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What Fashion Designers Need to Know Today

Laveta Brigham

Discover the most relevant industry news and insights for fashion designers, updated each month to enable you to excel in job interviews, promotion conversations or perform better in the workplace by increasing your market awareness and emulating market leaders. BoF Careers distils business intelligence from across the breadth of our […]

Discover the most relevant industry news and insights for fashion designers, updated each month to enable you to excel in job interviews, promotion conversations or perform better in the workplace by increasing your market awareness and emulating market leaders.

BoF Careers distils business intelligence from across the breadth of our content — editorial briefings, newsletters, case studies, podcasts and events — to deliver key takeaways and learnings tailored to your job function, listed alongside a selection of the most exciting live jobs advertised by BoF Careers partners.

Key articles and need-to-know insights for fashion designers today:

1. The Business of Gucci’s Designer Debut

Sabato De Sarno made his Gucci debut.

A narrative of youthful, street-smart style came across clearly in Sabato De Sarno’s debut show for Gucci at Milan Fashion Week, despite having to move the proceedings from the buzzing streets of Brera to an unadorned concrete show space under threat of rain. In his first-ever collection as creative director (he previously designed ready-to-wear collections at Valentino under Pierpaolo Piccioli) De Sarno introduced a core wardrobe that will be easy for contemporary women to imagine themselves wearing.

Sartorial, menswear-inspired overcoats were styled with mini-shorts and chunky jewellery, appearing alongside sexy crochet ensembles, sparkling birthday-girl dresses and items as plain as a perfect grey zip-up. At a brand known for bold aesthetic bets, De Sarno’s biggest provocation was a refusal to feed the attention economy’s appetite for extravagant design. Still, the collection was focused and assertive, debunking speculation that the brand would become the latest to jump on the “quiet luxury” bandwagon (a discourse fuelled by TikTok and a post-pandemic fatigue with overt branding).

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Womenswear Designer, Self-Portrait — London, United Kingdom

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2. Paris Day Three: The Power of Memories at Dries Van Noten and Undercover

Undercover Spring/Summer 2024

Chinos, denim, stripes (banker, racing, rugby) … welcome to the real world of Dries Van Noten’s Spring ‘24 runway. Normal clothes, he called them. Wear them every day. Throw them in the washing machine. And no embellishment. As straightforward as the cotton twill coat and matching kick pleated skirt that opened the show. “But we didn’t want to make normal clothes,” Van Noten continued. “So everything had to be shrunken or really oversized.” And when there was embellishment, it had to be an unexpected all-or-nothing.

Jun Takahashi at Undercover excels at making similarly umbilical connections between the clothes he shows and the context he creates for them. He thought of the show he presented at Paris Fashion Week as a requiem, an homage to all the people he’s lost who were close to him. Inevitably, the mood was melancholy, but gorgeously, indulgently so. The individual pieces were recognisable as coats, dresses, jackets, trousers, skirts and shorts, but they were cut from layers of sheer fabric, or veiled in ways that subtly blurred the details, like the veils on the faces of the models.

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Menswear Designer, Tommy Hilfiger — Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Design Director, Calvin Klein — New York, United States

Senior Fashion Designer, Love Bonito — Singapore, Singapore

3. Why Mansur Gavriel Is Sticking With the Bucket Bag

Mansur Gavriel bags being modeled.

This month, New York-based Mansur Gavriel staged its first presentation since 2019. The collection did not feature any new products. Instead, it highlighted the label’s best-sellers from the past decade, including its circle satchel and once-viral drawstring bucket bag. As Mansur Gavriel charts its next chapter, the brand under new CEO Maria Borromeo will focus on profitability and allow the namesake designers Mansur and Gavriel to take creative reign again.

In the years following the pandemic, Mansur Gavriel’s product offering got muddled, according to Borromeo. “There was a shift in business strategy that took the brand into a more trend-focused era,” she said. “We want to get away from the cycle of creating newness for the sake of it.” Instead, Borromeo plans to reduce the overall number of styles as well as the volume of each SKU, a strategy that will also help the company avoid excess inventory. The quality has not changed, according to the founders: The brand still works with the same tanneries as it had 10 years ago.

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Womens Accessories Designer, Hugo Boss — Coldrerio, Switzerland

Footwear Design Director, Kate Spade — New York, United States

Handbag Designer, Tory Burch — New York, United States

4. What’s Next for Fashion’s Most Controversial Sustainability Tool?

View of ecologic yarns made of used clothes piled together.

A third-party report commissioned by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition has concluded that its widely used material impact assessment should not be used on its own. The review lays out a series of recommendations for the SAC, which is seeking to restore confidence in its suite of Higg sustainability tools after they got caught in a greenwashing crackdown last year. The SAC said it is already working to implement the recommendations, but exactly how fashion’s sustainability impact should be defined and measured remains the subject of complex and heated debate.

