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Demna Gvasalia Balenciaga
Demna GvasaliaPhotography Willy Vanderperre, via Balenciaga

Balenciaga’s new designer questions fashion’s need for speed

Following in the wake of Raf Simons and Alber Elbaz, Demna Gvasalia calls the current system into question

Balenciaga’s new artistic director of collections Demna Gvasalia is the latest in a series of designers to question the necessity of the fashion industry’s breakneck pace. Speaking in an interview with Miles Socha for WWD, Gvasalia asks whether the pace is justified. “I’m not really sure if the market actually demands all those clothes,” he says, speaking on the topic of pre-collections – the ready-to-wear lines produced in addition to the twice-yearly seasonal collections.

“You know we deliver winter in July; it doesn’t make any sense,” he goes on to say. “It’s just so confused that I feel something needs to happen to find a new mechanism or system to work because it is a lot of money wasted as well, on development, on selling things we don’t really need.”

“I’m not really sure if the market actually demands all those clothes... (there) is a lot of money wasted as well, on development, on selling things we don’t really need” – Demna Gvasalia

Last month, Raf Simons stepped down from his position of creative director of Christian Dior – a move that shocked the fashion industry. Later in an interview with Cathy Horyn for System magazine, Simons gave a reason for his departure: fashion’s pace. “The problem is when you have only one design team and six collections, there is no more thinking time,” he said. “And I don’t want to do collections where I’m not thinking.” 

Soon after Simons’ announcement, in another shock move, Alber Elbaz left Lanvin after 16 years as its creative director. While it later emerged that he was forced out of the company by its shareholders, Elbaz was vocal about his frustrations with the industry, which again boiled down to its speed. “I said, ‘I need more time.’ And I think everybody in fashion these days needs just a little more time,” he said in his acceptance speech at the 2015 Fashion Group International's Night of Stars event.

Gvasalia’s comments are particularly interesting. Newly-installed at Balenciaga and yet to show his inaugural collection for the house, this is the designer’s first time in a position of this gravitas – though he’s previously worked at Maison Martin Margiela (prior to John Galliano’s installment), Louis Vuitton and of course, Vetements. Having voiced his qualms with the current system and its breakneck pace, it will be interesting to see how he rises to the challenge of writing a new chapter in Balenciaga’s feted history.

Elsewhere in the interview, Gvasalia gives us a foretaste of what’s to come by sharing his own design philosophy. “For me, fashion is something practical,” he says. “It’s made to be worn rather than change things, otherwise you will be an artist. I think and consider myself more like a dress-making brand.”

Watch Vetements SS16 below: