>DUCKIE BROWN s/s2011: Fashion Vs. Clothes, Post #1

14 Sep

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TEXT, VIVIAN KELLY

My interview with Daniel Silver and Steven Cox got me thinking about an issue that is terribly important to the fashion community – fashion vs. clothes.
How then, does one make the distinction? I decided to base the rest of this fashion week asking designers what THEY think.
First-up: Duckie Brown’s Daniel Silver and Steven Cox.

Although Daniel and Silver work together brilliantly to produce season after season of clothes that continue to inspire us AND SELL, they are divided on this issue.

Blame it on the Fashion Calendar.
The two designers disagreed over the question I posed pre-show backstage. Waving the thick sheaf of pages at them I volleyed a barrage of questions at Daniel, “Why is the FC so crowded? Is it good or bad? Who are you hoping will buy your designs in this time of economic turmoil?”
Although I directed the query at Daniel, Steven was listening and also jumped into what resulted in a lively conversation on this topic.

DANIEL: What we’re seeing here [pointing to the FC] is the democratization of fashion. It’s become a media circus. There’s a tidal wave of bloggers and designers; everyone can do it and everyone has a chance, it’s very democratic.

STEVEN: I disagree, call me a snob, but fashion should be aspirational. There’s sportswear, and there’s fashion. Think back to those shows at Dior, in the fifties. Entry was limited only to the select few, and there was a sense of ceremony to the whole thing, versus what we have now – which is this. And, by the way, that’s the most interesting question we’ve been asked this morning.

One thing they both agree on is that they [Duckie Brown] make fashion, not sportswear and they do NOT like to be compared to multi-billion dollar sportswear khakis that knock-out uninspired khakis season after season.
Does this though, mean that by taking the road less travelled, that they won’t make any money?

Says Daniel, “When people ask me how we’re doing, I tell them, ‘Well, we’ll still here, and we’re still in business’.”

As far as knowing who their customer is, they’re crystal clear on that point. As my former editor, Jim Zebora, now the Regional Business Editor for Hearst, posited, the Asian Market is hungry for and appreciates fashion.
Continues Daniel, “The Japanese have saved us. Going back to the question regarding the overly crowded show schedule, what’s interesting is to know who on that list will still be here in nine years.”

As Daniel and Steven promised, we came to see fashion, and fashion is what we saw. Presentation is part of the packaging that makes it fashion not just a bunch of clothes buyers are deciding they will or won’t buy.
Upon entering the show venue, I was confounded by the empty bleachers that made up an entire half of the show venue. A FULL ONE HALF of the venue was occupied by empty bleachers, replacing seats and leaving many fashion hopefuls outside in the standing line having to content themselves with watching this remarkable show on the HD Screens in the lobby.
The models walked down the runway and then went and posed on the bleachers. This blatant “waste” of space was as effective a device as when fashion companies buy ad space in hyper expensive glossies and then use one of the pages as pure white space. IT’s a colossal gesture and an effective one.
In the case of the Duckie Brown show, it was particularly jolting as only 15 minutes earlier, Daniel had told me that they’ve “never had the flood of requests [they] were inundated with this season.”
That aside, it was the best of both worlds, a runway show and presentation wrapped into one. The clothes are for the man who wants to be on the razor’s edge of what’s cool. That translated to easy dove gray long shorts, blousy tops, linen tunics and some ikat print pieces and a flash of color as in a bright green pant. Gant, Tommy or Nautica, it’s not.

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