Grad Season 2016: Are You Sitting Comfortably?
Speaking to an audience predominantly filled with design students her talk is geared to those heading for a career in fashion’s creative side. She quotes Janis Joplin when it comes to building your own brand values and identity; “Don’t compromise yourself, you are all you’ve got. There is no yesterday, no tomorrow, it’s all the same day.” With this she talks about being true to yourself by using your instincts and keeping them relevant to your brand.
Moving into trends she touches on the season-less collection, thinking globally with pieces that can adapt to all climates. The likes of Burberry and Paul Smith are leading the way with two collections a year that incorporate transitional colours and fabric weights. As mentioned she emphases the growing activewear market; items that are multi-functional, multi-occasion in protective and comforting fabrics, providing a cocoon from the cruel, harsh world.
Kate continues to discuss the booming beauty industry and how now innovative, cutting edge products are tackling the effects of pollution and boosting wellbeing. She feels that this market is leading the way and fashion will follow suit. Gender neutral she states is another growing concept in both beauty and fashion with brands developing unisex clothing and beauty ranges.
“It doesn’t matter if you are the most creative person in the world,” says Kate, “communication is very important for your brand to thrive. Every minute of the day you are communicating.” And she is talking omni-channel communication to create a seamless voice that covers the internet and all it’s social media facets. And if that wasn’t enough to get your head around she adds, “brands need to offer a 360 all-round experience.” Long are the days of getting stocked in a shop and hoping for the best, today’s customer wants an all-immersive experience where the store becomes a space to explore and indulge as well as buy.
This idea of ‘experience’ is one that some designers have already embraced and incorporated into their catwalk collections. By changing the location, backdrop, theme, the ‘experience’ is all part of the collection and brand DNA. Kate throws in another quote this time by Andre Leon Talley: “Googling is not enough, you have to explore it.”
She rounded off her talk by touching on the environment and the future. “Sustainability,” she states, “is not a trend – it’s our responsibility.” What does this all mean for the future of fashion? It means shorter lead times, quick responses, seasonless collections that land in store hours after being previewed on the catwalk. And further down the line there’s innovation and science; 3D printing, artificial innovation and bio-textiles. “I have seen leathers that are being grown in a lab,” she says wide-eyed.
Part industry, part motivational Kate finishes with a short film that simply advises, ‘Fight against sameness. Become an early adopter, inspire and mentor those coming up behind you.’
Kate Crossey, Design Director at Debenhams was speaking at the ASOS GFW Talk Space
By JoJo Iles
Images: Kate Crossey top right, the Fashion Brand Cycle and ‘Think’ Eco collection by Bath Spa Uni graduate Sarah Moore