MR Round Table: The Burnout Generation

Alber Elbaz is leaving Lanvin. Raf Simons is leaving Dior. Alexander Wang left Balenciaga. What is going on?

10.30.15
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CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist Chris Gelinas and artist Catherine Pearson joined Leandra and Amelia for the round table. See our round table on the endless tech talk here.)

Leandra Medine: I want to have a conversation about burn out. Ever since Raf Simons made the, I think, heroic decision to leave Dior, the conversation on fashion burnout has been coming up in every direction across media. You read Cathy Horyn’s take on the departure for The Cut, you look at Suzy Menkes’ and Sarah Mower’s respective opinions for two different Vogues, you hear what Alber Elbaz said at the Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars and it’s so clear that there’s a huge underlying issue. I think this is particular to fashion (and correct me if I’m wrong) and not as much to art, because the fashion industry, which is largely motivated by creative force and talent, has taken to tech in a way that art may not have, and so, the possibility of burnout is a bit more salient.

I am very curious to hear from your perspectives as artists and designers, whether or not you’re feeling the burn out. Something you said to me last week that really resonated, Chris, was that we have to take a page from the Dries and Alaïa books and set our own paces. I’ve been thinking about it so much.

Chris Gelinas, designer, CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist: We read these articles constantly. I read them at the end of every season, and Bridget Foley, Cathy Horyn, Sarah Mower – all of these amazing people that I respect – are calling out that we just ran around for a month to like, a hundred shows a week, and we’re all burning out, and it’s too much information, and we don’t have enough time to appreciate it, but no one’s actually proposing an answer. We can all complain about it and we’re all aware of it, but what do we do? Which I think is interesting. We enable the pace.

We’re total enablers: the retailers, the designers. You know, we’re telling the consumer you can have more and more, faster and faster. If we cut them off from that, they’ll be forced to adapt. Just like they adapted to twelve deliveries now thirteen deliveries, and merchandise constantly changing on the floor. For me, it’s tough because you see sixth months of work relegated to a sale rack in a third of the time. So what’s the perceived value in these clothes and their ideas?

LM: Stimulatory overload, right? I think I feel so emotionally connected to T Magazine because it comes out kind of sporadically, the content is always stunning and there’s a very strong emotional connection between the reader and the thing. And in thinking through what we’re doing with Man Repeller and whether or not it makes sense for us to grow to the point of ubiquity or get aggressive about scaling… I don’t know, I think it’s really important that instead of having six stories a day go up that are timely and highly ranking for SEO, we just have like, three really solid ones go up that make people feel warm.

CG: It all boils down to, you know, in a bigger-picture sense, what is success to you? As emerging designers, we’ve been so focused on brands, not collections – that’s what we’ve been taught. We don’t nurture ideas anymore because we don’t have time to fail, we don’t have time to make mistakes. It’s like you need to be a brand from your first season. You have to have such a cohesive world and strong message and that perfect package is because I think we’re bombarded by so much information that we need things that are palatable and easy to understand straight out of the gate. Ten years ago, in Proenza Schouler’s first few seasons, they were really finding themselves. And it took a few seasons and that was a known grace period. And now, if you don’t have that perfect package in the first or second season, people lose interest. As an emerging designer, that’s terrifying.

Catherine Pearson: When I first started working in fashion retail, coming from a fine arts background, I thought it would be completely different. Working with the clothes but also seeing the way it had to recycle every six months got me thinking about the branding that gets pushed upon designers. I think it happens in all creative fields because of social media. I see it with a lot of my peers. We see the same obsession with youth — young painters — in the art world that you have in fashion with young designers, the same pressure for a cohesive vision. At 25? Nobody knows what they’re doing at 25. And that’s totally fine. You’re still finding yourself. And there has to be more room to find yourself when you’re young as opposed to this pressure to emerge as a fully formed Greek myth coming out with her uncracked egg, or whatever.

LM: There’s a fundamental issue in the messaging. We’re all being fed an unrealistic ideal you are your own business, should be running your own business and must succeed. In 2015, you’re a slacker if you’re not an entrepreneur with a multi-pronged media platform on your back burner, you know? That’s really problematic. This whole conversation about moving to California and the migration to L.A. is a direct result of people burning out.

