganza in Venice Beach, models strutted down the runway wearing white bandanas as part of Business of Fashion’s #TiedTogether initiative. According to Business of Fashion founder and CEO Imran Amed, this campaign encouraged people to wear the colorless handkerchief “to make a clear statement in support of human unity and inclusiveness amidst growing uncertainty and a dangerous narrative peddling division.”

#TiedTogether Bandanas Hit Runway for First Time at Tommy Hilfiger. (Photo courtesy of Hollywoodreporter.com)

Also in 2017,  The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) partnered with Planned Parenthood to launch the “Fashion Stands With Planned Parenthood” campaign to raise awareness about women’s health care during New York Fashion Week.

Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour sporting a Planned Parenthood badge. (Photo courtesy of 14urban.com)

At the New York Spring 2018 shows, a “Get out and Vote” message dominated in advance of the U.S. mid term elections.

Prabal Gurung walks the runway in a Vote T-shirt show during New York Fashion Week Spring 2018. (Photo courtesy of Glamour.com)

Going Fur Free

While Stella McCartney has been creating fur-free and leather-free clothes for years, many designers have now jumped on the bandwagon.

As of September 2018, Burberry announced that it would also be going fur-free, a big move ever since Riccardo Tisci became the creative director for the label. The brand will no longer be using rabbit, fox, mink, and Asiatic raccoon fur, though they will still feature angora, shearling, and leather.

Burberry goes fur free as of Sept. 2018. (Photo courtesy of teenvogue.com)

Shockingly, in March 2018, Donatella Versace announced that she would no longer be using fur in her collections. “Fur? I am out of that. I don’t want to kill animals to make fashion. It doesn’t feel right,” she told 1843 magazine.

Versace goes fur free. (Photo courtesy of teenvogue.com)

In June 2017, protesters interrupted a live interview with Michael Kors at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, with signs that read “Michael Kors has blood on his hands.” This prompted Michael Kors to announce that his company would be going fur free as of December 2018.

Michael Kors goes fur free. (Photo courtesy of teenvogue.com)

In October 2017, Gucci announced it would be going fur-free as well. Alessandro Michele is opting for sustainable alternatives to create his “grandma-chic” vibe. Prada also added their name to the fur-free list as of 2020.

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Photo by Heyday Photism@Pexels.com

Who is Gen Alpha?

Generation Alpha is the cohort born beginning in 2010 and continuing through 2025This group was born after the launch of the iPad, so technology is a constant in their lives. They are aware and are swayed by YouTube influencers for toys and games.  Gen Alpha is expected to have an attraction to multiculturalism and a tendency to veer away from gender norms.

Photo by Mihai Stefan@Pexels.com

Photo by Quang Anh Ha Nguyen@Pexels.com

Who is Gen Z?

Gen Z are those born between 1995 and 2010/2012. They value comfort and function and enjoy making their outfits their own, intentionally mismatched and less “put together.” They prefer to wear what feels right and tend to go for “unique” body-positive images.

Photo by Amponsah Nii Davidson@Pexels.com

Gen Alpha & Gender Equality

Who is fighting to get rid of the “pink” aisle for toys and wanting the “it” basketball shoe for girls, as well as, boys?  Say hello to Gen Alpha (and their parents). This cohort, influenced by the #MeToo, #TimesUp and #HimToo movements, will be focused on “empowerment through empathy”which in turn, will catapult the green movement into every aspect of their lives.

For more info on fashion & marketing to Generations Z & Alpha – click on these links:  

https://girlstweenfashion.com/top-gen-z-clothing-brands-2018/

https://digiday.com/marketing/forget-millennials-gen-alpha/

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46613032

https://www.businessinsider.com/stephen-curry-letter-girls-shoes-riley-2018-11

Gen Z and Alpha – Presenting Some Very Real Global Sizing Challenges

 

Children’s Apparel Standards

Permission granted from Alvanon

Gen Z and Gen Alpha are not the same as past generations in terms of size, shape and stature. And, sizing standards have not kept up with these changes.  A report released by Alvanon (Alvanon Standard North American Children, January 30th, 2018), revealed a “seismic shift” in the children’s sizing standards.  To develop the standard, Alvanon surveyed key clients to gain feedback on challenges in fitting children and collected body scanned data.  The resultant new standard covers infants, toddlers and both male and female children/ teens up to age 18 (size 18).  Further standards have been issued from ISO (International), EN (Europe), GB/T (China), JIS (Japan), KS K (South Korea), AFNOR (France), Australian, UK and ASTM (US).  Many countries have their own general children’s sizing guidelines, but the actual garment sizing will vary by brand.  For Asian countries, each country has their own method of children’s clothing sizing.  Some countries base the sizing off height, some countries base sizing off age, and some counties have different sizing dependent on domestic use or for export.

While standards exist, they are considered voluntary, so the brands can size as they wish.

In both the US and UK, children’s sizing has historically been based on the age, e.g. a six-year-old requiring a size 6. Consequently, children over the 50th percentile in height or weight, would need a size above their age, so a six-year-old may require a size 7 or 8 if they were larger and size 5 if they were smaller than average.  Current, European standards are based height and weight and not age dependent.  With Alvanon’s new sizing standard not including Slim” or Plus” or “Junior” sizes for North American children and teens, some sizing discrepancies will remain. Perhaps new sizing standards for North American children and teens beyond “Regular” or “Average” should be included.

Permission granted by Kinderzeit.org via Creative Commons License

For more info click on these links:

https://alvanon.com/alvanon-releases-new-childrens-clothing-standard/

https://www.kinderzeit.org/en/asian-children-size-chart/

https://www.kinderzeit.org/en/asian-children-size-chart/#what-to-know-about-different-asian-kids-sizes

The Impact of New Sizing Standards

Photo by Nappy@Pexels.com

Photo by Pixabay@Pexels.com

Some companies have the same measurements for boys and girls through size 14 and others start separating the measurements for boys and girls at size 14. Most dress forms for children stop at size 14.  Why? Historically, that is the size which teen measurements become aligned with adult sizes. This offers more choices to accommodate body shape variations. For example: children’s garments have one inseam length per waist size, yet adults have choices (more choices for men, then women). The inseam for Boys size 16 and 18 is 31 ½ inches or 80 cm but for the same waist size in men’s jeans, there are multiple waist and inseam combinations.  Consequently, it is easier to shop for boys once they attain a waist size of 26 in (66 cm). but finding a suitable style might not be so easy as tween and teen styles preferences frequently vary from adult choices.

For girls, the question of the age of maturity and the shape and size of curves determine the sizes that fit: “Girls”, “Junior”, Girls Plus” or “Girls Slim” “Missy”, “Missy Petite”, “Missy Tall”, “Plus” or “Plus Petite”  or “Plus Tall”.  Measuring for these body shape categories, however, can be difficult as brands offer varied instructions.  Measurements for bust can be either all the way around the body or is measured under the arms from outside edge to outside edge of front.   Waist measurements for pants can be from outside edge to outside or all the way around the body, either at natural waist or as noted.  The rise is measured from the crotch seam to the top of the pants, or it is measured as a total rise.

Sizing is even more complex when considering “fashionista” brands for tweens and teens.  Girls may want to purchase garments to make them look like adults or older teens.  In addition, girls who are larger size for their age, may end up purchasing clothing that their parents/ guardians do not approve. The solution is not simple.  This means ordering online and returns are not going away any time soon.

