CULTURE

Because they won’t let me!

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It’s a¬†new era in¬†fashion¬†‚ÄĒ there are no rules. It’s all about the¬†individual and¬†personal style, wearing high-end, low-end, classic labels, and¬†up-and-coming designers all together. ‚ÄĒ Alexander McQueen

After reading this lovely quote you’ll¬†probably believe the fashion industry is a wonderful creative land¬†where all up and coming and established executives, manufacturers, creative directors, merchandisers and retailers work in perfect harmony in the name of¬†great style. That is, until one decided speak about his experience.

This is an¬†extract from an¬†interview on¬†the¬†radio talk show “Sway in¬†the¬†Morning”.

– “I‚Äôm just trying to¬†understand. You have the¬†money, you have the¬†fame and¬†you have the¬†resources. Why don’t you do it yourself?”
– “Because they won’t let me! I’m not trying to¬†just design graphic tees. We’re passed that stage and¬†that’s as¬†far as¬†they are letting me go!
“I’m just trying to understand…”
“You don’t have the¬†answers Swayyy”.

The¬†person being interviewed was the¬†one and¬†only Kanye West aka Mr. West, Ye, Yeezus, Louis Vuitton Don, Konman. The founder of the music label Good Music (Getting Out Our Dreams), winner of 21 Grammy awards and the list goes on.¬†Throughout the¬†whole interview I¬†wondered who “they” were and why Mr. West was so angry at them. Well, until he dropped a¬†few names…

Let‚Äôs get this clear before we find out who ‚Äúthey‚ÄĚ actually are. We’ve been told so many times that fashion is the¬†best way to¬†express ourselves. Let us all agree that fashion first and¬†foremost is a¬†business. Most, if not all, fashion companies are for-profit entities. Their goal is to¬†sell as¬†much¬†product as possible to¬†as¬†many people as¬†possible.¬†To¬†achieve this simple business goal, diversifying their offerings seems to be the¬†most lucrative for¬†most. We might be familiar with this approach, especially in¬†the¬†US, from¬†brands such as¬†Old Navy, Gap and¬†Banana Republic. All owned by¬†Gap Inc.¬†They all sell similar products with prices ranging from $20 for¬†a¬†pair of¬†jeans,¬†to¬†$69, and up to¬†$98, respectively.¬†The¬†profits all go back to¬†the¬†same parent company, but all 3 brands have very different markets. Even though it¬†may not be so obvious, the¬†same happens in¬†the¬†luxury and¬†ultra-luxe markets,¬†but on¬†a¬†much larger scale. At¬†that level, the¬†parent companies, known as¬†conglomerates,¬†have a¬†much¬†wider and¬†deeper reach which makes it extremely difficult if not impossible for¬†the¬†competition to¬†get a¬†piece of¬†the¬†pie without their blessing.

“They” are Bernard Arnaud,¬†Francois Pinault and¬†Johann Rupert.¬†There are a¬†few more names that could be included but let’s¬†focus to¬†these three, the¬†luxury fashion trinity as¬†I¬†refer to¬†them.

Sometimes people think or¬†act like they’re wearing the¬†best of the best because they wear¬†Louis Vuitton as¬†opposed to¬†Fendi or¬†Alexander McQueen as¬†opposed to¬†Gucci or maybe Cartier as opposed to¬†Montblanc. But that’s without knowing that either way Bernard, Francois or Johann are the¬†ones walking to¬†the bank in¬†style.¬†¬†It’s like drinking Sprite because Coke is beneath you. Sprite is made by Coca-Cola. Here are some not so public and obvious relationships that most may have not been aware of.

[bscolumns class=”one_third”]

Image: TNTN PhotosBernard Arnaud
(+ read more…)[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”one_third”]

Image: Journal du NetFrançois Pineault
(+ read more…)[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”one_third_last”]

Image: City PressJohann Rupert
¬†(+ read more…)[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”clear”][/bscolumns]

As¬†you can see “they” control, own and¬†rule the¬†luxury goods industry from New York to¬†Paris, to Milan and¬†Hong Kong (I’ve purposely left out London since I¬†feel that market is a¬†bit different. I’m actually wearing my¬†Church’s on¬†this lovely Sunday while writing this).¬†I¬†know that’s neither here nor there.¬†We’re here to¬†find the¬†answers for¬†Sway, right?

During the¬†interview¬†Kanye was mostly complaining about the¬†fact that those men¬†in¬†their quest to¬†make as much profit and gain as much power as possible¬†are¬†taking a¬†lot away from what fashion was intended to¬†be: an extension of someone’s character through what they wear.¬†Arnaud, Pineault and Rupert¬†show very little interest in¬†creativity and¬†innovation and, unfortunately¬†they¬†are also depriving the¬†designers of¬†their independence and¬†creative freedom. They use their omnipresence and¬†power to impose their wishes and influence everything that happens¬†in¬†their industries of¬†interest. This is done by¬†delaying release dates, inflating prices, controlling the¬†supply and distribution of¬†the¬†best materials, restricting access to manufacturers etc. And let’s not forget keeping newcomers away from the¬†throne by any other means necessary. You can be a¬†talented designer, a master tailor or an¬†iconic figure¬†with the¬†ability to¬†sell $4500 sneakers and¬†still be kept on¬†the¬†sidelines as¬†a¬†small contributor.

Kanye West is making some of¬†these companies shit loads of¬†money just by¬†giving his endorsement, so why is he being locked out?¬†POWER!¬†Power, is what the¬†luxury fashion trinity is holding on¬†to¬†so dearly, probably because their ego and competitive nature won’t let them. It’s all about getting on top and staying there. As Kanye said in one of his songs ‚ÄúThey don‚Äôt have the¬†power to¬†let power go‚ÄĚ. So,¬†if you want to¬†play in¬†this members only club, you’re going to¬†have to¬†push, fight and¬†scream your way in, and¬†sometimes even that won‚Äôt work. Your passion, skills, education and¬†your great reputation won‚Äôt cut it (pun intended)!¬†But if you’re lucky, it might get you and¬†your boys an¬†internship at¬†Fendi.

For¬†most of us, that price to¬†pay to earn the respect and be considered as one of the best is just way too high or¬†simply not worth it, but to some, it‚Äôs all about following your dreams¬†until¬†they become your reality.¬†You‚Äôll end up being called crazy, self-centered, greedy or¬†even¬†egomaniac during the process, but for¬†Kanye, that’s just another day being Kanye! A man ahead of his time, doing what has never been done,¬†going places others will never dare to go and proudly¬†opening new doors for generations to come.

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