COVID wreaked havoc on may parts of our lives. One of the less-obvious changes came in the form of a changed perspective. All of a sudden, we need less, we want less and we buy less. I wish it were about saving the planet, and perhaps at times, it is.. But it is more likely a feeling of humility.. after the world succumbed to an invisible virus we came to terms with the fact that we aren’t that special after all, and with that came a sense of moderation in everything. We have become more cautious… Many of us have translated this to buying less but better which is actually great for sustainability. What to buy still remains one of those great unknowns.. There are the basics, but when you need that hero piece, what do you invest in? Yes, you will definitely buy what suits you, but beyond that, how do you choose which one.. There are the timeless classics that are familiar to us all, the Chanel maxi, and the Hermes Kelly and of course the Louboutins, which leaves us all feeling quite unoriginal. Anyone attending condolences in Amman totally gets what I mean.. How timeless is your piece really if everyone has the same one? While we are not negating the importance of Chanel etc. we’re just saying let’s water them down with other luxury brands, a term we have coined neo-classics! Let the fun begin!
Before you start judging us about why we haven’t included budget-friendly brands (although we have mentioned a few) it’s simply because in order for them to remain low budget they need to sell plenty, and that makes them readily available; a factor that immediately snuffs out the possibility of timelessness.
Neo-classics come in the form of designs that are carried over from one year to the other. A great example of this is the Dolce & Gabbana corset dress. Some of us may still remember when the first dress hit the magazines in the icon Sophia Loren-esque advertisement. That dress, in its many iterations has endured, and so therefore has its timelessness. You can pull out your black or floral print Dolce dress at any time. Today, in a year or in ten, and it will still work (provided that it still fits) because it no longer plays by the same rules, it’s not fashionable anymore, it’s timeless.
Quantity and Scarcity
The above is true only if the item in question is not easily accessible. This is perhaps the issue with many Louis Vuitton or Gucci pieces nowadays. They are certainly consistent, being carried over from one season to the next, but the fact that they are available almost everywhere from International airports to E-commerce sites makes them staples not Neo-classics. Louis Vuitton’s Neverfull falls into this category, there is just too much of it.. When considering a Neo-classic from one of these commercial luxury brands a limited edition makes more sense. It may cost you more in the short run but it’ll certainly make up for it in terms of usage…
This is where Loewe has made its mark in the handbags arena. They are advertised enough to become familiar to the eye, that are not as readily available, which makes them neo-classics.
The problem with those luxury brands that no one knows of.. except you of course, is the fact that no one knows of them but you. Part of timelessness is the items resale value..
No One Else Makes It
Another reason why the Neverfull isn’t a Neo-classic is because the design isn’t unique.. Goyard, Tory Burch, Gucci, Kate Spade, Michael Kors (and the list goes on does a basic tote) A great example of Neo-classics are floral or brocade pieces from a brand such as Erdem. No one does a floral dress quite like Erdem Moralioglu. Now had his pieces been plastered all over the place, they would have lost their timeless lustre, but they aren’t and therefore haven’t.
Zimmermann for example always has a very unique collection which is recognizable and well-suited to many. The issue with Zimmermann is the size of their collection, there are so many pieces, you just can’t keep up! This ultimately reduces its importance as a timeless brand.
It’s All About The Cut
Minimalist brands with truly fantastic cuts are few and far between. The Row is probably the most impressive of them all. The combination of great cuts, immaculate fabrics and scarcity makes it an instant winner. For us mere mortals that can’t afford The Row, there is Tôteme. A truly graceful mid-range brand that has the makings of a Neo-classic. Their impeccable cuts and limited number of pieces per collection makes it totally worth purchasing.
Offering Something New
When a brand enters the fashion world offering something entirely new, we watch a see whether or not they can sustain it.. Unfortunately when we say sustain we mean design, but we also mean publicity (ie.money) This is where Jacquemus and Off-White come in. They are disruptors in the designs that they are producing. They have been consistent in their offerings and they have the financial backing that keeps them at the forefront of the fashion world.
Marques Almeida comes to mind as a brand that entered the field with a big splash. Having won the LVMH award they were awarded the publicity that allowed us all to appreciate their frayed denim pieces. You know that denim wrap dress with the frayed edges in your wardrobe.. It’s Marques Almeida inspired. The issue with the brand is that it couldn’t continue to provide the same inspirational pieces, and with that came less financial backing which dulled their presence…unfortunately.
An Independent Brand that Captures the Attention of the World
If you have ever had the pleasure of coffee with Walid Al-Damirji, founder and creative director of the By Walid brand you will be in for a particularly unique story. Walid loves vintage fabrics, and travels the world to source them. He then lovingly appliqués them together into jackets and coats that are literally works of perfect imperfection. Walid was quite happy going about his business till ‘they’ found him. Multi-brand boutiques, always on the look out for the next best thing instantly fell in love with the brand, catapulting the By Walid brand to icon status. The way in which the fabrics are sourced makes it a very unique and slow-fashion item, which means that Matches Fashion was on a waiting list for two years before carrying the brand, imagine!! If you can get your hands on a By Walid piece, pounce on the opportunity.. Seriously!
Some luxury brands are not bothered with fashion at all. Yet they consistently churn out well-designed pieces in their very personal style. Many a time, they have a specific print, or pattern. Two brands that fall into this category are Etro and Paul Smith. They have each created empires based on their very own version of fashion. Owning a piece from a company such as this will never go out of fashion, because it was never in fashion.. It does however garner the respect of a fashion empire that specializes in well-made garments that stand the test of the fickle fashion world.
A Brand That Stands for Something
Some fashion brands become household names not necessarily for their designs but because of what they stand for. Stella McCartney is a great example. This is not to say that her pieces are not appealing, only that her ethos is more so. Stella McCartney has put Mother Earth at the forefront of her brand. She walks her talk, introducing vegan leather before it even had a name.. (we used to call her leather synthetic). If you ever have the opportunity to visit her flagship store in London you are in for a great experience, with interior design intended to calms the nerves and soothes the senses.. With McCartney there is always more than just fashion..
There are some items that have proven themselves to be timeless, simply because they are such great quality. Uniqlo or Gap white t-shirts are often bought in dozens, and no matter how many new denim brands are minted, J Brand will always be a timeless choice. These brands do produce in large quantities, and are readily available, so what makes them timeless then? The fact that they are plain enough to go unnoticed, yet appreciated enough to be purchased over and over and over again. They feel good, they fit well and they are made well, which makes them pieces that aren’t discarded after a year or so.. they just keep on going!