CP: Oh! I almost just did that. I was literally about to do that and then I went to Vermont instead. You never pause in New York. I’ve been here for a decade and don’t think I took a breath until this summer.

Amelia Diamond: That’s probably why Burning Man has been popular, it’s why all these extractions from society are. My mom went on a ten-day silent retreat. She said it was all young people, who live in cities or work in tech. They all have these lives that push them out of their life because they can’t bare to be in it for a second longer, and everyone knows they’re about to break down.

You know what I was thinking, though? Comedians are some of the only creative people who aren’t expected to be pumping out new content constantly. They’re the last group of people sort of “allowed” to take their time to develop and work on their craft. I’ve seen Amy Schumer do the same bit for years. I have a friend who does standup, and he just posted his reel on Facebook, which is the same bit I saw him do two years ago. And it was funny then and is still funny. But they keep doing jokes until they’re proven funny and good. They do the delivery right, they know when to look at the audience, they really are allowed to hone their craft. But maybe that’s because you don’t go and see the same comedian over and over.

LM: The other thing about creators is that we’re all supposed to connect emotionally with other humans. That can get lost in the ideation phase and the building of the product. I know specifically with content in media, you can get lost in the numbers and the data, in the science of what makes a story go viral. Same thing can happen in fashion where that connectivity you’re supposed to strike with the consumer can get lost in the motions of middleman dealing — where the retailer stops the connection from happening. At a certain point you stop thinking about the people because you’re trying to appease the beast. With comedy that’s not really true.

For one, it’s still a meritocracy because you’re either funny or you’re not, you either succeed or you don’t, and that’s that. There is no conceivable science behind it, whereas you could figure out a math equation to build a line and see it succeed. Fast fashion is a perfect example of that. But in comedy, if you’re not connecting with the people, you’re failing. Period. Somehow that motivation has gotten lost and I think a great deal of our burnout is because of that. I was telling Amelia earlier that I kind of want to write a story investigating who The new Joneses are. When our parents’ generation was expected to keep up with the Joneses, there was a very specific model they were looking toward or aspiring to keep up with. What are “The Joneses” today? Is it the abundant technological connectivity? That’s too big.

CG: Our filters have gotten less and less refined so we let more things pass through them. On the one hand, that’s very democratic and it would be elitist to think, “Oh, fashion design should only be for a small sect of people.” There are so many amazing expressions and we should have the opportunity to hear them all. But at the same time, you get these brands that could build their own worlds. You could make an amazing world and this amazing package, but there could be no content. You could be really successful, we see that all the time: these really cohesive, spot-on worlds that you can associate with, but the product is crap. And then you have amazing designers with amazing product but you don’t have the time or the energy to build this perfectly packaged world and then they’ll never see the light of day, they’ll never get the recognition that their craft deserves. What does it mean to be a designer anymore? Can you be a really good merchandizer, can you be a really good stylist and just have design teams underneath you? I’m sure in art it’s the same thing. You can be perfectly packaged with the right gallery that’s telling you what to do.

CP: Right, are you a designer or do you have a really great eye and then a great team? It’s much more acceptable to not be personally producing this vision that you’re creating. And I realize that with a large brand, things can get away from you and you do need to delegate at a certain point. But maintaining both a human connection and one to why you wanted to be a creative in the first place is important.

CG: Andrew Rosen [CEO of Theory] would say that all the time, “We’re looking to evolve, not have a revolution.” Alber Elbaz also said it perfectly. “Evolution lives longer and better in history books. Revolution looks great, but only on TV.” And I think in terms of American fashion, what do we want defining this next generation? Do we want this constantly revolving system of images and not a lot of substance? Or do we want to appreciate something that quietly evolves? And that’s what I think about Dries Van Noten or Alaïa, two designers who you know have always steered their own course. Alaïa especially. He’s had his difficulties with that model, but at the end of the day, it has value. You see Alaïa hanging in a store and it’s as covetable as it was ten years ago and as it will be in another ten years. He really represents that upper price range in luxury too, in terms of the market. And there’s a reason why he’s been able to maintain that value: he’s never had to do diffusion lines, or have another product category. He’s content with what he has.

