An equation for fashion success: Heritage and innovation

More and more, fashion design is spreading around the globe. But in the process, it must stay original. And the way to accomplish originality is through cultural heritage and innovation.This was the message that participants from about 40 fashion schools across 20 countries heard during the 13th annual conference of the International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes, held in Paris on Wednesday, reported

The four-day affair was centered around the theme of “Fashion and luxury: Between heritage and innovation.”

“We took off the kimono a long time ago,” the foundation's chairman Satoshi Onuma said, referring to his native Japan to “The fashion industry and Western culture are going very fast. The world is going faster and people mix their civilizations. That's a direction, a movement that we can't change.”

Globalization does not have to equate uniformization. Rather, he said, “every nation boasts it own heritage.”

“These are the roots of creativity. That's what we teach even if we can't teach creativity itself. Originality will come from creativity. We are not forced to wear the same thing,” Onuma said.

He is not the only one who feels that way. Dominique Jacomet, director general of the Institut Francais de la Mode, the Parisian fashion school that is hosting this year's conference, also expounded on this theme.

“It is true that with globalization, we can all be in jeans, but there is a real demand for identity,” he said. “What makes French brands in particular successful worldwide is the way they are anchored to a cultural heritage. Thirty years ago, luxury and fashion were very much separated. Today everything comes together, for reasons due mainly to consumer demands and business strategies.”

Balancing innovation and tradition has apparently worked for French fashion house Hermes, allowing the company to expand internationally, especially in Asia, which represents 26 percent of the luxe label’s sales, not counting Japan.

To reach Chinese consumers, Hermes launched its own Shang Xia brand, including furniture, cashmeres and porcelain designed with a traditional Chinese aesthetic, yet modified to modern Chinese tastes, said Hermes International vice president Guillaume de Seynes.

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