What Does it Mean to Be a Fashion Designer Today?

Emerging Brands & Investors: Between Change and Status Quo

What does it mean to be a fashion designer today? Launching a brand in today’s fashion landscape is a complex and challenging endeavour. But most follow outdated rules, missing the crux of the matter.

Aspiring designers often invest heavily in their education, attending expensive fashion design schools. However, upon graduation, they face a harsh reality: many brands prefer to hire celebrities to design collections, capitalizing on their fame rather than nurturing new talent. Perhaps someone does the actual work while the celebrity of the moment enjoys the spotlight. But that’s what it is.

New brands & investors

So, young and brave creatives launch their namesake brand. That step demands immense hard work, effort, commitment, and consistency. But once they enter the market, these small, independent brands realize that the panorama is crowded. Very crowded. Most importantly, to survive in such a competitive world, they need financial backing.

That seems to be the foundation upon which AZ Factory launched the new AZ Academy: teaching how to attract investors in the fashion field.

So, is it all about that? If a brand finds an investor, does the journey become easy? Money undeniably helps. But it comes with its own set of challenges. When big companies invest in a brand, designers lose the creative freedom that inspired them to start their journey in the first place. Profit margins and commercial viability take precedence over creativity and individual liberty. For instance, consider the case of Martin Margiela.
After his brand was acquired by OTB Group, he found himself increasingly constrained by the demands of a fast-paced, novelty-obsessed, and hyper-communicated fashion industry. The pressure to constantly produce new collections and maintain commercial success stifled his creative vision, leading him to leave his own brand. 

Now, let’s be clear. You won’t hear us saying money isn’t fundamental when launching and sustaining a brand. But, in this specific context of deep change, we need more than that. Priorities have changed, and we cannot separate fashion from the current cultural context. Does it make sense for a well-funded brand to promote huge collections, pre-collections and showcasing hundreds of samples, encouraging overconsumption? Therefore, perpetrating the same old overproduction pattern in a world on the edge of ecological breakdown?

Indeed, we cannot understand brands, established or new, who cannot distance themselves from this dangerous thought.

Conclusion: what does it mean to be a fashion designer today?

Launching a brand today is not just about finding investors. It goes far beyond that. Being a designer in the modern world is about having a vision – envisioning the future. It involves asking oneself: What future do I see? Do I want to maintain the status quo, or do I want to wipe out everything and start something better?

Well, corporations are not interested in that. That’s why we wonder if it makes sense to search for that kind of investor. Or is it better to clench your teeth and stay small, independent and free to bring about change?

Business as usual doesn’t work. New rules, new systems, and new ways of interacting with the audience. That is what we need.

What Does it Mean to Be a Fashion Designer Today? Read More »

On Creative Directors

The Impact of Big Egos on Fashion: What to Expect?

As the fashion industry evolves, reflecting on creative directors and their work seems crucial to understanding its direction. Indeed, the shift from the figure of designers to creative directors brings about some considerations. What should we expect in fashion? Creativity and skills or marketing and big egos?

The Work of Creative Directors

From what we’ve seen so far, creative directors take over a Maison and shape it with their own aesthetic. How do they do it? They can access extensive archives and substantial funds. Corporations produce and flood the market with their products, promoting them across every single media. However, after too much exposure, people get tired. When love ends, sales plummet, and, as a consequence, the creative gets kicked out. Nobody wants to purchase products of the unfortunate brand anymore. Not even off-priced.
While that brand struggles to regain identity and credibility, the creative jumps to the next one, replicating the very same view under a different logo. In this game, brands lose their uniqueness and look all the same. Every reference is NOT a coincidence: Alessandro Michele represents the most striking case. His recent looks for Valentino seemed more like an advertisement for the new Gucci campaign. A hybrid Gvucci or Vucci, as you prefer. However, he is not alone. The havoc John Galliano made on Margiela is another example.

But why don’t these creative directors launch their namesake brands? They avoid it because out of that box, they lose their relevance. Their skills rely on immense archives and huge investments. They excel at styling and marketing, but the creativity of a fashion designer is a different matter. Their ego overpowers.


With perseverance and hard work, designers of the past created a distinctive style, developing a culture around it. The unique idea of fashion they believed in was idiosyncratic, and they worked with determination, committed to spreading that idea.

In fact, the role of the creative director is a marketing necessity for corporations to lure consumers. Unfortunately, the side effect is a flattened fashion industry, where the only focus is profit.

As we witness the rise of creative directors, we need to acknowledge that these figures fail to introduce innovative elements or enrich the discourse within the fashion industry. Instead, they perpetuate a dangerous cycle of overproduction, which they would never attempt to change because they are part of the system. Employees and accomplices.

This, we must take into account.

On Creative Directors Read More »