Changing Perspectives Of Denim Design Post Covid ; Key Takeaways

Last week Denimsandjeans held a webinar where some of the leading designers spoke to Sandeep Agarwal about the “Changing perspectives of denim designing post covid”.

The panelists include :
1) Vildan Altun Seylan – Senior Designer at LC Waikiki
2) Townonda Vaughns – Ex Design Head, Espirit
3) Ikeme Audrey Eshemokhai – Denim Specialist
4) Daria Martelli – Head of Men’s Design at Pepe
5) Joann Lee – Working as Designer at a Global Premium Denim Brand.
6) Valter Filipponi – Senior Denim & Men’s Wear Designer at GUESS EMEA

All the panelists were of the view that there has to be a kind of reset of the ways that the industry has been working on specially with huge wastage and long planning for products which remain unsold. Panelists also felt that sustainability is useless unless the human element is considered . Besides all accepted the strong challenges to designing that are coming up due to Covid and all mentioned how they are individually adjusting to the situation . 

Daria Martelli

Daria Martelli

Daria was emphatic that we need to change and adopt new ways . However, she did not feel life going out of designing. She felt there will be more changes on features and functions and less on aesthetics. She mentioned : 

“Fashion is always how people express their feelings.. People are spending  more time at home – so comfort is more important. More functional changes are expected to come in denim with health aspects becoming important.

Anti microbial and other health properties will become important. There are also talks of producing locally – but I think we should not rush from one extreme to another extreme because we have invested so much in our supply chains in Asia and we cannot take all of it out all of a sudden. “

On challenges for designing she said :

“We have to find a way to find a way to express ourselves . When we start designing , we have also to think what is going to be the end the garment. Will it be recycled ?” 

On Seasonless designing she said :

“Seasonless does mean that the calendar set by fashion industry can be avoided . However , it does not mean that everything will be plain, does not mean there will be no romance or companies will lose their DNA . We just do it in a different way with more value. “

Valter Filipponi

Valter Filipponi

Valter felt that he was missing a lot due to this crisis . He also felt a complete rethink was necessary :

“Technology , digital approach to design , anti microbial designs are all very good. For me , there is a big opportunity for the fashion system to just stop and think about what we have been doing till now and not to make the same mistakes again and again.

Its time to stop and rethink the system from the beginning. Its not just a matter of design . We have to start thinking of how to RE Think this industry. And that’s the biggest challenge. We should DO LESS AND DO BETTER. And this has to come from the top Mgt. Another important thing is to Manufacture Locally  to rebuild local economy . “

He really felt that it was difficult for designer to be creative in front of a computer :
“I miss completely the touch , feel and smell of  the product . Also a question arises whether a designer can be creative by staying at home . I want to be back to normality and real life as soon as possible. “

On season less he felt that
“In denim seasonless could be easier because you can use 12oz denim for 4 season with different washes but it would be difficult to explain to investors.”

Ikeme Audrey Eshemokhai

Ikeme Audrey Eshemokhai

Ikeme spoke about effect on product development

“Covid has accelerated lot of fabric development which were already there specially on various kinds of health and wellness finishes. In terms of manufacturing, there will be a lot of near-shoring . Another important point would be to decide what to do with all these inventories that are there. “

About seasonality , fashion speed etc she said

“Season-less clothing would definitely be more important . People were already spending less money on clothing before Covid happened. Some categories like outerwear already had problems as summers extended into winters and winters extended into summers. “

“People have been talking for years that our business model is outdated. Eg some brands are already putting Coats into the stores as early as May / June – which does not make any sense . People are talking about SLOW FASHION but I think everything will speed up . “

“Brands are going to focus on their core products which have to be in the stores all the time and there are going to be more capsule collections with kind of On demand production . Massive focus on 3D softwares which is very cost effective. Brands are looking at ways to re appropriate existing inventories . “

She also mentioned that
“Value of garment should also be reflected on price.  There is a huge margin pressure on the brands . Eg they are looking for much better finishes in terms of anti microbials, graphene etc but not really ready to pay extra for that. “
“It is Difficult to design remotely . 
Season-less collections should have been happening before Covid. Probably it has to be more layered clothing. More capsules will come which you can layer out with core products. Everything was speeded up by fast fashion retailers because they were copying so fast that the high value brands had to follow and bring more designs quicker. “

Joanne Lee

Joanne Lee

She stressed about 3D and digital technologies becoming very important

“Radical changes expected are expected in the ways we work . Digital 3D softwares will become important. Fashion schedules are going to change , priorities are going to change, company initiatives are going to change. Sampling will be done with 3D prototypes..  “

She also mentioned about how her efficiency is improving at home

“Working from home has helped me improve my work, helped me design in a different way. “

“Brands need to be more decisive about their final products and not add / remove at last moment. Designers need to adapt to digital designing. “

She also stressed that Clothing should not be defined by a season and should have much longer shelf life. 

Townonda Vaughns

Townonda Vaughns

Towonda asked the industry to realize the problems that were already there

“We have to recognize problems before Covid. Covid brought everything to the surface. Massive amount of inventories and money lost due to that makes us realize that we have overdoing it . We have to go digital, 3D technologies will become important , AR  etc will become very important. Collections will have too much smaller with durable fabrics and make products that last longer. Offer products which are more democratic.”

“We have to minimize fabric assortments – pick good qualities with great constructions on which we can do sustainable washes. Payment terms also becomes a very important aspect to ensure that the producer gets paid. There may also be  a situation where factories may like to chose the brands they would like work with . “

She felt designers will need to adapt:

“I feel now I am learning a whole new language – specially the 3D aspects. My travel will now much more restricted  . However, I will not stop going to laundries or factories  . Will try to get much more done in one trip at factory level to avoid sending garments back and forth. Would look for 360 degree relations with factories. Long relation with factories will help me to trust their decisions as they know my taste .

“We should be careful about throwing the word Season-less around. I want to know more what exactly this word means. Same goes with the word ‘Sustainability’ – which was misused. “

Vildan Altun Seylan

Vildan Altun Seylan

She felt that Lounge wear and home wear products with relaxed wearing and soft touches with relaxed fits will be important with preference for sizeless garments.

“ Wellness technologies , water resistant, stain resistant , skin friendly garments will be very useful . Sustainability becomes much more important than before. Another thing which is new is natural dyed fabric on denim fabric combination . Usage of silver and gold and carbon for various kinds of finishes in denim would become important because of anti microbial and anti viral properties . “

She also spoke of SLOW FASHION and that will also address issues of sustainability . 

“Seasonless main concept has to be  ‘Buy less and Use more ‘ . Slow fashion is also becoming very important. “

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