LM: Specifically with media – because this is something I feel like as a boss I struggle with at Man Repeller or as the founder of a media property – how do you play on this concept of evolution without acknowledging the fact that revolution is what interests people, right?

CG: This is the difficulty I’m facing constantly. I’m not fully embracing the social media thing as much as I could. I’m much more comfortable putting my head down and working. My focus is really on the craft. And I like to pay homage to the people and the processes behind it. I think that integrity is really important and is what’s lacking. In the wake of this oversaturation of fast fashion, we need to educate consumers about what it is to have a luxury product. What domestic production means, what craft means – we’ve really lost that. I think 50 years ago when there was a lot less out there and you bought a dress and you wore that dress over and over again, you understood what it meant to have luxury. Look at vintage — it doesn’t even have to be an old brand, it’s all beautifully made. I think a little bit of re-emphasizing the people behind the process. But it’s the least sexy, least glossy message.

LM: I think what you said before is exactly right, which is that we’re the enablers. The consumer today is a complete reflection of the consumer we’ve contributed to create. In competing with one another and in trying to compete with ourselves, we’ve conditioned them to expect more of us. I think that when they say, “You can’t un-see things,” this is exactly what it means. Is there a possibility of regression? Can you regress? Can you market a change as not really a regression, not really even a step back, just a healthy change? Or do we have no choice but to continue stampeding forward? I’m specifically saying stampeding and not marching because that’s what it is.

CP: I feel like the only recourse is over-saturation. It’s a pendulum that has to swing completely, and it’s almost there, but not yet. We’re at that point of unbearable tension.

AD: I was just interviewing people in this industry on diversity in fashion and something that was brought up repeatedly is that fashion is moving too fast. Because of that, models will be “it girls” for just a blip, then it’s on to the next one. It turns people into trends, race intro a trend…

But, I think the problem with burn out is that we are so in it that to say we are burnt out and that we need to take a week off feels like a cop out. It feels very self-indulgent. I feel it myself, we talk about it all the time, I can feel it happening, I know it’s a real thing. But it’s almost like anxiety, it’s self-indulgent to say, “I’m anxious, I’m stressed.”…The whole world is stressed. Did our grandparents’ generation experience burn out and if they did, did they just power through it? And did that make them happier, healthier people? People used to make fun of California because it was so hippie dippy, free love — like what the fuck is everyone doing out there? Why are you guys always hiking or at the beach? But is that lifestyle so wrong? They’re all very happy, everyone has low blood pressure and takes walks and hangs out with their kids. I don’t know.

CG: God forbid we just introduce a little of the spirit of a retreat into our every day lives so we wouldn’t have to run off to like, you know, a shaman and do ayahuasca.

LM: The thing Americans don’t understand is moderation and that’s the key to happiness. We do not understand moderation.

CG: I walk by the same coffee shop every morning and I tell myself every morning, tomorrow I am going to sit there and have a coffee and read something for an hour in the morning. But sure enough, every day I just walk like a crazy person up Eighth avenue, my heart racing.

AD: Sweden, apparently, is cutting down their work hours to six per day.

LM: But on the other hand…look at how quickly we bounced back from the Great Recession. We are a tremendously efficient country — and that is the capitalist in me talking, which is not a good thing, but there is a balance. There is a level of moderation, which I think manifests as small actionable changes that people in the industry are making. I just cut our content down from 5 stories a day to 3.

CG: I know it sounds silly, but was it a big decision? Did it feel risky?

LM: Ya! It scares the shit out of me. What if our page views go down, does that mean that our advertisers are not going to want to work with us anymore, will I be able to continue paying these people? But you know, the more I think about it and the more I feel myself connecting with media that actually elicits emotion in me, the more I think, nobody really cares what we have to say about [insert famous person name here] anyway, they can get that from everywhere else. We are here to talk about the psychology of fashion. We’re building a sisterhood. That doesn’t have a number of daily posts on it…that’s an ethos.

AD: We’re seeing reader burn out across the board.

LM: Even I have content burn out. Yesterday, one of our contributors posted a story she wrote for Elle, and it was the kind of bait-y headline that would have excited me a year ago, and I just looked at it, rolled my eyes and shut my computer. This is my industry, this is what I’m passionate about, and I love this contributor – she’s one of my favorite writers – but I couldn’t look at it. What is that?

