Boohoo, Asos & Missguided pave the way for 'Ultrafast Fashion'

London - The rise of the fast fashion model is said to have transformed the fashion industry and the way we perceive and consumer fashion. Amancio Ortega, otherwise known as the man behind the runaway fashion success retail story Zara, is said to have been the one to bring the business model into mainstream fashion, which has since been picked up by a number of fast fashion players, ranging from H&M to Forever 21 and Primark. The fast fashion business model was originally developed to rapidly respond to latest trends and deliver them to consumers in store within a matter of weeks.

But a new generation of young fashion retailers has seen the emergence of an ever faster model, turning fast fashion into ‘ultrafast fashion.’ These fashion retailers, which include the likes of Asos, Boohoo and Missguided, are said to have the shortest and leanest supply chain cycles. Their rapid turnover of new products sees them featuring new items every one to two weeks, tapping directly into consumers’ growing demand for immediacy. In turn is said to drive their swift sales growth and success and sees them leaving fashion retailers like Zara and H&M in the dust, according to a new report from Fung Global Retail & Technology.

These fashion retailers have been able to tightly streamline their supply chains and move production closer to their key markets, making it easier for them to speed up their design and manufacturing process. In part, this is due to the digital revolution, which makes it easier for designers to find and share inspiration and designs with manufacturers. According to the report, Boohoo, Asos and Missguided are able to produce fashion products in as little to one to four weeks, in comparison to the five weeks it takes Zara and H&M on average to create new products and the six to nine-month cycle most traditional fashion retailers follow.

Ultrafast fashion retailers are able to avoid traditional retailers issues such as product shortages and excessive inventory by basing large quantities of production closer to their headquarters and main customer markets. This way they are able to balance undersupply and markdowns. Ultrafast fashion retailers make designs in small batches to test demand and if items prove to be successful, they can quickly be reproduced. This is why smaller utlrafast fashion retailers like Missguided have become so popular. Launching 1,000 new products each month, Missguided updates its site once a day with new stock. If a popular fashion trend does arise, then the fashion retailer aims to have it available for sale in under a week.

Photo: Asos, Facebook

In Picture: Ecco launches translucent & waterproof leather

London - The future of leather is closer than you think. Scientists are busy developing techniques to grow leather in labs using stem cells, new leathers ranging from pineapple to fish to mushroom are springing up and a number of synthetic leathers hitting the market are virtually identical to the real deal. Now Ecco Leather, the tannery owned by the Dutch company, has unveiled its latest leather innovation which takes the material to the next level - Apparition.

Ecco debuts world's first waterproof and transparent leather: Apparition

Named for its spectral quality, the soft, pliable calf leather is a world's first as it is both translucent and waterproof, as well as strong and workable. Although it was previously possible to create transparent leather using sheep and goat skin, the resulting leather was very stiff and unable to get wet. Now after three years of work, a small team of Ecco leather innovators has managed to create a leather which is both see-through and waterproof by combining old Egyptian and Greek tanning techniques with modern industrial applications.

In Picture: Ecco launches translucent & waterproof leather

"The technique of keeping the leather soft, is obviously a trade secret," says Sruli Recht, creative director and lead of the Ecco Leather project. "It came out of the challenge of rethinking leather aesthetics in terms of both visual and touch properties. We asked ourselves: ‘What would be the Holy Grail of leather?’ I would say it would be creating a futuristic material that still maintains the properties that we know, love, and requires from leather. So the aim became translucent leather."

In Picture: Ecco launches translucent & waterproof leather

"We have been deeply inspired by what other designers and tanneries have achieved in the realm of transparent and translucent leathers over recent years. But our aim was to identify concrete ways we could combine our deep tanning experience with the significant horsepower of our state-of-the-art R&D facility in the Netherlands to push the technology forward, solving practical issues that have eluded the industry up-to-now like lasting pliability and the ability to get wet."

In Picture: Ecco launches translucent & waterproof leather

In addition to being transparent, flexible and waterproof Apparition leather is also visually different from regular leather. Rather than laying smooth and flat like many animal skins, Apparition is wrinkled and crinkled. "The process of creating a new material, a new class of leather even, is to develop it into objects and show what it can do, and then present it as a narrative: how it moves, how it flows, how it bends, how it feels," added Recht.

