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Designers, Editors, Store Owners Discuss Future of Fashion



    At the close of fashion week, we were invited to attend a panel moderated by columnist Suzy Menkes in which designers like Alexander Wang and store owners like Humberto Leon got together to talk through the current fashion climate and its future.

    Being that it was, of course, the last day of fashion week, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez looked rather spent, as did Humberto Leon for that matter, but Menkes was persistent and moved the conversation into quite a few interesting (and, gosh darn it, inspiring) directions.

    A lot of the discussion was stuff we knew already -- how Jack and Lazaro actually fought a lot over this season's collections; how Alexander Wang likes being involved in all aspects of the business (it comes as no surprise that he's a retail genius).

    But the most interesting part of the discussion came when the talk veered toward fashion week and the influx of new technology. Of course, everyone insisted on the continued relevance of fashion week -- it would be hard not to, having just staged an entire collection -- but there was some disagreement on how technology would affect the week in the future.

    Menkes is no big fan of bloggers, and in her defense, she has good reason -- according to her, many bloggers will post reviews of shows based only on pictures that they see second-hand, in her opinion having never even seen "the back of a garment." On the other hand, the Proenza Schouler boys felt the instantaneous nature of showing a collection now -- watching it spread to Twitter and the internet seconds after the models leave the runway -- was "more democratic." Said Lazaro, "Now, the shows are really aimed at everyone, not just editors and buyers."

    Mazdack Rassi, the founder and creative director of Milk Studios, even went so far as to say: "Television and the internet will merge in the next five years, and a URL will become as important as a TV channel or a magazine." He pointed out that, during Alexander Wang's fashion show downtown, Milk Studios was one of the top tweets nationally, proving the kind of reach social media can have in taking an exclusive local event into an much larger arena.

    It was also certainly reinvigorating to hear Humberto Leon and Carol Kim -- who've managed to turn an indie boutique in Chinatown into a hugely successful international brand -- insist they still treat their Howard Street store like a "Mom and Pop shop." Note to fledgling designers: They still read every e-mail and go through every look book to try and find the next big talent.