As 2015 draws to a close, we're revisiting the stories that transformed the way we thought about fashion and beauty this year.
From the New York Times's landmark investigation into the nail industry's abuse of underpaid manicurists in May, to explorations of the ways off-price outlets, ethical shopping and athleisure are impacting the fashion business, these were the 25 stories that altered our understanding of the industries we cover, tackled big questions or simply changed the way we shopped. We hope they make as big of an impression on you as they did on us. Happy holidays!
"The Price of Nice Nails" by Sarah Maslin Nir/The New York Times
Few stories rocked the beauty sector — and New York County — as much as the New York Times's investigative series on the exploitation of underpaid manicurists. As our Beauty Editor-at-Large Cheryl Wischhover wrote, "It made me question my priorities, ethics and the cost of beauty."
"The Myth of the Ethical Shopper" by Michael Hobbes/The Huffington Post
If you think boycotting the big fast-fashion chains and spending more on goods from niche local brands makes you a more ethical shopper — think again. As author Michael Hobbes writes, "Those small-batch, hemp-woven Daisy Dukes you bought in Dumbo are far more likely to be made in a sweatshop than your $7 H&M gym shorts."
"Fashion's Secret Blockbusters" by Christina Binkley/The Wall Street Journal
While retailers love to celebrate the new each season, much of their business depends on "replenishment" goods — staple pieces like Saint Laurent's "Jane" shoe and Rick Owens's leather biker jacket that shoppers snatch up again and again.
"The Kanye West Interview" by Dirk Standen/Style.com
The fashion world could talk of little besides Kanye West's Yeezy Season 1 collection for Adidas at New York Fashion Week in February (leading Cathy Horyn to famously observe that the industry might be suffering from Stockholm syndrome). Shortly after the show, Kanye West revealed the thinking and process behind the collection in an exclusive interview with Dirk Standen.
"The World Is Not Enough" by Jessica Pressler/New York
Though the author didn't know it at the time, she would be the last to interview e-commerce visionary Natalie Massenet before she abruptly quit her job at Net-a-Porter, the company she founded 15 years ago.
"At Gucci, a Messy Exit for One Designer Opens an Unlikely Door for Another" by John Koblin/The New York Times
Just before leaving his job at the Times's Styles desk, reporter John Koblin dropped this juicy deep-dive on the messy breakup between Kering's top brass and the (married) duo at the helm of Gucci, CEO Patrizio di Marco and Creative Director Frida Giannini. Stories like these are rare from the ever-polite (or at least fearful of future access) journalists covering the fashion industry.
"Lanvin and Alber Elbaz: The Story of a Breakup" by Vanessa Friedman/The New York Times
Continuing in that tradition, the Times's Vanessa Friedman investigated the stages leading to the riff between Lanvin's management and its recently ousted (and much celebrated) creative director, Alber Elbaz, after 14 years. (Also worth reading: Robin Givhan on why Elbaz's departure is a loss for the house and the industry.)
"Why Raf Simons Is Leaving Dior" by Cathy Horyn/The Cut
Of all the designers to leave their posts at major fashion houses this year, none rocked the industry quite like Raf Simons's sudden departure from Dior in October. Cathy Horyn, the journalist who knows him best, tells us why.
"Too Big to Succeed? How Dior Could Make Its Next Designer Hire Stick" by Nicole Phelps/Vogue
Creative burnout was a hot topic of discussion following the wave of designer exits at Balenciaga, Dior and Lanvin. Nicole Phelps offers some real solutions to making the creative director job more manageable — like delegating the creation of its pre-season or haute couture collections to a separate designer.
"Is There a Place for John Galliano in World Run by Alexander Wang?" by Lauren Sherman/Fashionista
Following John Galliano's Paris debut at Maison Margiela, Lauren Sherman assesses the state of fashion in early 2015.
"The Modern Peacock, From Versace to H&M: The Grand Return of Masculine Sartorial Flamboyance Is Well Underway" by Alexander Fury/The Independent
Much was written about the rise of menswear in 2015. While most stories focused on broad sales figures and the online #menswear community, fashion critic Alexander Fury tapped into the spirit of the revival and furnished some fresh, surprising figures and analysis to go with it.
"Why Lime Crime Is the Most Hated Beauty Company on the Internet" by Arabelle Sicardi/Racked
The beauty community reacted with glee when indie beauty brand Lime Crime — which had a reputation for bullying beauty writers who posted critical reviews online — was slapped with an FDA warning. Arabelle Sicardi dives into the company's history, teaching us about the practices of niche beauty brands and their consumers along the way.
"Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior Vie for Most Luxe Fashion Show Destination" by Christina Binkley/The Wall Street Journal
A growing number of luxury brands — from Chanel to Dior to Gucci and beyond — are spending tens of millions of dollars to host extravagant runway shows in exotic locales. It could be money well spent.
"Inside the Rarified World of Haute Couture Shopping" by Lisa Armstrong/The Telegraph
It's not often a couture client is willing to expound upon her expensive habit. Lisa Armstrong finds out how a woman in remote Lancashire began collecting Dolce & Gabbana's custom-made frocks.
"Why A Détacher Designer Mona Kowalska Intentionally Keeps Her Business Small" by Eliza Brooke/Fashionista
The industry loves to celebrate a rising star, but there's merit, too, in keeping your business small and sustainable — and giving your employees, and yourself, three-day weekends.
"One Writer Mourns the Death of Fashion Twitter" by Lauren Sherman/Yahoo Style
RIP, Fashion Twitter — you were great while you lasted. See you on Snapchat?
"Are the 'discounts' at luxury outlets a form of consumer fraud?" by Jenni Avins/Quartz
A chart can be worth a thousand words, and this one shows just how dependent certain fashion brands — especially U.S. labels like Michael Kors, Coach and Tory Burch — are on outlets to move merchandise. And no, that's not a good thing.
"Trending" by John Colapinto/The New Yorker
Balmain designer Olivier Rousteing is a social media celebrity — and something of a target dummy for fashion critics. Colapinto explores the dichotomy, and Rousteing's rise to fame, ahead of the launch of his H&M collaboration.
"Justin Bieber Turns to Fashion to Stage a Comeback" by Alyssa Vingan/Fashionista
Few industries are as adept at transforming an image as fashion, and that's exactly what Justin Bieber needed this year after repeatedly landing in the tabloids for underage drinking, drug use, soliciting prostitutes and an alleged fight with actor Orlando Bloom. Remarkably, it worked.
"Robbie Myers on Why Women's Magazine's Matter" by Alexandra Steingrad/Women's Wear Daily
Robbie Myers is one hell of a smart editor — and, frankly, an underappreciated one. This Q&A, which spans Myers's 15 years at the helm of Elle to the unjust marginalization of women's magazines, is one of the sharpest we read all year.
"Fashion Drives New Denim Momentum" by Lauren Sherman/The Business of Fashion
While many Western women are trading in their denim for yoga pants, designers like Rachel Comey and the design duo behind Marques'Almeida are breathing new life to the staple — and transforming their businesses.
"Your Next Item of Clothing Should Be So Expensive It Hurts," by Marc Bain/Quartz
Let's face it: We all buy things just just because they're cheap. To cut down on his own spending — and to make sure what he was acquiring was really meaningful — Marc Bain vowed to spend at least $150 on any item of clothing he purchased over the past year. "His experiment changed the way I shop," our Editor-at-Large, Lauren Indvik, wrote.
"Hedi Slimane On Saint Laurent’s Rebirth, His Relationship With Yves & the Importance of Music" by Dirk Standen/Yahoo Style
Though done over e-mail, Dirk Standen's rare interview with Saint Laurent Creative Director Hedi Slimane was the best, and most revealing, we've read yet. (Also worth reading: Alexander Fury's take on why Slimane is ruining Yves Saint Laurent's legacy, and Véronique Hyland's rebuttal.)
"Should Fashion Be Politically Correct?" by Vanessa Friedman/The New York Times
After a year of public outcries about "cultural appropriation" in fashion shows, magazine spreads and advertisements, this was an important question to ask.
"Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Bill Nye's Beauty Routine" by Eliza Brooke/Fashionista
At a promotional launch for his bow-tie range and his latest book on climate change, our Eliza Brooke took the opportunity to talk to Bill Nye — you know, the science guy — about his personal style and the skin care products he swears by. This interview will leave you totally delighted.