July 22, 2024

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What Fashion Designers Need to Know Today

Discover the most relevant industry news and insights for fashion designers, updated each month to enable you to excel in job interviews, promotion conversations or perform better in the workplace by increasing your market awareness and emulating market leaders.

BoF Careers distils business intelligence from across the breadth of our content — editorial briefings, newsletters, case studies, podcasts and events — to deliver key takeaways and learnings tailored to your job function, listed alongside a selection of the most exciting live jobs advertised by BoF Careers partners.

Key articles and need-to-know insights for fashion designers today:

1. Chanel Designer Virginie Viard to Exit the Brand

Virginie Viard is leaving Chanel.
Virginie Viard is leaving Chanel. (Getty Images)

Creative director Virginie Viard is set to exit Chanel, the company confirmed to BoF. A new creative organisation “will be announced in due course,” Chanel said. Viard, a longtime deputy of Karl Lagerfeld who first joined the house in 1987, took over as artistic director for fashion collections following the German designer’s 2019 death. Ready-to-wear sales have grown by a factor of 2.5 over 2018 levels, according to Chanel, as the designer carried on Lagerfeld’s legacy while subtly re-tailoring signature items like $20,000 tweed jackets with a lighter, more supple silhouette.

But if the brand maintained its position as a go-to uniform for wealthy women, from birthday dinners to the boardroom, the authority of its runway shows and the high-flying fabulosity of its marketing both seemed to wane. Once untouchable, Chanel became a target for complaints online, both for its runway and red-carpet styling and for the quality of its products as prices soared. Regardless, Viard’s exit is sure to intensify speculation on who might replace her.

Related Jobs:

Freelance Women’s Leather Goods Designer, Paul Smith — London, United Kingdom

Senior Designer, Holzweiler — Oslo, Norway

Women’s RTW Designer, Coach — New York, United States

2. Bridal Gets Its Gen-Z Overhaul

Five people with their heads out of frame wearing wedding dresses
Ssense launched its second “anti-bridal” edit last month. (Adam Powell)

Millennial and Gen-Z brides-to-be like are no longer shopping for just a wedding dress, but an entire wedding wardrobe for pre- and post-wedding events. That breadth is propelling the global bridal wear market, which is projected to grow at a rate of 3.5 percent annually and is expected to reach $83.5 billion by 2030, according to the Global Bridal Wear Market Industry report.

Emerging brands and designers such as Jacquemus, Collina Strada and Sandy Liang, and retailers like Ssense and Asos, are looking to cash in by offering unexpected wedding attire, such as suit dresses and baggy trousers, as part of their core assortment. “The bridal industry is very much like an old boys’ club. They live by ‘If it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ and are very comfortable with the limited options that they’ve given you,” said Caroline Crawford Patterson, a bridal stylist and designer. “What they don’t realise is that the consumer is different and there’s a big opportunity to shake things up.”

Related Jobs:

Design Admin Assistant, House of CB — London, United Kingdom

Designer, Gucci — Milan, Italy

Junior Womenswear Evening Designer, Mac Duggal — Chicago, United States

3. Calvin Klein Returns to the Runway

Veronica Leoni Named Creative Director  at Calvin Klein Collection.
Veronica Leoni Named Creative Director at Calvin Klein Collection. (Collier Schorr)

Calvin Klein is bringing back its runway collection, tapping The Row’s former design director and Quira founder Veronica Leoni as creative director — the latest in a series of moves intended to revitalise the American brand. Leoni’s first collection for Calvin Klein — which hasn’t had a creative director or staged a runway show since Raf Simons departed in 2018 — will land for Fall 2025.

In a statement, owner PVH said reviving Calvin Klein’s premium “Collection” line under Leoni “marks one of the most important [in its] series of strategic steps” to revive heat around the brand. After all, the company has long struggled to sustain momentum beyond its bread-and-butter underwear line. While revenues inched up during a lengthy push to refocus on direct-to-consumer channels, the brand has had to navigate the decline of many US department stores and outlet malls, as well as challenges in the premium denim segment worldwide.

Related Jobs:

Men’s RTW Designer, Amiri — Milan, Italy

Designer, Vetements — Zurich, Switzerland

Design Studio Manager, Camilla — Sydney, Australia

4. Will Dover Street Market’s Big Bet on Independent Fashion Pay Off?

An art installation in a courtyard
A Paolo Roversi x Comme des Garçons installation welcomes visitors at Dover Street Market’s new Paris outpost. (Courtesy)

In Paris, a city already saturated with luxury boutiques and department store corners, Dover Street Market (DSM) has broken away from the concession model, leaning further than ever into the risky business of selling its own buy of ready-to-wear from indie labels. With global luxury names and sportstyle sneakers taking up just a fraction of the space, DSM’s Paris location sees the retailer leaning more heavily than ever into niche fashion at a time when the outlook for independent labels and the multi-brand retailers who sell them is increasingly dim.

“The hunger for [independent fashion] for sure is out there — I feel it,” said Adrian Joffe, president of DSM. The biggest challenge facing small designer brands is that “they haven’t got the platform — it’s as simple as that,” he continued. “Stores and showrooms cost money, so where are they supposed to show their things except social media? How do they gain a position in a very busy world?”