CP: That’s the worst scenario, and the worst case outcome. Becoming fatigued and experiencing burn out to the point that you lose some of your original passion. And that, I think, is a constant danger of this over exposure.

LM: I think the important question in the wake of that point – which is a wise one – is: what is actually motivating us? Is it our creative passion, are we being motivated by that? Or is it this sense of financially insecurity, or vanity, or a hunger for respect?Are we being motivated by the right agents?

CG: Creatives, by nature, are sensitive. We are absorbing things and I think the spectrum of creativity is how sensitive are you to the most subtle social and cultural change. And how much visual stimulation you absorb and manifest into yourself.

CP: And that’s why you have to be careful in setting your own pace.

LM: There’s also a middle ground, though, right? Someone like Nicolas Ghesquière who is working at an enormous brand and has somehow made it feel so local and emotional. I always say that a good designer makes you feel like they’re hugging you with their clothing. I very much feel that way about Dries, and I don’t feel that way as strongly about anyone as I do about Rosie. Her clothes hug you hard, they embrace you. And I really feel that way about Louis Vuitton now. Nicolas Ghesquière is a very emotional designer. He is obviously in the process of figuring out a balance, or has figured out a balance, and what does that look like, right?

CG: It takes time and energy to have that kind of transference. You need to invest a lot of emotion in your development and the integrity that goes into it and you’re hoping that the woman who will wear it feels that. And she might not know exactly what it is, but it’s those clothes that make you stand a bit taller, float across a room.

That’s the thing that’s so top of mind with me, is that it’s easy to get sucked into this system of having to churn out ideas. You see someone like Raf who is incredibly sensitive and emotional, and he literally wears his heart on his sleeve in certain collections. And there’s something so beautiful and raw about it, but how can you do that 6 to 8 times a year? And not only that, but this revolution-versus-evolution obsession — it’s like, every collection needs to be ground breaking. It needs to rock our world and show us something so new, but good things take time.

LM: Right. The flip-side of that coin is something that Henry Ford said when he made the first car, which was: “If you’d asked people what they had wanted, they would have said faster horses.” But revolution wasn’t happening on a quarterly schedule then. I think trying to be so revolutionary is really prohibiting the ability to be revolutionary.

CG: Everyone wants a slice of people’s attention.

LM: And everyone wants to revolutionize it.

CP: I want to love the democratization of it all, but at the same time, I can’t be everywhere at once and you have to prioritize your own practice at the end of the day. I am always making these tough decisions cause I am still in a financial circumstance where I have to have a day job. So, I have either my studio or I go to an opening but I can’t always do both. A long time ago I started choosing the studio first, but for a while, I had tons of artwork and no one to show it to because I was just a hermit working in my studio. So I was like, alright, I’m going to go to every opening. And then I have all of these new fast friends and no new work.

LM: When you can’t do the thing that got you recognized to start, because you’re now too recognized, I think is the beginning of burn out. I feel that happening with me and Man Repeller sometimes where I’m just like, “I don’t have time to write anymore because I’m a therapist to my employees, and I have to make sure that this environment allows for everyone to achieve their goals to ensure that we can continue operating as this well oiled machine, and we have to hire new people and think about the evolution and future of the company”…and then I’m like, “I didn’t start Man Repeller because I was passionate about becoming a founder, I had an opinion that was being underserved. I want to keep serving that forward.”

CG: I think it’s hard to maintain that kind of purity and integrity in what got you started, and I think it’s why I’m always asking myself, “What is success?” Can I have a little shop and atelier and have my clients I work directly with and do something seasonally so that I’m still on top of mind and on the radar, and a handful of employees to help facilitate that? That’s my dream. I don’t need a billion dollar IPO. I never even want to come close to that. I think, especially in navigating these different prizes and speaking with the industry leaders, they want to hear that you want to be the next everything to everyone, and you’re not passionate and motivated if you don’t aspire to that.

LM: I think I just had a thought! We’re living through the VC-era, and it’s similar to the era of “Super size me” in that we’re building these companies that are becoming obese. Right now it works, but we’re looking at hard days of heart failure and diabetes ahead. We’re being injected with unnatural materials that are insufficient for our health!