 

Additional Links:

https://girlstweenfashion.com/top-gen-z-clothing-brands-2018/

https://girlstweenfashion.com/heres-what-stylish-tweens-will-be-wearing-in-2019/

https://www.avacarmichael.com/

 

Children’s Dress Forms

Dress form companies may want to understand the new size, shape and stature of today’s children.  A previous blog post, What’s Happening in the Dress Form Industry 2019 Large Scale Manufacturing, discussed children’s dress forms. The companies that have dress forms for children include: Dress Forms USA, Superior Model Form Company, Dress Rite Forms Company, PGM Dress Forms, Ronis Brothers, Roxy Display, and The Shop Company.  After comparing the children dress form measurements for the chest / bust, waist, hips and inseam, additional padding or shape may be required to align with today’s children.

How are Gen Z and Gen Alpha Shaped Differently?

The size, shape and stature change of the today’s children and teens are related to factors that include changes in lifestyle and increases in obesity that have shifted the distribution of body dimensions.

The National Center for Health Statistics at Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study on the height and weight of Americans in 2004.  They studied the height and weight from 1960s to 2004.  The study was repeated during the 2011 to 2014 period.

The average height of a 10-year-old boy increased 0.5 inch (1.7 cm) to 55.7 inches (141.5 cm) in 2002. The height has stayed the same through 2018. The average weight of a 10-year-old boy increased 10 lbs (4.5 kg) to nearly 85 lbs (38.6 kg) in 2002. The weight leveled off to same value in 2018.

The average 15-year-old boy in 2002 was 5’ 8, up from an inch from 1963. The weight increased from 135.5 lbs (61.6 kg) to 150.3 lbs (68.3 kg) by 2002. By 2018, the average 14-year-old was 5’7” tall.  Heights for 14-year-old boys ranged from 5’ 0” (152.4 cm), (5th percentile) to 5’9” (175.3 cm), (90th percentile).  By age 16, boys at the 95th percentile are at a height 6’ 1” (185.4 cm).  This explains the need for inseams of different lengths.

In the same reports, the average height of a 10-year-old girl increased from 55.5 inches (141 cm) to 56.4 inches (143.3 cm).  The average weight of a 10-year-old girl increased from 77.4 lbs (35.2 kg) to 88 lbs (193.6 kg).  The 15-year-old girl height increased to 63.6 inches (161.5 cm).  The weight increased to 134.4 lbs (61 kg).

Additional Links:

https://www.livescience.com/49-decade-study-americans-taller-fatter.html

https://www.creditdonkey.com/average-male-height.html

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_03/sr03_039.pdf

SUMMARY

Parents have solved the problem of fitting their children by simply purchasing larger and larger sizes.  The advent of online purchasing has further complicated the situation. Parents must buy two or three sizes to see which clothes fit, to account for the myriad of variations within size charts. This does not even account for the children whose body dimensions fall outside of the norm (as determined by the brands).

This environment has created an unsustainable practice of multiple returns forcing Industry to start addressing the underlying causes, i.e. shifting size, shape and stature, of today’s children.

This has greatly exacerbated the on-going “what-is-acceptable-to-wear” battle going on between parents/ guardians and children/ teens.  Furthermore, this environment has created an unsustainable practice of multiple returns. The Industry is being forced to address the underlying causes of the shifting size, shape and stature of today’s children. Improved shopping models are required to address the problem of age-relevant styling.

Limiting choices to certain size ranges has created an opportunity for apparel companies to improve the interactive shopping models currently available.

Disclaimer:  Any image from Pexels.com does not imply any endorsement or agreement with the comments in this blog post.

So, what have been your experiences with navigating clothing sizes for kids, tweens and teens? Feel free to share your thoughts with us.

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Valentino’s Resort 2020 Collection (Photo Courtesy of Valentino)

It’s the time of year when glamorous resort shows are flooding social media channels. And, while some designer’s whisk their clients and the press off to exotic locations around the world to witness their show, but what does this season actually mean for retailers and us as consumers? In the age of transparency, social justice and a world in flux, how are these issues reflected in the resort collections at some of the world’s major famous houses?

By definition, “resort,” (also known as cruisewear), was a season originally targeted to affluent customers who spent their post-Holiday/New Year’s weeks in mostly warm weather climates. However, due to a better economy and easy access to flights, more consumers have the income and the ability to  travel. As a result, cruisewear has become a major category for the fashion industry. It has also become a season for designers to try out new ideas ahead of their Spring collection.

Resort has also become a favorite for retailers, after all, it’s the longest selling season, hitting the floor around November and selling, at full price, until May when spring collections hit the stores. Today, brands at all price points create resort collections to satisfy their customers who crave a new purchase.

Burberry’s Resort 2020 Collection (Photo Courtesy of Burberry)

With concerns about global corruption, transparency, climate change, inequality and the need to escape or get way from the world’s craziness, it’s easy to see why consumers, with a simple click of a button, are enticed to make resort season purchases.

Resort season went from APRIL 29 – MAY 30, 2019. Here are a few designers that have created social media spectacles with their elaborate shows.

Christian Dior

Christian Dior’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Maria Grazia Chiuri, the designer behind the luxury powerhouse Christian Dior, presented an elegantly chic collection in Marrakesh for her resort 2020 collection. The collection was an homage to 1960s Yves Saint Laurent and featured rich textiles and intricate prints on everything from boyish outerwear to feminine frocks.

Prada

Prada’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

All glitz and glam aside, Miuccia Prada showed her low-key, understated resort collection in her company’s West 52nd Street Piano Factory headquarters, but nonetheless, the event was filled with a star-studded front row. Prada went back to the paired down 90s aesthetic that made the designer a household name, but this time with a pretty, feminine twist. Prada worked primarily with cotton this season with sweet calico-prints, charming hand embroideries and smart striped shirtings in intricate shapes.

Chanel

Chanel’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

In her debut collection at the helm of Chanel, Virginie Viard kept true to Karl Lagerfeld’s grand showmanship. Viard recreated a pre-war train’s dining carriage  a la a Belle Epoque café  resembling Le Train Bleu at the Gare de Lyon.  The show came complete with potted palms and paintings suggesting the many glamorous destinations that the train might take you (all of them settings for past Chanel collections).

As for the clothes, Viard brought a new effortless ease to the Chanel silhouette with mini-skirted classic Chanel suit, tiered chiffon dresses and wide legged cropped pants paired with frothy blouses. It was exciting to see Viard stay within the DNA and house codes of Chanel and yet give the label a youthful twist.

Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Anyone who has followed Nicolas Ghesquière’s career knows that no one designs wearable, futuristic-inspired looks better than him. For his Louis Vuitton resort collection, the creative director held his show at the historic TWA Flight Center, designed in 1962 by Eero Saarinen. The space is reminiscent of a landed UFO in the middle of New York’s JFK airport.  Although the space has been closed for almost twenty years, it has now reopened as a luxury hotel and Ghesquière’s show was its unofficial opening party. Quite the ‘get’!

Seemed only fitting that Ghesquière was inspired by 1960s airline stewardess’ with short dresses and a nod to TWA’s iconic flight bags. New York City was also a point of reference for Ghesquière with his Wall Street-inspired pinstriped suits, while crystal embellished bustier tops and geometric metallic embroideries referenced Art Deco inspired skyscrapers, most notably the Chrysler Building. Overall, the Vuitton resort collection was dramatic and fun, one that will be worn by plenty of Hollywood starlets on the red carpet and beyond. Thanks Nicolas for your nod to the Big Apple!

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio Armani’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Giorgio Armani’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

For years, designers have staged over-the-top shows and traveled to exotic locations around the globe to present their pre-collections. But Giorgio Armani has always shunned that notion. And so it came as a complete surprise to press and buyers alike, that this season the designer decided to show his resort 2020 collection in Tokyo, as part of his grand store reopening. In a press conference before the show, Giorgio Armani stated, “I do not agree with this. Resort collections are mainly commercial; they have to be salable and appeal to buyers.” Armani speaks his mind and does things his own way.

