In full swing, male fashion lacks talent and technical training

In full swing, male fashion lacks talent and technical training

A wave of growth is submerging the world of male fashion, driven by consumers alert to the search for quality and heritage clothing. And this trend is not about to take off: analysts predict that the global men’s clothing market will reach $642.95 billion by 2028. But the problem is that this sector is facing a crucial shortage of technical skills. Who will be the tailors, artisans and modelers who will shape the future of men’s clothing? Can industry maintain this pace at the expense of the lack of necessary human resources? The terrain is certainly conducive to growth, but who will respond to the call?

In an exclusive interview, Christine Walter Bonini, President and Head of the International Academy of Fashion of the Paris Fashion Week (AICP), shares her reflections on the size of men’s ready-to-wear as well as the role that the AICP sees in supporting the sector’s actors in full expansion at a time when the AICP is launching its “International Fashion Week” course for men.

The AICP: a family story born in men’s clothing

The International Academy of Fashion of Paris (AICP) has a rich history, deeply rooted in the art of making men’s clothing. Indeed, it is the tailors who had to create it in 1830. Since then, tailors have always directed the school, including Mr. Darroux (along with journalists from 1920), until his revival by the Vauclair family, tailors even in 1968. The strategic overhaul of the school began at this time, and it has been expanding its programs to include industrialization techniques, aligning itself with the flourishing ready-to-wear market.

A changing landscape

Christine Walter-Bonini has, even herself, a deep passion for men’s clothing. She is observing a renewed interest in male fashion. A trend like this, according to her, can be attributed to a confluence of factors. “I’m telling you, two things are produced in the same time. In part, the Covid-19 period has been complicated for all sectors, but also a period when men’s clothing can suffer even more than others, both at the level of production and distribution. And now, two or three years later, we notice a regain of interest in men’s clothing. Why? First of all, the consumer has to start and pay attention to his needs: men, young men and teenagers are more interested in male fashion. They do beautiful things and are more interested in their appearance. “The result is that many brands which have abandoned men’s clothing rather than women’s are being (re)manufactured,” explained the President.

Men are looking for more and more quality and well-made clothes that respond to their tastes, reflect their individuality and their style. They also share the croissant’s appreciation for heritage and artisanal know-how, with a new taste for the large and medium-sized. An evolution that transforms men’s clothing, rich in traditions, into perfection.

A need for skills on the market

However, this regained interest in men’s clothing is accompanied by his many difficulties and obstacles. Remains to know if the industry can overhaul. In effect, a major obstacle is encountered on the way to its expansion: a lack of technical skills.

“Today, technical training programs for men are on the rise. »

Christine Walter Bonini, President of the International Academy of the Coup of Paris

The era of “fast fashion”, ahead of its industrialisation, is characterised by mass production and disposable clothing, leading to a reduction in qualified technical expertise. The result is a fashion industry facing a significant skills deficit. A shortage that affects all the technical skills necessary for creation, particularly in modeling.

According to Walter-Bonini, several facts are, as well as very serious, in cause. “First of all, technical training programmes in modeling are rare,” asks Walter-Bonini. As a result, companies are increasingly struggling to find qualified candidates for vacant technical positions. Or, another problem is ringing out the alarm: the wave of departure for the retreat of the “baby boomers”, those who worked there in the 1950s and are now approaching the retirement age. Their vast knowledge and expertise endow the industry with you without what they have been told. Younger generations have not acquired the skills needed to replace these professional partners.

Demand for manual skills is extremely strong in the sewing sector, with around 10,000 job offers less than this year.

But in every crisis there are many opportunities. This influence of factory workers has created a thriving employment market for qualified modelers. Demand for manual skills is extremely strong in the sewing sector, with around 10,000 job offers less than this year. Historically, manual trades and technical skills have not benefited from the same recognition as creative roles in the fashion industry. But a positive development is underway.

