There’s conceptual designers and there are commercial designers. Tom Ford gave this advice to aspiring designers, “Decide for you if fashion is an art or an artistic business. This will affect how you set up your company. Some designers are true artists. Alexander McQueen, for me, was an absolute artist. Some are commercial designers who consider what they do artistic but not necessarily art.” We need both for fashion to thrive. Couture designers,Charles Frederick Worth, Elsa Schiaparelli, Balenciaga, Dior, Vionnet, Lanvin, Poiret, Valentino, Armani, and Chanel, among many others, are some of the most influential designers who first saw fashion as an art. They were the pioneers, the innovators. They knew the rules so they could break them and make new ones.
Conceptual designers ask what if. Their designs stretch the imagination and take us to new, unexplored territory that truly inspires. Their work will be museum exhibits, archived for everyone to learn. This is where commercial fashion comes from.
Commercial designers ask where is she wearing this style? It’s all about wearability. Their designs make a statement while being functional. Mass production allows their designs to be worn by many fashionistas. Consumers are able to create their own look by mixing and matching different pieces from different designers.
There’s a need for more conceptual artists to push the envelope and make us ponder, dream, wonder, and explore. We can get caught up in having the latest fashion and forget to appreciate and stand in awe of its beauty. Are you a conceptual or commercial designer?