Armani showed his collection at Tokyo’s National Museum, which is home to the most precious and rare Asian art collections. The glamorous affair was filled with Japanese and international celebrities, including Uma Thurman.

As for the clothes, they were Armani at his finest, with so many variations of the pantsuit – for both men and women – that there was literally an option for every customer. Now that’s business savvy!

Gucci

Gucci’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Gucci’s Resort 2020 Show (Photo Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, has truly revitalized the label since taking over the house in 2015 and his momentum is only growing stronger. The designer staged his resort collection in Rome at the Capitolini Museum as a “hymn to freedom” that allowed him to express his belief in the idea of self-determination and gender equality.

According to an interview with Alessandro Michele, published in WWD, the resort collection” is empowering freedom of expression and, in particular, freedom of choice, supporting sexual and reproductive health and rights.” Illustrating this message, Michele posted feminist slogans like ‘My body, my choice.’ as well as ‘Chime for Change’ on  T-shirts. In addition, he embroidered an image of the female reproductive system on a gown that was embellished with flowers. Some looks also displayed ‘May 22, 1978,’ the date that the Italian law for the social protection of motherhood and legal abortion took effect. In terms of style, the designer’s wink to the Seventies was apparent, since it was a crucial time in history for the women’s lib movement.

While Michel’s collection featured both men’s and woman’s looks, many looks were gender neutral. There were plenty of his signature magpie layered looks that have really struck a chord with millennial influencers and celebrities, as well as kitsch Mickey Mouse printed looks.

Feel free to chime in on whether you think more designers should be using their brand status to promote social justice, just as  Alessandro Michele and other designers have done in past seasons. And if so, who are your favorites?
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Permission granted from Alvanon

Dress forms and body shape – can the standard dress form hourglass figure be improved upon?

Continuing the conversation of consumers demanding size inclusivity and better fitting garments, this blog post focuses on large-scale manufacturing.  The industry is being forced to take a more serious approach to matching design aesthetic to body shape. This blog reviews the dress forms that are available, for large-scale manufacturing, to make body shape inclusive garment design possible. A previous blog post, What’s Happening in The Dress Form Industry 2019 – Part One, focused on small-scale manufacturing.

Note: The companies below are examined from a U.S. perspective.  Any companies wishing to be added to this list should contact the University of Fashion. Information contained in this post reflects the known status as of March 2019.  Cost ranges are noted in U.S. dollars and do not include shipping or taxes. Please double check links for the latest information.

LARGE SCALE MANUFACTURING 

Traditionally, dress forms used for production were available only within a narrow size range and of only one body shape.

Women: Most dress forms for women are modeled on an hourglass figure in which the hips are slightly larger in diameter than the bust. The waist is about 8-13 inches (20 cm – 33 cm) smaller than bust and 9-13 inches (23 cm – 33 cm) smaller than hips, depending on the size and manufacturer. Dress form companies don’t always separate missy and full sizes for women – sizes range from U.S. 0 to 24, as listed on one size chart.

Men:  The male dress forms usually end at US size 46 with the waist being smaller than the hips.  Since many American men no longer have this body shape, additional padding may be required for a better fit around the stomach.  If men’s clothing is based upon standard dress forms, is the fit of men’s shirts truly correct?

Children:  The child and toddler dress forms tend to be full body forms with certain measurements for each size. Since the obesity rate of the children is rising globally, the question becomes, do the currently available children forms still match the same shape and size that are needed for today children’s wear?

A little review: If you need a background on dress forms, The University of Fashion has a video that categorizes various types of Dress Forms.

Link:  https://www.universityoffashion.com/lessons/introduction-to-dress-forms

 

TRADITIONAL MANUFACTURING DRESS FORMS

Permission granted from The Shop Company

Permission granted from Classy Dress Forms

There are many companies that make direct pinnable and partially pinnable dress forms in the US.  The shape differences are intended to define features (buttocks or busts) or maternity shapes for women. Most companies who make the directly pinnable also sell partially pinnable forms and display forms.  The companies who manufacture traditional dress forms include Dress Forms USA, Superior Model Form Company, Dress Rite Forms Company, PGM Dress Forms, Ronis Brothers, Roxy Display, Only Mannequins, The Shop Company, Subastral Inc., and Classy Dress Forms.  See Table 1, Pinnable Dress Forms at the end of the blog for more details on pinnable dress forms.

Direct Pinnable: The foam thickness is deep enough to handle pins going straight into the form.

Partially Pinnable: The padding thickness is deep enough to handle pins going in at an angle into the form.

Should standard forms represent many different body shapes or only hourglass?

Dress Forms from Demographics

With consumer demands, companies are now expanding beyond the traditional sized dress forms.  Even brands not focused on size specific body shape (e.g., plus size) will utilize a range of mannequins and dress forms that have variations in waist-to-hip or waist-to-bust ratios.

 

Alvanon

Permission granted from Alvanon

Alvanon performed extensive anthropometric research to better address garment fit for the branded target customer market.   Custom forms (AlvaForm) are focused on sales regions and demographics of interest.  Alvanon forms are industrial grade and equipped with full functionality for fit evaluation.  The shape of the forms is accurately shaped and proportioned from physical characteristics derived from relevant consumer data.  There is an extensive selection of size categories, for different regions and industries based on population characteristics. The cost range for the Alvanon forms is $1625 to $3450.

Alvanon not only has the data and physical forms available, but also provides Virtual AlvaForm avatars that can be shared between garment designers, technologists and across the supply chain for initial prototyping or sampling.

If brands sell garments solely by region, will it be harder to buy clothing on vacation unless you are in the same size range as the locals?  Note to self: Do not forget any clothing before you travel.

LARGE MANUFACTURING CUSTOM DRESS FORMS

Some of the companies that make traditional manufacturing dress forms also make custom dress forms that are modified by the customer measurements.  Requirements for the customer information are obtained by measurements or casting.

Superior Model Form Company

Professional Missy Fullbody Form, With Arms and Chrome Base. Permission granted from Superior Model Form Company

The Superior Model Form Company has custom and standard dress forms. Customer measurements can be used to create a unique dress form or to fit certain demographics.   The custom forms cost about twice as much as standard forms.

The custom forms are available in the following:  Women, full body or half body forms; Men’s full body and jacket forms; and Children and Toddler full body forms.

 

PGM Dress Forms

Special Size Custom Made Dress Forms. Permission granted from PGM Dress Forms

PGM custom forms can be made from measurements provided by the customer either at a PGM show room or at an on-site service center.  Alternatively, the customer can provide their own measurements.  PGM provides another service that duplicates the brands’ current dress forms.  The forms can be constructed as half-body, full-body, as a sculpture model or a gypsum model, obtained from mold fittings or from measurement fittings of Women, Men or Children.  The cost range for custom forms range from $1400 to $4000.

 

Classy Dress Forms

Permission granted from Classy Dress Forms

At Classy Dress Forms, a custom-made series of soft mannequins can be made based from customer’s desired measurements and photos or from an existing mannequin.  A 3D model is created first for customer approval. The cost is $1390 per dress form.  The mannequin has a soft jersey cover without draping lines.

 

ROBOTIC MANNEQUINS

Another level of mannequins and body shape involves robotic mannequins from two different companies:  one in France and another in Hong Kong. The cost for the robotic mannequins is very expensive and these solutions are only practical for larger companies.  Robotic mannequins can be used to test clothing for medical, sport and fashion.

