What is Luxury Fashion?
Is it the type of fabric that makes fashion luxury? Is it the people who make it fashionable? Can anyone buy luxury fashion? Simply, luxury fashion is custom to anyone. It is expensive which makes it a luxury. High end fashion designers make luxury fashion for the runway and sell it for a high price, but even the most looked up to designers had small beginnings before making these luxury items. Tom Ford, Vivienne Westwood and Vera Wang are some of the biggest names who make luxury fashion for both men and women, but they had very humble beginnings.
Tom Ford who grew up in Austin, Texas 1961 moved to New York in 1979 to pursue a history of art degree at NYU. Having saved some money from the work he originally did as an actor, he enrolled at Parson's school of design to study architecture but quickly switched to fashion. Upon graduation, Ford was employed by Cathy Hardwick as a design assistant [i] . Tom Ford has his first show in 1995 (not first show but one he is remembered for) “As upmarket shoppers again frequented Gucci stores looking for Ford’s clothes, they’d pick up a new pair of $295 loafers or another $600 handbag. Once back in the habit of buying Gucci’s leather goods, they’d buy one of Ford’s new $1,100 cocktail dresses or a $1,600 sports coat”[ii]. The autumn / winter season was marked by a return to the aesthetics of the '70s, with satin shirts, colourful coats and velvet pants, in a style that according to the designer he managed to observe the look of people who went out to dance[iii]. Now his prices for suits retails for around £740.00 and cocktail dresses are £4,670.
Moving onto Vera Wang who also had humble beginnings as something completely different than the wedding dress designer she is known for today. Originally, ‘Vera Wang was creating a career in sports and publishing. When she failed to make the US Olympics team for figure skating, she entered the fashion industry as a senior fashion editor at Vogue [iv]’. Vera Wang’s first show was in ‘Spring 2000’. Vera Wang began her show with pure, modern dresses in white, accented with graphic, geometric patches of silver beading. A series of fluid black pieces followed, and then a procession of beaded pants and skirts, transparent tops and sequined gowns in pastel shades inundated the runway.[v] According to her website, she claims that “the starting price for Vera Wang Bridal Collection is $2,900. The Luxe Collection starts at $6,900 and allows for more customization options.”[vi] This shows how a designer who has gone through many paths in her life is now creating the most luxury wedding dresses worn by celebrities for many years now.
Vivienne Westwood, originally born Vivienne Isabel Swire on April 8, 1941, in the English town of Glossop in Derbyshire. She came from humble beginnings. Her father was a cobbler, while her mother helped the family keep ends meet by working at a local cotton mill. In 1971, McLaren opened a boutique shop at 430 Kings Road in London and started filling it with Westwood's designs. While the name of the shop seemed to be in constant flux—it was changed five times—it proved to be an important fashion centre for the punk movement[vii]. The Pirate Collection of 1981 was Westwood and McLaren’s first catwalk show. This offered a romantic look which burst onto the London fashion scene and ensured this collection’s place in history. At this important point in her career, Vivienne developed ethnic cutting techniques which are based on rectangles. She has an idea she knows will work, knocks it up in rough and in small scale and tries it out on a little dummy.[viii] Although the price of her first collection isn’t stated, today her pieces cost; from £4,000 + to £300. All of these fashion designers came from humbled beginnings which makes them the biggest names in the industry today.
In this day and age, trends are the fuel for fashion and what the latest in each season it. This year is a big year for velvet fabrics to hit the runway. This amongst other things are classed as a luxury because of how the material is made and where it originates from. Some other fabrics such as silk, brocade, denim and chenille are past or present trends that are classed as luxury fashion. It has been associated with the iconic styles of many celebrities such as Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake when they made the trend of denim on denim. Although trends come and go in a flash, luxury fashion makes the trends with the types of fabric and then other brands follow. This is not to be mistaken with something called ‘Fast Fashion’. This is where retailers find out the trends of fashion which then leads to a quick and cheap manufacturing process that makes it affordable for people to wear, it’s less quality fashion but it’s cheap for people to wear. Their primary goal is to put out the new trends and produce them fast so it doesn’t go out of fashion.
So who can wear luxury fashion? Anyone. Typically luxury fashion is seen on celebrities and any types of models but fashion isn’t just accustomed to one particular group. It is expensive and also very experimental which could turn some people off of a particular brand who manufactures the luxury fabrics. In fact, owning a piece of luxury fashion could heighten your social standing as it makes you look more sophisticated, desirable and fashionable. By investing in a luxury fashion piece, it makes people feel important and glamourous in a way, it is worth buying something from a Prada bag to a pair of Tom Ford sunglasses.
Let me know what you think about Luxury Fashion! Is it worth buying a piece or not?
Article by Kelsey Mowat
[i]Taylor, M. (2017). Tom Ford. [online] Vogue.co.uk. Available at: http://www.vogue.co.uk/article/tom-ford-biography [Accessed 11 Nov. 2017].
[ii] Forbes.com. (1999). Forbes Welcome. [online] Available at: https://www.forbes.com/global/1999/0208/0203036a.html [Accessed 11 Nov. 2017].
[iii] Martiriosway.com. (2015). LE DESIGNER. TOM FORD'S FIRST GUCCI COLLECTION (1995). [online] Available at: http://www.martiriosway.com/2014/08/le-designer-tom-fords-first-gucci.html [Accessed 11 Nov. 2017].
[iv] Edden, S. (2016). It’s Not Too Late: Famous Design Entrepreneurs Who Started After 30 | Maker’s Row Blog. [online] Maker’s Row Blog. Available at: https://makersrow.com/blog/2016/01/its-not-too-late-famous-design-entrepreneurs-who-started-after-30/# [Accessed 11 Nov. 2017].
[v] Vogue. (n.d.). Vera Wang Spring 2000 Ready-to-Wear Fashion Show. [online] Available at: https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/spring-2000-ready-to-wear/vera-wang [Accessed 11 Nov. 2017].
[vi] VeraWang. (n.d.). FAQ - VeraWang. [online] Available at: https://www.verawang.com/faq/ [Accessed 11 Nov. 2017].
[vii] Biography.com. (n.d.). Vivienne Westwood. [online] Available at: https://www.biography.com/people/vivienne-westwood-20624587 [Accessed 11 Nov. 2017].
[viii] Vivienne Westwood. (n.d.). The Early Years. [online] Available at: http://www.viviennewestwood.com/en-gb/history/early-years [Accessed 11 Nov. 2017].