CG: Especially when you hear about tech companies before they even have an idea, and their first round of funding can close at like, 10 million or 15 million dollars. For a lot of companies, that would have been a lifelong goal to achieve in historic revenue. We have sums of money that I would have never dreamed of or considered making, let alone using to get started.

CP: For me, as an artist, and I’m sure for you as a designer, the most amazing thing to me is someone coming to me and being like, “I love this piece, I want to live with it. I want to have it with me all the time. I think in 10 years I am going to love it just as much as I do now, and I want it to be a part of my life.” That’s beautiful.

CG: I think I’ve learned that not every client is going to be that woman who makes me float around my studio saying, “This is why I started this!” I’m nostalgic to a fault and really romanticize a time when a house was really a fashion house and clients came to the atelier and had an experience and a dialogue. And I want to achieve that as much as I can. But like you said, you start to have employees and to feel the pressure of making sure that they’re eating at the end of the day. It’s a balance: creativity and commerce, socialism and capitalism. You need to find that happy middle ground.

LM: What are you doing specifically to find it?

CG: As much as I can, by shutting off from the system. It’s easy to obsess about press as an emerging designer because all of the sudden you have a celebrity wear your thing or you’re in this great piece in a magazine and your inbox gets full with all these pseudo-supporters. So you start wanting to chase after that and you feel like the only barometer of success is having credits, and if you have visibility, the stores will follow. Cutting myself off from that and focusing more on the client and letting the other stuff come secondary, that’s my best recipe for sanity. Because it’s too difficult to try and chase all of those things that are outside of my control when nurturing relationships with my clients is the one thing that I can control.

LM: I think a good thing to do is ask yourself every day: what is giving you energy? Why are you getting out of bed in the morning? And to be able to answer that question, and to build a plan of action based on that answer, seems like a pretty solid way to combat burn out.

CG: Totally. In fact, when you said, “What do we do?” That’s what we do. Every morning you ask yourself, “How am I going to maintain integrity and what got me doing this in the first place?”

Let your actions speak louder than saying that you’re so burnt out.

AD: You also just have to have faith and know that while one camp goes one way, there is the other group of people who do want to read the story and print it out and hold it in a book and not skim it on a Kindle. There is someone buying art because they walk by it and they can’t imagine not seeing it every day, or that they see a dress and have to have. There has to be an element of hope because I just don’t think that creators create just for themselves… you’ve all said you create to touch people. So you have to hope and know that there are people looking to receive and be touched.

CG: Totally. We can’t be so jaded. If we lose that, what’s the point?

LM: I think we’re gonna be okay.

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis

Chris Gelinas is a New York based womenswear designer. Follow him on Instagram and visit his website. Catherine Pearson is an artist and “sometimes illustrator” living in New York. Check out her website hereInstagram here and if you’d like to check out her book, see it here.

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  • Alarive

    I discovered ManRepeller purely by accident, in a period of my life where I just so happened to have a lot of time on my hands at work. I read almost all of your content within a week, which at that point was exclusively written by Leandra and you being your silly but deep self. For example I loved the “From Man Getter to Man Repeller” series, and it became clear this year how much MR has developed into a business now, versus the voice of a real human and “girl like me”.
    I won’t lie, I’ve asked myself, “I wonder if Leandra gets recognized in the street now?”, mostly because it is fascinating to watch the transition of someone going from normal person to someone featured in Vogue. The thing that is interesting, however, is that the quality has never really dropped. The scope of content that is covered has expanded, but each article is SO smart, and still so readable.
    That’s why I check MR daily, and count on it as my “brain food”. I do miss that smaller clubhouse feeling versus alternative fashion website that is actually mainstream, but I love that the quality has never strayed. You’re like the avocado of blogs: good for you while also tastes amazing. Pieces like this one are just.so.good. You’ll have me thinking all night.
    Cut down all the amount of articles you want, scale, and go for it all, just keep giving us this kind of writing. XOXO

    • Jackie

      I completely agree with everything Alarive said. I started reading this years ago, and found it so charming and hilarious, and perfectly in line with the way I always attempted to dress since I was a young teenager.

