12 Ways The Fashion Industry Has Changed Since 2006

Photo: Marc Piasecki/Getty Images.
As the year winds down, it's customary to reflect on the goings-on of the prior 12 months. There's certainly a lot to look back on and learn from when it comes to 2015's biggest fashion headlines. But this time around, we're going full-#throwback, turning back the clock 10 years to see how much has changed (and how far we've come) in the fashion orbit since 2006.

A lot has happened in the past decade: Fashion bloggers rose to prominence, the amount of apps in our social media rotation has quadrupled, the oh-so-covetable boho look was replaced with oh-so-comfortable athleisure... So, we're looking back at some of the big plot points in the fashion industry since the mid-aughts. Let's reminisce (and look forward to what's next), ahead.
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Photo: PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images.
Designer Collabs In 2006: Newish & Quite Exciting
Target began courting big designers in 2006 with the launch of its Go International program — Brit designer Luella Bartley was the first talent to work with the Minneapolis-based retailer. (Isaac Mizrahi technically paved the way for the big-box chain’s fashion pair-ups when the two inked a deal in 2003, before the Go International program debuted, highlighting one collab per year.) H&M rolled out the very first of its designer collaborations in 2004, partnering with Karl Lagerfeld. The next year, Stella McCartney was its buzziest collaborator (the retailer also did special collections with Solange Azagury-Partridge and Elio Fiorucci in 2005). Viktor & Rolf for H&M, which debuted in 2006, was the next high-low mashup.
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Designer Collabs Today: Still Quite Exciting — & Bigger Than Ever
This year's Balmain for H&M collection takes the cake for most-hyped, most-frenzied designer collab yet — perhaps eclipsing the Swedish retailer’s also very hyped (justifiably, we’d say) collection with perpetual purveyor of downtown cool Alexander Wang in 2014. Olivier Rousteing enlisted the beauties who comprise his #BalmainArmy to break the news at the Billboard Music Awards in May, and since then, everyone waited (im)patiently to know more about the collab. Things got really crazy in stores when the collection dropped on November 5, and some folks were promptly reselling the line for prices on par with Balmain proper. Target’s most recent big-name allegiance, with preppy-girl stalwart Lilly Pulitzer, sold out and crashed Target’s site, but was certainly more contentious than #HMBalmainNation. Loyalists scoffed at the WASP-y wares being carried at a place like Target, and the retailer got a lot of flak for carrying plus sizes of the collab solely online. Which designers’ threads do you want to get your hands on for Target or H&M prices in 2016?
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Photo: Courtesy Of Susie Bubble.
Fashion Bloggers In 2006: Getting Their Start
"Fashion blogger" is such a ubiquitous title in the industry nowadays, it's crazy to think just how recent the vocation actually is. Ten years ago, most of the names we now hear every day were either just starting to play around with their personal websites, or hadn't come on the scene yet. Zanita, Style Bubble, and Bryanboy were some of the few recognizable names back then — and they remain well-known. Street style website The Sartorialist was also starting out at the time. (Its first post dates back to September 2005.) Julie Fredrickson, who cofounded the blogger network Coutorture, told Mashable in 2010 that once bloggers got their foot in the tent — a.k.a. started being invited to fashion shows — their ability to get content up quickly (and first) became apparent, and advantageous: "The fact that you could see anything the first day, even a single photo, was really novel," she explained.
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Photo: Christian Vierig/Getty Images.
Fashion Bloggers Today: Is It All Too Much?
Being a "fashion blogger" is a whole lot more complicated these days. Blogs are now lifestyle websites, covering much more than #OOTDs; their business strategies are the subjects of case studies; their social media presence can be a source of income. With so much pressure riding on their public personas, the multi-hyphenate reality of bloggers today can also be incredibly stressful. Many find themselves retreating slightly from the limelight — but not without their readers noticing. Nicole Warne of Gary Pepper Girl found herself needing to explain to her million followers why she took a brief hiatus from social media earlier this year. There's been a lot of talk about fashion bloggers' place at Fashion Week (even going as far as tightening up guest lists to reduce the noise). The definition of a "blogger" keeps evolving — with no signs of stopping.
