Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fashion and Technology

These days, technology has infiltrated our lives so deeply that it is hard to imagine living without it. Constantly being within arms reach of a cell phone, iPod, laptop, and now the iPad, has changed the way we look and react to the world around us. It certainly has turned the fashion industry upside down.

The viral effect of the Internet nurtured the creation of fashion blogs, which have become wildly popular in the last few years. The consistent and fast-paced nature of the Internet meant that bloggers could get news out to the public weeks before the monthly fashion publications hit the newsstand.

In order to compete with the immediacy of the Internet, publications like Vogue were forced to reevaluate their audience and market. In some cases, this may have caused some bitterness between bloggers and editors.
PC: [Patrick McMullan via NYMAG]

In an address to the Pratt Institute, Anna Wintour discussed the evolution of the industry and in a calculated compliment expressed her feelings about blogs:
"We love as much coverage of fashion as possible. We don’t care at all where it comes from, and we embrace bloggers and video and social networking, and anyone that’s talking about fashion is a good thing. And we now have our own website that incorporates all of that. But I think what’s interesting to us with this new phenomenon that ‘everyone’s a fashion editor, everyone’s a fashion writer’ is that all of that actually helps Vogue, because we have access and the understanding of fashion that, forgive me, but maybe some bloggers and some of the newcomers to this world have a little bit less experience of, but as I said, the more the merrier. We embrace it."

Between rivaling for front-row seats at fashion shows and racing to stay relevant, tension between the "serious" publications and the fashion bloggers increased...until now. has announced that it will soon be disaffiliating itself with and will unveil their new site in September. It seems Wintour has more fully embraced technology; perhaps she's grown to see it not as a fleeting trend, like last season's neon, but as something that's here to stay,like a classic trench coat. They hope that the site will surpass Vogue’s competition and have worked a lot to develop it. For now there seems to be peace between the Vogue editor and technology--she recently professed to owning an iPad and even admitted that “of course” she reads fashion blogs.

The advancements in technology has not only put pressure on major publications, but on all tiers of the industry. For instance it has opened up the doors for a person to do more than one thing in the industry.

Nina Garcia, fashion editor at Marie Claire and a regular judge on Project Runway, revealed that she thinks being a fashion editor requires one to appear on television.
"The fashion editor as it used to be has changed. Now you have to wear many hats, and whoever tells you differently is wrong. Now you’re on TV, whether you want it or not.”

PC: [Getty Images]

Editors aren't the only ones having to adapt--designers are feeling the pressure too.
Shirley Cook, CEO of Proenza Schouler, told the New York Times of the challenges the Internet poses:
"In today’s world, to be successful in fashion you’re required to do it all. The Internet is changing how designers work: “It’s actually forcing the designers to be the leaders in fashion again . . . The Internet has brought a wealth of information and also boredom. All those blogs and new ways to dress and shop. For me, it means we have to be much more on our game.”

The fact that the face-paced fashion world is constantly evolving, and as soon as something is "in" it's already on its way "out," certainly poses some challenges for those who work in it, but being more on the game, as Cook puts it, is certainly something consumers will reap the benefits of. After all, apply pressure to a coal and you'll get a diamond.

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