      I have also missed the “smaller” feeling elicted by Leandra’s blog posts years ago, but so much of the content produced now is so earnest, searching, and relevant, that I find I depend on reading MR posts every day and am absolutely in love with it.

      Scaling down is just fine – it’s good to be able to process and think about the things you guys write about. Keep going, you are doing marvelous work!

      • Alison

        An enthusiastic third here. I like the voices that Amelia, Matty, and other contributors bring to the site — Repel O’Scope is one of my favorite features. But I do miss the Leandra core, and I have become grammar police-adjacent with homonym fouls. I’m excited about the MR scale back. On a note of pure selfishness, I can’t help but celebrate how nurturing your writers and letting them develop their ideas with time will also do wonders for my inner curmudgeon.

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    • Adardame

      Ooh, note to self, look through archives.

  • Sofa Em.

    That was a great round table. So on point. I think it’s a great idea to cut down on content and give us meaningful insights to fashion and style.

  • Carolina

    I’m so glad that you have decided to cut back a bit on the content! I used to read every piece that came out on Man Repeller, but then it got to a point where there was a bit too much to keep up with. I think as readers there is something to be said about being able to invest your time in all the content, to feel like you know each contributor, to feel like you are part of the fam. I think that the idea of anticipation is so powerful; slowing down allows the opportunity for consumers (of both digital content and realized designs) to understand the care and attention that the creators are interested in providing. And when that process is understood, I think consumers are willing to buy into that. We are all looking for a sincere story. We are all looking for connection.

    These round tables are my fave. Thanks MR team!

    • I, too, want to thank you Leandra for reducing the number of daily posts. It had become too much for me to read all of them, which led to me having to choose which ones to read based on the titles. I’d become sad that I couldn’t stay in the conversation. Less is more.

  • Samantha

    Burn out has implications across society, not just the fashion industry. I have considered quitting my day job and entirely dedicating myself to the discourse around leisure, rest and recreation. Burn out leads to unhealthy habits, from what you put in your mouth to how you treat your loved ones to wearing really ugly sweatpants…it kills the creative spirit and doesn’t allow time for new, productive adventures. In a country that doesn’t have guaranteed paid maternity leave it is no surprise that burn out is common. There is no shame in saying “I need today off”, but for some reason we tiptoe around our offices after putting in hours and hours and hours of hard work all week and we are so scared to admit our need for downtime. What is this psychology? I find it so fascinating. Am I the only one who feels like screaming out loud “It’s 75 and sunny and it’s noon on a Friday, we’ve done good work this week, what the F*** are we all doing here?”. If you are thinking this please scream out loud with me.

    • Natalie

      YES GIRL! I hear you loud and clear. I work in investment banking and have worked more hours this week than some people work in a month (not really but kinda). I’ve finished all my projects and yet here I am chained to my desk at 2pm on a Friday afternoon, where I will likely sit until a more “acceptable” departure time of 7pm. Why do I feel like I can’t leave? I love my job but it is these wasted hours of downtime that make me feel burnt out.

      However, I’m feeling sort of bold today thanks to the man-repelling Philip Lim wide leg pants I’m rocking, so perhaps today is the day I just waltz on out of here…

  • Natalie

    Really appreciated this discussion, and have to say as a reader I totally support cutting the content on MR to 3 articles a day! The quality is still as killer as ever.

  • Maia Binhammer

    Really appreciated this round table – it really hit upon a lot of things I’ve been struggling with as someone interested in fashion AND sustainability (environmental, but also personal/emotional). Lots of food for thought – thanks, guys!

  • Brooke W

    Holy moly, just lovely. I love the word “integrity”, I love that TMR is scaling back on content, and I love that this is not just a complaint piece about “kids these days” or “social media is to blame.” Rather, all of your creative minds, as individuals not brands, show agency and reflection, which are exactly what I want, as your audience. Though in a completely different, non-creative field, I find that many of the man-made issues in the natural sciences are due to a lack of accountability and intention by individuals. Just take a second to think about where something came from, how that moves through you, and where your reaction will be felt. We must not be mindless. Less is more.

  • This is really really (really) good.

    Thank you.

