Olivier Theyskens Discouraging New Designers – Student’s Opinion

Are you interested in working in the fashion industry? Specifically as a designer of your own brand? Perhaps you should consider what Olivier Theyskens, the former head of two Parisian fashion houses, Rochas and Nina Ricci, has to tell you.

Theyskens discourages students from starting new brands because the fashion industry is developing “too many new names”. He believes that the fashion industry is not going to be able to handle the surplus of young designers starting their own labels.

Nina Ricci Fall Winter 2007
Nina Ricci Fall Winter 2007
Rochas Fall Winter 2005
Rochas Fall Winter 2005

“It’s saturated,” said Theyskens for an exclusive interview at Seoul Design Week. “During New York’s fashion weeks, you have shows with young designers when you barely have a third of the seats taken by people. These days, there is an over-offering of new brands. Now in every season and every fashion week, you have 10 or 12 new names. I think it’s scary.”

It’s surprising, seeing that this successful 37-year-old Belgian designer who started his label in 1997 when he dropped out of university, thinks this way. The solution to this problem is to have the students interested in fashion, to try to pursue a career in different areas of the fashion industry. “They don’t necessarily need to be ‘the designer’,” Olivier Theyskens said. “Students don’t realise that there are other aspects of the industry where they could find a very strong place. A lot of kids that like fashion could become amazing merchandisers, they could become amazing sales people, they could become PRs or they could work more in ateliers.”

Oliver Theyskens as a young designer. Backstage photograph by Gauthier Gallet, 2001
Oliver Theyskens as a young designer. Backstage photograph by Gauthier Gallet, 2001

After speaking to a postgraduate Fashion Design class at IFA, there was a unanimous disagreement with what Olivier Theyskens had to say about new fashion designers. They all believe that each designer has a different style especially that each one comes from a different background, country, and culture. They also insisted that there are so many opportunities and enough space for as many designers because at the end of the day each girl says, “I don’t have anything to wear” while they look for new styles to dress in. One student even laughed and said “There are so many doctors out in this world, why don’t students stop learning medicine?” She believes that if students stop learning and becoming designers, the brands today will end somewhere and the fashion industry will be lacking new designers.

If you have any thoughts or opinions about this subject, don’t hesitate to add in our comments!


Written By: Nadine Fakih

3 thoughts

  1. There are certain facts, which are not debatable:
    a.) The world economic crisis and economy in general – dictates everything from fashion to medicine (I refer to your text)
    b.) Over-saturation is omnipresent – there are numerous new designers, but unfortunately there are not many new ideas in fashion, which is due to the fact that not all new designers have the “privilege” to do their job without restrictions. There are, on the other side – the closed circles – the “clans” that decide upon the designers’ destiny and perspective (a bit more drastically than in other professions) and there is the constant fear of losing the market and not a single investor is ready to take (enormous) risks to support something completely different, innovative, “new” in design or science, something creative, which may be appealing to the “target group” of recipients / consumers but economically unacceptable.
    So, I agree that certain designers, who turned out to be the “constants” in certain companies are more than saturated and have practically nothing new to show. I agree that the “young blood” is not given the adequate opportunities to express themselves. I am completely aware of the economic crisis… and the “clans”, too!


    1. Thank you for your input!
      We’re happy you agree! Young designers should be given more opportunities. The future of the fashion industry depends on new generations of designers.

      Liked by 1 person

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