Millennial Couture

In the midst of our post-pandemic renaissance, the return of couture signals a new generation of luxury clientele and an unexpected shift in fashion consumption.

Key Takeaways

  1. How high can the fashion industry soar while the masses on the ground struggle with eviction and recovery from near extinction?
  2. In an era of magnified ethics, climate crises, and systemic injustices, fashion brands endure so much scrutiny that the only way to reinsert themselves is through comedic relief.
  3. When it comes to spending power, older millennials are now beginning to power a portion of luxury sales. This means the values and attitudes concerning couture’s archival revival are also shifting in significance and changing rapidly.

After a decades-long dormancy, fashion houses have made their return to haute couture this summer. In the midst of our burgeoning post-pandemic renaissance, society’s attention once again turns to capitalism’s seductive wheelhouse of unattainable desires. And at its pinnacle sits LVMH owner Bernard Arnault, now surpassing Jeff Bezos as richest man in the world. But like the billionaire magnate who just launched himself phallically up into space, we have to wonder: how high can the fashion industry soar while the masses on the ground struggle with eviction and recovery from near extinction?

In an era of magnified ethics, climate crises, and systemic injustices, fashion brands endure so much scrutiny that the only way to reinsert themselves is through comedic relief. From Kerby Jean-Raymond’s cheeky, Pyer Moss Sesame Street inspirations to Viktor & Rolf’s mockery at the institutional facade of royalty, luxury brands are and (always has been) subversive commentators in a field of performance art that’s a little less serious and a lot more self-aware. After a year of stage lights going dark, haute couture’s comeback on the runway is a beacon steadily signaling us towards the bigger, better, and brighter. The dreamer’s playground. New optimism. Even-keeled maximalism—which has seemingly become one of 2021’s biggest fashion trends.

Viktor & Rolf Fall 2021 Couture

With markets seeing a shift from predominately French to Russian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern buyers—there’s a bigger emphasis on what business-audience relationships look like globally, as the culture of couture is no longer specific to the traditions of the western world. Virtual landscapes and the digitization of runway spectacles surely make it easier to appeal to a wide demographic. But with new artist and designer collaborations, comes a new generation of private clientele with new demands and technologies—and over the years we see many of them growing to be under the age of 40. When it comes to spending power, older millennials are now beginning to power a portion of luxury sales. This means the values and attitudes concerning couture’s archival revival are also shifting in significance and changing rapidly.

No longer is luxury fashion about the mere fabrication of fantasy. Younger generations of consumers have no longer grown up in shopping malls but in the search bars of secondhand resale sites such as Vestiaire Collective, Heroine, and The RealReal, where a monolithic allegiance to fast fashion brands are rejected and instead, replaced with a certain democratization and nostalgia. Maybe we can predict couture to be cared for in a similar way by its new generation of admirers. Will we continue to see haute couture on the runway each year from here on out? Or will we approach it with a slower and more sustainable appreciation where, like the cicadas, resurface only every so often to sing their statements out of psychic necessity and savoir-faire?