The key to reclaiming original design


“Only buy clothes that you plan to keep forever. It’s important to see trends for what they are: a game.” Carine Roitfeld

Former French Vogue Editor Carine Roitfeld’s daring, bold, tongue-in cheek, provocative approach to fashion, coupled with her risqué, trash-luxe style, teetering ever so slightly and beautifully on the brink of bad taste, were certainly revolutionary for the French fashion scene. She is a pioneer, who like all great change agents across all industry sectors bring original aesthetics, concepts, and ideas into the world.

Truly original ideas seem ever harder to find in our technologically advanced world, which is conceptually oversaturated and over hyped. All too often the high street simply regurgitates copycat collections from the luxury brands’ catwalk shows at lightning speed. This is a nebulous area and a pertinent issue for major fashion houses as well as emergent designers and nascent brands.  They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but this certainly wasn’t my reaction when I had my first experience of copycat imitation. When you are starting a brand, your humility precludes you from placing too much focus on this issue, but of course young brands who innovate and are typified by fresh ideas are the perfect prey for ideas thirsty mainstream titans.

I’m a firm believer in the old adage ‘style never goes out of fashion’ and the trend driven merry go round that is the high street not only breeds a throw away mentality, but can stifle true innovation and the expression of individual style creating identikit consumers, slaves to the vacuous hyper-speed hamster wheel of consumption. The shift to a more sustainable fashion system presents the opportunity for a return to original design as emerging brands with ‘green’ values at their core can engage a new generation of consumers with the uniqueness of their story, and a genuine heart led mission that buyers are keen to engage with. Communicating these new stories has the potential to change buying behaviour, instigating more sustainable shopping habits and a deeper relationship with the provenance of our clothes.

2016 so far has brought welcome upheaval in the fashion industry, from Burberry’s move to selling direct from the catwalk, to superstar designer walk outs from major fashion houses, speaking out against the implausibility of retaining true creativity under increasingly punishing show schedules, to Bottega Veneta’s recent announcement it will combine menswear and womenswear shows for Spring / Summer 2017.  Deep-seated changes are afoot.

Agent Provocateur the famously innovative and iconic brand, which I had the good fortune to work for from 2003, at the height of their success and creative largesse when they were still privately owned, always captivated with its storytelling. So it hardly comes as a surprise that Joe Corre, one of its founders has written a new twist in the plot. He plans to burn £5 Million worth of punk memorabilia in a statement against the institutionalisation of punk embodied by The Queen’s endorsement of ‘Punk London’, an event that is touted as celebrating the history of punk.

Corre claims that the British public have fallen into inertia and complacency, and lost the fighting spirit of protest that was the fuel of the original punk pioneers. This is a timely analogy that can also be applied to the fashion industry, but finally we are living through an epoch where we all have a growing opportunity to be activists in the industry’s radical transformation.

About Alexandra Morris

Alexandra Morris is Founder & Director of Luxury beachwear and resort wear label GLOMAD