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Social Media In 2006: Twitter Is Just Starting Out
Social media is now omnipresent in the fashion industry — whether it's bloggers sharing their #OOTDs or editors getting up-close-and-personal with designer collections at press previews. It truly reaches its apogee during two four-week periods every year, across four cities: New York, London, Milan, and Paris. It wasn't always that way, of course. It's hard to imagine Fashion Week without Instagram now, but all you have to do is turn back the clock ever so slightly. In March 2006, the first-ever message was sent out on a new social media platform called Twitter. By June, it was open to everybody. It's come a long way since. But since its inception, it's been a powerful way to experience fashion — whether you were front-row at Fashion Week or not.
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Social Media Today: Gotta Check Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook...
Twitter is still a huge part of Fashion Week, delivering updates straight from the show venues, and even dispersing breaking news before it hits editors' inboxes. However, it's now simply one of many platforms vying for our attention. Now, show-goers and couch spectators alike alternate between Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, while following livestreams on Periscope and YouNow — each platform providing (and requiring) a constant stream of new information. Along with the designer's notes, you'll find the appropriate social media handles and hashtags to use when sharing your snaps sprinkled throughout the spectacle. Each platform even compiles choice content through dedicated hashtags — like #FashionFlock on Twitter or #NYFW on Instagram. Some designers, like Misha Nonoo, have even ditched runway presentations altogether, opting for all-sharable productions that live on social media.
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Photo: Jason Kempin/FilmMagic.
Fast Fashion In 2006: Changing The Way We Shop
Thanks to the likes of Uniqlo, which opened its U.S. flagship location in NYC’s Soho neighborhood in 2006, we were stocking up on both basics and trend-driven garb on the cheap. Spain’s Mango also expanded to North America in 2006. H&M arrived in the U.S. a few years earlier, in 2000, with an NYC flagship of its own. Another Spanish hit — Zara — was quite a pioneer in terms of European fast-fashion imports: Its first stateside store arrived in, you guessed it, New York City back in 1989 — but it arguably didn’t gain wide recognition in the U.S. until the early- to mid-aughts. For better or worse, the arrivals of these brands mean we can’t quite justify fast-fashion binges while traveling…
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Photo: Richard Levine / Alamy Stock Photo.
Fast Fashion Today: More Options Than Ever
By now, basically every global fast-fashion brand has brought its wares stateside. British high-street fave Topshop crossed the pond in 2009. H&M’s higher priced, very cool retail concept & Other Stories cropped up in NYC in November 2014, and another wallet-drainer courtesy of H&M — ultra-minimalist, fashion editor-adored COS — followed suit one month later. Brandy Melville, a somewhat mysterious Italian retailer that sells the lithe, sun-kissed, Southern Californian teen dream in the form of one-size-only crop tops, short-shorts, and other on-trend garb, opened its first U.S. location in Los Angeles, fittingly, in 2009. Not everyone could make it in America, alas: In 2008, Kira Plastinina, the teenybopper label “designed” by a 16-year-old Russian heiress, opened and quickly shuttered a dozen U.S. outposts.
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Photo: George Pimentel/Getty Images.
The It Shoe In 2006: Meet The Reva Flat
Two years after launching her eponymous label, in 2006 Tory Burch released what would become one of her signature (and most recognizable) designs: the Reva flat. It's named after Burch's mother, Reva Schapira, and its quick rise had something to do with the style — you know it for the simple, classic leather silhouette, the elastic heel, and Burch's logo front-and-center — and a lot to do with the balance it struck between affordable and aspirational. According to an excerpt from Teri Agins' Hijacking the Runway in The Wall Street Journal, the brand sold over 250,000 pairs within two years of the launch. The shoe now retails for $225 (when it debuted, it was $195) — not exactly a no-brainer purchase, but not necessarily an investment, either. "Someone who's accustomed to spending $700 for a pair in the realm of Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo can buy her shoes and feel like she's getting a bit of a bargain," The Washington Post's Robin Givhan told Fast Company of Reva's allure. "And then they're aspirational for someone for whom Nine West is standard — but not so aspirational that it's out of reach."
