Fashion trend forecaster Li Edelkoort has just used the Design Indaba conference in South Africa to announce her annual predictions for the year. In a move that's likely to shock many in the industry, she's declared that fashion is dead.
"This is the end of a system called fashion and we will have to invent new ideas. For now I think we are going to concentrate on clothes; celebrate clothes. As a result we will see couture coming back, [versus creation] and in fact it's a sort of relief because many people are thinking it."Edelkoort is not a voice to ignore. Regularly voted as one of the fifty most influential voices in the field, her annual presentation is keenly awaited by trend-setters across the field. This is a bombshell, and cuts right to the heart of what's happening to the discipline she loves.
She sees fashion as a field that is eating itself. Education focusses on teaching students to become catwalk designers, individual, isolated voices rather than collaborators and team players. Fashion journalism has become, for the most part, a cosy relationship between magazines and manufacturers, with marketing budgets the major contributor to coverage. Edelkoort looks with despair at a new wave of fashion bloggers, unaware or uncaring about journalistic ethics, that are all too happy to give positive reviews in exchange for samples and a free press pass. And then, of course, there are the looming ethical issues that have brought the dark side of fashion ever more regularly to the public's attention. When people are dying to make our clothes, something has to change.
This is fascinating and provocative stuff, from a commentator that was up to now seen as part of the mainstream. It's going to be interesting to see the reaction to her presentation. Personally, it feels like a declaration of war.
For more details, check out the interview that Edelkoort did with Dezeen magazine: