FIFTY SHADES OF BLEAK
If the on-going Spring collections are anything to go by, the future of fashion is looking decidedly bleak, vapid and yes, heading nowhere fast. By Daniel Goh
As fashion becomes increasingly democratic (with every click of the mouse, a new fashion star is born), with the unstoppable tsunami of digital media, the traditional top-down fashion pyramid is being turned on its couture head. Now, fashion trends are filtering up from the new media to the labels, rather than the other way around. This is detrimental to fashion and style, isn’t it? Designers don’t dictate trends, or create fashion anymore, the masses do, with mouse in one hand, and camera phone in the other.
The visionary Fashion God is dead, long live the Influencer. The fashion industry has always been deeply rooted in the cult of the personality, for isn’t fashion about individuality and taste? Now it is all about digital technology, and the information it generates about what people want – crowd-sourced trends, anyone? Every aspect of the industry used to be reliant on people rather than machines — everything from hand-sketched designs to a stylist’s touch, where an individual fashion god’s subjective tastes can dictate an entire era’s aesthetics. Now, we’re seeing all aspects of the industry affected by new technology and providing data analysis and ‘tracking’. The effect is predictable, lowest common denominator fashion – merchandise cynically produced to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, which is ultimately more about money than it is about style.
And isn’t live-streaming killing fashion too? With an ever-wider reach, live-streams of runway shows, and other digital coverage and updates enable just about anybody to ‘attend’ the shows. The exclusive and elite nature of fashion is gone for good. The flattening of the fashion pyramid is now the landscape where those with an informed point of view, an educated vision are slugging it out online with the speediest clickers and illiterate, ignorant Instagram queens. And Instagram queens with legions of ghost followers are winning.
Although change is what makes fashion tick, the escalating speed of change in fashion is actually putting people off buying fashion. The constant demand for change and novelty leaves real consumers bewildered, and many have simply retreated into a world of casual Normcore basics - for good. Escalating change has also put an enormous strain on the creators of fashion who now put out eight or more collections a year, and quantity is surely detrimental to quality. Fashion cycles have become so short that a 1970s revival can repeat a towic in a mere couple of years! Add to that changes in trends wrought by celebrities and other influencers who reach millions and that’s a lot of fashion change in a nanosecond. Trends changing at a moment’s notice is making fashion an impossible, depleting race against time.