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Photo: Kirstin Sinclair/Getty Images.
The It Shoe Today: The Rise Of The "Granny Shoe"
This year, it wasn't a specific shoe or brand that captivated our hearts and toes, but rather a silhouette: the so-called "grandma shoe," with its short-block or kitten heel and rounded or square toe. It's a streamlined shape that epitomizes comfort, and it seems everyone is getting down with it — so much so, it's already stirred some controversy. While Burch's Reva flat represented a big moment in affordable luxury, you can find the grandma shoe virtually anywhere and at any price point. Get 'em from fast-fashion favorites like Topshop, or high-end brands like Gucci.
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Creative Directors In 2006: Shuffles Aplenty
The moves of the star talents helming big fashion houses can feel like a never-ending game of musical chairs. So, who was in charge a decade ago? Nicolas Ghesquière was creative director at Balenciaga — it was his ninth year in the role at that point. Frida Giannini had just been appointed creative director at Gucci in 2006; she had already been heading up the house’s accessories team prior to the big promotion. John Galliano was a decade into his role as creative director at Christian Dior. (That came to an ugly conclusion in 2011, when Galliano’s drunken, anti-Semitic outburst in Paris cost him the job — arguably the most prestigious role in the industry — as well as his involvement with his acclaimed namesake label.)
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Photo: MCV.
Creative Directors Today: Shuffles Galore
In October 2014, Maison Martin Margiela surprised the industry with the appointment of John Galliano to the top role. The biggest move of 2015 was Gucci's riveting announcement in January of decidedly under-the-radar (but longtime) Gucci guy Alessandro Michele becoming creative director. That decision resulted in some of this year's most exciting, most talked-about catwalk experiences of the year, thanks to Michele’s gender-bending, '70s-hewing designs. Another buzzed-about move came in February: After seven years at Emilio Pucci, designer Peter Dundas left to helm Roberto Cavalli; his successor at Pucci was Massimo Giornetti. Let's not forget Alexander Wang ending things with Balenciaga after two-and-a-half years. In his place: Demna Gvasalia, of critically adored French line Vetements. You might not know his name or his work yet, but trust, you’ll definitely be hearing about (and seeing) much more of him in the near future. In other major creative-director shuffles, there was Raf Simons' shocking, hasty farewell from Dior after three-and-a-half years, in October. Just days after Simons' breakup with Dior went down, Alber Elbaz left Lanvin after 14 years. As always, expect more fascinating shifts in the new year…
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Photo: John Sciulli/WireImage.
Stylists In 2006: Celebrity Style (& A Stylist's Celebrity) Booming
Rachel Zoe put stylists — and celebrity style — in the limelight in the mid-2000s. With a background in editorial, she cultivated a specific look that's now synonymous with young celebrities of the time: sophisticated bohemian. (The Guardian described the aesthetic as "Studio 54-meets-Saint-Tropez boho-chic.") Her influence was felt on and off the red carpet — and she had a hand in increasing the interest in celebrities' off-duty style. Clients like Nicole Richie and Mischa Barton were constantly photographed in Zoe-curated looks. And this was always her intention: "My mission, when I moved here [to Los Angeles], was to try, somehow, to merge the worlds of fashion and celebrity," she told Vogue. However, her work wasn't without controversy: Zoe and Richie's professional split played out in the media, with rumors swirling about Zoe's influence on Richie's seemingly sudden weight loss.
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Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.
Stylists Today: Slaying It On The Red Carpet, In A More Subtle Manner
We treat red carpet season like it's practically a competitive sport, and the widespread cultural interest in celebrity style has yet to wane — which means stylists have their work cut out for them. While most of their work happens behind the scenes, they've developed followings of their own: Zoe is still a big player (she dresses Kiernan Shipka and Sofía Vergara), with Kate Young (who styles Dakota Johnson, Selena Gomez, and Sienna Miller, to name a few), Brandon Maxwell (who works with Lady Gaga and recently launched his own line), and Micaela Erlanger (whom you can thank for Lupita Nyong'o's stellar Star Wars press tour ensembles) growing in influence. The Hollywood Reporter even ranks the talents behind the most brilliant step-and-repeat moments in its annual Power Stylists roundup.
