The new generation of talent in the fashion world is contributing to the evolution of the industry. This past year and a half of pandemic experience has led everyone to reflect. In my line of work, I am always in contact with young students and designers, and during this time I have interacted with them even more than usual. The new generation is certainly the one that has been most affected by this situation, but it is also the one that has been able to best react to it. This generation has a desire to act, to make changes. Talking with the designers, although they have gone through a very difficult time and had to find a way to reinvent themselves, I was most surprised to see how they have found new potential and ways to express themselves. In the last couple of years, a new generation of talent has emerged: it’s been a long time since something like this has happened. What I felt like saying to them is that now they really have the power to change things and to avoid being subjected to certain mechanisms that “had to” be followed until now. What we are living is, for the new generation of creatives, a moment of great creativity, growth and great opportunities. Obviously, all this becomes possible when you receive support, from the media (as in my case) for example, from the institutions or from the “system”. Doing everything completely on your own is impossible today, not because designers lack the skills, but because they have to deal with a system that is complicated in itself. The desire for change is there, and I am very optimistic about that, yet it is not always easy to achieve everything you want.
Most of the new generation of designers (at least 80%) are working in the direction of social, community and production responsibility. I prefer to talk about “responsibility” rather than “sustainability” because the word “responsibility” encompasses a broader horizon, which also includes safeguarding the Planet, communities, and small craft businesses (such as artisans and tailors) that have been forgotten for too long. This new wave of creatives, on the other hand, and I’m talking about both Italian and international realities, wants to have its say and convey concrete messages, and not just idealistic ones. We are therefore in a moment of great ferment… I believe we can only continue in this direction with a system of work and exchange. We can no longer only look at our own “backyard”, we must help each other. We must create synergies as these can lead to beautiful results. I’m optimistic because the desire for change is there, even if the system maintains some of its strongholds, which are hard to change. Just think of the large companies that are questioning themselves, after realising that they may have been wrong all along. It is time for them too to get back in the game, looking to the future.
Creating a collection and having the right contacts (I’m simplifying it, it’s really not that automatic) is far from sufficient to be successful nowadays. Today, the moment you decide to make something of yourself, you have to create something that will leave a mark in the world, or that will send out a positive message of change. It is no longer enough to do things just for yourself. Storytelling, which has been talked about a lot recently, has to be done not only on social media. You have to put your face out there, show what’s going on in your life, show that you believe in what you are doing. The message of authenticity and inclusion, has to come through.
Especially today, a moment in which our society is experiencing great battles, on all fronts. The issues of inclusiveness and diversity immediately come to mind. Two words that I admit with great sincerity I do not like to use very much. Certainly, at the heart of the debate lies the issue of people’s rights, at 360 degrees: I believe that the awareness that everyone should have the right to access the same opportunities has finally matured.
Then there are issues of external origins… The main need of the new-generation talent is to be heard. This is why Vogue Talents was created, to create a platform for inclusion. Obviously, there has to be a selection, choices have to be made, but a message has to get through. We must be committed to listening to them and giving them feedback, so that they can build something. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, a strong will to build is key. It takes time and lot of work and passion. What I try to do, to the best of my ability, is to make the big brands and authorities aware that we are all meant to pass. And what’s ideal, in this passage, is to leave something behind … This is the main necessity. The other thing, speaking for Italy, is to be recognised, because there is a whole new generation of creatives who are not listened to or considered. So, the aim is to give them more voice.
Then there is the burning commercial issue… The real problem, for a “young” brand, is that there is always the lingering belief that if you are not known you cannot have the same prices as an established brand. This is understandable, but it is also true that even a young brand can have all the credentials to have an excellent product quality and consequently sell products at a high cost. So, to get out of this impasse, what I recommend young brands to do, is to segment the product and try to understand if there is something that can be eliminated in order to lower costs. You don’t have to lower the quality to lower the costs, but simply sometimes you have to review some details. Again, these talents need to help, support and guidance. Because some of them have the experience and know what it takes to make a quality product at the right cost. Other, instead, are self-taught and inexperienced, so the notorious “system” is necessary to help and guide them. Of course, it goes without saying that the “name” makes a difference, but you have to start somewhere…
However, the characteristic that strikes me most in a talent competition is its authenticity, and by authenticity, I mean being humble, being conscious of who you are, always having your feet firmly planted on the ground. And remaining faithful to your vision and yourself, without being influenced too much. Mistakes, on the other hand, are the best thing that can happen in order to improve oneself.