• BADLANDS

Fashion in Uniform: The Increasing Sameness of Couture

Updated: Dec 21, 2020

Back on September 9th, ultra-trendy Italian luxury company Fendi announced that the famed Kim Jones would be taking over Karl Lagerfeld's seat as head of womenswear, while also holding his place at Dior Men. And though Jones is lauded for his design work in the past and is an incredibly enticing creative director for the Italian maison, this appointment is yet another example of a growing problem that has emerged in couture: the sameness and uniformity of design.

Now every design house in Paris ~allegedly~ has a unique brand DNA, so you might find yourself wondering... what do you mean by uniformity? In my own humble opinion this is coming through in a few different ways but impacting fashion at large in one major way: preventing emerging creatives from putting their own stamp on the fashion industry. Whether it's a small select of designers heading all major houses, designers bringing the same work as they move house to house, or the so-called fashion leaders falling victim to all the same trends, fashion seems to be becoming more homogeneous by the day. And ultimately this uniformity is all in pursuit of profit.


"Whether it's a small select of designers heading all major houses, designers bringing the same work as they move house to house, or the so-called fashion leaders falling victim to all the same trends, fashion seems to be becoming more homogeneous by the day."


Let’s being with the aforementioned Mr. Jones. Anyone who vaguely knows fashion knows that one designer creative directing at multiple houses is not a novelty. In fact, Kim Jones has recently been compared to the late Lagerfeld that he’s replaced as Karl was notorious for working with Chloé, Fendi, Chanel, and a number of other lines including his own, overlapping between multiple during different time periods. Now aside from the fact that having the same designer at the helm of every house contributes to the blanding and uniformity of fashion as every designer has their signature look, this also feeds an already existing problem of precarity in the fashion industry. Instead of inviting in new up and coming designers to established houses to work with larger budgets and increased job security, infinite numbers of new designers are left out to dry from these maisons. Not only is it becoming more and more difficult as a young designer to find stable work, but this implies a drought of new creative ideas within the industry which can reshape fashion. Not to mention, new voices are not provided larger platforms through major maisons to spark change within this extremely problematic industry.



A second indication of fashion uniformity was the talk of fashion journalism back in 2018: the infamous recycling of YSL looks by designer Hedi Slimane at his first showing for Celine (accent not included). Notorious Diet Prada and journalists alike jumped to call out similarities, and straight copies between Slimane’s collections, which while perfectly legal, is just straight up bland. Sure, designers can be exhausted spitting out multiple massive collections per year, and sure they have their own personal style expressed through their designs, but can we as fashion consumers not expect a little more from the so-called tastemakers of fashion at large? And if it really comes down to tiring out our poor creative directors season after season, maybe it’s time for fashion to look in the mirror and realize what a human designer is really capable of and how many seasons we need to consumer per year to begin with. Fashion is about change à la pandemic after all, and while we need to experience this change at a responsible pace that aligns with sustainable consumption, it would be awfully nice to see just a little novelty when designers switch maisons with completely different brand DNAs.


"Fashion is about change à la pandemic after all, and while we need to experience this change at a responsible pace that aligns with sustainable consumption, it would be awfully nice to see just a little novelty when designers switch maisons with completely different brand DNAs."


Last but not least, let’s talk trend. Yes, to the fashion consumer looks often boil down to trend, and yes people have a tendency to want to dress just like those who they view as fashionable. It’s in our psyche to be a little uniform. But let’s not forget who we’re talking about again. This isn’t about you or I, this is about the big fashion tastemakers in Paris, the couturiers, the creative directors. And, in the pursuit of capitalist gain, it seems so many maisons are blinded by the temptress that is trendy details like logomania’s overarching presence at absolutely every major house. Trend is all well in good in some contexts, but I still really do think we can expect a little more from those who are supposedly “creating the fashion”. Does anyone want Dior, Chanel and YSL spitting out identical collections all for the sake of trend à la Zara and H&M? At the end of the day, this too, boils down to consumption, and while we have the personal choice to buy from unique creatives it would be nice to watch those at the top of the industry mix it up a little.



As fashion grows blander and blander (à la Julie Zerbo’s blanding of logos), will we ever see a spike in creativity again like that of the 1990s runway? Capitalism says no as the profitability of fashion houses takes increasing precedence these days. But then again, the world is changing… like a lot. COVID-19 influence on our values and consumption aside, younger buyers are more and more interested in individuality, newness, and supporting small and local creatives as well as “specialist” brands. This generation wants Telfar over Birkin. So, while consumption has led us down a path of boring and uniform collections, maybe just maybe this change in habits could lead us back towards supporting new fashion creatives once more.