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Tom Ford criticises fast-fashion knock-off culture

Tom Ford, who launched his womenswear comeback collection at a low-key showroom style event New York Fashion Week on Sunday, has hit out at the culture of luxury houses making their catwalk collections instantly accessible and immediately copyable.

Tom Ford took the unprecedented step of holding back photography of his spring 11 womenswear show this week, meaning consumers and high street buyers have only seen a glimpse of the odd sketch of his designs or read various tweets about the collection. As a result, the designer has generated massive publicity around his womenswear comeback and is likely to have solidly protected himself from copy-cat high street chains.

“All of the fast-fashion companies that do a great job, by the way, knock everything off. So it’s everywhere all over the streets in three months and by the time you get it to the store, what’s the point?”

Tom Ford

His secrecy is in stark contrast to many other luxury houses, which have focussed on narrowing the gap between showing on the catwalk and goods being available to the consumer in an effort to lessen the likelihood of being copied. For instance, next week, Burberry will stream its spring 11 catwalk show live to its global flagships and let customers order via iPad technology there and then for delivery within just seven weeks.

Ford, who will not lend the collection to celebrities to wear until December and who will not release official controlled images of the collection until January, has defended his unusual decision to keep the spring 11 range under wraps where other designs relish the fanfare of publicity that the international fashion weeks bring. Ford’s clothes will hit his stores in February and will have limited wholesale distribution from autumn 11.

He is reported to have said: “This fashion immediacy thing - yes, if you can order the clothes immediately, if you can see them and press a button and they can be shipped to your house, I get fashion immediacy…I don’t get the need for this immediacy. In fact, I think it’s bad.”

He added: “The way the system works now, you see the clothes, within an hour they’re online, the world sees them. They don’t get to a store for six months. The next week, young celebrity girls are wearing them on red carpets. They’re in every magazine. The customer is bored with those clothes by the time they get to the store. They’re overexposed, you’re tired of them, they’ve lost their freshness, you see somebody wearing it and you say, ‘Oh, that’s that jacket that was in blah, blah, blah. blah, blah’. Or [a] customer doesn’t want to wear that jacket that was in blah,blah,blah,blah,blah. In addition, all of the fast-fashion companies that do a great job, by the way, knock everything off. So it’s everywhere all over the streets in three months and by the time you get it to the store, what’s the point?”

Readers' comments (2)

  • Tom Ford makes some very valid points and he is in an enviable position to be able to hold back some of his show's media/PR, and control how the coverage of his return collection for womenswear is unveiled. However, the fashion industry is both relentless and continually craves something new, and faster! The Internet has made this even easier to achieve.
    Fast fashion has impacted both good and bad on the fashion industry but one fears that the genie is now out of the bottle and rather difficult to get him back in!

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  • I have been thinking about this exact subject and blogged about it last week ( I'm with Tom Ford- the best example of saturation this season is the aviator jackets, everyone saw them at the Burberry show back in Feb and every single high street store has a version. Also, with this new found 'fashion immediacy' ,as Ford calls it, what's the point of having the shows 6 months before? Will they move the fashion calender- or will everyone be dressed for Spring in October? I think fast fashion is on the wane (especially with the price of cotton/ labour) and we are on the verge of returning to more expensive, well made, classic pieces, at least I hope so.

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