Fashion Group International’s 20/20 Fashion Vision for 2020

Ken Downing moderating panel discussion
Photos: Marilyn Kirschner

The Fashion Group International ( held their Ready-to-Wear Trend Presentation for Spring/Summer 2020 at the Hearst Tower Screening Room on Tuesday afternoon. Once again, Marylou Luther, FGI’s Creative Director expertly edited the visual presentation. Marylou highlighted the “best of the best” and singled out the most important trends from the runways of New York, London, Milan, and Paris. Even though we have all seen the collections, putting it together this way allows us to see it from a different standpoint and with a little more perspective.

Robert di Mauro and students from The High School of Fashion Industries

The 12 key points of the season were positivity, color, volume, looking back AND looking towards the future, draping, shorts, bras (the emphasis on the breast and nipples), denim in every imaginable iteration, a celebration of the artisanal, and the confluence of art and fashion. The number one and most important trend was sustainability. Unsurprisingly, this was also the main focus of the panel discussion that followed.

Fashion Group International President Maryanne Grisz

FGI President Maryanne Grisz welcomed a crowd that included Fern Mallis, Norma Kamali, Audrey Smaltz, and Robert di Mauro who brought along students from The High School of Fashion Industries. They are the designers of the future. Maryanne thanked Marylou and introduced the panel. The moderator was Ken Downing, Creative Officer, Triple Five Group.

Sarah Zendejas, Peter Davis, Indira Cesarine, Maryanne Grisz, Marylou Luther, Ken Downing, Constance White, Nicole Fischelis, Andy Hilfiger

The panelists were Nicole Fischelis, Fashion Consultant; Peter Davis, Editor-in-Chief: USA, L’Official; Constance White, Creative Consultant, Writer and Editor of Culture & Style; Andy Hilfiger, Creative Director, Andrew Charles by Andy Hilfiger; Sarah Zendejas, Senior Fashion Market Editor, Elle Magazine; Indira Cesarine, Multimedia Artist & Founder, The Untitled Space Art Gallery.

Ken Downing noted that in the slide pictures from the runways, you could see that everyone always seemed to be on their phones. He asked the panelists what they thought what the future of fashion shows was.

Indira Cesarine: “It’s moving away from small, exclusive shows to arenas; offering massive experiences”. And she cited Rihanna’s extravaganza fashion show at the Barclay Center.

Andy Hilfiger: ”I agree. It’s becoming broad scale entertainment with music.”

(Editor’s Note: Ken obviously agrees and must have delighted in hearing this. He is creative officer of the Triple Five Group, the Canadian developer known for combining retail and entertainment at humongous centers such as the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota and the newly opened American Dream in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Of course, whether it’s truly a dream or a nightmare is yet to be seen).

Constance White: “The impact of the digital age cannot be underestimated. It’s all about Instagram able moments. Everyone is now a creative director.”

Ken Downing: “What was your favorite show?”

Constance White: “From a creative point of view, Pyer Moss. In terms of pure design, Gucci.”

Sarah Zendejas: “Pyer Moss was incredible. The 90 person choir was movingand the clothes were fabulous. It gave me goose bumps.”

Peter Davis: “I agree that it was Pyer Moss. I also liked the way Rodarte did a look book. It went viral and got so much attention even though it was not a show. I think that is the wave of the future.”

Nicole Fischelis: “My favorite show was Dries Van Noten with his Christian Lacroix collaboration. When I told Dries I almost cried at the show, he said a lot of people cried. There are still too many designer who are showing, who should not be staging formal shows.”

Indira Cesarine: “Can I talk about my most memorable shows ever? Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan’s first shows in London where I once lived and worked as a photographer. And of course, Karl Lagerfeld’s shows for Chanel were all memorable.

”“The shows in Europe are far and away the most spectacular. They are on a different level than the ones here in New York. I don’t go to as many shows as I would like because I just don’t have the time. You can’t do everything and be everywhere. It is logistically impossible.”

Ken Downing: “It’s obvious we are all going to fewer shows.”

Andy Hilfiger: “I miss the Bryant Park Tents. There needs to be a localized venue for the shows here in New York.”

Ken Downing: “Don’t you all agree that the shows are becoming more geared toward the customer than fashion industry insiders?”

Sarah Zendejas: “Yes, I agree.”

Ked Downing: “The main focus on the spring shows was sustainability. Everything, including the color palette, was all about the earth and Mother Nature. Sustainability has certainly come a long way.”

Sara Zendejas: “Yes, there is a sense of luxury that had been missing in the past. Designers like Marine Serre, Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, and Collina Strada, one of the first to push upcycling here in New York, are focusing on luxurious upcycling.”

Ked Downing: “In addition to sustainability, craft and artistry, which results in a one of a kind quality, are important. In the end, it’s about being responsible.”

Constance White: “It is very grass roots. The industry is really responding to the consumer. And it’s not just about environmental, but social and economic responsibility. The fashion industry is meeting sustainability goals, but at the same time, it is trying to figure out how to make sustainability beautiful and alluring to the consumer.”

Ken Downing: “There is so much waste; so much over production. Companies have to rethink old business models and find a new way of doing things. That’s why craft is so important and relevant.”

Andy Hilfiger: “That is another reason why fresh thinking and collaborations make so much sense.”KD: “The luxury market has taken the lead in terms of sustainability. Authenticity matters more than ever. What you do matters today. Social responsibility and sustainability go hand in hand. It comes down to honesty.”
“If a company wants to be authentic, should they pay people to wear their clothes?”

Constance White: “No, not if they really care about being authentic. Millennials are driven by authenticity. They really care!”

Ken Downing: “Kindness and joy at every level is a driving factor in business.”

Constance White: “And so is kindness in relationships. If you want a relationship to last, practicing kindness is the most important thing!”

Ken Downing: “Fashion is cyclical. Where does that leave ‘athleisure’? It is definitely more about getting dressed up than being dressed down.”

(Editor’s note: Constance and Peter were wearing trainers and Ken was decidedly dressed down, not dressed up).

Sarah Zendejas: “I’ve been seeing a lot of gloves, hats, and ‘lady bags’ on the runways.”KD:“What is contemporary now?”

Peter Davis: “Street wear has definitely evolved. It’s more about limited edition clothing.”

Ken Downing: “We are in an enormous pendulum swing now. Touching things is important. There is a return to brick and mortar shopping, a return to billboards and a return to magazines. There are new magazines sprouting up.”

Constance White: “I agree. We are going back to things we had given up on. Things that make us feel good.”

Ken Downing: “The customer shifts so quickly. What is the best way to get ahead of them?”

Nicole Fischelis: “It’s all about offering things that are collectible. Anything that is unique becomes collectible. Give the customer the unexpected; what she doesn’t know she wants. Involve the 5 senses.”

Indira Cesarine: Collectible clothing! Recycling fashion. Clothing to keep. You don’t throw it away but re-sell. The Real-Real!”

Constance White: “People want that emotional touching. Also, personalization, the way Norma Kamali does it. Everything can be personalized these days”.

Peter Davis: “It’s all about digital. It’s upping the game of print to make it collectible. The challenge for me is to make a magazine that is collectible and give it coffee table quality.”

Andy Hilfiger: “Make less, sell more. That should be the new business model.”

Sarah Zendejas: “Specialization. Find a niche. Everyone was trying to be Celine and now, everyone is trying to be themselves!”

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Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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