During the February reveal of his Fall 2020 collection, designer Giorgio Armani was both praised and berated for his comments regarding fashion trends and the aesthetic that women are expected to present in order to be seen as having great taste.
He also expressed his distaste for fashion writers who consistently attempt to fit concepts into the same repetitive ideals, i.e. Nineties, rather than appreciating today's art for what it is. Although most were upset of his usage of the word "rape" to describe how he feels women's identities are violated through marketing images and raunchy designs, I am going to focus on the message here now that it has been a few weeks later...
I have worked in the fashion retail sector up and down the East Coast from New York to South Carolina since 2006. To Armani's point, of the customers I have come across, probably 95% do not come into the store shopping according to a "look" they saw promoted in a magazine. It is very rare that someone comes in asking for a brocade wide legged pant they saw or a blazer with a shirred sleeve. Most customers come in looking for a purpose piece, meaning they know they want a dress, a top, a jean, a jacket for something. They have an event, they have work, they are working out, and so forth.
Most people do not come in saying "I'm looking for a Safari trend" or "I'm all about plaids" or "I'm looking for dark romantic prints" when you ask what they are shopping for. Think about how you respond when you are asked if you are finding everything okay or are you looking for anything specific. You likely think of an actual item versus a trend. You probably can't describe the terminology of certain design techniques unless you are into fashion and follow the industry consistently.
Consumers are now fully aware that much of what they see in marketing photos is make believe. Male models generally have the same appeal: the younger ones are either the brooding James Dean-esque types or the Baywatch beach bros. The older ones are usually the sophisticated, sharp, successful aesthetic unless an actual athlete is being used.
The women 30 and above with buying power are tired of the young 20 somethings who barely know anything about life representing what they should be buying, yet they are also unimpressed with the 50 somethings who have glam squads and consistent specialty treatments telling them how to age gracefully. The exceptions to these rules are the people that the masses actually like and find to be more down to earth and relatable, such as Julianne Moore or Kerry Washington.
I believe trends were something to push before the internet connected everyone and made the bulk of styles accessible to anyone with a deliverable address. Also more people are traveling and are able to more easily adapt to their new environment beforehand instead of going there and returning with shopping evidence that they went. It used to be amazing to say "This came from New York" or "This came from Paris"... now it is a lot less about representing a city as it is to represent an energy.
People don't dress according to what runways say is hot, they dress according to what is functional and expresses their personal vibe. A stay at home mom doesn't care about wearing puff sleeves on her sweater or 5 in heels just to have something to post on her Instagram page. A guy that is interested in gaming or computer coding all day doesn't care about showcasing his inner Billy Porter if he has nowhere to go and no one to entertain other than himself.
I am a lover of magazines, photographs, fabrics, and tangible creativity. I am the consumer that enjoys learning what designers and my favorite brands will come up with next, but I can also take what I like and leave the rest. I can interpret the piece into my own collection and make it work differently every time. Most people like me are not looking for a piece you will only wear once or for a couple of months. My closet still contains items I purchased thirteen years ago that still get worn!
So again, in agreement with Armani, I don't need to be told what to buy but I need it to be made well and versatile. I don't feel like I am being "raped" by fashion publications or celebrity endorsements but that could primarily be because I have already defined for myself what my taste is without the care of what someone else's taste is. I don't feel like I need to have a bigger butt or blonder hair or work out every week because that is what other people have prioritized for themselves.
I don't advocate for completely ditching trend concepts if you consider yourself a fashionista. It is fine to be informed or to step outside of what you normally wear to try something different. If you are like me, you may switch up your vibe every day! I do advocate for merely utilizing defined trends more as an auxiliary tool to add to your arsenal as opposed to a direction you should be wearing from season to season. They are great to use if you are unsure of how to style yourself or what may be appropriate for specific environments.
Either way, the pieces you select are going to live through whatever lens you choose to present them with, and particularly by how you feel when putting them on. Some days may be minimalist and other days will be epic. Define your state of satisfaction by how you want to feel when you head out for the day or to begin your productivity. Acquire those pieces that make you feel tough, or rich, or glamorous, or healthy, or fun and before you know it, the trends will start following you.
Do you agree with Mr. Armani that we need to let the "concepts" and themes go or do you just so happen to fit within traditional collections such as Bohemian, Parisian, or Gothic, etc.?