Apparition is currently available in a range of rich and light controlled colors and can be used to make nearly any type of garment, ranging from handbags to shoes and jackets. Since unveiling Apparition earlier this month, Ecco has received a flood of interest from a number of parties. But the brand is still looking to develop the leather even further to ensure it reaches its full potential.

Photos: Courtesy of Ecco Leather

Novak Djokovic joins Lacoste’s roster of athletes

Tennis player Novak Djokovic has been announced as Lacoste’s newest sporting brand ambassador, with the former number one set to wear the sportswear label on and off the court following the expiry of his deal with retailer Uniqlo.

Lacoste, which was founded by tennis plater René Lacoste in 1933, said that Djokovic will wear an exclusive eponymous clothing line on the court that has been developed for him to wear during the Glam Slam tournaments, starting with the French Open later this month, as well as other tournaments throughout the season.

The Novak Djokovic collection is described as a line of “performance products that fuse functionality with style” and “pays attention to all the details of the game”, including being “engineered” from materials handpicked for their quality and performance featuring details such as ergonomic stitching to prevent chaffing and cuts that bring about ease of movement.

The collection will be available in Lacoste stores from this month and features Djokovic’s signature printed on the left sleeve of the polo shirt whose graphics are inspired by the lines of a tennis court.

To launch the partnership, Djokovic stars in the brand’s new advertising campaign and short film, which combines black and white footage of Lacoste in the 1930s and of the present-day collections and Djokovic now, as well as looking back to the invention of the classic Lacoste L.12.12 Polo shirt.

Image: courtesy of Lacoste

MissPap teams up with Olivia Buckland

Fast fashion online retailer MissPap is set to launch its first swimwear collaboration with Love Island star Olivia Buckland, which features more than 20 swimwear styles alongside beach clothing and accessories.

The MissPap x Olivia Buckland collection launches on June 1 and includes over 20 swimwear styles such as deep plunge swimsuits, designs with multi-way straps, and playful slogan one-pieces, alongside a selection of kimonos, footwear, and accessories to offer a full range of holiday essentials.

Commenting on the collaboration, Buckland said: “I’ve always shopped at MissPap, even before joining Love Island, so to be working with them on my own line is a dream come true.

“I’ve always wanted to design my own swimwear range, to create a collection that not only shows off my own personality but also offers styles that suit everyone! I’m so proud of how it’s all come together and excited everyone to see it.”

The online fashion retailer has stated that the collection has all been designed by the reality star and that the collaboration was a perfect fit as she “really understands the brand”.

MissPap head of marketing Emily Frazer, added: “We've worked closely with Olivia ever since seeing her wearing MissPap on Love Island. As a long time customer, our working relationship grew organically and we couldn't be happier to be working together.

“As a MissPap girl herself, Olivia really understands the brand, and she's designed the perfect collection for our customer.”

Founded in 2013, MissPap offers affordable, trend-led fashion. It has more than 500 styles online and adds new clothing and accessories onto the site daily.

The MissPap X Olivia Buckland collection launches on June 1.

Image: courtesy of MissPap
Mayan weavers oppose corporate theft of their patterns

Indigenous women weavers in Guatemala take action against a fashion industry that has been exploiting their culturally significant and often sacred patterns and symbols by copying them and using them for their own commercial purposes. The National Movement of Maya Weavers is made up of around 30 organisations from 18 linguistic communities in Guatemala, led by the Women's Association for Development of Sacatepequez (AFEDES). By now, they have even introduced a bill to safeguard their textile creations and thus their intellectual property.

A year ago, in May 2016, the weavers filed a legal action before Guatemala’s Constitutional Court, challenging the constitutionality of omitting rules that would protect Mayan textile creations. Introducing a new bill in Congress a few weeks ago is the next to having their collective intellectual property rights recognised under Guatemalan law.

“We must protect our textile knowledge just as we protect our territories,” says Angelina Aspuac, AFEDES weaver and university law student, as quoted by Intercontinal Cry. For her, “intellectual property protection is a fundamental dimension of autonomy.”

