“Nothing is lost . . . everything is transformed.”
Remember that from your high school science class? No doubt true enough on a molecular level, but try telling it to the poor soul who’s praying to Saint Anthony to find his car keys.
This story first appeared in the April 29, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
It seems an appropriate bit of wisdom for us here at WWD, though: This thumping new weekly is, in real terms, our transformation. It’s a cumulative build on 105 years of reporting on the fashion, retail and beauty industries.
In concert with an incessant stream of news on WWD.com, wide-reaching social media, a daily PDF and decades-rich archives (that’s the “nothing is lost” part), this new weekly will offer context, trends, deeper analysis and compelling imagery. We’ll dig into the fashion, social, cultural and economic developments underpinning a business that’s shot through with contradictions: high/low, chic/vulgar, humble/egomaniacal, authentic/ pretentious, celebratory/tragic.
So what exactly is this? A newsweekly? A fashion weekly? An evolved species? Yes, yes and yes.
Our primary mission is clear: inform the industry via our international network of reporters and editors, while not forgetting that the civilian population following the fashion world has never been more fascinated with its insider exotica. Whatever the reader’s objective, we’ll continue to deliver the inside baseball.
This week, our cover story, The WWD Six, takes us out on a limb, but as the saying goes, that’s where the fruit is. In our ongoing fascination with creative/commercial tension, we talked to fashion directors, financial players and retail executives around the world and asked them which designers have the staying power and commercial instincts to go big, really big, someday. So we’re not talking pure creativity; that’s a given just to be considered for the list.
Remember the now-famous Antwerp Six, so tagged in 1987? Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk Van Saene, Marina Yee, Walter Van Beirendonck and Dirk Bikkembergs. Whether dark and brooding, deconstructive, minimal or outrageous, the “Twerpers” were noted for their fierce independence. We wanted to look at today’s developing scene a little differently, weighing creative credentials with a designer’s right-brain capacity for delivering the business over the long haul.
Narrowing the list was tough. There are many ambitious design talents out there and some excluded from this final list could one day be household names running billion-dollar enterprises.
With lots of pain, we culled those talents to The WWD Six: Alexander Wang, The Row, Proenza Schouler, J.W. Anderson, Sacai and Christopher Kane. OK, The Row’s Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen and Proenza Schoul- er’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez technically make it eight designers, but six labels. No apologies.
Each of these designers and brands had wide support from our diverse sample, with Wang the closest thing to a unanimous choice. The biggest surprise was Sacai’s Chitose Abe, whose quiet ways run counter to the nearly clichéd persona of designer-as-celeb. We’re calling her “The Enigma.” A favorite quote in our profile of Abe: “I try to create a balance between stability and betrayal.” Cerebral, yes. And the retailers love it.
Common to this elite group is not only a distinctive aesthetic, but a practical awareness that creativity ultimately serves their businesses.
Also common to The Six for this issue: the arresting photographs by Nigel Parry. Dispatched to three continents over six days, Parry produced beautiful work on the fly, and with nary a peep of complaint. You’ve heard about diva photographers? Parry’s the refreshing yin to that unfortunate yang. His adventure was not unlike that of WWD’s intrepid staff, who shipped this 250-page publication in three days.
Take a deep breath, this is only Week One.