There has been many blog articles recently discussing the fact that over the past decade fashion has not stepped forward and offered anything new. Remember 60’s, 70’s, 80’s? We can look at the photos of people taken during these times and accurately pinpoint the decade just based on what people were wearing. But since 90’s things started to generalize a bit and 20 years later there was little change in mega fashion from today’s style prospective.
Why fashion is not moving?
Or at least creates impression that it’s not. I can name few reasons and hope you will agree or disagree with me via comments.
Popularity of Internet
I remember when I first got introduced to Internet in late 80’s first term I and my girlfriends searched on Netscape Navigator was “fashion”. Suddenly, all fashion magazines, new designers, trends, things to buy were at my fingertips. With this huge variety me and my friends were able lo search for things each of us likes. And believe me, it was not necessarily current styles. Even though wide boot jeans were in new designer collections, does not mean people liked them. Somebody did narrow leg jeans, and someone was buying them. Amount of information on Internet related to fashion increased several million times each year. Press and independent press discussing what we should wear for our body types and age, access to styles trending in other countries like Japan and smaller countries of Europe became easier. We started to form our own sense of style.
Rapid Manufacturing in China
Before to make clothing was a challenge. Each of the big designer biographies (read about Guccio Gucci, Christian Dior, Roberto Cavalli in our older blog posts) talks about how emerging designers were struggling in a little basement studios doing custom clothing for a small number of customers for years before fashion shows became popular. When fashion shows became national events and later, international, these guys were able to showcase their creations and drive enough demand to build factories. They were able to attract investors, some like Dior, get a major buyout and create major productions and international distribution chains. They, big guys, were driving fashion trends up until 90’s.
Once China opened their doors, more guys got access to affordable manufacturing and spin new brand names much faster. Walk into today’s mall and see companies like Banana Republic, Mango, H&M, Club Monaco – they are everywhere and masses shop at malls. Want it or not, they took a major market share driving big guys into level of minority, oops, sorry … level of luxury. But guess what, they design what sells, hence what masses like. Therefore designs became more blended across past 40 years, a little bit of everything as long as it sells.
Rise of Paparazzi
Paparazzi is relatively new term. While they existed ever since hand held camera was invented in 1879, paparazzi didn’t emerge until early 1960’s. As fashion magazines looked for more stories, they hired photographers, such as Bill Cunningham, for interesting photos. Of course, celebrities became a major target, but creative photographers like Bill took many photos of regular people walking the streets. Regular people got more exposure in press, thus main stream stuff they were wearing.
Press Becoming More Open Minded
With paparazzi making more material about regular people, magazines, against their own nature, started to show us main stream fashion, driven by malls and mass production retailers. Let’s admit it, today popular fashion magazines like Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan became much more open minded on what they cover in their issues. While quarter of the magazine is paid advertising by big guys, text articles talk about emerging brands and nowadays concentrate less on searching for a big new trend.
Big Brands Becoming More Commercial
Of course big brands who are at large today owned by huge corporations such as LVMH, Ralf Lauren etc, see dollar signs in front of their eyes when coming to work every day. They also want their high fashion stuff to sell to masses. They also open stores in malls beside Banana Republic and H&M. So, as of recently they have two major creative positions in the company: Lead Designer and Creative Director. Creative Director probes the market and decides on what styles will sell better when Lead Designer simply executes Creative Director’s vision with his/her own spin. Such tandems worked really well at Valentino (Valentino Garavani as Designer, Giancarlo Giammetti as Creative Director), Roberto Cavalli (Roberto as Designer, his wife Eva Duringer as Creative Director), Gucci and others. Big labels are no longer trend setters, they are simply trend followers. They follow what we, masses like and buy. So in the past 10 years, big labels are more synonyms of classic than fashionable. They try to produce high quality with their big label on it pushing the notion of timeless that will last for decades and be passed from mother to daughter. Otherwise, masses that they are attracting wouldn’t be paying 10 times more than at their neighbor stores.
So, I draw the conclusion that there is fashion. It’s just left to us, consumers, to decide what it is every time we make a purchase and create our own outfits to wear. We buy what we like, each of us, individually. We read Internet, see what people are wearing around the world, shop at malls and do lot’s of combining. There is fashion today, but it’s just individual.