Euveka

Permission granted from Euveka

Permission granted from Euveka

Euvka has developed Emineo, a female robotic mannequin and its companion design software, Mineo. Emineo is a scalable robot for sizes 36 to 46 with rapid deformation in less than a minute.  Mineo can be used integrally or by zone to change height or width in less than 30 seconds in accordance with the body and garment size. Busts are modeled with a breast box that varies in size from A to E.  Spare covers are specially designed to aide visualization of the plumb lines.  Robotic mannequins for adult males and children are in development.  Cost range of the robotic mannequin is available by quote. To learn more: https://www.euveka.com/en/blog-2/

Winswin

Permission granted from Winswin

A Hong Kong based company Winswin has robotic mannequins (called iDummy) in female and male products lines, in shapes of full body, top body and bottom body forms. The body panels are based on human body research.  The range of proportions are closer to Asian sizes.  For example, for women, busts range from 78 to 100 cm (30.7” – 39.4”), hips range from 89 to 108 cm (35” – 42.5”) and heights range from 154 to 172 cm (5’ to 5’8”). For men, chests range from 88 to 108 cm (34.6” – 42.5”, hips range from 91 to 111 cm (35.8” – 43.7”), and heights range from 172 to 190 cm (5’7 ¾” – 6’2 ¾”).  The cost of the robotic mannequins is available by quote.

Covers would need to be fabricated to make it partially pinnable.

Should adjustable forms be made for commercial level durability without the robotics?

Summary

As described in Part One and Part Two blog posts, the physical forms that allow brands to test designs for size inclusivity are improving. The cost of true custom forms is still very expensive relative to the cost of the “off-the-shelf” forms.  Virtual forms are becoming more popular (and a topic of a future blog). However, the capability to change physical form is important to designers and students to understand body shapes and garment interactions.

Clearly the field is open to innovations – either by using robotics or easily fabricated body shaped dress forms.  

How should dress forms to be more inclusive?

 

Table 1: Partially or Fully Pinnable Dress Forms

Dress Forms USA
https://dressformsusa.com/collections/display-dress-forms
Pinnable half body forms, Realistic buttocks: Women’s 2-24; Male 36-46;
Pinnable Children Full Body Forms, 3 M to 14 T (G &B);
Display forms (that allows for use of pins) as well: Women’s 2-20, Men’s size 40
Form Types: Pinnable, Display
Shape Differences: Sell Fabulous Fit System
Cost Range: Display, $120 – $200; Dress Forms, $257- $679
Superior Model Form Company
http://superiormodel.com/community/
http://www.superiormodel.com/52-custome-dress-maker-forms
Standard forms for Women’s 4 -16, 22; Men’s 38 to 46, Bridal form with Derriere Women’s 4-14;
Certain Dress forms, ¾ forms, Leg forms not custom
Custom: Women, full body or half body forms; Men’s full body form, jacket form and Children, Toddler full body forms
Form Types: Pinnable, Display, Vintage
Shape Differences: Make custom forms from measurements
Cost Range: $470 to $1200+
Dress Rite Forms Company
https://www.dressriteforms.collections/dress-forms
Pinnable Dress Forms – both half body and full body forms;
Half body Women’s 2-24, full body 2-20; Men’s half and full body 36-42, Pinnable Children Full Body Forms, 3 M to 14 T (G &B); half scale Women’s 2-16
Form Types: Pinnable, Display
Shape Differences: Make custom forms by casting of person
Cost Range: $300 – $800
PGM Dress Forms
https://www.pgmdressform.com/Plus-Size-Women-Dressmaker-Form
Women Dress Form and Full Body, 0-20; Women Lingerie, 4-10; Juniors Dress and Full Body, 5-15; Women Half and Full Body size 16L- 30L; Men’s Half and Full Body, 36-52; Men’s Half and Full Body 36Y – 48Y; Children Full Body, 6M – 24M; Girl Full Body 7G- 14G; Boy Full Body, S, M, L; Full body with legs, double function, allowing to insert pole through center or through leg.
Form Types: Pinnable at angle
Shape Differences: Makes Custom forms from measurements and sell Fabulous Fit System
Cost Range: $300 – $500
Ronis Brothers
http://www.ronis.com/category_s/3.htm
Women’s Dress and Full Body, 4-16, or 12- 24; Junior’s dress and full body 7-15; Men’s dress and full body 34-46; Children’s dress and full body 2 to 6X; Boy’s and Girl’s dress and full body 7-16; Infant dress and full body 3M to 24 M; Young men’s 34-46;
Form Types: Partially Pinnable, Display
Shape Differences: None on website
Cost Range: $845 – $1350
Roxy Display
https://www.roxydisplayinc.com/webpage/dressforms/femalehalf.html
Women’s Half dress forms, size 2-24; Full dress forms, 2-20; Men’s Half and Full dress forms 36-42; Children’s 3M- 12T
Form Types: Partially Pinnable
Shape Differences: Sell own pad kit
Cost Range: $200 – $500
Only Mannequins
http://onlymannequins.com/Pages/Male-Female-Dress-Froms.php
See Row 2: Women Magnetic, Pro Size 2- 20; Men Size 36-42
Form Types: Fully Pinnable, Mannequins, Displays
Shape Differences: None on website
Cost Range: $135 – $215
The Shop Company
https://theshopcompany.com/
https://theshopcompany.com/dress-forms/professionals.html
Women Dress 0-24 and Full Body, 0-20; Men Dress and Full Body 36-46; Children Full Body 3M – 14, Children Half body 54-70
Form Types: Pinnable, Display, Mannequins
Shape Differences: Sell Fabulous Fit System
Cost Range: $200 – $550
Subastral Inc
https://www.subastralinc.com/dress-forms.html
Women Dress Form 2- 12, Dress From 2-18; Women Plus size 14- 24, 18L-24L; Women Plus size Full body 14L -20L, 16L-26L; Men and Children display and mannequins
Form Types: Partially Pinnable, Displays, Mannequins
Shape Differences: None on website
Cost Range: $80 – $640
Classy Dress Forms
https://classydressforms.com/catalog/
Women Half Body Form 2-16 US, 34-48 EU; Arms and Heads available
Form Types: Fully Pinnable, Polymer construction, cotton cover
Shape Differences: Make Custom forms from measurements or from existing Mannequin
Cost Range: Dress Forms $450
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Permission granted from Alvanon

Dress forms and body shape – can the standard dress form hourglass figure be improved upon?

With consumers demanding size inclusivity and better fitting garments, garment manufacturers are forced to take a more serious approach to matching design aesthetic to body shape. Design and pattern-making must adapt to consumer driven needs and wants. No longer will a single-size dress form suffice for an entire product line.  Dress forms used in the fashion industry are also referred to as dress makers dummies, Judies, mannequins; however, they must not be confused with store display mannequins. This blog reviews the dress forms that are available, for small-scale manufacturing, to make body shape inclusive garment design possible. Large-scale manufacturing will be covered in a subsequent blogpost entitled, “What’s Happening in The Dress Form Industry 2019 – Part Two.”

Note: The companies below are examined from a U.S. perspective.  Any companies wishing to be added to this list should contact the University of Fashion. Information contained in this post reflects the known status as of March 2019.  Cost ranges are noted in U.S. dollars and do not include shipping or taxes. Please double check links for the latest information.

SMALL SCALE MANUFACTURING – ADJUSTABLE FORMS

Adjustable Forms

Adjustable forms, which have been around for many years, are targeted to the home sewing and low volume sewing markets.  Note that any active movement (this includes breathing) by the customer affects measurements of the upper body including but not limited to the waist, bust and under bust.  Only one brand (Ronis Brothers) has an adjustable breast location. The measurement range for adjustment varies by form brand, so understanding the dimensional variations is required.