In 2021, the SAC began encouraging its 250-plus members to place sustainability ratings on their products, using its Higg tools. But the consumer-facing labels attracted fresh scrutiny to the Materials Sustainability Index (MSI), which had long faced criticism — both internally and externally. In response, the SAC suspended the consumer-facing programme, announced plans to double down on data collection and commissioned a third-party review, the results of which were published this month.

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Assistant Designer, Next — Leicester, United Kingdom

Senior Knitwear Designer, Massimo Dutti — Barcelona, Spain

Designer — Nike, PVH — New York, United States

5. Sarah Burton is Departing Alexander McQueen

Sarah Burton at the end of the Alexander McQueen show at Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2016.

Sarah Burton — Alexander McQueen’s long-standing creative director and former right-hand of late founder Lee McQueen — is parting ways with the Kering-owned house, the company said in a statement. McQueen’s September show during Paris Fashion Week was her final outing for the house. Her successor is set to be announced “in due course,” the company said. Burton’s departure follows an executive reshuffle at McQueen: previous CEO Emmanuel Gintzburger left for Capri-owned Versace last year, and was replaced by Gianfillippo Testa, a former retail executive at Kering flagship Gucci.

McQueen’s sales surged ahead of the pandemic, powered by a streak of buzzier-than-usual shows by Burton and a hit product in the form of its thick-soled, €500 sneakers. In 2018, Kering flagged plans to invest heavily in further developing McQueen, which was then the group’s fastest-growing brand.

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Womenswear Designer, Maison Margiela — Paris, France

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Head Designer Menswear, Smithe Studios — Los Angeles, United States

6. Why Puma Sees a Future in Virtual Products, Despite the NFT Bust

A giant Puma sneaker floats in the middle of a futuristic virtual world.

For Puma, embracing the virtual world has been a learning experience. A year ago, during New York Fashion Week, it introduced Black Station, a 3D online space to showcase new products and ideas that Puma used to launch two new sneakers, the NFRNO and Fastroid, the physical versions of which buyers could only claim after purchasing corresponding limited-edition NFTs. Since Black Station’s launch, the NFT market, which was already struggling, has all but disintegrated. Metaverse hysteria has further dwindled. It would be understandable, maybe even expected, for Puma to pull back on those efforts.

But the company, which turned 75 this year, is among those trying to capitalise on the number of consumers today spending time in video games and buying cosmetic skins and digital items. It sees a long-term opportunity in virtual spaces and products, which according to Ivan Dashkov, Puma’s head of emerging marketing tech and web3, create new ways of interacting with the brand, help Puma to meet a new generation of shoppers where they live and eventually, could become a significant source of revenue.

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Fashion Design Intern, Broken Planet — London, United Kingdom

Footwear Designer, On — Zurich, Switzerland

Head of Design & Product Development, Athleta — San Francisco, United States

7. Why Collina Strada’s Hillary Taymour Thinks Generative AI Is a ‘Game Changer’

A model in a gold top and pink shorts walks the runway at Collina Strada.

If you didn’t already know artificial intelligence was used to design Collina Strada’s Spring/Summer 2024 collection, it would be all but impossible to tell. At their New York Fashion Week runway show, set amid a rooftop farm on the Brooklyn waterfront, the clothes betrayed no obvious hints that founder Hillary Taymour and her team spent weeks feeding images of past Collina Strada looks into the AI image generator Midjourney, guiding it with text prompts of varying complexity and diligently refining the results to produce the collection.

The use of generative AI tools has gathered momentum in fashion over the past several months, even amid concerns the technology could displace creatives and infringe intellectual property. Revolve released an AI-generated billboard campaign and capsule collection, backed an AI Fashion Week and is experimenting with it to design its lucrative private brands. Casablanca used it in the marketing campaign for its Spring/Summer 2023 collection. Others are turning to it for jobs like writing product descriptions.

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Technical Product Developer — Coperni, Tomorrow Ltd. — Paris, France

Assistant Designer, Ralph Lauren — New York, United States

Assistant Innovation Designer, Figs — Santa Monica, California

8. In Paris, Glimpses of Azzedine Alaïa’s Unrivalled Fashion Archive

Alaia exhibit

Simultaneous exhibitions at the Palais Galliera and the his namesake Foundation celebrate the inspirations and private obsessions of the late couturier Azzedine Alaïa. Alaïa bequeathed an archive spanning a century and more than 20,000 garments to a foundation set up to preserve his legacy in 2017. Collecting and preserving fashion was, for Azzedine Alaïa, about more than archiving his inspirations. It was a “cooperative attitude, a mark of solidarity towards those who, before me, wielded their scissors with pleasure and exactingness,” the late designer once said.

The show features favourite designs by Alaïa’s contemporaries, too: designs by Charles James — whom he discovered in New York at the beginning of the eighties, and in whom he “probably recognised his own architectural sense of line” says Saillard — as well as Jean Paul Gaultier, Rei Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe, Alexander McQueen, Yohji Yamamoto and Thierry Mugler.

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Textile Designer, Zara Home — A Coruña, Spain

Pattern Maker, Swim USA — New York, United States

Design Room Manager, Zimmerman — Sydney, Australia

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