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Taking Garments From The Runway To The Store

August 13, 2013 Fashion Design and Merchandising, IADT General 0 Comments

Runway To The StoreAs a student of fashion at IADT, you have probably been advised to follow Fashion Week. The event takes place twice a year, beginning in New York before moving on to London, Milan and Paris. The event allows designers to showcase their looks for the season.

However, these looks are often dramatic Avant Garde pieces that are showcased on models with atypical body types. The designs found on the runway are not for the average woman – or the average occupation. But, if these designers are creating trends and garments for real people, how do they translate their runway looks to retail stores?

Sarah LeTrent, a reporter for CNN, notes that Fashion Week is most beneficial to “the buyers, or the people who decide what items to stock in department stores or boutiques for the upcoming season.” If a buyer likes something they see on the runway, their store can work with the designer to revise the piece they wish to purchase. The piece must be revised so that customers at their store can be able to – and will want to – wear the designer’s pieces.

Elizabeth Holmes, writing for The Wall Street Journal, followed Donna Karan’s Look 6 garment as it moved from Fashion Week to Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, NetAPorter.com and Donna Karan stores. Holmes discovered that “designers come up with a slew of tweaks and alterations to make runway clothes wearable and saleable. Sometimes fabrics change or embellishments are altered to bring down the price. Often, the original sample—made to fit statuesque, rail-thin models—must be re-scaled for average-sized shoppers.”

Look 6 was a ruffled, fitted white shirt with a plunging neckline. The tuxedo-reminiscent shirt was a part of Donna Karan’s Fall 2010 collection. The retail version “has been re-proportioned based on a size 8. The bust was increased two inches, the sleeves shortened by two inches and the cuff width reduced one inch. The deep V-neck was lessened and now has an additional snap and two clasps.” As a designer, Karan wanted to maintain the sexiness of the garment without exposing too much.

Like many designers, Donna Karan’s runway garments are too dramatic for an average workday. Designers often create clothes for the runway not for sale, but for meaning. They showcase upcoming trends in ways that maintain their image, their brand and their novelty. The whole point of the runway is to be exaggerated and expressive.

However, that does not mean that the runway is not influential. Even if designers do not work with stores to revise their pieces, the runway garments still influence manufacturers. The silhouettes, textures, colors, tailoring details and ideas on how to accessorize will trickle down from the runway to corporate manufactures, argues LeTrent.

Anne Kwon Keane, the Fashion Director for Lucky magazine, agrees: “[The runway] is a presentation of ideas and when thoughtfully put forward, the impact can be really wide-reaching.” If you followed Fashion Week this past year, you are not surprised to see this summer’s popular sheer shirts, blush tones or edgy prints. The runway looks have trickled down, inspiring fashion manufactures from a variety of retail companies.

As for the runway looks themselves, garments are often featured in other runway shows, photo shoots and events. In the case of Donna Karan’s Look 6, the shirt made trips to the South of France, Seville, Vancouver and Dallas. Afterwards, “like other original runway samples, it’s next and last stop is the Donna Karan archives.”

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