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Karl Lagerfeld, Ralph Lauren, and Many More Weigh In on the Future of Fashion

Photo: Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

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Since the announcement that Raf Simons and Dior were parting ways (and now news that Alber Elbaz is leaving Lanvin), many publications have wondered whether or not the fashion industry demands too many collections from designers. Vogue's Suzy Menkes wrote that fashion is crashing and NY Mag asserted "fashion is moving too fast, and it's killing creativity." So, WWD went straight to the source and got the opinion of over 60 fashion insiders, many of them designers, to find out if they feel like the industry is moving too fast.

Some, like Karl Lagerfeld had no pity for those who can't keep up ("If you are not a good bullfighter, don't enter the arena," he says) while others were more forgiving (Giorgio Armani tells WWD, "The feeling that there is too much of everything and that everything goes too quickly has long been clear to me.").

Here we've pulled out the best quotes from the extremely extensive story.

Karl Lagerfeld: "The thing that I hate most are designers who accept those very well-paid jobs and then think the demand is too strong, that they are afraid of burnout, etc. It's a full-time job, not an occupation between others. Fashion is a sport now: You have to run."

Giorgio Armani: "Fashion has become one of the principal actors on the vast stage of communication and, as always happens in these cases, the same elements that decree its success can provoke its crisis. The feeling that there is too much of everything and that everything goes too quickly has long been clear to me. Technology and the current lifestyle lead to an increasingly stronger acceleration. Fashion also needs pauses, and sometimes silence, to be fully appreciated."

Alexander Wang: "Specifically speaking about the show system, I think that's something everyone is challenged with — the immediacy of things, and the idea of how to deliver in this system, where the attention span has become nonexistent."

Tommy Hilfiger: "With social media, with the Millennials who are crazy over their heroes like Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner and all of these girls, [fashion is] red-hot."

Donatella Versace: "I love the pace of fashion. Fashion is about moving forward, and moving fast. One of the greatest pleasures of my life is how the new generation has connected with Versace. If you complain about the pace of fashion today, you are closing the door on the future of fashion. We should not be talking about limits, but about opportunities."

Marc Jacobs: "I still would rather deal with all of that just to have that moment, to work on those six weeks of shows that are intense and those nights that are around the clock, and the reward of having created something that lasts for seven minutes that feels right. It's still all worth it."

Michael Kors: "Today, people are interested in every part of the scene of the fashion world. I think maybe it's — if you want to say overheated — sometimes when you have the lights on you, it's hot."

Jonathan Anderson: "I think the speed at which the fashion industry is going is fundamentally what we expect of fashion today, as ultimately, this is the way the world works. It is about the chase against boredom."

Anna Sui: "I agree [that fashion is overheated]. But I don’t know really what we can do at this point because it’s where we’re at right now. It’s not just fashion, it’s everything. It’s the movie industry, the music industry; it’s sports. Everything has gotten to this point and celebrity, too. It’s all so immediate, all so in your face, you can’t calm it down anymore."

Alber Elbaz: "The more I talk with people, I see everybody looking for a change, everybody. There is not exhaustion but almost like a confusion of what we are and who we are in fashion."

Umit Benan: "Social media is controlling fashion now. And I don't like it. The attention to workmanship is disappearing. It's all about marketing. I absolutely think someone should stop this. Attention is good. But I think it's time for the brands to control the final [customer]. Slow down a bit."

Derek Lam: "It definitely feels like a moment of reckoning, only because we as an industry have been talking about this for quite a few years. The pace just seems to accelerate, as opposed to making a conscious effort to address what needs to be addressed, which is this oversaturation of design, especially in fashion, and all the information."

Ralph Lauren: "It's never been about producing a larger extravaganza for me, as then it becomes too much about the theater. The clothes should be paramount, and the press and retailers need to see the detail and how the clothes breathe and move."