February 28, 2010

Eyes On Your Own Paper

Left: Burberry Prorsum, Right: TOPMAN

Is it me or are these two collections awfully similar? Christopher Bailey has done some amazing things with the Burberry brand, making it highly sought after and the jewel of London Fashion Week (equally causing a stir for menswear during Milan Fashion Week). It is no surprise that the Burberry Prorsum runway collections would be translated into fast fashion powerhouses like Zara and H&M, but to show a very similar collection on the catwalk within the same season is, um, interesting.

Top: Burberry Prorsum Fall 2010, Below: TOPMAN Fall 2010

TOPMAN and TOPSHOP are probably the best at manufacturing the season's hottest runway trends at a lower price point. Furthermore, they edit key pieces to be street "wearable." But see how all the drama is lost when put side-by-side. The volume in the Burberry Prorsum aviator jackets is gone in the TOPMAN version, leaving a large patch of shearling that seems a bit arbitrary. It is more affordable, and although it tries, it is not the same thing.

Runway doppelgangers are not unusual, especially since fashion is constantly changing and influenced by the world we live in. But this particular instance is a little obvious because the Burberry Prorsum show was broadcast live and streaming in Milan before the TOPMAN show in London a month later (both are British labels). To watch the show live, alter the designs, and create samples to send down the runway within a month is not a far fetched idea. Maybe it was a coincidence between two brands that come from the same place, but suspicion erupts when one is a hot name in the industry with a heritage dating back to 1856, and the other is famous for creating affordable knock-offs.

Bloggers and editors tweet looks from the front row to followers around the globe in real time... the ones who aren't already watching it themselves live online. This season Gucci, Jil Sander, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, and other major houses streamed their Fall 2010 collections; Burberry did it in 3-D, taking online presentation to a new level. Fashion shows are easily accessed by the general public, no longer limited to runway pictures. I cannot remember (I think it was Scott Schuman) who said that pretty soon fashion shows will be like events where seating is purchased and the front row goes to the highest bidder. Everyone has access to the show through the Internet anyway, so the live version might become for those who can afford to attend. Since fashion editors cannot always make it to all of the shows, live streams in high definition save time and money and offer a solution to being at two places at once - or at least every show that day. While I am infinitely grateful that I can watch the shows live, I hope that the looks on the runway do not begin to lose their unique aesthetics.

- jerome

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