Fashion month is a distant memory and I, for one, am glad to see the back of it; for a variety of reasons. One being to finally see something different on social media! Every day for a month our social media has been flooded with new shows, backstage pictures, street style… You name it — it’s been covered and there’s no escaping it. I would have been hard pressed to find an Instagram post not somehow related to it.
Technology has revolutionised the fashion industry in so many ways. No longer do we have to sketch or take notes during show season. We can instead film, live stream and photograph every look as it’s coming out. This has opened the fashion industry up to the public, giving them access to all aspects of fashion week which was — before now — reserved for the elite few working in fashion such as buyers, editors, stylists, the backstage team etc. The public would get small glimpses of the shows in newspapers and magazines in the following days or months but not in the mass amount they receive today. Never before has it been, quite literally, at our fingertips… * scrolling scrolling scrolling *
In some ways this is fabulous! Anyone interested in this once illusive world of fashion, can stay current, inspired and up-to-date with the latest trends, shows and gossip. But, it is widely known that with social media platforms giving us so much information, people become bored much faster and move on to the next thing within a matter of minutes. So, with this in mind, could this unlimited access actually be having a disadvantage on the fashion industry? Has it made it more disposable?
Looking at the shows this season, a large number of them have been going for some kind of shock factor or spectacle with their show and I can’t help but think that this may be some way to try and stay relevant for longer on social media.
Sure, if the social media platforms love your show, pick up on it and run with it, there’s’ a huge amount of extra attention it and therefore advertising. But, for three days max, then that show is replaced with whatever stage queen has outdone themselves next. And, most people aren’t even referencing the clothes in their posts.
I can tell you that Gucci sent heads and dragons down the runway but not much about the clothes. That Calvin Klein had popcorn covering the floor, but no idea about the clothes. That Phillip Plein had a huge UFO hovering over the runway, but again, nothing about the clothes.
Of course, visual platforms such as Instagram are going to post almost solely on the visual but it seems to be seeping into the written articles too. It is less about the clothes and the design aspect and more about the show.
Personally I’m a show pony and I love a good spectacle but I can’t help but feel a little sorry for the designers. Designers pour their heart and soul into a collection, spending ridiculous hours worrying over the even the most minute detail of each garment. To then put on a show with the aim of blowing up the very fickle social media machine and not have the garments noticed, it seems — in a way — almost degrading.
And, it’s not just during show season that the idea of fashion becoming more disposable comes to mind. Designers are dropping off like flies at a higher rate than ever before stating the ridiculous fast pace that the fashion industry now demands as a result of technology.
Designers are doing six collections or more a year; trying to stay ahead of the game and relevant in a market that is almost insatiable due to the access technology as created. This never was the case pre-technology. Designers made two collections a year — maybe three if doing a resort collection too. These collections were printed in look books and campaigns and then shot in editorials for magazines. People had to wait to see them. Where people could view these collections was also contained. There wasn’t the constant influx of imagery; therefore people still had the urge and excitement to see the collections and they’d go out of their way to buy the magazine or newspaper to see it. Now people can be sat in their pyjamas having not left bed and already seen the same look ten times.
This access that technology has given us is a catch 22. On the one hand social media is a quick and easy way to access a wide audience and therefore customers. But, let’s say Balenciaga shoots an amazing campaign with a gorgeous dress in the desert and we love it so we repost it on social media. Say it turns out many others out there love this image too and they all repost it. Great! More free advertising! This is amazing; people love the images and the designs! But, a few days later, the image has been is in our feeds over 40 times. We’ve seen it too much. The image is now old news and we’re bored. Now we want something new. Quite the catch 22 isn’t it?
Around the time of Raf Simon’s departure from Dior he stated “These days it’s a different way of consuming [culture]. It’s now looking and then swiping to the next thing – looking, next; looking, next; looking, next; next, next, next, next.”
Who knows what the answer is. Technology is not going away so somewhere along the lines there needs to be a balance. But how to do that? Hmmm don’t know, but I’m sure we’ll all stay tuned.