Permission granted from Singer

Permission granted from Ronis Brothers

The adaptability of these forms is limited to girth and height, and the resulting shapes will approximate traditional sizing charts. Even after accounting for nominal size, these forms still need pads to adjust for proper shape.  The adjustable dress maker forms cannot be used for draping, as direct pinning is not possible.  The companies who manufacture adjustable forms include:  Singer, Dritz, PGM Dress Forms, Ronis Brothers, and Rozy Display.  See Table 2, Adjustable Dress Forms at the end of this blog for more details.

SMALL SCALE MANUFACTURING – BODY SHAPE PADDING KITS

Available Foam Pads Kits

Foam Pads Kits are being used to further adapt and customize dress forms, full body forms, and adjustable dress forms/mannequins. These pads can be used with any sewing mannequin or dress form or full body form by any brand for both women and men.

If you have an inverted triangle shape, you will need to size the dress form based off your hips and pad the bust. If a diamond body shape is appropriate, you will need to determine which is the smallest between the bust or hips, and then pad the waist.  Most derrieres on dress forms are pretty flat, so if your shape is different, padding will be required, and you may need to start with a smaller size and add padding to attain the appropriate shape.  Depending on the garment (corset versus sports bra), the configuration of the breast can take on different shapes and the padding may vary.

Fabulous Fit Dress Form Fitting System

Permission granted from Fabulous Fit Dress Form Fitting System

The Fabulous Fit Dress Form Fitting System is an off-the-shelf pad system which has 17 pads and two body covers and is sized to fit various dress form sizes (small to extra-large).  The padding allows for adding 1 to 3 inches (2.5 cm to 7.6 cm) in various areas on the dress form. Due to the number of pads, various body types can be accommodated.  These can include straight/broad/round shoulders, wide/small back, high/low rib cage, high/low/large bust line, large stomach, high/low upper hip area, full upper hip, thighs and large hips, and others.  Extra pads for bust, stomach, side back, side hips and thighs are available.  Dress form covers are available in either side-seam cover, princess seam, or with a neck-to-ankle princess cover with a back zipper.  There are instruction videos on the company’s website for adding appropriate padding in proper locations.

Roxy Display Standard Pads

Permission granted from Roxy Display

Roxy Display offers yet another dress form padding system.  It consists of a 12-piece system that can be applied to all standard dress forms.  Pads are listed for shoulder, bust, stomach, hip, and waist. The stretch cover is shown fitting over a size 6 form.  Instructions are shown on the Roxy Display website. The cost is around $30.

SMALL SCALE CUSTOM DRESS FORMS

How to Create Your Own Custom Dress Form or Have One Made

To save money, there are many DIY posts on creating your own dress form.  Methods can be summarized as body casting, good-old duct tape, or patterns. The links in the following table are not all inclusive but give examples of different methods.

Table 1: Home Methods

Body Casting

Jezebel

https://jezebel.com/how-to-make-a-custom-dress-form-part-one-5803791
https://jezebel.com/how-to-make-a-custom-dress-form-part-two-5806327?tag=diy

Verrier

http://verrier-processes.blogspot.com/2010/02/body-casting-with-plaster-of-paris.html

Duct Tape
Howcast
How to Make a Custom Dress Form - YouTube

Threads Magazine
Teach Yourself to Sew: Make Your Own Dress Form. Part 1 - YouTube

https://www.threadsmagazine.com/2008/10/24/quick-and-easy-duct-tape-dress-form
Patterns
Boot Strap Fashion
https://patterns.bootstrapfashion.com/diy-dress-form-sewing-pattern.html
Instructables
https://www.instructables.com/id/Custom-Dress-Form/
Mermaid’s Den
https://mermaidsden.com/blog/2017/05/25/make-a-custom-dress-form

Would you want to try any of these methods?

Dress Forms from Scanning

Custom forms tend to be for an individual and therefore, creating a body form for everyone is not scalable in the retail market. One form per customer would not be practical.  However, if a brand wants to have dress forms of various shapes for design purposes, custom forms developed from fit models or models that match closely with the brands market may be a good place to start.   Requirements for customer information are obtained by measurements only, phone app or body scanning.

Beatrice Forms

Permission granted from Beatrice Forms

Process Flow, Permission granted from Beatrice Forms

Beatrice Forms focuses on creating custom dress forms.  They do not create standard forms at all.   It is a multi-step process.  The customer uses an iPhone app (only iPhone – no android) along with a body scanning kit to record the customer’s shape and measurements. The scanning process is shown on a You Tube video linked from the Beatrice Forms website. From app-produced videos, a 3D model of the body is created to cut the dress form from the foam.   A cover for the dress form is provided. The privacy policy for Beatrice Forms is listed on the company’s website and is listed in the links below. The EU privacy guidelines are listed for any EU citizens living in US or Canada.

If the customer changes their mind and does not want a form, there is a charge for the scanning kit. The cost for the first custom form is around $1200+ range. If a customer needs a bodice update, the cost is about half of the first form.

Personal Fashion / Ditto Form

Permission granted from Ditto Form

Ditto Form, Michigan LLC working thru Personal Fashion is another company that makes a copy of the customer’s body into a dress form with crotch.  The company has set up a scanning schedule for U.S. customers for calendar year 2019.  Further information is available on the PersonalFashion.us website.  The process involves a 3D scan using a Styku scanner. The resulting digital image is overlaid onto a durable yet flexible foam form.  The finished product comes with a custom cover that is matte grey knit with black markings.

Customer data is not shared with Styku.  Styku does use the aggerated data, as stated in the customer agreement, but there is no way to identify individuals.  However, Ditto Form does keep the original and working files from orders up to one year.  Scans not immediately placed into dress forms are kept for up to six months.

There is a charge for the scan that is incorporated into the dress form cost.  The total cost for the custom dress form is around $1400+.  An independent full body 3D scan is available as well for $500.

Links:

https://dittoform.com/high-resolution/

https://dittoform.com/products/

https://personalfashion.us/

https://dittoform.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Getting-Ready-for-Your-3D-Body-Scan.pdf

 

Classy Dress Forms

Permission granted from Classy Dress Forms

Classy Dress Forms is another company that uses 3D scanning to obtain customer data and after processing the data, manufactures a 3D model by a 5-axis milling center accurate to 0.5 mm.  A jersey cover is individually sewn for each dress form. The cost is $1690.  However, this does not include the travel expenses of the measuring specialist. They are paid separately.

If scanning and phone apps become more common, would more shapes of dress forms become available for smaller brands or start-ups?

Summary

The physical forms that allow brands to test designs for size inclusivity are improving. However, the cost of true custom forms can be very expensive compared to the cost of the “off-the-shelf” forms.  However, the capability to change physical forms is important for students to understand body shapes such that garment interactions may change with various body shapes, especially when designing fully bespoke garments.  Students can learn to appreciate different body shapes by using pads in conjunction with standard dress forms as an affordable option.

Students should ask themselves, how they would change dress forms to be more inclusive?

