In the role of executive editor of Style.com for ten years, Nicole Phelps helped make the website one of the industry’s leading destinations and references for international runway reviews and daily fashion content. Today, as the global director of Vogue Runway, she oversees all of Vogue.com’s fashion show content, working with staff and freelance contributors to review thousands of collections each year.
In what ways are you seeing fashion adapt to — or be transformed by — the ongoing global and industry challenges?
At Vogue Runway, we spent hundreds of hours, maybe thousands, watching digital shows during the pandemic. With no access to IRL audiences, designers were forced to become entertainers. As we reemerge, it seems crucial that they re-prioritize innovation at the level of the cloth and the garment. It’s the clothes that count in the end, not the clicks. Negotiating that in a hyper-digitalised world will be one challenge going forward.
What, in your mind, will be the most profound impact on the industry going forward?
Definitely the climate crisis and the ways in which all aspects of fashion — from brands’ production and distribution methods to shoppers’ consumption habits — will be required to change to help combat it. I’m very curious to see if and when luxury companies modernize their resale and vintage strategies. I’m always told resale diminishes the perceived value of retail goods, but if the demand is there — and it looks like it to me — why not take advantage of it?
What is one trend or article of clothing that will define the coming year?
Skirts and dresses for men. Post-pandemic I’ve been surprised and delighted to see young guys on the streets of New York really going for it. It looks like the long months of lockdown were the death knell for gendered clothes — at least in my corner of the East Village.
In what ways are you optimistic about the future of fashion?
Sixteen months of fashion Zooms is enough; the computer screen can zap even exciting ideas of their energy. Seeing Marc Jacobs’s show in the New York Public Library was a reminder of fashion’s power and its force of persuasion.
I’m hopeful I’ll be reminded again and again come the spring ’22 shows in September.
What is something you’d love to see in the future — even if it is the stuff of fantasy?
The return of Phoebe Philo!