Tom Ford, Slowing Down Fashion

Tom Ford is not commonly thought of as an eco-designer (he would probably cringe at the term), and probably doesn’t subscribe to many of the same principles as the creators of eco-fashion. However, what he did with his latest collection is actually worthy of applause from proponents of the slow fashion movement.

When Mr. Ford (he no longer likes to be called Tom) debuted his eponymous women’s collection in September of last year, he choose not to do it at Lincoln Center or in a giant warehouse but in an intimate salon-like gathering. The event was very private and exclusive and only about a hundred of fashion’s A-listers were invited. Cameras were not allowed, which is certainly a departure from the current norm, that seems to be something like “most blurry cellphone pictures posted to Twitter wins.” Only the photographers Ford himself had hired, including Terry Richardson, were allowed to take pictures. Still, a few guests managed to snap shots and anyone who posted them were promptly sent cease and desist letters from Mr. Fords people. Fashion bloggers all over the world must have been writhing in pain.

The intention of this was to slow down the hype and overexposure that most new collections are subjected to these days — to prevent people from getting sick of the clothes before they even hit stores. Similarly, Ford’s secrecy will hopefully prevent knockoffs from being hastily created and available at the same time as the line goes on sale.

“I do not understand everyone’s need to see everything online the day after a show,” Ford tells Vogue’s Sara Mower. “I don’t think it ultimately serves the customer, which is the whole point of my business—not to serve journalists or the fashion system. To put something out that’s going to be in a store in six months, and to see it on a starlet, ranked in US magazine next week? My customer doesn’t want to wear the same thing she saw on a starlet!”

Ford pictured in Vogue with model Stella Tennant. Paillette jacket, sheer silk blouse, silk-georgette skirt, jewelry, and clutch; Tom Ford boutiques. Photo by Steven Meisel, via Vogue.


There is a lot of truth in those words. Of course Mr. Ford didn’t just hire regular models for his show, instead he invited famous friends like Lauren Hutton, Rita Wilson, Beyoncé Knowles, Marisa Berenson, Liya Kebede, Daphne Guinness, Joan Smalls, Rachel Feinstein, Lisa Eisner, Stella Tennant, Amber Valletta, Natalia Vodianova, Karen Elson, Karlie Kloss, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Freja Beha and Julianne Moore to his runway party. Women of all shapes and heights, the oldest 67 (Hutton) and the youngest 22 (Smalls).

Ford did not want anyone to see the line until it was actually available for purchase. A preview editorial shot by Steven Meisel was published exclusively in Vogue’s December issue. Photos can now also be seen on Ford’s website.

Ford and model muses in Vogue's December editorial. Photo by Steven Meisel, via Vogue.

Ford and model muses in Vogue's December editorial. Photo by Steven Meisel, via Vogue.

Ford and model muses in Vogue’s December editorial. Photo by Steven Meisel, via Vogue.

I think this was a good shakeup of the fashion business. The whole cycle has spun out of control. There are more collections per year than ever before, Mr. Ford himself even admits to being depressed when, at Gucci he had to design fifteen men’s and women’s collections every year. Now, he’s doing things his way, telling Vogue’s Mower:

“It’s about individuality. Real clothes, real women. For a fashionable woman aged 25 to 75. That’s why I literally put many of my own muses in the show. I hear them say, ‘God, I can’t find that anywhere!’ I want this to be somewhere a woman knows she can go when she wants a great jacket—not a fake expensive jacket, something that has intrinsic value. I don’t think fashion has to change every five minutes. I’d like these to be clothes you can wear for a long time—ten, 20 years; pass on to your daughter. Why buy vintage when you can open your own closet!”

Yes, why? That, Mr. Ford, is what we call sustainable thinking.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
2 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. It’s very sad that he would think being labeled ‘an Eco fashion designer’ is so bad? It’s one of the most innovative, exciting, fastest growing & new areas of the fashion industry. It is the new under ground movement sweeping through the industry. Shouldn’t he care about how
    His beautiful products are made? He’s behind the times if he doesn’t?

  2. I agree with Kelli – the fashion industry is changing, and in the not-too-distant future there will be no other fashion industry than a sustainable one.

    Also, don’t exclusive catwalk shows and tightly controlled PR actually create even more hype? As you say yourself Johanna, “Fashion bloggers all over the world must have been writhing in pain.”
    This arrangement seems more anti-celebrity than slow fashion to me, not that I don’t think a little anti-celebrityism is to be encouraged… Having said that, TF is obviously not against promoting the celebrity that is himself.
    What I was hoping to discover, on reading this article, was that Tom Ford had decided to release only one collection every other year. Now that would be something.

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