Gary Wassner’s Optimistic Outlook on the Future of Fashion

by Eddie Roche

With NYFW in full swing, there’s no better time to check in with Hilldun CEO Gary Wassner, who fills us in on what he’s feeling optimistic about, how fashion can recover from the pandemic, and the emerging designers we should all keep our eyes on. 

What are you feeling optimistic about in the fashion world right now?
I’m most optimistic in regard to future of consumer demand for fashion. It has been pent up for almost a year now, and though DTC businesses have been managing to thrive in many cases, the consumer has had virtually no alternative. I expect the floodgates to open up once people are safe and ready to emerge from this cocoon of uncertainty. With a new administration in D.C. and multiple vaccines, that emergence is no longer an if, but a when.

What has been the best lesson of the past year?
How to live with less—people are more discriminating about what they really need and want, and much more aware of what they deem important in their lives.

Fashion was hit really hard due to the pandemic. What steps need to be taken to recover?
Patience, cooperation, and understanding from the entire supply chain, from piece goods to retail. Every aspect of it has suffered and it will take time to make up for the losses this past year has foisted on the fashion industry. It’s not going to happen overnight.

How do you predict people will dress when things get back to normal again?
We have all gotten used to being comfortable. That does not have to mean less fashionable. I expect that we’ll start seeing ‘luxe comfort clothing’ dominate initially. Cashmeres and other soft, welcoming fabrics and yarns, and easy fitting silhouettes for both men and women. I am certainly not anxious to put on a suit and tie anytime in the near future, though I am looking forward to wearing something other than sweatpants and t-shirts, as long as that ‘something’ is easy to wear and feels great on. The ease of dressing to which we’ve all grown accustomed will affect how and what we choose once our choices are open again.

What new designers should we be looking out for?
New? Honestly, there have been so many new brands emerging during this past year or so. The ones I find particularly good are Rokh, Chopova Lowena, Petar Petrov, Peter Do, Nicholas Daley, and Minju Kim. But there are many more. It’s an exciting time for fashion, despite all the challenges and roadblocks. Creative juices have been flowing!

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