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Photo: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic.
Denim Trends In 2006: Skinny Jeans Reign Supreme
Skinny jeans have a long and storied past. While the style was popularized in the 20th century — it's a staple of the beatnik, mod, and punk aesthetics — it truly went mainstream in the mid-2000s. Topshop brought them into its roster in 2005. Editors were raving about them. Celebrities were wearing them on the red carpet. This was also when premium denim was in its prime — the logo-emblazoned, sometimes bedazzled pockets of beloved brands like Rock & Republic and True Religion. While some of the most popular labels from 10 years ago have since folded, others have stayed relevant (and are beloved staples in our closets), albeit with some rebranding.
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Photo: Christian Vierig/Getty Images.
Denim Trends Today: Make Room For The Wide-Leg
Maybe it's skinny-jean fatigue that's been brewing for 10 years. Maybe our ankles were just begging for more breathing room. But 2015 marked quite the departure from the slim denim we've been accustomed to. In fact, this year, the bigger the jean, the better: flares, cropped flares, bell-bottoms, culottes — you name it, if it had a wide-leg opening, we fell for it. Skinny jeans aren't totally on the outs, though. (A survey from earlier this year found slim-fit devotees to be happier and more confident than those who prefer a looser style.) It was simply the year we made room for some new favorites (and for our calves).
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The Olsen Twins In 2006: Not Yet All That Relevant In The Fashion Biz
A decade ago, this Badgley Mischka ad campaign was probably the most you’d seen of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen in a fashion-world context (aside from coveting street style snaps of the twosome’s signature, ultra-baggy, “bobo” style sensibilities). This was way before the twins’ JCPenney line, Olsenboye, debuted in 2009, and a year prior to the birth of Elizabeth and James. But in 2006, the dynamic duo was also busy very quietly launching The Row, the project that would later put the twins on the map with serious fashion people in a huge — and unprecedented — way…
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Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images.
The Olsen Twins Today: Actually Killing It With The Fashion Crowd
In 2015, the Olsens won their second womenswear designer of the year honor — basically, the biggest score of all — at the CFDA Awards for The Row. Three years prior, they nabbed the prestigious award the first time around, after joining the CFDA’s roster of members in 2009. Why, exactly, have the former cute-kid actresses and imaginary BFFs of our tween years been able to transform into successful fashion designers who are legitimately respected in a notoriously discerning industry? One theory: They’ve ditched the acting ambitions to focus on the super-elevated basics in their line. Oh, and the clothes are good — albeit steeply priced (some may call it absurdly expensive, what with that sold-out $39K backpack circa 2011, to say nothing of the special $55K Damien Hirst version of the bag). MK and A have recently contended with a lawsuit filed by ex-interns at The Row. But otherwise, The Row has had quite pristine, glowing press from a famously fickle and hard-to-impress industry.
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Photo: Carlos Osorio/Getty Images.
The Top Teen Brand In 2006: Hollister Is All The Rage
You just couldn’t get enough of the surf-inflected vibes of Hollister a decade ago — the Abercrombie & Fitch-owned retailer was the most popular brand among teens from 2005 to 2008, according to research firm Piper Jaffray. Named after a town in Northern California, Hollister’s threads are priced somewhat cheaper than the faux East Coast boarding school prepster stuff A&F was peddling in the mid-aughts. Hollister’s bungalow-esque stores were equally dim, but ever-so-slightly less cologne-smothered. From 2001 to 2004, A&F had its moment as the coolest brand, according to teens.
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Photo: Nicky J Sims/Getty Images.
The Top Teen Brand Today: You Can Never Have Enough Nike
Further proof that athleisure is legitimately everywhere? Nike, the most valuable athleticwear brand globally, is trumping traditional fashion retailers (teen-centric or otherwise) in high school hallways nowadays. Since 2011, that instantly recognizable swoosh has been the coolest status symbol among teens, per Piper Jaffray. So, which brand will be able to outdo the effective marketing and truly global reach of that swoosh among the teen set? Stay tuned…
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Photo: Dave M. Benett/Getty Images.