Table 2: Adjustable Dress Forms

Singer
https://www.singer.com/notions/dress-forms
3 sizes: Small/ Medium – sizes 4-10; Medium/ Large – sizes 10-18;
Medium/ Large – sizes 16-22; 360 degree Hem Guide
Flannel exterior with foam backing,
12-13 adjustments (neck, bust, waist, hips, height)
Form Type: Partially Pinnable – can pin to a top layer of fabric
Shape Differences: Circumference changes only
Cost Range: $160 – $180
Dritz
https://www.dritz.com/quilting-sewing-supplies/dressforms/
https://www.dritz.com/quilting-sewing-supplies/dressforms/my-double-deluxe/20406/
5 women’s sizes: petite, small, medium, large and full size
Child adjustable – 6-12 years of age
Form Type: Partially Pinnable
Shape Differences: Circumference changes only, padding tutorials on website
Cost Range: $147 – $320
PGM Dress Forms
https://www.pgmdressform.com/Adjustable-Fitting-Dress-Forms-PGM-Sewing-Dress-Form-Chicago
Two sizes, 4 and 8, adjustable 3 sizes up,
Form Type: Pinnable at an angle
Shape Differences: Circumference changes only
Cost Range: $199
Ronis Brothers
http://www.ronis.com/Ronis_Bros_Adjustable_Dress_Form_NY_p/ad-001.htm
jz@ronis.com
Size varies from size 4 to size 20, allows for both increasing and decreasing the bust and will raise and lower the bust as well with dual levels at the bottom of the form. Size will be indicated when turning the upper knob
Form Type: Partially Pinnable
Shape Differences: Circumference changes, Bust can be raised and lowered
Cost Range: Around $600
Roxy Display
https://www.roxydisplayinc.com/webpage/bodyforms/female/other/jf-fh-2.html
One size, Adjustment Dial (Bust, Waist, Hips)
Foam-Backed Fabric Exterior allows you to easily pin dresses, skirts, tops and patterns.
Height Adjustment lets you customize the dress form to your height.  2 sizes,
Form Type: Partially Pinnable
Shape Differences: Circumference changes along with separate Roxy foam padding kit
Cost Range: $125 – $135
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M.i.h. Jeans practices denim sustainability. (Photo Courtesy of WWD)

Climate change, global warming, plastic in our oceans, these are all real threats that have not just Millennials and Generation Zers worried, but should be a concern for people of all ages. As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” is receiving plenty of publicity, we as a design community must realize that we are among the top polluters of our planet, actually, according to Ethical Unicorn, we rank #5. Not a number that we should be proud. So, what can we do as an industry to lower our ranking? Who are the brands who are leading the way?

Well, while there are literally thousands of fashion brands and companies around the world, there are not as many as there should be in our industry moving towards sustainability and who are consciously making an effort to reduce waste and pollution that our industry causes.

We’d like to give a shout-out to two ‘green’ advocates, Stella McCartney and Christopher Raeburn. These designers were among the ten fashion companies that have recently received the inaugural CO10 Leadership Award, an award that recognizes companies that have set down a pathway towards sustainability.

Christopher Raeburn fitting a model in one of his looks. (Photo Courtesy of WWD)

The award is presented by Common Objective, a network that connects more than 10,000 professionals in the fashion, retail and textile industries that share knowledge and best sustainability practices. Other companies that were honored were, Osklen, Bottletop, Indigenous, Outland Denim, Mayamiko, Sonica Sarna Design, Ethical Apparel Africa and The Rajlakshmi Cotton Mills.

“The industry has seen an incredible amount of traction over the past year, from increased consumer demand and government engagement, to the abundance of new entrants that focus on sustainability,” said Harold Tillman, former chairman of the British Fashion Council. The overall CO Leadership Awards are given to fashion brands that champion innovation in sustainability.

On December 10, 2018, Stella McCartney launched a program during the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland, which addressed various issues in the fashion industry, such as pollution, deforestation, low carbon production methods, and toxicity in products. Another goal for McCartney is to create awareness among students and designers that there are more environmentally-friendly ways to create collections. Today, more than ever, customers are aware and looking to purchase from brands that are focused on sustainability.

Stella McCartney at the Katowicw Climate Change Conference in Poland (Photo Courtesy of WWD)

Denim Sustainability News

While the majority of the population would love to purchase clothing that is environmentally-friendly, let’s face it, many cannot afford Stella McCartney’s hefty price point. But environmentalists will be happy to hear that everyone’s favorite closet staple, denim, is helping to lead the way towards sustainability.

Denim is one of the most popular fashion items around the world, but the mass production of this wardrobe staple has turned into an environmental nightmare. Remember the footage from China when a river turned blue from a nearby denim factory? Clearly denim dyes and water consumption are both harmful to the environment. However, today, the industry is searching for ways to help clean up the process and build a more sustainable supply chain. The denim industry is slowly joining together to create an ecosystem focused on sustainability practices.

Denim dyes damage the environment (Photo Courtesy of Forbes)

This past February at the Première Vision Textile Trade Show in Paris, a group of experts from the denim world gathered together for a panel hosted by Isko, a leading Turkish denim mill. The topic… the “Unlimited Possibilities of Responsible Denim.” Panelists included: Ebru Ozkucuk Guler (CSR executive at Isko), Miles Johnson (designer at Stan Ray denim and and previously at Patagonia and Levi Strauss & Co.), Rachel Pearce (director of denim consultancy firm Denimhand) and François Girbaud (owner Marithé + François Girbaud).

Isko’s sustainable denim panel Première Vision Textile Trade Showin Paris. (Courtesy Photo WWD)

Consumers today are intelligent. They want more transparency about the clothing and products they are purchasing. According to Miles Johnson, “it is high time, with all the confusion over certification, for governments to start implementing standards.”

The panel was in agreement that the idea of phasing out cotton was not realistic, but embracing new approaches to the cotton supply chain and implementing dye and waste management practices are vital for the industry’s survival.

Here’s what the panelists said: 

“We’re not going to stop doing cotton jeans, so let’s just do it better. But you have to have a big idea for 25 years down the road that everyone signs up for, and then we can all start trekking toward the same spot. Unfortunately we’re not there yet, and it’s all still a bit scattered,” Johnson said. Adding that “Cotton now has a bad name, like plastic. If people hear plastic now they go, ‘Ooh, bad.’ It’s not bad, the world just isn’t set up so that we can handle recycling, because we haven’t invested in waste disposal, so we’re not catching plastic at the end and turning it back into fiber.”

Pearce added, “We can grow cotton better, we can be more responsible with cotton, but our biggest enemy is the amount that’s going to landfill, to waste. But the cotton that’s going to landfill, it’s going to biodegrade; it’s the polyester we should be worried about, it currently stays in our environment for up to 120 years before breaking down.”

“We are in an incredibly wasteful industry, [but] I do commend everyone in the denim industry because at least we’re a step ahead of the sportswear industry,” concluded Johnson. “People are having these conversations a lot more in denim than they are in anything else.”

Blue + Denim practices denim sustainability. (Photo Courtesy of WWD)

Here are some possible solutions: 

Case in point, this past October in Amsterdam at the Kingpins Fair Trade Show, sustainability in denim was a key issue being tackled by experts. Posters detailing water-saving processes, potassium permanganate-free finishes and recycled fabrics were in front of most stands, and they were easy to spot from afar thanks to their symbolic green and blue hues.

M&J Group, a Bangladesh-based manufacturer, added green tags to each garment, that labeled the level of water, gas or chemicals used for the conception of each denim piece. Meanwhile, at Global Denim, the manufacturer promoted EcoloJean technology. Their posters illustrated a regular pair of jeans next to a pile of water bottles, explaining that it takes 20 liters of water to dye a single pair of jeans. The EcoloJean technology, said the poster, boasts zero water discharging.

Another big initiative in going green is fabric made from recycled plastic bottles.  “We’ve just sourced a fabric called Repreve, made from recycled plastic bottles,” said Tara Jessop, who was attending with Rebekah Hough, a fellow designer at Fundamental, a British denim manufacturer that counts the Arcadia group among its clients. “We’ve just sourced a fabric called Repreve, made from recycled plastic bottles,” said Tara Jessop, who was attending with Rebekah Hough, a fellow designer at Fundamental, a British denim manufacturer that counts the Arcadia group among its clients. “We keep seeing the green plastic bottle tags on every stand. They are an amazing marketing tool; they help the customer understand the process,” she added.