  • Lucy Korn

    I doubt you’ll lose readership from cutting down on content, too many online publications focus on solely (it seems) on SEO and post millions of horrible click-baity pieces on their social media feeds and all it does is make me lose respect for the publication. I’ve had to unfollow ELLE, Vogue, VF, Harpers Bazaar recently because of the frequency of their ALL CAPS headed articles. I understand that we all have targets to reach and uphold but surely they can be achieved while still upholding a little brand integrity? That’s why I loved Amelia’s and Leandra’s Halloween costumes. V timely, V spot on.

  • Tova

    Loved this article! Oversaturation is the elephant in the room. Being sabbath observant and tech free for 24 hours every weekend is what saves me from tech/work/world overload.

  • dk

    When I started following blogs, maybe 7 or 8 years ago, it was fun. It felt like time-for-myself. Now it feels more like a chore. I have that blue bloglovin icon showing me my unread posts. And last year it started hitting 80 a day. I went on a un-subscription-walk. And I even thought about unsubscribing to MR. In the end, I didn’t because the content is great, and I love the voices of the new contributors. But it was just too much (and let me say, I applaud the decision to cut back). That I still have too much on my plate, You can see by me posting a comment on a two-days-old article. Will anyone even read this?
    And even if my viewpoint as a consumer is different, I am being affected by the constant rotation on new content as well. I have to be in the loop. And with brands/creatives spitting out new things every other week or so, my leisure time starts feeling more like a job, where I play catch up with the hottest new thing.
    I’ve started feeling dizzy because as a consumer I am being constantly screamed at “BUY THIS THING, AND THIS, AND THIS, ALSO THIS!”. Everybody wants my attention.
    For me, the oversaturation in big fashion companies comes in part due to fashion houses no longer being independent and designer-owned. Bernard Arnault and Oscar Perez are currently the richest men in the world. Just last week I read a piece that ZARA’s CEO is breathing down Bill Gates’ back for the number one spot. Such giant corporations have an objective in mind – bigger revenue, more profit. Designers under their wing have to produce a certain amount of collections per year. And when you have big names as Dior, LV, Celine, Fendi and Givenchy, the little ones follow suit. And then – BAM! – oversaturation everywhere.
    The good news comes in the form of this Round Table. We’re starting to realise that this is a problem. Conversations are now a thing. Let’s hope that we continue this talk, otherwise I fear that a Fahrenheit 911 future won’t be long now.

    • soniadelvalle

      I read it! The Bloglovin’ thing happened to me too, I just couldn’t catch up and I have now abandoned it all. I don’t read blogs anymore, I follow a few bloggers but rarely click on their posts. My bloglovin’ sits unchecked permanently now. And I don’t feel bad, I was overwhelmed and not registering/enjoying much of it anyway!

  • Jessica Beresford

    The Gentlewoman! Great example of a media outlet setting its own pace and (seemingly) not succumbing to pressures of quantity over quality. Only twice a year and always sells out at my local mag shop.

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  • Such an inspiring conversation. And can only agree with the rest that MR has managed to grow in a way that keeps it as this personal online friend. Which I think a lot of fashion bloggers dont manage to do and then loose depth and personality when growing. Kudos to MR and for cutting back on stories (especially the celeb ones. 🙂

  • Marissa Dawson

    ” It feels very self-indulgent. I feel it myself, we talk about it all the time, I can feel it happening, I know it’s a real thing. But it’s almost like anxiety, it’s self-indulgent to say, “I’m anxious, I’m stressed.”…The whole world is stressed. Did our grandparents’ generation experience burn out and if they did, did they just power through it? ”

    TEARS! LEGIT TEARS WERE SHED READING THIS! I FEEL LIKE THIS EVERYDAY! Like I don’t have the right to be tired because my mother was never tired. and my grandparents were never tired. They just got their shit together and worked and told us to do the same. FUCK!

    I’m trying to embody a lot of this. Vacations in my everyday life, finding peace, ignoring social media ( currently on my yearly month long Facebook fast) listening to my thoughts, avoiding procrastination, but it is so hard. No one ever teaches you to take a break.

  • Celina Buss

    I would literally get subtle anxiety typing in the url for MR because I didn’t want to have to open 5+ new tabs and feel like my stack of work/ToDo was getting larger.
    So YES, thanks for 3 stories a day.