The bill seeks to reform five legal articles on the Law on Copyright and Related Rights, the Law on Industrial Property, the Law on Protection and Development of Crafts and the Criminal Code, and has two objectives: First, to recognise a definition of collective intellectual property, which is linked to the right of indigenous peoples to administer and manage their heritage. Second, they should be recognised as authors, in which case they would automatically benefit from current intellectual property laws.

Mayan weavers oppose corporate theft of their patterns

In addition, recognising indigenous nations as authors on the same level as individuals or companies means that the latter would have to pay royalties to the communities who make Mayan hand-woven goods if they profit from the export of the same. “We are artists,” explains Angelina Aspuac. “The people are the artists and authors. What we ask is that the Indigenous Peoples, not just individuals or associations, be recognised as a collective subject.”

The Maya designs are more than just pretty patterns - they are elements of cultural identification of the different Maya communities. Their ornamentation and patterns are not only signs of belonging but also have a magical, symbolic function. To “borrow” this symbolism for fashion purposes - as it happens repeatedly - is not only theft of intellectual property but also an affront to the cultural sensibilities of those affected.

“We are struggling so that our craft does not end. We demand that our works are not taken to other countries to make money, and also that other countries do not come to take away our [weavings], as they always have had the custom of coming; and they continue to come, they do not stop. Now there are machines coming from China and Taiwan to make our weavings. We ask that the authorities respect our identity,” states Floratina, a 81-year-old indigenous Kaqchikel weaver from the community of Santo Domingo Xenacoj according to Toward Freedom. She has woven for 70 years of her life and traveled to Guatemala City in November of last year, together with hundreds of other women weavers, to demand intellectual property laws that protect collective intellectual property.

“There is a strong appropriation of our designs and textiles,” confirms Aspuac when speaking to Truthout. “This isn't only the government, but more so, it is the companies that make bags, shoes and belts with our designs without respecting how we see these pieces within our communities or their significance in our communities. There are elements of our clothing that are sacred, that have a spiritual significance, and others that are only used in ceremonies or by the spiritual leaders in our communities.”

In 2011, Guatemalan fashion designer Giovanni Guzmán outraged Mayan leaders from across the country when he used sacred, traditional clothing of the male spiritual leaders of the K'iche' Maya highland town of Chichicastenango for Miss Guatemala in the Miss Universe beauty pageant.

But not only local designer are guilty of this cultural affront - French designer Isabel Marant who may have found inspiration for her collections in numerous tribes from around the world, had to defend herself almost exactly two years ago, in June 2015, against plagiarism accusations by a Mexican indigenous community for motifs found on a blouse, dress and skirt in her Spring/Summer 2015 collection, which the Oaxaca community said was a direct and blatant copy of their traditional dress.

Photos: The weaver women holding their proposal; creating a traditional design /AFEDES

London - The much-awaited return of cult TV show Twin Peaks has seen a resurgence of 90s fashion styles and led to a number of brands releasing Twin Peaks inspired merchandise. To mark the hit tv show return leading concept store Opening Ceremony has teamed up with Habitat to launch a Twin Peaks capsule collection, which includes five different t-shirts.

The t-shirts each bear a different image from the classic tv show, such as the show's opening title or characters Laura Palmer and Audrey Horne. Each t-shirt is available in either black or white and retails for 30 USD. The t-shirts are currently for sale online via Online Ceremony's web store and in Online Ceremony's stores in New York, Los Angeles, and Tokyo.

Twins Peaks was originally created by David Lynch and Mark Frost and debut on ABC in 1990. The show only ran for two seasons before it was canceled, but has since become a cult classic. The much awaited third season of the show aired on May 21 on Showtime, and is set 25 years after the show's original airing date.

CFDA to honour Franca Sozzani and Rick Owens

The CFDA Fashion Awards in New York will salute two of the industry's pioneers of the community: the late Franca Sozzani and designer Rick Owens.

Former Vogue editor Sozzani died in 2016, but will be honoured with a posthumous Fashion Icon Award. Owens, who is American but based in Paris, will receive the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

The CFDA Awards celebrate the best of the American Fashion Industry and honours excellence in fashion design. Nominations are submitted by the Fashion Guild, a group of over 1,500 CFDA members, fashion editors, retailers, and stylists.

The ceremony will be hosted in Manhattan's Hammerstein Ballroom and presenters are expected to include Nicole Kidman, Kerry Washington, Paris Jackson and Armie Hammer.

