Should We Stop Obsessing Over Trends?

Designer Giorgio Armani believes that too much emphasis is placed on the exercise of what’s trendy, and he wants it to stop.

Should We Stop Obsessing Over Trends?
Backstage at Giorgio Armani's SS20 runway show.Giorgio Armani

In one weekend, Milan Fashion Week has had plenty of drama.

Between Alessandro Michele’s Gucci show that flipped the script on the traditional runway presentation to Raf Simons being appointed co-creative director at Prada, suffice to say that it’s been a whirlwind of a week. And to cap it off, Italian fashion stalwart Giorgio Armani reportedly launched into a rant at several journalists after his Emporio Armani show.

According to industry publication Women’s Wear Daily, the 85-year-old designer spoke candidly to several journalists backstage after the show. He controversially lambasted sexually-provocative ads as “raping” women and giving them unrealistic expectations of body image, after putting the fashion media on blast for focusing too much on fashion trends, rather than exalting each designer’s message and the work they’ve poured into their collections.

“I am tired of hearing about trends”, he said. “They are nothing. I want to improve the woman who lives now.” The designer also went on to tell reporters to “please stop writing about trends. Write about what [Alessandro] Michele did at Gucci, what Miuccia Prada did at Prada and what I am doing, but let’s not play this game.”

To begin, with, trends happen because it is ultimately a human response to want to belong to something. Sure, fashion and personal style is all about what makes you unique, but let’s be real for one moment: if everyone is special, is anyone truly unique?

The idea of “being trendy” is that it shows you’re keeping up with the times (which, by extension, also tells people that you’re an informed individual who knows what’s culturally cool now) and you feel a sense of belonging to a bigger tribe of other trend-focused individuals. It also represents a zeitgeist of an era — think of the padded shoulders in the ‘80s and the swingy A-line dresses of the ‘60s.

Should We Stop Obsessing Over Trends?
Backstage at Marc Jacob’s SS20 runway show. (Image: Marc Jacobs)

On top of that, understanding the trends saves fashion consumers plenty of time. On any given season, there are hundreds of fashion collections, each one offering something different from the next. From a consumer’s point of view, when you have dozens of messages being projected at you, where do you begin?

The idea of a trend report is meant to give you a quick glimpse into the season — think of it as a synopsis of what to expect. It saves you time from having to understand every single brand and brings you right to the clothing pieces that you can relate with and want to wear. Trend reports are a way of finding a thread of similarity between these collections, so that as a shopper, you know what you’re looking for and where you can find them.

Is it by any means a be-all and end-all to fashion consumption? No. Rather, it’s a way of allowing the audience to have an overarching view of what conversations fashion designers are having this season, and which brands are making clothes that appeal to their personality.

Should We Stop Obsessing Over Trends?
Giorgio Armani, flanked by actors Stellan Skarsgård (left) and Taron Egerton (right).
(Image: Giorgio Armani)

In all fairness, I understand what Armani is talking about. In the fast-moving world of fashion, there is very little attention being paid to designers and the methods behind the craft. Mr. Armani has seen a time where fashion moved a lot slower, and was a lot less noisy, but that world has progressed beyond that now. In our bid to chase the next “hit” and wear whatever the cool crowd is wearing, we lose sight of the love and attention that fashion designers pour into their work.

On top of that, each fashion designer is different, and the way they approach their work is informed and shaped by different narratives and contextual factors. To merely distil their creations into “trendy” and “not trendy” is demeaning and unfair, but unless every single fashion designer is producing the same look for the season, there will always be a need for trend reporting because it streamlines consumer decisions.

And that’s why trends are — perhaps to Mr. Armani’s disdain — important: because it cuts through the noise and gives people a neater way for them to find their own messages in the clothes.

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