Is Fast Fashion Causing Designer Burn Out?

Like most other industries, the fashion industry is speeding up. Fast fashion and quickened production cycles mean that designers are constantly under pressure to innovate and create new looks.
Gone are the days of two big catwalk shows a year. It seems like there is always something on the fashion calendar from fall, spring, pre-fall, pre-spring, resort and summer collections to name a few.  As designers scramble to keep up with the fast pace of production and market demands, are they burning out?
Keeping Up with Fast Fashion
Fast fashion is simply that, fast. Fast fashion giants like Zara and H&M release new collections nearly every week! With super quick production cycles, fast fashion retailers are able to recreate runway looks in a matter of days.
So how does this affect the design community? Top fashion designers have to constantly innovate and produce new looks in order to remain fresh and relevant, and it seems like many are getting sick of the warped pace of design.
Designer Burn Out
In 2015, we saw a mass exodus of top designers splitting from fashion houses. Raf Simons’ departure from Dior kicked off the trend, with Alber Elbaz’s break with Lanvin soon after. After leaving Dior, Simons spoke candidly about the rushed speed of the fashion industry today, citing that there was simply ‘no incubation time for ideas’.
Livia Firth, founder of Green Carpet Challenge and creative director of Eco-Age, voiced similar concerns with the pace of fashion, saying “The fashion cycle has become mental. Too many shows, too many collections, too many looks, styles, pressure. The result? Designers’ creativity is compromised, journalists are running on empty and we — the famous consumers — are bombarded day and night with the ‘latest thing we must have’ if we want to be cool”.
Not all Designers feel the burn
While fashion might be speeding up, not all designers are feeling the stress. Donatella Versace says ‘Fashion is about moving forward, and moving fast’, viewing increased speed as increased opportunity.
In more blunt fashion, Karl Lagerfeld simply states ‘If you are not a good bullfighter, don’t enter the arena,”
So is Designer Burn out Real? And is Fast Fashion to Blame?
To some extent, fast fashion has certainly put pressure on design houses, and increased the need for constant innovation. However Ralph Toledano, President of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, says we can’t simply blame designer burn out on fast fashion. He argues that ‘There is a dual responsibility. The responsibility of management is to protect designers and make sure they handle the demands. On the other side, the designer is responsible when he takes the job to do what is needed to meet the demands of the market and remain competitive.”
In the race to remain competitive, many fashion houses have chosen to prioritise speed and production over nurturing the slower creative pace of their designers. However, we believe that authentic work and quality designs take time to develop, and they will prevail over quantity in the end.