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Has the fashion world reached saturation point?

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Fashion |OPINION

When Net-a-Porter announced it was reducing its brand offer by an estimated 30 percent next season, it was a sign of the times. How much fashion is too much? How much room in the market is there for fashion, for new brands and for clothes we don't particularly need?

Take the closure of the Marc by Marc Jacobs label. Just a few seasons ago the LVMH-owned company drafted in British designers Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley to head up its ailing label. Now the duo designers have been ousted as Marc Jacobs is consolidating his business and reducing its product categories, showing everything under one umbrella. When you dilute a brand too much it becomes the same as watering down a drink; the flavour is no longer there.

Did the duo do the Marc Jacobs brand image any favours? Perhaps yes, if you measure it by press coverage. But the clothes themselves? They felt gimmicky and unreal. Superfluous is no longer a desirable option for successful fashion businesses. Even if the brand is targeted at a younger market.

In the early noughties the high street was bustling. New brands were spouting up every day, the consumer couldn't get enough of cross-brand collaborations and fast fashion was coming at us faster than the speed of light. But the competition has come to breaking point. Global fashion weeks cannot accommodate the many designers hoping to show their collections on the catwalk. Once reserved for serious ready-to-wear companies and haute couture, the catwalk is now a platform for every Tom, Dick and Harry who wants to make it into the fashion world. Earlier this year New York Fashion Week announced it would reduce its catwalk designers, and brands would have to go through a more discerning process to secure an official slot. What is it that we need to see on the catwalk? The industry should ask itself, does casualwear, denim, high street and lingerie all need to be shown on a runway?

The fashion world has reached saturation point

So it appears the fashion world has reached a saturation point. There is too much style over substance, too many brands shouting for rail space and simply too many clothes. By dropping a third of its designers, Net-a-Porter is leading the pack and returning to its luxury roots. Luxury in the sense that its fashion offer is a careful curation of considered brands and companies, not an encyclopedia of collections that smack of excess but in the end don't have meaning and are again superfluous.

And that is what consumers are looking for: For real clothes, for a meaning behind brands, for relevance and a reason to buy. With so much competition for brands and designers to be bought by stores, it seems those that speak the loudest have been the most successful. Thankfully we are now entering a time when the clothes need to speak for themselves.

Images: Marc by Marc Jacobs
Marc Jacobs