As world leaders prepare to meet in London Wednesday for the G-20 Summit to discuss the global economy, protectionism in various forms is rearing its head from the U.S. to Europe to China. The debate has engulfed industries including textiles, cars and even Coca-Cola, and the question is whether fashion and luxury goods could find themselves caught up in the whirlwind.
Designers, executives and other industry observers played down the likelihood of the industry reversing its long march to globalization and pluralism, in line with President Obama’s about-face on the initial “Buy American” clause in the U.S.’ stimulus package, and China’s efforts to fight protectionism via a global acquisitions spree.
Still, the specter of fashion nationalism bubbled up recently in Denmark, where Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen sat in the front row at Copenhagen Fashion Week last month and full-page ads in the Dansk Daily distributed at the runway shows trumpeted, “Support your local designer, buy Danish.”
“It was targeted at a consumer audience,” said Eva Kruse, executive director of the government-funded Danish Fashion Institute, which ran the campaign. “It’s to say when you’re going into shops and buying clothes, when you have a Hugo Boss shirt in one hand and a Danish brand in the other, choose the Danish. Support the industry.”
The ad, which may also be placed in Danish fashion magazines this spring, sparked debate among Danish fashion players, with the Gallery trade show, which ran concurrent with the runway shows, threatening to pull copies of the Dansk Daily from its fair.
“This is narrow, really provincial thinking,” said Rasmus Storm, owner of the Copenhagen-based concept store Storm. “I completely understand people trying to protect their businesses, but at the end of the day, the guys who will survive this crisis are those who are forward-thinking, finding new solutions, who are doing a better job every day when they go to work. You can run ads, but at the end of the day, it’s about the product and the brand.”
Kruse claimed the ad’s primary goal is to encourage consumers to start spending again. “The home market is a big market for any brand, but for us this is a way of giving shopping a focus,” she said. “It’s to say, ‘Please go and spend some money.’”
Nationalism has also surged in Britain, with calls for British jobs for British workers, a British-themed issue of I-D magazine and the often jingoistic tabloid press throwing in its two cents on how to get the economy moving. In January, the Daily Mirror launched a “Buy British” campaign encouraging its readers to buy British goods ranging from Marmite spread to Imperial Leather soap to Fred Perry polo shirts.
The newspaper said local tycoons including Richard Branson and Alan Sugar are behind the campaign. “We must buy products that are made here…supporting a British firm creates work for someone,” asserted Sugar, who plays Donald Trump’s role in the U.K.’s equivalent of “The Apprentice” TV show.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast