In October, it was announced that Alber Elbaz would leave Lanvin after 14 years as creative director, and then we were shocked to hear that Raf Simons would leave Christian Dior after three years. Now, as Jonathan Saunders leaves his label which he has designing for since 2003, it highlights the question; is there too much pressure on designers?
It is widely believed that these changes were due to the growing demands on designers, who now often have to produce six collections a year. In his statement, Simons said he had a “desire to focus on other interests in my life”, something that was impossible in the pressure cooker of modern fashion. Saunders’ label was independent for much of its history. Without the support and staff that comes with working at a major Parisian brand, he would have been even more vulnerable to these strains.
The fashion industry is worth £26 million to the UK economy, designers are striving for greatness every season, which can get tired some after every season, demand is growing.
North East designer, Nisha Vedhara, owner of Love Niche understands the stain of designing for so many seasons: “It’s a very stressful job, there is a huge pressure on cash flow for designers.”
Melanie Kyles, also a designer in the North East agrees with Nisha: “I do think there is an increasing pressure on designers as the speed of fashion continues to increase because the high street is always adapting and improving itself, it puts a lot more pressure on designers to stay ahead of the game”.
Richard Nicoll, a successful London Fashion Week designer, put his business on hold last year when the breakneck speed of fashion took its toll, he said: “It was not rewarding. I was doing six [collections a year] and not enjoying it. It’s hard to keep doing them with integrity and authority when they’re so frequent. I fell out of love with it by the end.”
Editor of La Di Da magazine, Linda Jane Westphal agrees: “There is a real danger of fashion burnout for some. Designers need time to nurture new ideas, yet the schedule for many just doesn’t allow them that creative space”.
Although the churning term may come into action for designers that have been working in prestigious fashion houses, it’s a profession that many do not want to leave entirely; Jonathan Saunders said in his statement: “I am very thankful for all of the friends I have across the industry, and I look forward to working with everyone again soon on future projects.”
Maybe all is not lost.