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BALMAIN & ISABEL MARANT SPRING 2011: The Future of Fashion?

October 6, 2010

While reviewing the Paris shows, I couldn’t help but notice some similarities in the Balmain and Isabel Marant collections.  It seems as though both designers are marketing to the same girl: the “Bobo”, or in layman’s terms the Bohemian Bourgeois.  This look started a couple of years ago and fuses together Paris’s edge with LA’s rocker/bohemian vibe. The aesthetic has been taking over the streets all across the world as it is easy to emulate and understand which translates into extreme wearability.  Both designers have blown up in the last few years for these exact reasons.  They produce a one-note “look” each season leaving the  fashion followers drooling and waiting to buy the next season’s pieces.

In this ever-changing world we call Fashion, one can’t help but question this approach.  The market is constantly changing and the consumer is always wanting something new, so how is it ok to continue to re-hash the same look over and over again?  When we look at other designers such as Marc Jacobs, Nicolas Ghesqiuere and Pheobe Philo (who are all three at the top of the fashion game)- we see an EVOLUTION of their aesthetic from season to season.  These types of designers show us more every season, keep us on our toes and inspire our desires.  When we see something new, we want it, we need it, we have to have it.

So what does this say about the success of both Marant and Balmain in the past several seasons?  Is the market changing?  Does the consumer want to hang onto one look and wear that season after season changing one torn up t-shirt for one that has burn marks on it?  Or replace last season’s motorcycle jacket for next season’s adorned with safety pins?  Who needs more than one leather motorcycle jacket?

In this day and age, people are streamlining their purchases.  They are buying essentials for the season and styles that add interest to their already existing wardrobes.  Fashion is an evolution and so should be our wardrobes.

With all of that being said, we cannot diminish the consumer’s desire for this look.  However, the truth is that because these looks are so easy to emulate, they will be the first ones copied from the likes of Forever 21, H&M, and all the other fast fashion chains out there.  Retailers everywhere are downloading runway images from these two designers as we speak trying to figure out how they can make a $9,000 safety-pin leather jacket for $45.  Guaranteed, this look will be everywhere next Spring.  We will begin to see herds of young hipsters wearing burned t-shirts, super short cut offs and safety-pin jackets.  Ugh.

In the long run, does this help the brand or will it diminish it and make it less covetable because the consumer can buy the look from numerous low priced chains?

Take a look at the two designers and the similarities between their two collections for Spring 2011:

Isabel Marant/Balmain Spring 2011

Isabel Marant/Balmain Spring 2011

Notice the same length of short, worn with boots and a simple top.  Isabel Marant will always have a softer French aesthetic while Balmain will cater to the tough chic. Both outfits probably run around $1500 from head to toe.  Will you pay this for a regurgitation of last season’s look?  Personally, I’d much rather spend that money on a great pair of wide leg trousers from Dries Van Noten…but that’s just me.

Isabel Marant/Balmain Spring 2011

Isabel Marant/Balmain Spring 2011

Isabel Marant/Balmain Spring 2011

Isabel Marant/Balmain Spring 2011

Again, you can see the similarities in the feel of each collection.  They are both about simple street wear infused with their own smattering of design sensibility.

Another point that really stood out in Balmain’s collection was the similarities to Isabel’s Fall 2010 collection.  Are the designers so close in aesthetic that they copy each other without knowing?  Take a look below.

Isabel Marant Fall 2010 /Balmain Spring 2011

Isabel Marant Fall 2010 /Balmain Spring 2011

Isabel Marant Fall 2010 /Balmain Spring 2011

Isabel Marant Fall 2010 /Balmain Spring 2011

Isabel Marant Fall 2010 /Balmain Spring 2011

Isabel Marant Fall 2010 /Balmain Spring 2011

The Sche Report believes that fashion is about change….individuality…inherent style…uniqueness…and being ahead of the curve.  Regurgitating looks from past seasons is not the future of fashion.

Or is it?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. keepfeelingjoanna permalink
    October 6, 2010 6:55 pm

    Regurgitating looks from seasons that have passed only works when it’s done in a new way, more “today” with a fresh, updated look. Balmain just seems too obvious now, and I prefer what Isabel Marant was doing two years ago. But it will be interesting to see how this plays out!

  2. Arianna permalink
    October 6, 2010 8:45 pm

    Right on–so OVER this look.

  3. z.augustine permalink
    October 13, 2010 12:58 pm

    Once again an incredibly enlightening and quite accurate perspective. I am personally obsessed with the art of coveting and fascinated at how its turned the fashion industry, and retail in general, on its heels. Will we ever get back to actual “collection” dressing or will we target and kill for a few key items that satisfy us with the delicious lusty objectification we aren’t receiving elsewhere. This is fashion as vice and, for one, am “gonna do it til i get caught”.

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