Beauty & Shopping, International Fashion, Singapore Fashion

[Material World x Asia Fashion Summit] Help Us Understand Fashion, Please!

If you’re not a fashion industry insider, it can be hard to keep up with all the latest trends, designers, and other inner workings of the industry. Leading fashion commentator Colin McDowell and‘s Senior Trend Consultant Yvonne Kostiak clues us in. 

Yvonne Kostiak, Senior Trend Consultant at Trendstop

Yvonne Kostiak, Senior Trend Consultant at Trendstop

Yvonne Kostiak’s mother often jokes that her daughter “window shops for a living”. As a trend consultant, Kostiak’s job is to visit trade shows, preview events, key stores and European cities to predict upcoming fashion trends. 

We notice how there seems to be a similar theme across all designers at each fashion season. How are trends born? 

“One, trends could start very small, perhaps from a lesser-known designer, but it’ll eventually snowball into something bigger. Second, there could be a particular mood in our culture that comes through in art, films, music, and fashion. At the moment, there’s a big trend surrounding the idea of “comfort”. This comes from many influences, including greater equality between the two genders. Women are now more empowered to wear whatever they want (versus what society expects them to wear), so we’re seeing a lot more androgynous styles and cuts in fashion.

Also, Australian design and lifestyle is starting to become very big, probably due in part to more Australian models gaining prominence. Australian style is all about embracing a relaxed and bohemian lifestyle. This trend of laidback luxury can be seen in all the top designers’ work, including Karl Lagerfeld. For Chanel’s Autumn/Winter 2014 show in Paris, Lagerfeld transformed the runway into a “supermarket”, where the focus was on sleek, comfortable fashion you can wear while getting your groceries.”

How does this trend of “laidback luxury” translate to clothing? 

“We’re seeing a lot of voluminous trousers and bermuda-length shorts that are trans-seasonal, and suitable for both men and women. Designers are also exploring and re-imagining trainers (running shoes).”

Fashion is pretty personal though. How do I make outrageous runway designs work for my everyday life?

“Sometimes, following a trend is not about copying the entire outfit from the runway. It can be more subtle, like adopting the trend’s silhouette or print. Street style magazines and blogs are a good way to figure out how to make trends work for you.”

Colin McDowell (right), speaking with young London designer Thomas Tate at AFS 2014

Colin McDowell (right), speaking with London designer Thomas Tait at AFS 2014

With his booming voice and sparkling eloquence, Colin McDowell cuts an impressive figure. The industry veteran has over 30 years writing and talking about fashion, so who better to speak about this scintillating industry? 

What is it about fashion that gets people so excited?

“Fashion helps you change the perception of who you are. When you look into the mirror and you like what you see, it can be a major confidence booster.”

It seems to us that when people talk about fashion, they are really just spewing out designers’ names and brands. How can we look at fashion without coming across as a brand-obsessed wannabe?   

“People who name-drop just look stupid. Fashion is about personal style – knowing what works for you, both inside and out. Ask yourself, “How do I want to present myself to the world?” and work from there. When you’re confident in whatever you’re wearing, it doesn’t matter which label you’re wearing.”

Who does fashion better – magazines or the digital media?

“The digital world is growing stronger all the time. Magazines are expensive to produce and print readership is going down. I believe the digital world will win out eventually, simply because it’s easier and more convenient. That said, I also believe consumers still enjoy the experience of being able to interact with fashion. This is why brick-and-mortar fashion retail stores will always be around, despite the proliferation of online stores.”

The Asia Fashion Summit is organised by Textile & Fashion Federation (TaFf), and is a premier business conference that creates knowledge, provides and shares expert views on fashion topics that are important to fashion industry professionals in Asia. It’s on from today till 17 May 2014 at Suntec City Convention Centre.