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Marketplace Morning Report

Creative burnout hitting the fashion industry hard

Kai Ryssdal Nov 6, 2015
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Dior, Lanvin, Baleciaga. These are just some of the iconic names in fashion that have suffered high-profile departures from designers in recent weeks. One big reason is creative burnout. Simply put, fashion designers – and other staff of the major fashion houses – are being spurred by the ubiquity of the internet and the trend of fast fashion to create collections and shows at an increasingly rapid rate. 

We had on fashion journalist and former editor of Harper’s Bazaar Kate Betts to explain the reasons behind the pressure that fashion designers are under and, quite frankly, why we should care.

Kai Ryssdal: Why are all these people leaving, what’s going on?

Kate Betts: There is too much information, too much product too fast, too much demand. And fashion is the fastest creative cycle, historically speaking its faster than technology. It was a six month cycle, but now it’s a three month cycle and actually if you talk to a designer at a major house like Dior or Chanel, it’s a three week cycle. They have to create whole collections in three weeks.

Kai Ryssdal: So how does that work in the studio?

Kate Betts: It means they have to come up with the ideas, communicate the ideas to the seamstresses, the people who create the samples, create the samples, fit the samples, make the clothes, ship the clothes back to the studio, fit the models, produce a runway show.

Kai Ryssdal: How often do you have runway shows though? Because most of us not in the business say, “Well, there’s New York Fashion Week again, they do it every year,” so what’s the big deal?

Kate Betts: They have a runway show in the fall and the spring, then they have haute couture which is in January and July and then they have Cruise, which is resort, which is twice a year. Some of them are creating men’s and women’s collections, so multiply that number by two and you have a lot of shows. And if you think about it in a bigger cultural context, you know, nobody is asking best-selling authors, or screenplay writers, or producers or directors of movies to create a new product every three weeks. 

Kai Ryssdal: Who is providing this pressure? Is it the designers themselves, is it the houses they work for, is it major retailers, is it the high-end retailers? 

Kate Betts: It comes from all different directions. I mean the retailer wants more product, the public wants more product and information. They’re consuming information and product at a much faster rate because of the internet, obviously. But they’re also consuming it because of fast fashion. Fast fashion has become kind of the scapegoat for all of this. But I don’t think you can point the finger at one specific person, or system, or part of the culture. I think its just everything is much faster now. In the fashion world you’re not just seeing the creative talent leave, but also the business side, great managers are leaving because it’s too much pressure. 

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