Revitalize men’s clothing: the need for concrete carriers for the new generation

New generations increasingly appreciate the combination of technical expertise and creative expression offered by these professions. Technical items in the men’s clothing sector enable working with high-quality materials and mastering complex techniques that are passed on from generation to generation. They combine knowledge, savoir-faire, tradition, heritage and contemporary culture, and also perfectly embody the notions of “durability” and “sense”. Or this sense, it is precisely that looking for active generations in the work market.

In this regard, the President observes that the discussion about the craft trades is taking over. “We noticed in the candidacies that we received from the AICP. Across the interviews and written tests, we have observed a net change in aspirations among young candidates, particularly since the pandemic. The experience of confinement and the global crisis seems to have given rise to a desire for “significant and concrete” careers, as expressed by many candidates. They aspire to work in a creative manner with their hands and to create something physical. We have also noticed a growing interest not only in fashion styling, but also specifically in technical areas such as modeling and tailoring. This post-COVID impact on the craft trades is particularly interesting. They agreed to completely redefine their professional path. Over the last two years, this trend has not stopped taking the lead and is not showing any signs of relentlessness, it is also the AICP’s motivation to encourage training in men’s fashion,” explains-t- elle.

Mentoring at the IA: preparing students for the evolution of the men’s clothing industry

The AICP is, once again, at the forefront of this movement, forming the next generation of qualified professionals to shape the future of fashion. “We are in the process of reviving everything that doesn’t exist anymore and is necessary in companies. The school also adapts to new materials, which are much more sophisticated. Students also learn digital technologies. All tools related to artificial intelligence numeracy are provided by the school, as well as knowledge of the RSE and value chains, in order to ensure that students and interns remain 100% aware of the evolution of their profession. “Follow-ups and discussions with professionals are extremely important in this regard, and especially the school is very important for companies in order to bring professionals up to speed through continued training,” added the President.

The AICP provides its students with the skills needed to excel in men’s clothing, combining basic skills such as tailoring, shaping and making clothes, with significant experience in collaboration with industry professionals on concrete projects . Technological advances are another force shaping the men’s clothing industry, says Walter-Bonini. 3D printing offers immense potential for creating custom-made clothing that fits perfectly on the wall. Artificial Intelligence (IA) has the potential to personalize clothing choices by adapting to individual styles and preferences. And the AICP is actively exploring the integration of these advances into its teaching methods.

Forming the next generation of professionals across the world

The Academy also followed trends beyond French haute couture. His long-term partnership with Japanese clothing manufacturers, who are over 40 years old, has earned him a solid reputation in Asia, particularly in Japan. This partnership, initiated by Vauclair, consolidated the expertise of the AICP in the manufacture of men’s clothing. The university is also building a solid network of universities and schools in Asia, particularly in Japan, Korea and China, which facilitates the arrival of talented students each year to seek training techniques.

When asked about what motivates these students to enroll in the Academy, the President replied: “Technical skills are highly valued in Asia,” she explained, “and students want to perfect their skills . Because traditional Japanese modeling implyes a focus on working on models, the AICP proposes a comprehensive approach that integrates 3D techniques. This innovative approach enables students to acquire a solid set of skills, preparing them for the future of fashion design.” Then there is this intangible advantage, this prestigious image of Paris and its beneficial schools in Asia. Students appreciate the opportunity to learn from renowned instructors and to develop their skills in a city synonymous with fashion, luxury and craftsmanship.

A look to the future

For the future, Walter-Bonini envisions a rich and possible future for the men’s clothing sector. Sustainable development is becoming a more important preoccupation, with an increasing demand for environmentally responsible practices at each stage of the clothing life cycle. However, the conversation does not stop there. With advanced technologies, the role of artificial intelligence (IA) in fashion creation is a subject that constantly returns to the order of the day. “Is it possible for her to really replace the man’s head one day?” » ask the President. “It is a question that the whole world is asking, but it remains, for the moment, without a definitive answer. »

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