Photo credit: CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund 2016, source: CFDA Facebook

EcoChic Design Award announces 24 semi-finalists

The world’s biggest sustainable design competition, the EcoChic Design Award has announced that 24 emerging designers have made the semi-final including two from the UK.

Founded in 2011 by Hong Kong-based NGO Redress, the EcoChic Design Award challenges upcoming designers and students to create a collection with minimal textile waste, ranging from zero-waste design techniques, to up-cycling and garment reconstruction, and their submission is then based on the “creativity, originality, sustainability and marketability” of the design.

This is the seventh year of the award and has seen a record-breaking number of applications, 38 percent up from last year, and included designers from 46 countries including the UK, Japan, the US, China, Sweden, Israel, Hong Kong, The Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Spain, The Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, and Belgium, which are all represented in the semi-final.

EcoChic Design Award announces 24 semi-finalists

Two British designers make semi-finals of EcoChic Design Award

The semi-finalist includes two designers from the UK, Rachel Clowes, who has a Bachelor of Arts in Embroidery from Manchester Metropolitan University and a Masters in Fashion and the Environment from the London College of Fashion. Her design applies up-cycling and reconstruction techniques to transform cut-and-sew waste, end-of-rolls and secondhand clothing with her collection inspired by hoax taxidermy and mythical beasts.

The other British semi-finalist is Kate Morris who is currently studying fashion design at Nottingham Trent University. Her application uses zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction techniques to create a diverse knitwear collection that blends technology to create a tactile connection with the wearer.

Two panels of regional judges shortlisted the applications from the regions of Asia, and Europe and the USA including British designer Christopher Ræburn.

EcoChic Design Award announces 24 semi-finalists

The 24 semi-finalists now face the international panel of judges as they are shortlisted down to the final 10 who will design their six-piece waste reducing collections in time for Hong Kong Fashion Week this September.

Redress founder Dr. Christina Dean said: “While fashion continues to be one of the most polluting industries in the world, we are reminded by the overwhelming responses in applications that with crisis comes creativity. We are confident that this new wave of designers will continue to prove that sustainability does not mean a compromise in style. Together we can make sustainability not just a fashion statement, but also the accepted the norm.”

The EcoChic Design Award finalists will be confirmed on May 25.

Images: courtesy of Redress/EcoChic Design Award

ANDAM award names 2017 finalists

ANDAM, the National Association for the Development of Fashion Artists, has named four emerging labels as finalists for this year’s prestigious Fashion Award, which will see the winner scooping 250,000 euros to develop their brand, as well as receiving mentoring from Yves Saint Laurent chief executive officer Francesca Bellettini.

The four brands competing for the top honour will be Aalto by Finnish designer Tuomas Merikoski, Koché helmed by Christelle Kocher, French designer Martine Rose and Y/Project, founded by Belgian designer Glenn Martens in 2013.

“ANDAM is the home for fresh ideas and new possibilities, where talents are free to bring their unique vision and push themselves forward. The House of Yves Saint Laurent has always been driven by incredible creators and inspired by upcoming generations,” said Bellettini. “I’m honoured to have the chance to contribute to look for the creativity and the energy necessary to build the future of fashion. This year the panel of talent is amazing again and I am looking forward to exchange with all of them.”

The prestigious prize, which has acted as an international springboard for numerous designers including Martin Margiela, Viktor and Rolf, Christophe Lemaire, Jeremy Scott, and last year’s winner, Johanna Senyk of Wanda Nylon, will name the 2017 winner following the presentation of all finalists to the 25 members of the judging panel on June 30.

ANDAM announces shortlist for its 2017 awards

In addition to the main ANDAM Fashion Award, the contest will also offer three other awards, including a new award geared to promote innovation within fashion.

Competing for the Creative Label prize, worth 100,000 euros, are Avoc, Nïuku and Marine Serre, while in the Fashion Accessories category, the shortlisted designers are Ana Khouri, La Contrie and Le Gramme, who are up for a 50,000 euros prize.

This year also sees the introduction of the Fashion Innovation Prize, worth 30,000 euros. In the running are start-ups Euveka, which specialises in smart mannequins, Percko, which makes posture-improving inner wear, and Smartpixels, a specialist in augmented reality modelling.

