Where is the balance between "art" and "commerce"?


It's the ultimate battle of the senses vs. material realities.  It's an age old question, and naturally fashion has this dichotomy as well.  This week one of fashion's favorite UC Berkeley graduated sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy have been nominated as womenswear designers of the year by the CFDA, a prize they previously won in 2009.  Winners will be announced on June 6 in New York.  


Rodarte clothing are art pieces, done by hand, one by one, as described by the sisters, done on their kitchen table.  They have been coveted by Hollywood, on demand from film and theater. Remember Natalie Portman's film Black Swan where she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2010?  The Mulleavy sisters designed the artful, and beautiful ballet costumes for that dark and wonderfully made film.  


How about the commerce side of the equation?  Webster's dictionary's definition of the word "business" is: "the activity of making, buying, or selling goods or providing services in exchange for money."

Curious to understand how making exquisite art pieces can build a monetarily viable business? Let's compare the opposite of artistic fashion houses to the commerce ones.  Let's talk about Zara.  They have a fully vertical set up.  They own the full supply chain, so they can control materials costs, execution time line, and control their inventory by owning their own 2100 stores in 88 countries, directly to their customers.  They are in the business to bring in money for sure. They can quickly ship to their stores the looks from Rodarte's latest runway show for less than a tenth of the runway's prices.

Can anyone think of some businesses that has a good balance between art and commerce?  

Written by Amy Leu for 


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