(Photo courtesy Reprove.com)

(Photo courtesy Reprove.com)

Thankfully, more affordable denim mills are now taking steps towards sustainability.  “We’ve been going round to each stand to ask them what they’ve been doing from a sustainable angle,” said Lee women’s designer Natasha Goforth, who added that the brand was looking to make its carryover fabrics more sustainable. “But we’re looking at every single element: fabrics, trims, finishes. It’s not just about the sustainability of the fabric itself, but rather how we can bring in more elements of sustainability to our brand,” she added.

DL 1961 Denim practices sustainability when producing denim. (Courtesy Photo)

Australian’s Outland Denim is facing challenges managing sudden rapid growth due to the brands ethical focus, The brands founder James Bartle stated “Integrity is everything to us as a business. The goal is to be a big part of changing the fashion industry for good. Our strategy is to be product-focused, to not be a charity and to create a genuinely sustainable business model that changes people’s lives and the environment at the same time.”

Outland Denim (Commercial Photography Cambodia)

ABLE Denim has adapted to sustainability practices. (Photo Courtesy of WWD)

TO ALL OF OUR UOF DESIGNERS AND MANUFACTURERS – HOW ARE YOU MAKING A DIFFERENCE TO BECOME MORE SUSTAINABLE? WE’D LOVE TO FEATURE YOU IN OUR BLOG. LET US KNOW
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Saint Laurent (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

It may be the Year of the Pig, according to the Chinese zodiac, but 2019 is turning out to be all about Female Power! Thanks to feminist movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, and of course the Woman’s March that started as a worldwide protest against Donald Trump the day after his 2017 inauguration (and that has continued every year since), women are taking center stage around the world and demanding equality in every way. In 2018’s U.S. mid-term election, a record 117 women were elected to office. Finally … it looks like the tide has begun to change for women.

Rolling Stone’s March Cover featuring: Jahana Hayes, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, and Ilhan Omar

With extraordinary women being elected to powerful positions, designers are stepping up to the plate and creating powerful looks for these new high-profile women. The Fall 2019 collections saw the return of the “Power Suit” (remember your fashion history? Gaultier, Montana and Armani – circa 80s?). And, while the 80s versions consisted of exaggerated shoulder pads, wide belts, slim midi-skirts and bow blouses, all in traditional menswear inspired fabrics and colors, designers are putting a new slant on what a powerful woman in the 21st century should look like. Who could ever forget Melanie Griffith in the 1988 film Working Girl. Every young girl starting her career aspired to be Melanie’s iconic character, Tess McGill. Well, move over Tess, today’s woman is independent, outspoken, confident, diverse, opinionated, political, empowered and socially-conscious. These are the new role models for Millenials, Gen Zers and all those other generations to follow.

Check out Anthony Vaccarello’s collection for Saint Laurent, a 1980s redux, complete with shoulders that extended two whole centimeters beyond the natural shoulder and updated the looks by introducing a neon color palette.

Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl

And alas! Thirty years later, the power suit is back, but this time around, the suit is soft and feminine.  According to an interview by Olivia Stren, for FashionMagazine.com (September 17, 2018), designer Joseph Altuzarra stated, “I think that the suit, for a long time, was trying to emulate a menswear staple when women were wearing it to work. It was about hiding your femininity. With so many strong women today embracing a more tailored, feminine pantsuit silhouette, I think it has emerged as a symbol of female empowerment and strength. In our case, the tailoring is always about celebrating femininity and a woman’s strength.” Altuzarra  claims that tailored ‘workwear’ is at the heart of his brand and credits his mother, who clocked in at a bank every morning, as his inspiration.

With “women power” in the air, it was no surprise that power dressing and chic workwear were key trends on the Milan and Paris Fall 2019 runway. While many of the designers who embraced this trend were women, there were a few ‘woke’ men that embraced the movement as well. Namely…Karl Lagerfeld. Although Milan kicked off with the tragic news that Karl Lagerfeld has passed away on February 19th, his legacy lived on in his last collection for Fendi. And you just got the sense that, as always, Karl got the memo – Women Rule.

FENDI

Fendi (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

“He used to call me ‘la petite fille triste,” remembered Silvia Venturini Fendi, in an emotional backstage scene at the elegiac Fendi show, the last designed by the late Karl Lagerfeld, whom she first met when she was four years old. “Now is not the time to be sad,” she added, noting that Lagerfeld supervised every look in the focused collection that revealed what she called “those facets of him—the signatures that he had embedded into the brand’s DNA since he first met the quintet of Fendi sisters, including Venturini Fendi’s mother, Anna, in Rome in 1965.” Silvia Fendi stated to Vogue.com.

The collection included plenty of sharp tailoring paired with crisp shirts that added a refined, yet flirty, twist to office dressing.

MAX MARA

Max Mara (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Who could forget Nancy Pelosi in her Max Mara coat on her way to meet with Donald Trump in December regarding border wall funding – this moment was the inspiration behind creative director Ian Griffiths Fall 2019 Max Mara collection. Ms. Pelosi was front and center on Griffiths’s Fall mood board as he made a strong connection between power and glamour. Griffith played with sharp tailoring, in head to toe monochromatic colors that ranged from soft camel to bold blues.

PRADA

Prada (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

As one of the most politically-articulate designers in the fashion industry, having once been a member of the Italian Communist Party and an ardent feminist, the fear of war and the political turmoil worldwide has been a constant worry on Miuccia Prada’s mind. So, for her Fall collection, the designer was inspired by “romance and fear,” in of all things…a nod to the Bride of Frankenstein. For her romantic girls, Prada showed plenty of delicate lace capes, 3-D floral skirts and glittery red shoes, but these feminine gestures stomped their way into an army of utilitarianism looks that ranged from uniform military jackets to combat boots. The collection embraced the Prada woman; she’s smart, worldly, and understands the turmoil around her, yet she still really loves fashion.

SALVATORE FERRAGAMO

Salvatore Ferragamo (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Just days before the show, Salvatore Ferragamo announced Paul Andrew’s promotion to creative director, overseeing all design operations for the company. For Andrew, it all starts with ‘the shoe.’ Case in point, a Ferragamo multicolored patchwork shoe that was created in 1942, which provided the collection’s color palette and patchwork prints. Andrew also showed a more refined side with a chic belted pantsuit and lots of tailored outerwear.

GIORGIO ARMANI

Giorgio Armani (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

No one, and I mean no one, does tailoring better than Giorgio Armani. And for his Fall 2019 unisex show, the designer titled his collection “Rhapsody in Blue.” Although the collection was overwhelming dark (a sign of the times?), there were plenty of interesting details. Armani showed jodhpur pants paired with tailored jackets for day, while for evening he created a beaded floral shrunken jacket that was paired with velvet trousers for a relaxed take on eveningwear, as only Armani knows how.

GUCCI

Gucci (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Okay, so you see the image of this houndstooth suit and you say, gotta be Chanel right? Well…wrong! It’s Alessandro Michele. Known for his eclectic, magpie collections for Gucci that often blast gender norms and historical mash-ups, for Fall 2019 he delivered a powerful collection filled with the treasured pieces you would find in your grandmother’s closet. With a nod to the 40s, Michele created tailored jackets that were cut to perfection for both men and women, as well as wide leg cropped trousers, Pierrot collar shirts and anything but basic outerwear. While this may have been a tamer Gucci collection, Michele infused plenty of eccentric touches – such as the fetish masks and metal ear coverings.

