24 January 2016

Fashion Revival with LV & FF

With the ending of 2015 in the fashion industry as probably one of the most devastating eras ever with departing designers and seasons losing their quirks, the phrase ‘fashion is dying’ seemed almost to be coming true.
It’s always been heavily debated, where the industry stands amongst society, with the demise of the system pacing through society needs of Haute Couture and the changes and cancellations of the various seasonal shows (some designers completely dropping out of resort and pre-fall), as well as the competition with fast fashion that threatened to hinder the revenue turn over for prestigious houses.

So, what do the houses do to keep themselves on top of their game? Technology.
With consumer interest these days being all about fast wi-fi and speed, designers are looking towards new ways to get their campaigns running to bring in audiences both internally and externally within their zone of comfort. With 2016 kicking off without a hitch in the industry and menswear (followed by Couture) being strong and impressive this season, fashion is moving from just being a statement piece for the eyes to a statement piece that’s tech-savvy with hopes to create a new emerging market. Would that be more exciting that having fashion boundaries broken?

The latest craze in the fashion industry is Louis Vuitton’s digital campaign for their S/S 2016 collection - CD Nicolas Ghesquière revealed teasers for the most talked about face for the campaign. No it’s not someone who was a Paris exclusive or a fresh face for the new season, it’s a beloved video game character from one of the biggest Japanese video game franchises, Final Fantasy, straight from screens to fashion billboards. Ghesquière had already given a glimpse of the campaign from Louis Vuitton’s S/S 2016 runway collection back in October, which featured ‘mahou-shoujo’ (magical girls!) inspired colour palettes and looks, so this was a given.

Since joining Louis Vuitton back in 2013, devoted followers would known that
Ghesquière has played it safe with campaigns and advertisements, so he’s gone up and beyond the standards for seasonal ad that will be extremely tough to compare for future campaigns. Partnering up with the team at Square Enix and Final Fantasy artist, designer and director Nomura Testuya, the concept was to create a virtual reality that combined the inspiration for the S/S 2016 collection with a strong independent female heroine that could proudly portray the pieces that represent the house and the consumer market.

Initial responses from die hard fans ad curious bystanders were very mixed on social media, the general idea that a clump of virtual pixels has enough star power as the next celebrity to be chosen for a campaign and a character with the most absurd name ‘Lightning’, could be chosen for something so out of her league. (This was a real paraphrased sentence from a review blog from which, I, a respective writer, will not share the name of to protect their privacy and idiocy, how dare they.)  Some fans were curious as to how Lightning, with her fierce gaze, tomboy-ish nature and pink hair was chosen – from polls and surveys run between 2013-2015 from the time of the initial FF XIII game release, Lightning was chosen was the most popular, best-liked female character with a massive (celebrity-like) fan basing in Japan. Not only did this decision help make Lightening the campaign star, but also puts Japan into a potential consumer market for Louis Vuitton as the second-largest luxury market within the Asian market, according to Bain & Company’s 2015 worldwide report. This is worth adding to say that with the Asian market growing within the next decade, it’s a good choice for Louis Vuitton to pick at niche markets to collect potential consumers from all corners of the world for better revenue this year, and don’t ever doubt the power (or wallets) of die-hard fans. Ghesquière is set to become a well-received CD for 2016 since he’s done his very fair share of managing and growing Louis Vuitton for the masses not only with selling products, but also working together with various galleries and exhibitions to showcase the history and development of the luxury house.

However the gradual support from Final Fantasy and fashion fans confessing interest with the gaming and fashion industry for possible future collaborations with more popular characters – and this is probably just adding on from previous names working with Square Enix – namely with ROEN who worked in collaboration with the FF Versus XIIII game to help develop drool-worthy pieces for the heroes. (If you’re curious, the concept was something along the lines of ‘playboys’…) as well as Prada who had some of their overall popular characters dressed up in pieces from their S/S 2012 menswear collection for Japanese magazine Arena Homme+. And FYI, Lightning was apart of that too, her popularity is no joke. Max Pearmain, director at Arena Homme+ once said that 'video games play an interesting role in society, so this opportunity [to work with Prada] is very exciting.'

Prada Menswear S/S 2012 & Final Fantasy Arena Homme +

So with Lightning being the new face of Louis Vuitton for now, it remains to be seen how the rest of the industry will follow with more seasons coming through and how designers will run their campaigns this year round. Perhaps Lightning is going to have more competition within the next few months with her female counterparts (Yuna anyone?) or, maybe this whole campaign was just a pointless rouse to try to revive fashion from burning out. Personally, thoughts are on the supportive and positive side that with technology moving at such a fast pace, that this is the one chance the industry needs to get back into full swing. Fingers crossed though, because 2015 was such a disappointment for the fashion industry that hopefully this is the little kick that everyone needs to revive fashion from the ashes like a burning phoenix. (Hail Lightning!)