In our State of the Industry series, fashion's most respected critics, editors, designers, publicists, and entrepreneurs discuss the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the industry today. Here's V magazine's Stephen Gan, in his own words.
I feel like the biggest challenge in fashion is a shortage of truly amazing designers, and I’m talking globally — designers with different voices that really have something to say and bring something to the table. There’s an expression: There are clothes, and then there’s fashion. Right? As journalists, we don’t want to just see clothes — we want to see fashion. The other challenge doesn’t have to do with designers. It has to do with being in media, dealing with people’s short attention spans and the fact that they're paying a lot more attention to what they see on their devices than actually picking up a magazine, reading a story in-depth, and learning something.
Certain designers I've come across over the years have actually been very sympathetic about how many shows and how much traveling we as journalists do for fashion weeks, and a lot of them have said, ‘It doesn’t really matter if you come to my show or not, you’ll see the pictures.’ That’s very rare, but it takes someone really kind of and confident to do that. It should also be about, ‘Would you photograph our clothes as beautifully as possible and show them in a way that might inspire your audience to buy them?'
I think America has always been lumped with the [stigma] of being more of a manufacturing country. When you read fashion history books [you learn that] department stores brought [the] pieces shown at couture in Paris here to [make for the masses]. I feel like we as New Yorkers can fight against that and really try to develop more original talent; right now, there really isn’t anybody inspiring, except for Marc Jacobs and Raf [Simons] at Calvin [Klein]. I don’t mind that there are so many new designers; I mind not having that many individual voice. I just keep going back to values. I feel like one has to remind oneself all the time not to do something for the sake of getting eyeballs.
The best thing about New York Fashion Week is New York. To me, it's still the greatest city in the world. There’s an amazing energy here, there’s an amazing youth culture here. I wish that energy and that youth culture would ignite more creativity — I want things that are special and not mass market. I think America’s got so much going for it, but I'm hoping for some kind of creative combustion. Maybe I’m just a dreamer...