Out from Underground

By Reddy, Sameer | Newsweek International, November 10, 2008 | Go to article overview

Out from Underground


Reddy, Sameer, Newsweek International


Byline: Sameer Reddy

Mass-market retailers are embracing avant-garde design. But will H&M shoppers buy skirts for men?

On a chilly Paris evening in October 1996, Rei Kawakubo, the high priestess of forward-looking fashion design, unveiled her latest collection for Comme des Garcons. The audience of editors, stylists and photographers sat in silence, punctuated by the rapid-fire sound of camera shutters, as a parade of models passed by, swathed in stretchy material in Easter-egg colors and disfigured by large, soft, tumorlike protrusions. Kawakubo's vision of spring, which came to be known as the "Lumps and Bumps" collection, is now seen as a seminal moment in 20th-century design, but at the time it was greeted with skepticism and ridicule. The late Amy Spindler wrote in her New York Times review that "the dresses invented whole new deformities for women." High-end retailers like Barneys New York barely sold any of the pieces. This time, they said, Kawakubo had gone too far.

It turned out to be a good career move. The reclusive Kawakubo is now designing a line for the mass-market marvel H&M, due out in November. The one-season collection will encompass men's, women's and children's wear, fragrance and accessories, swiftly carrying the fashion world's avant-garde agent provocateur from the outskirts of public acceptance to the heart of the mainstream "fast fashion" machine. Such marriages benefit both partners; as clothing production continues to accelerate, turnover in taste quickens and consumers' attention spans diminish, both designers and retailers are looking for ways to weather the challenging commercial landscape.

As a key driver of fast fashion--the rapid-fire delivery of new, on-trend merchandise--H&M is one of the major success stories of the new millennium, combining low-margin, bargain-basement prices with a fashion-savvy staff. To remain competitive, however, the company regularly pursues high-fashion collaborations. Since 2004, H&M has coupled with Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Viktor & Rolf and Roberto Cavalli. Kawakubo is the first truly avant-garde talent to make the grade. "Things are becoming more accessible, people are more broad-minded, [and] something like this can come out to a bigger audience," says Margareta Van den Bosch, H&M's former design director and current creative adviser. "It's fashion and it's a form of art." To be sure, the audience for sophisticated visionaries like Kawakubo has grown. But even if H&M customers don't warm to her creations like armhole-less shirts, and skirts for men, the resulting media buzz will be the chain's main payoff. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Upgrade your membership to receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad‑free environment

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Upgrade your membership to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Out from Underground
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved in your active project from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Upgrade your membership to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.