ANDAM award names 2017 finalists

All thirteen finalists of the 2017 ANDAM fashion awards will be offered mentoring by department store Galeries Lafayette to help them understand the store’s planning objectives and positioning, as well as a meeting with Matches Fashion to present their brands and receive digital and commercial mentoring from the brand’s teams. In addition, Swarovski will offer a dedicated workshop to showcase the creative possibilities crystals offer a collection, and MAC cosmetics will assist the finalists through makeup artistry and product support backstage during fashion week, look book shoots, presentations and other events throughout the year.

The finalists of the First Collections Prize and Fashion Accessories Prize will also benefit from access to the IFM Labels programme at the Institut Français de la Mode, a 12-month accelerator course for young creative brands.

ANDAM, which was founded by Nathalie Dufour in a joint initiative with the French government, is now in its 27th year and this year’s event is financially supported by 17 private and institutional partners including Chanel, Chloé, Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent Foundation, Galeries Lafayette, Hermès, Kering and LVMH.

All of the ANDAM 2017 awards will be announced following the judging panel event on June 30.

Images: Aalto pre-fall 2017 - via Aalto Facebook; Y/Project autumn/winter 2017 via Y/Project Facebook

Like all working mums, Colleen Theriault has her hands full with her four-year-old son and a full-time career as head baker at a patisserie in the US state of North Carolina. But the 24-year-old is also an advocate for a budding movement that is breaking into the international fashion scene. Its models, like their initiative, are small but strong.

The International Dwarf Fashion Show, a non-profit organisation that aims to "reverse the discriminatory diktats of beauty", brought seven women with dwarfism to Dubai this week for a show dedicated to raising awareness about the need for more inclusivity in fashion. "This is the farthest I've ever travelled, especially by myself," Theriault told AFP, after modelling two dresses at the show late Saturday. "This trip was a big step."

In shimmering bodycon dresses and bright embellished saris, models from the United States, the Philippines, Italy, Bulgaria and Russia strutted down an impromptu garden runway under heart-shaped arches of flowers. The show closed with a charismatic model in a bridal dress, her holographic Mary Jane shoes peeking out from under a rose-dotted train.

Zahra Mufaddal Khumri waited for more than two hours with her husband and young daughter to get into Saturday's show. After living in Dubai for more than a decade, she recently set up a Facebook support group for individuals and families in the emirate who, like her own, live with dwarfism.

She and her banker husband have built "a pretty good life" for themselves in the global shopping hub, she said, but even there the basic task of finding clothes that fit has remained a struggle. The couple generally seek out the help of a tailor to alter or make garments to be the right size, particularly traditional Indian clothes. "You should be comfortable in anything you wear," Khumri said.

Beyond the 'kids' section'

She does manage to buy tops and dresses off-the-rack, she said, "but with a bit of difficulty since I do have to search in the petite section. Sometimes in the kids' section." It was witnessing firsthand the exasperation of a woman with dwarfism shopping for basic staples that inspired Myriam Chalek to set up the International Dwarf Fashion Show.

"It was seeing this little lady shopping in a kids section -- very frustrated, not finding clothes that fit her," she said. "I work in the fashion industry, so you always deal with designers and clients who ask you for tall and skinny," Chalek added.

"Even though some people are trying to turn the tide, like we are, unfortunately that still remains the norm." The International Dwarf Fashion Show has attracted worldwide attention since it launched in 2014, taking to the runway during New York Fashion Week, as well as in Tokyo and Paris, supported by France's culture ministry.

But in Dubai, the show almost did not happen after an eleventh-hour cancellation, organisers said. Chalek said there was "chaos, drama, disappointment and anger" when the hotel they had booked cancelled on them last minute. A second hotel also refused to host the show.

Contacted by AFP, the manager at one hotel said he was not aware of any fashion show. The head of communications at the second hotel was not reachable for comment. While Theriault was anxious to fly back home to her son, she said she was not giving up on working for more inclusivity in the world of fashion and beyond.

"We just want to show them that we're people just like they are," she said. "Everybody has a disability, no matter if you can see it on the outside or on the inside," the model added. "Everybody just needs to be accepted." (AFP)