  • brittany

    it took me 3 days to finish reading this..

  • Sisa

    I think this was really interesting. I found this blog about two years ago, I think, and it’s by far my favorite blog. Over the years there has been this exponential growth of media content related to fashion that sometimes it just feels like too much. Just last week I found myself trying to decide if clicking on some story on my news feed was really worth it and if the content was going to be substantial enough. The thing is that now fashion blogs end up like a personal photo archive of some blogger’s life we’re suppose to want, but what does this photos tell me besides the fact that this blogger has great clothes? With Man Repeller it’s different. This blog has it all, I just can’t get enough. Love the round tables and this one was a big one! We have to love what we do and feel the passion in it otherwise we’ll end up lost. When you try to sell something without heart in it, for a creative it’s like selling your soul. Great thing about cutting the number of articles per day, that just makes want to read those articles even more!

  • FP

    I am so grateful for this round table, too many reasons to list, but I’ll say this: I woke up today plagued with anxiety about my next move as a designer “I need to create more content! faster! needs to look more on brand! need to add more collections!” what? Honestly, this conversation was an eye opener…thank you!

  • So many nods in agreement.

    when I was younger, I imagined my aspiration to be this bright shiny and slick brand jewelry. I produced every idea I had and every permutation of it. I imagined myself as a business.

    But then it really hit me. Jewelry is just metal and stones (obvious alert!). I don’t care if it’s gold and diamonds, It’s just junk, really. Without “soul,” it’s just material. Marketing and sales became really unappealing to me. Why did I want to entice as many people as possible to buy my pieces if for half of them it’s just going to end up as clutter that they give away or clutter that their children will have to clean away when they die?

    it’s called materialism for a reason. I want people to cherish the idea, not the material itself. The material is merely the physical vehicle to allow you to hold the idea in your hands.

    Visual aesthetics for the sake of visual aesthetics means nothing. It has to have sentimentality to it, it has to. I “rebranded” myself as an artist, instead of a designer. I don’t produce every idea I have. I don’t even produce every good idea I have. If it doesn’t push me forward, it doesn’t get made, or at the very least it doesn’t get . Being cute isn’t enough. I used to think in order to generate interest I had to keep producing new designs to show how impressive my imagination is. Now I curate them down so that I truly feel that every single piece is special, not just the same idea reiterated in slightly different forms and color ways for the sake of “range.”

    Oh and on a side note: Leandra mentions how capitalism got us out of the recession in impressive time, but the thing is, capitalism got us into the mess in the first place.

  • Hannah Cole

    My plans for peace time haven’t really come to fruition yet. But each week that I go into planning on a solo morning coffee and magazine break, I get that little bit closer to actually doing it and savoring that moment of replenishment.

  • Lisa

    Thanks for the digital hug. I do think we’re all going to be okay.

    I’ve been thinking about this so much lately and I feel like this is the next place people are going to be focusing their energy. If 2015 was the year for feminism, 2016 is going to be the year for balance.

    Please keep writing more on this topic. I’d much rather hear about it from you than basically anyone else.

  • soniadelvalle

    I finally got around to reading this! As a consumer, I can only say that burnout is very real, for me, as I read the same headlines, the same coverage of the same news over and over and over on every single site. Or trying to feed my outfits board on pinterest, it’s the same outfits over and over! This site, ManRepeller, is the one place where I know that 100% of the time I will find original content, fresh ideas, a definite style that subtly evolves, but high quality every. single. time. I cannot compare my experience reading MR with anything else, at least nothing comes to mind right now, media-wise. Maybe we get tired of things too soon and move on the next because creators go through the same burnout and we, as the consumer, sense that. So I agree with Chris about connecting to your public as one of the most important things of creating.

  • Sharon

    Incredibly insightful! As a journalism student, this burnout concept is quite frightening especially when readers are demanding more and more content much faster than before.
    We’re wanting bite sized, shocking news but many are forgetting that a 6 page feature in the weekend paper that took months of research can be more thought provoking than 3 easy listicles.
    That being said, I really hope fashion slows down. For the environments sake and for our sanity’s sake.