CHRISTIAN DIOR

Christian Dior (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Among the designers that have truly taken their causes to the runway is Maria Grazia Chiuri, the creative director for Christian Dior. Season after season Chiuri takes a stand on women’s rights and equality. For Fall 2019, Chiuri channeled Italian conceptual artist Bianca Menna, who in the 1970s signed her work pseudonymously as Tomaso Binga, a man, to cunningly protest male privilege in the art world. The artist read a poem about the promise of a feminist victory at Chiuri’s show. As for the clothes, Chiuri was inspired by England’s “Teddy Girls” – 1950s working class girls who had a love of Rock & Roll and clubbing – as well as Dior’s  optimistic creations of the same time period. The collection was sportswear at its best! Chiuri layered rompers, skirts, coats, trousers and bustiers in a modern and fresh way.

DRIES VAN NOTEN

Dries Van Noten (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Dries Van Noten is known for his bold prints and unapologetic use of color, but let’s face it, today’s state of the world is a bit darker so Van Noten turned out a hauntingly beautiful show. While his signature floral prints are traditionally romantic and vibrant, this Fall the floral motif took a somber turn. In an interview with Vogue, Van Noten stated “We picked them from my garden last October and photographed them. I wanted roses but not sweet roses—roses with an edge, roses for now. Flowers can be romantic, but this I wanted to take out, because the times are tougher than in the past. So you see the diseases, the black spot, the imperfections.”

Van Noten opened the show with a lineup of polished gray pantsuits, perfect looks for the office (political or business), case in point, a pinstripe belted pantsuit with a matching puffer stole. How incredibly chic! Can you just imagine Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in this?

CHLOE

Chloé (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chloé paid a touching tribute to Karl Lagerfeld, the late designer who designed for the house  from 1963 – 1983. When the fashion crowd arrived, they found placed on their seats postcards that featured images of Lagerfeld’s past collections, as well as his own comments about his work. One particular quote from 1975 still resonates today, “The essence of modern dressing—unstructured, weightless, [and] totally feminine.”

Fast forward, forty years later, and this is still the Chloé aesthetic; upscale bohemian in the chicest and most sophisticated way. For her Fall 2019 collection, Natacha Ramsay-Levi found her stride at the house. There were an abundance of breezy but polished dresses that every “It Girl” will crave. Ramsay-Levi paired these effortless frocks with mid-heel boots to complete the effortlessly cool look.

Sure Ramsay-Levi nailed the boho look, but she also showcased her talents as a great tailor with Prince of Wales trousers and skirts, military-inspired trousers and plenty of outerwear,  cut to perfection.

Balmain (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Meanwhile at Balmain, Olivier Rousteing went full-out 80s biker chic. Big shoulders, biker chains, black leather moto jackets and power suiting on steroids was his vision of the modern woman. But, not so sure about whether this through-back look will help women in today’s day and age like it did in the 80s. What would Nancy Pelosi or RBG say?

So tell us, where do you stand on power-dressing in the 21st century?  

The post WORKING GIRL CHIC RULES THE RUNWAY IN MILAN & PARIS appeared first on University of Fashion Blog.

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We are in the thick of F/W 2019 runway shows and presentations across the globe. From New York to London and Paris to Milan, each new season brings attention to emerging designers, established houses and a host of hot topics in fashion. Every once in a while, those of us who have seen season after season of fashion, begin to sense a shift. Now is one of those times.

What’s interesting is that the shift that we are currently experiencing has very little to do with hemlines or color trends. The current shift isn’t about diversity on the runways (it’s there—and it’s gorgeous! Vivienne Westwood, anyone?). And designer inspirations (well, with the exception of Queen Westwood) aren’t at the forefront this season.

A mixed bag of messages on consumerism, Brexit and diversity at Vivienne Westwood Photo courtesy of Vogue.com

So if the what, the who and the why of fashion isn’t being called into question, then where is the focus this season?

The shift is in the how. Specifically, how clothes are made, how clothes are chosen by consumers and how clothes are purchased. More than ever before, the process behind how clothing makes it onto the runway and into consumers’ closets is taking center stage. From environmentally-friendly materials to ethical supply chains, sustainability in fashion is a movement that has been gaining momentum and is changing the way designers design and produce their clothing, and ultimately how consumers purchase clothing.

Designers like Stella McCartney have been dedicated to sustainability for the entirety of their careers, however, we are finally starting to see the shift take hold not only in design and production, but also in terms of influencers, media coverage and consumer decision-making/dollars.

Just prior to NY Fashion Week, the CFDA released its Guide to Sustainable Strategies, penned by Domenica Leibowitz as a “how-to” overview for CFDA members as they create, meet and exceed their sustainability goals. Even the online fashion week bible, Vogue.com, has acknowledged the shift with its recent “4 Ways the CFDA’s New Sustainability Report Will Change Your Fashion Week Conversations.” And with sustainability on the tips of fashion’s most influential tongues, it’s no wonder we are seeing more examples of increased sustainability efforts at both NY and London fashion weeks. Take a look…

Stella McCartney for Adidas

Recently, Stella McCartney threw out some jaw-dropping statistics in an interview with Vogue. Her latest collaboration with Adidas has produced a nearly zero waste shoe through the use of a 4-D printer. Overall, her collection boasts 70 percent recycled materials, 50 percent of that is in the footwear alone (the collaboration’s biggest seller). She has been designing with Adidas since 2008, and with each collection, the percentage of recycled materials she’s used has grown, causing her environmental footprint to shrink.

Sustainable Stella McCartney for Adidas for F/W 2019 Photo courtesy of Vogue.com

Gabriella Hearst

Gabriella Hearst is another good example of how we do things in the fashion industry is shifting. While presenting a polished collection with an innovative display of knits and wovens, it was two guests, twenty-two year old Kelsey Juliana and ten year old Levi Draheim, who were sitting in Hearst’s front row that conveyed the drive behind her work.

Hearst believes that climate change is the most important issue facing the fashion industry today and therefore, she wanted to shed light on her special guests who were representatives of Our Children’s Trust, “a nonprofit organization supporting 21 young people across America in their fight for court ordered implementation of systemic science-based Climate Recovery Plans to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations to safe levels before 2100. Their case, Juliana v. United States & Donald Trump, et al, is awaiting trial in U.S. District Court,” according to Vogue.com runway review.

Innovative cuts paired with sustainable materials at Gabriella Hearst

In sharp contrast to Hearst’s tailoring and cloud-soft knits, take a look at Gypsy Sport’s F/W 2019 offering – a drastic change in style, but a consistent philosophy when it comes to sustainability as a guiding principle.

Gypsy Sport

Confession. I love seeing who has been named amongst the Top Ten Collections (in each major fashion hub) by Vogue each season. I crave a good fashion week wrap up. But for a long time, I could predict the names I would see on the NY list…Marc, Michael, Ralph, Diane, in addition to the most recent CFDA-approved darlings.

But if Vogue naming Gypsy Sport as one of F/W 2019′s top collections isn’t a sign of a major shift, I am not sure what is. Sure, Marc and Michael made the list, but so did underwear-as-outerwear, diversity embracing, upcycling guru Rio Uribe, designer of Gypsy Sport. Just feast your eyes on the use of repurposed Adidas tracksuits…

Upcycled Adidas tracksuits as lingerie at Gypsy Sport

As a whole in terms of aesthetic, Gypsy Sport’s F/W 2019 collection was a bit racy for me, however, I love that the collection was recognized for its sustainability efforts and pushing the conversation forward.

London Fashion Week Sustainability Project

Much like the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the fashion community in London is making moves toward increased sustainability. Keep your eyes peeled for this announcement from the British Fashion Council and clothing company Mother of Pearl, which will be unveiled as this blog is published! Sneak peak below…

Finally, take some time to read this call to action from Stella McCartney. As someone who has dedicated her career to ethical practices in fashion, it’s time for designers and consumers around the world to listen and join her cause.

The post Sustainability Takes Center Stage at NY and London Fashion Weeks appeared first on University of Fashion Blog.

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