Why are fashion’s stars ditching big brands?

donna karan, alexander wang, alber elbaz, raf simons

To say 2015 has been a year of exits in fashion is no exaggeration. Alexander Wang from Balenciaga, Donna Karan from Donna Karan International, Raf Simons from Christian Dior and now Alber Elbaz from Lanvin, albeit under apparent duress. 

But why are designers who helped shape fashion houses’ recent histories exiting for pastures new? Does it simply reflect a shift in working culture or is it a sign the industry has become a negative place for creative talent? WGSN’s senior team shares their views…

Entrepreneurialism is more appealing than stability
Carla Buzasi, Global Chief of Content, says: “This isn’t shocking when you consider how career paths are taking shape these days. People are continually looking for new adventures and perhaps more so in fashion. Where the goal used to be getting to the top of a huge brand, entrepreneurialism and being in control of your own destiny has such appeal now – I think that’s what designers are aspiring to.”

The demand for newness is unsustainable
Lizzy Bowring, Director of Catwalks, says: “It seems fashion has become too frenetic and you can’t continually work creatively under this pressure – there comes a point when you burn out. It’s not just in high fashion either, it’s at every level of the industry. There is a constant consumer demand to deliver newness but working at this pace and creating this output is, conversely, making things feel very stale very quickly.” 

The true customer is not the focus
Lauretta Roberts, Director of Brand and Propositions, says: “This really feels like a watershed moment and I think we need to ask ourselves how many collections a year we actually need. Production and communication in the industry are completely out of sync and this would be a good time to address that. There is a feeling designers have to create moments for Instagram instead of moments for the customer – it’s just not sustainable.”

NEED INSPIRATION? WGSN publishes 350 in-depth reports each month. That’s a seriously awe-inspiring amount of inspiration. Join WGSN.

Know what’s next. Become a WGSN member today to benefit from our daily trend intelligence, retail analytics, consumer insights and bespoke consultancy services.