Fashion Global Conversations: Marine Serre, Simone Rocha and Wen Zhou
Looks chosen from the autumn winter 2020 collections of Marine Serre, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Simone Rocha
© Photos: Corey Tenold; Courtesy of 3.1 Phillip Lim
Fashion Global Conversations
“How can we be creative away from the office when ours is such a tactile job?” This is the question of Wen Zhou, CEO of 3.1 Phillip Lim, who opened the second talk of the Fashion Global Conversations on May 6th. The responses were different. To moderate the panel there was Leslie Sun of Fashion Taiwan and, together with Zhou, the guests – Marine Serre and Simone Rocha – discussed various topics including practical difficulties, for example, how to make a garment at home without their own fabrics, the ‘tools of the trade’ and the own team, and the challenges of creating under conditions of stress and psychological trauma.
For many stylists, the instinct was to open up to optimism and give some form of escape, but Serre faced us with a different perspective: “It is very important to be realistic, honest and open in a radical way to the world around me. I often say I am like a sponge, because I feel, I keep my eyes open. And today, as stylists, most of our work lies precisely in this. We have to create for the world we live in. “
“This epidemic made us stop but it is as if it has given birth to a new wave of creativity,” adds Rocha. “It was very stimulating: a moment to think, reflect and see how to proceed in another way.”
Maximize work remotely by finding the positive aspects
Serre agrees with Rocha. “To be honest, it’s a pretty creative moment. Furthermore, we had to learn a new way of communicating, since we cannot drape, take measurements, embrace and fight! But I believe that we are now asked to get closer: we cannot touch each other so we must carefully choose the words we use. In this sense something very beautiful happened, “he says. “Being closer to each other and to ourselves, taking the time to truly understand where we want to go, who we are and what we are doing … Of course, sometimes it is very hard but fashion moves so quickly and this period represented us the opportunity to slow down ”.
Zhou says that at 3.1 Phillip Lim, his team had already talked about how to balance their time between office and remote work, so as to give employees more flexibility. “We wanted to find that wonderful balance between creativity, the ability to work from anywhere and stay connected globally, continuing to create a product that arouses emotions. This pandemic has only accelerated this process. I am in New York and our design offices are in Taiwan, Brooklyn, Colorado and Shanghai … We are learning to work globally. But I must say that we all miss each other and we want to be able to go back to the office and hug each other. “
Dialogue on sustainability is growing but actions are also needed
Marine Serre, Simone Rocha and Wen Zhou married the cause of sustainability albeit in a different way: Serre is known for itsupcycling, Rocha invests in ancient artisan manufactures and 3.1 Phillip Lim prefers organic, recycled and low impact materials. What they have in common is their commitment to the artisan tradition, the longevity of the garments and the design with a purpose. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted many of the problems inherent in the fashion system, especially excessive waste and overproduction, which means that too much merchandise is placed on the market (often not created with the right care). “Many speak of slowing down after the pandemic and of producing in smaller quantities. I agree, “says Rocha. “Above all, I think what will decrease will be the desire for ‘disposable’ fashion. I hope that people will want intimacy with the collections and a personal connection with garments that last a long time ”.
To these words, Serre adds that, however pleasant it is to hear everyone talk about sustainability, “actions are still not enough. Perhaps, after the coronavirus, we will become more active. ”
Marine Serre, autumn winter 2020 2021
© Photographed by Corey Tenold
Now it’s time to share creativity with the world, especially young stylists
The pandemic puts a strain on young designers who normally need to present their garments in editor, buyer and live customers to develop their brand. Rocha recommends a mix of physical and digital interaction: “If I were a new designer on the market these days, and I had a collection, I would certainly like to photograph and film it and then send the material digitally but, if I have to be honest, I would send it also by mail to those shops and magazines that I love most, as the physical aspect of what you create is very important. The fabrics, the manual processes, the way the garments are sewn – sometimes these details can be perceived and appreciated only by touching them “.
Serre invites designers to also use YouTube, Instagram and other digital platforms to make their voices heard. “It’s our only way to stay connected and if you have something to say, say it. Don’t be shy. Nobody has the best answer on how to make fashion today and I invite you to be honest and to share [online]. When I see that people put their ‘Like’ on a video that post or a refurbished item that I publish, it makes me feel very good, as it feels like being part of a community that has the opportunity to share, discuss and change things. At least so I hope. And build the future together better. “
Zhou offers some commercial advice to both emerging and established stylists: “No one in the industry has ever had to deal with something like this. Remembering myself that this situation is new for everyone has given me the authority to rely on my instinct and my intuition as an entrepreneur. And to make those decisions who I feel are most right for our company and our team. I think it is very important because, although you can listen to the advice of others, you know what works for your company “.
Simone Rocha, autumn winter 2020 2021
© Photographed by Corey Tenold
First step : reduce
During the past eight weeks, stylists, buyers and editor they had the unusual opportunity to slow down, press Pause and propose radical changes to the sector. Now that the collections resort, men and Haute Couture have been postponed or canceled, reflecting on how many fashion shows per year are really necessary. With the stores temporarily closed, it is assessed how much goods are in the store each season and how staggered the deliveries are compared to the time of year. In general, it is the sector’s insane pace that insiders hope to change, as the current model is not sustainable – neither for the environment nor for companies.
“We are talking about merging pre-collections and prêt-à-porter lines, or the man and woman line”, says Rocha. “This would reduce travel and the amount of investments in fashion shows but as a designer, I think there is a risk of diluting your message too much. A practical way to solve the problem would be to change the shipping calendar of when the clothes arrive in the store, as this has changed people’s perception of when they want something, how long they are willing to wait for it and how to react to sales rather than seasons. There is no need to put on coats on sale in November, “he continues. “If these aspects were taken into consideration, and if designers, wholesalers and retailers if they found an agreement, the pace would slow down so as to leave more room for creativity “.
“I agree with you, Simone,” adds Serre. “I also only produce two collections a year and I think it is enough to create something new and current, not to repeat yourself, to practice the upcycling and recycling, and think about how to make production. We talk about fashion shows and creativity, but what happens between a show and shipments in the store is equally important. Creating a garment, and doing it with love and in a good establishment, requires a lot of energy. I am happy to be here today to say it and share my opinion, as I don’t know where I could have done it before. Seeing that people want to change things is a great opportunity. “
Zhou concludes by inviting designers, consumers and the entire sector to take into account the production chain and to rethink the way we measure success in fashion. “We have to ask ourselves, ‘Who are the people who make our garments? Who is offering them to us so that we can make better purchases? So you can vote against the fast fashion and choose to buy less? “It is not only a question of price but also of art and craftsmanship,” he says. “If I had a magic wand and could improve the sector, I would like all of us to work together and not evaluate our companies only on the basis of profits. Just as we shouldn’t judge our students based on grades alone, so we shouldn’t use profit margin as the only indicator of a brand’s success. Human resources and art should be something we can all share, consumers and creatives. “
3.1 Phillip Lim, fall 2020
© Photo: Courtesy of 3.1 Phillip Lim