Related Jobs:

Designer, Sahara — London, United Kingdom

Senior Designer, Christian Wijnants — Antwerp, Belgium

Associate Technical Designer, Staud — Los Angeles, United States

5. The Rise of Sportswear’s Challenger Brands, in Four Charts

Athlete runs in On
On is one of a cluster of fast-growing sportswear labels taking significant market share from the likes of Nike, Adidas and Puma. (Courtesy)

The sportswear market is increasingly split into two camps. On one side are the incumbents: household names like Nike, Adidas, Puma and Under Armour, with global name recognition built over decades, and sales to match. On the other side are the challengers: a cluster of sportswear brands angling to take their place alongside – or instead of – the incumbents. This group includes newer names such as On and Hoka, but also brands like Salomon, which traces its roots back to the mid-twentieth century but has only recently become a household name.

Between 2021 and 2023, revenue at 13 challenger brands tracked by the bank rose by an average annual rate of 29 percent, to the incumbents’ 8 percent. RBC projects that the challengers will continue to outperform their more established rivals, growing at an 11 percent annual average rate between 2023 and 2026, compared to the incumbents’ 5 percent growth rate. Brands like On, Hoka, Salomon and Arc’teryx have spotted underserved niches, whether it was new sneaker styles or niche sports where they could capture consumers’ imaginations with new technologies and hyper-focused marketing.

Related Jobs:

Designer Specialist, AWWG — London, United Kingdom

Lead Colour & Materials Designer, On — Zurich, Switzerland

Associate Designer, Calvin Klein — New York, United States

6. The Existential Threat to Independent Brands

Dion Lee Spring Summer 2024
Dion Lee called in administrators this week. (Spotlight/Launchmetrics.com)

In May, The Vampire’s Wife — purveyor of gothic-glam prairie dresses beloved by Kate Middleton and Florence Welch — said it was closing after a decade in business. In the same week, Dion Lee, the 15-year-old Australian label that has dressed Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa, had called in administrators. The news came only days after New York-based designer Mara Hoffman said she was shuttering her label after 24 years in business and London designer Roksanda Ilinčić’s namesake label narrowly escaped administration after finding “white knight” investor The Brand Group.

A slowing luxury market is putting significant pressure on fashion businesses big and small. Even the likes of LVMH are being hit hard. But independent labels, most of which depend on third-party retailers for distribution, are also facing turmoil in the wholesale market. In particular, the recent implosion of key stockist Matchesfashion, which was put into administration by new owner Frasers Group in March, has left small brands reeling. Many are out of pocket for orders already shipped before the e-tailer went into administration. According to filings, The Vampire’s Wife and Roksanda are owed £32,000 and £9,000, respectively.

Related Jobs:

Senior Print Designer, Erdem — London, United Kingdom

Handbag Designer, Kate Spade — New York, United States

Senior Fashion Designer, Nagnata — Byron Bay/Sydney, Australia

7. How to Grow a Fashion Brand Without Trashing the Planet

Puma has succeeded in curbing in planet-warming emissions while still growing sales.
Puma has succeeded in curbing in planet-warming emissions while still growing sales. (Puma via Instagram)

To achieve hard-earned emissions reductions, Puma has deployed a comprehensive array of initiatives. Nearly all of the company’s cotton and leather now fall under some form of sustainability certification and almost two thirds of its polyester is recycled. As a result, raw material emissions have halved since 2017. Fast but polluting air freight is now used for fewer than one percent of shipments — a move that’s helped offset the impact of increased e-commerce deliveries. And the company is working in close collaboration with suppliers to support their decarbonisation targets.

More specifically, Puma has established targets that are measurable, discrete, transparent and time bound. They are rooted in science and established in consultation with a range of stakeholders. The company has robust sourcing policies in place that reflect current best practice, including commitments to pay suppliers on time and in full. Unlike most competitors, Puma publishes updates on how well it lives up to those standards. Last year, for example, it cancelled less than one percent of its orders and paid for all associated liabilities. Close to half the company’s suppliers have been with the brand for more than a decade.

Related Jobs:

Footwear Designer, Fred Perry — London, United Kingdom

Product Development Merchandiser, Carhartt WIP — Basel, Switzerland

Assistant Handbag Designer, Tommy Hilfiger — New York, United States

8. UK Clothing Sales to EU Plummet as Brexit Red Tape Deters Exporters

Illustration by BoF
Illustration by BoF Many of the worst affected were small and medium-sized businesses, which faced a larger relative burden from red tape than multinational firms. (Illustration by BoF)

Exports of clothing and footwear sold to EU countries from the UK have fallen from £7.4 billion ($9.7 billon) in 2019 to £2.7 billion ($3.4 billion) in 2023, helping fuel an 18 percent slump in sales of all non-food goods exports to countries covered by the EU single market, according to a report by the consultancy Retail Economics and online marketplace Tradebyte. The report said the decline meant British brands and retailers have seen sales to the EU plummet since Brexit, despite a flourishing European e-commerce market.

Many of the worst affected were small and medium-sized businesses, which faced a larger relative burden from red tape than multinational firms. Red tape has forced many producers making apparel in the UK to move manufacturing to an EU country, at a cost to UK skills and jobs. In one instance a sock-maker based in Leicester, which declined to be named, has shifted production to Italy, ending more than 100 years of manufacturing in the east Midlands, Lim said. The UK has also failed to benefit from a boom in online goods sales in the EU since 2019, the authors suggest.

Related Jobs:

Head of Design, Rat & Boa — Hybrid/London, United Kingdom

Footwear & Accessories Designer, Tempe — Alicante, Spain

Senior Outerwear Designer, Hugo Boss — Metzingen, Germany

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