Have you ever witnessed a fashion show IRL or on TV/social media and wondered who these elaborate designs were meant to target, or why these shows are all filled with seemingly unwearable clothes which would not work in real life at all?
© Studio picsing
But here's the thing, everyday fast fashion brands like H&M, Zara, Nike or any other mass-market brands will never showcase something like that in their stores or campaign about it.
We are talking about high, creative fashion labels here, created by designers and marketed off as luxury goods and de rigueur fashion. But realistically speaking, obviously, every label and every designer intends to sell what they're making. No fashion house can survive if it were only manufacturing unwearable clothes, considering the kind of budget and effort it takes to organise a show.
So, you should calculate by now that these ridiculous pieces seen on the runway will never end up in boutiques or department stores of the label.
So, how does the production of bizarre clothes add up?
Firstly, not every label plays the game of exhibiting dramatic theatrics. Most labels don't even throw individual shows. A singular example of a show being thrown individually by a label is Shantanu & Nikhil. Most fashion houses can't even afford a runway and are limited to a showroom they open during the Fashion Week.
© Studio picsing
But for the labels who do have a runway, a lot of them organise to the mark Prêt-à-Porter collection, (i.e ready-to-wear, clothes that can be bought right off the rack). For example, for LMIFW, there was a separate exhibition area for buyers to access and cherrypick the clothes that they like.
But coming to clothes that are designed in a fashion incomprehensible by many, we're talking huge sleeves or alternatively narrow skirts that cinch the knees that would restrict function, or ginormous hats etcetera.
Fashion is not only about looking pretty and staying up to date with trends, but it is also art, just like any other major streams like literature. Think of it this way, your go-to work wear or a plain white tee are not fleshed out enough to be turned into powerful artistic exhibits.
A great analogy would be the kind of things you see in the museum of modern art. Aside from the paintings, most structures and moulds are not intended to be bought and displayed in homes because that's not practical or long-lasting to that effect, considering how fragile some of these pieces might be.
Secondly, runway shows have to have elements and themes that send across the message that label wants its audience to know, to that effect, they introduce props, background music, graphics and sometimes even fantastical elements to put the theme across.
Think of a runway sans these elements, people who go to the fashion week sometimes have to sit through six to eight or more a day, and if there is no unique individuality to each label, these shows might be bland for the spectators. Labels for that reason also, curate a theme that sets the tone and creates a vibe for shows in order for them to stand out. For example, LMIFW saw Prashant Verma's musical runway in which he too participated in the way of singing Harold Arlen's classic 'Over the Rainbow' while women of all ages received an 'Oscar' in their Victorian-esque grand tulle and satin gowns.
Which brings me to my third point, taking Prashant Verma's A/W19 runway into consideration, sometimes through their clothes and the runway, designers sometimes set out to make a statement. Prashant Verma's show, called the 'Miracle Show' could be interpreted in many ways of which one could projecting the walk of life in five minutes on a runway or the struggles that people face in life and that each struggle deserves an award for it.
Sometimes, shows shouldn't be taken at face value and should be considered "l'art pour l'art", a French slogan which translates to 'art for art's sake'. Realistically speaking, these shows do, however, render the label with publicity and media coverage on a level that otherwise improves the visibility of a label and works well for the designer profitably that way too.
Lastly, a lot of times the overly dramatic runway pieces are made subtle and more realistic for the racks. The runway piece is an exaggeration of a trend that the label might want to incorporate in their own collection. By making the motives clear far and wide, the simmered down versions of the collection are obviously made wearable for the buyers.
So, to answer your question, you will probably not spot runway pieces on the street, especially ones that restrict any kind of movement unless it's an exhibit, in which case, so is the runway in more ways than one.