Critiquing Fashion: Where to Start and How to Improve Fashion Critique

Critiquing Fashion: Where to Start and How to Improve Fashion Critique

Originally posted 2018-11-19 11:20:13

By Diana Chan |

2831350088_2fb3edce42_zHow do we critique fashion? What is fashion? How is it defined? Is fashion defined by the trends? or the uniqueness? or the quality? or the time period? There are such diverse brands, cuts, fabrics, accessories, colors that at first glance, fashion doesn’t seem like the type of industry that can be critically analyzed. There are too many factors, nothing is standard, and it is continually changing. Unlike art, the fashion industry is heavily business-oriented and centered on hard-pressed deadlines and at times mass production.  So how can we critique fashion?

1. Know what you are critiquing.

Just like food or art or sports, you have to know what you are critiquing. Just like food cannot be critiqued merely by the way it looks, fashion cannot be critiqued merely by photos.  Attending high fashion catwalks and actually seeing the way the clothes are pieced together and how the clothes flow give a critique that added detail to appeal to the senses of readers and goes beyond seeing a still picture online or in a magazine.

2. Critically analyze.

When critiquing fashion, go beyond “liking” the fashion or “hating” the fashion.  Look at the work critically.  Yes, fashion is about trends, but what are the details that separate the work apart from the trends? The cuts, the colors, the dimensions, the shape, the placement are all intended for a specific purpose.

3. Be aware of the inspiration.

High-end fashion lines do not miraculously appear. Designers are often inspired by something–history, politics, art, a certain decade, etc.–and the brand embodies the inspiration to create fashion with a specific aesthetic and purpose. To critically analyze fashion, you need to be able to relate the fashion to the inspiration. How does the designer’s inspiration come together with the work?

In a way, fashion is similar to art–designers are expressing themselves through the prints, the fit, the technique. For many high-end brands, the catwalk is how designers express their work through live models walking down a runway. High-end fashion tends to be exclusive with only a small number invited to catwalks and fashion shows. But at the same time, seeing fashion shows is essential to effective critique of fashion in order to see how a brand’s products are worn. Can’t attend a fashion show but want to analyze the details? New York, Milan, Paris, and London Fashion Shows are all available to watch online either live or after the show.

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