Supermodels In 2006: Total Tabloid Sensations
The lives — or, at least, the public personas — of supermodels have also changed dramatically in the past 10 years. In the mid-aughts, one of the most talked-about controversies in the fashion industry revolved around Kate Moss. In 2005, a British tabloid published photographs of the model allegedly doing cocaine. A public apology was issued, and lucrative modeling contracts were lost. But as many contemplated Moss' future in the industry, she remained a muse to designers and friends. (Alexander McQueen supported her, stepping out for a bow at his spring '06 show wearing a T-shirt that read "We Love You, Kate".) 2006 also saw one of her most iconic runway appearances — one that didn't even involve her setting foot on a catwalk. A larger-than-life hologram of Moss closed McQueen's Widows of Culloden fall '06 show in Paris, floating above spectators. (Learn more about how it came together here.) It was a couple of high-low years that unraveled in the press — before social media chatter was a major concern for celebrities.
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Photo: Marc Piasecki/Getty Images.
Supermodels Now: More Public Than Ever
There's not a day that goes by when we don't hear about Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, and other so-called "Instagirls" — the next generation of models and muses. Now, having a social presence is as much a part of the gig as nailing the signature strut. (Models.com even has a "Social Media Star" category in its annual Model of the Year awards.) The followings (and famous pedigrees) of Kendall, Gigi, and their ilk have certainly made their gigs more impactful: They're sought-after brand ambassadors, they have cute couple names with each other, and their every moves are deemed newsworthy. Yet, while they're incredibly visible and frequently share their whereabouts on Instagram, they're pretty mum about their private lives — aside from speculation about whom they're dating, we don't read about much. They're photographed arriving at and leaving parties, but we don't hear about any wild antics from inside. After all, when so much of your career is based on public perception, admiration, and fascination, it's best to keep that stuff on the DL.
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Photo: Courtesy of Pantone.
Pantone's Color Of The Year In 2006: A Neutral Breather
Every year, we wait with bated breath for Pantone's Color of the Year announcement. Does it directly affect our day-to-day lives? No. But is it fun to follow? Hell, yes. And while the past few years have given us bright, saturated hues to obsess over, 2006 was a bit different: The hue du jour was Sand Dollar, a soft, brownish neutral. In its spring '06 runway forecast, the color giant highlighted the use of Sand Dollar in the collections of Proenza Schouler, Kenneth Cole, and Shelly Steffee, where the influence of beachy, sandy landscapes reigned throughout. At the time, Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, remarked: "After several seasons of ‘Color! Color! Color!’, it’s time to relax a little. Color this season is toned-down, more muted — they’re not pastels, not brights, but a nuance in-between. We see this relaxation in the prevalence of blues, neutrals, and the classicism of black and white. Designers are still having fun, but don’t need the stridency."
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Photo: Courtesy of Pantone.
Pantone's Color Of The Year Today: Double Trouble
Pantone's forecast for spring '16 saw a hodgepodge of influences — from modern art to technological fatigue to Cuba — which allowed for some nice range in the palette. With so many lovely shades to choose from, it's perhaps no surprise that in 2016 two shades — or, rather, "the blending of two shades" — share the Color of the Year honor: a soft pink called Rose Quartz and a pale blue named Serenity. Pantone shared the tie (a first!) on Instagram through a collaboration with Crewest Studio and three artists, which was meant to highlight how well the two hues go together.

Despite the fact (or maybe irony) that pink and blue are typically used to announce the gender a baby's been assigned at birth, Pantone believes the 2016 selection represents a gender-neutral outlook on color trends. Eiseman said, "In many parts of the world we are experiencing a gender blur as it relates to fashion, which has in turn impacted color trends throughout all other areas of design. This more unilateral approach to color is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumer’s increased comfort with using color as a form of expression, a generation that has less concern about being typecast or judged, and an open exchange of digital information that has opened our eyes to different approaches to color usage."
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