Happy Tuesday, Trojans! I missed you guys last week, but don’t worry — we have a lot to catch up on.
Some quick fashion news, because an astronomical amount has happened in the past two weeks:
1. Pharrell Williams was named the new mens creative director of Louis Vuitton.
2. Milan Fashion Week brought strong and refreshing performances from Prada, Gucci, Jil Sander and Daniel Lee’s Burberry.
3. London Fashion Week paid a devoted and heartfelt tribute to the late Vivienne Westwood and Central Saint Martins debuted their annual graduate student showcase.
But what we’re here to talk about today is Mugler’s new — tentative — reputation as a mogul of collaborations.
Following suit after Simone Rocha’s capsule collection for the same company in 2021 Mugler announced their upcoming collaboration Feb. 27 with H&M, a fast-fashion giant.
Of course, H&M does not even compare to other fast fashion sites like SHEIN, which recently revealed that it is projected to double its revenue to $60 billion by 2025, but this collaboration may be what it needs after three straight years of falling shares.
Mugler, though, has been on a bit of a collaboration rampage, working with Jimmy Choo for the Spring/Summer 2022 season and Wolford’s “Skinwear” collaboration in 2022.
I’ve mentioned collaborations before in my column — they’re an exciting way to learn about new brands and get more bang for your buck, literally.
But this collaboration hasn’t been met with the same level of excitement as other luxury collaborations like Fendace (Fendi x Versace) or Louis Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama; on a side note, shoutout to the visuals team for the Yayoi Kusama physical installations in its storefronts. From an animatronic Yayoi Kusama to a giant Yayoi Kusama “painting” on the physical stores, each installation has been incredibly creative, beautiful and, most importantly for consumers in the digital age, interactive.
Back to H&Mugler.
So, where does this hesitancy stem from? Part of it is anger over L’Oreal and Mugler’s creative director Casey Cadwallader’s decision to work with a fast fashion company. Especially with fashion’s attempt to push sustainability, it seems like luxury brands that often pave the way and provide inspiration should also be following suit in regard to any collaborations.
There’s already been a vast issue of greenwashing, and recent reports under PrettyLittleThing’s resale marketplace have raised suspicion of throwing a veil over the effects of mass consumption and factories working overtime during the coronavirus pandemic. The other issue with the rise of resale — as much as I love a good thrift grail — is that it may soon jeopardize the seasonal model that the fashion industry currently follows, especially with the estimated $57 billion expected to hit by 2025.
Another part is the idea that working with a retail company cheapens Mugler as a brand. It may be the ultra-“Hunger Games”-capitalism view of not wanting to blend retail and luxury, but this melting has been happening for years. We see this with Adidas x Gucci, Supreme x Nike, Miu Miu x New Balance and Balenciaga x Crocs; while these huge collaborations are often with sneaker brands, we also see this with higher-market brands like Skims x Fendi, Shu Shu Tong x Asics and Sandy Liang x Target.
These fears are far from true, though, mainly because of how luxury status is achieved.
It’s not through price point — you can price things however you would like to, truly — but rather through time, effort, recognition and brand history. It’s not a Michelin star: It isn’t stripped away out of the blue from random inspections, and there isn’t a limited amount of stars available to be a comparison factor for quality.
But, most importantly, because price point, rarity and verbal buzz don’t equate to having value. This concept is incredibly important to keep in mind as you sift through flea markets and Depop offers — take all the precautions to avoid getting ripped off for ridiculously high resale prices or fakes. Especially with the falling economy and fashion’s current issue of overproduction with underconsumption, it’s important to recognize quality in a garment in three ways: physical condition, value and sustainability over time, and personality.
Physical condition is pretty self-explanatory: Is it made well? Are there any large, visible holes? How well does it fit you? If the answer is not very well, how vast of adjustments need to be made?
When considering value and sustainability, ask whether or not the garment will grow with you or end up at the back of your closet. Sometimes it’s fun to get that one, vibrant, beaded dress you would never wear — it’s a great way to keep you mentally stimulated and keep your wardrobe fresh and exciting. But, if you’re constantly buying things to only wear once without the conscious effort to wear it again, maybe consider clothing rentals or borrowing similar pieces from friends.
For personality: How in tune is the garment with you? With your values? With where you believe your life is going or can go? Do you see yourself wearing this to more than three events? What are five outfits that include this item? With such personal relationships that come with clothing, the label shouldn’t matter — on its own and in collaboration with others.
I personally am excited to see how this collaboration will end up. I predict various catsuits, bodysuits, gloves and leggings, but I also am sniffing out the return of Mugler’s iconic star messenger bag and sunglasses.
With H&M’s recent return to basics in an effort to compete with Zara and keep up with the ‘capsule collection’ concept, this might be the push it needs to keep up with its fast fashion competitors. But until we see it in stores, I have a feeling that Mugler might be the next king of collaborations.
Hadyn Phillips is a sophomore writing about fashion in the 21st century, specifically spotlighting new trends and popular controversy. Her column, “That’s Fashion, Sweetie,” runs every Tuesday.