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May 23, 2011 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

World Wide Wear

So the Internet has exploded, and new technologies and social mediums have been unleashed. These new tools, such as blogs, online magazines, and e-boutiques are changing the already highly dynamic fashion industry with viral fashion expression, inspiration, and opportunities. But what does this technology trend mean for the bigwigs who are the foundation of the fashion industry itself? Why would some designers cry of over-exposure and hide behind their designer shades?

World over, opinionated bloggers are sipping coffee and using up their local café’s free internet in the hope that someone, somewhere, hears them. Blogs have created a huge new channel for fashion opinions, trend tracking, runway reviews, and behind the scene sneak-peeks.

Large-scale cyber networking is generating a plus size web of expression with comment reels and most blogs linking their favourite blogs to their page. Putting aside Perez Hilton’s white defacements or the sneers of, blogs have a really positive influence on style.

Front row catwalk show seats are saved for these newcomers because they provide a fresh approach and enthusiasm that does not need to rely on industry experience and preciseness. They are creating a whole new mode of communication that inspires.

For talented people who just need a little exposure there are endless possibilities. The likes of Bryan Boy and Gala Darling have unlocked the stylised gates of fashion and picked up a cult following on their pilgrimage.

The Sartorialist’s Scott Schuman photographs everyday inspiration to connect the outfits he sees on the street with the concepts he sees in the design room. After his first post in 2005 Schuman, a self-taught photographer, now shoots editorials for Vogue, GQ, and Elle and has been listed himself in Times’ ‘Top 100 Design Influencers’.

Online fashion magazines and their communities are further transporting fashion into a realm of independent expression. Zoo Zoom who pronounce themselves as ‘the original online glossy’ upload countless videos on all things fashion on their homepage and Twitter.

Traditional media is re-packaging communication to keep up with the times and Internet streaming. Applications for smartphones are becoming in vogue. Channels such as StyleCaster customises style tips, fashion news reels, and online retail to include and engage even more consumers.

Awareness and direct selling can lead to successful cyberboutiques such as Net-a-Porter. Its founder Natalie Massenet has changed the way the world thinks about shopping, breaking down spatial barriers and making fashion accessible to all, including the 2.5 million people or more that log on to her brainchild each month.

E-commerce is central to Net-a-Porter’s website design to give a similar shopping experience to that of the ‘real world’. Focus is given to the catalogue ‘search’ of garments with its online magazine and category choices between designer, price, type, and so on, to take attention away from the garment’s physical attributes that cannot be experienced over the web.

Online shopping communities Rue La La, Ideeli, and Hautelook create hype for top fashion discount sales with Facebook and Twitter teasers and emails. However there is a snag on their overly pilled cardis; they are an invite-only clique.

For an initially elitist industry, new technologies’ focus on popular and common opinion is creating quite a stir. Vogue’s Franca Sozzani has likened bloggers and their associates to moths that flutter for one night only. Their importance is undermined by the large swarm of individuals who are also fighting for the fashion limelight.

Fast Internet connections have surged the desire for fast fashion exposure. Designer Isabel Murant has notably mourned the privacy and mystery of fashion which now seems irrelevant for most web users. Lanvin’s Alber ELbaz goes as far as lamenting “We do not have time to think. We do not have time to project. We do not have time to digest.”

Designers such as Tom Ford have tried to reel fashion’s cast back in. His September 2010 collection was shown to the select of selection with Beyonce’s booty parading his outfits. Images of this were not released to the press for a long time and even then were limited. This was his attempt to keep fashion followers on they’re platform toes so they are not “bored with these clothes by the time they get to the store” as Ford has observed.

Furthermore, company directors, such as Jones Apparel’s Wesley Card, have a right to feel a little uneasy that their hand-crafted brand may be ‘misconstructed’ by impulsive uploading. With the power of the Internet fashion fans do seem to eat away at clothes. However established fashion brands can adapt to their new environment.

Burberry, now recognised as the founder of Cyber Fashion, streams their catwalks live to all devotees and garments are available for online purchase as soon as they are seen. Their ‘Art of the Trench’ campaign, shot by non other than Scott Schuman, involved their fan community by letting them comment on the photos and upload their own. Industry firsts such as these have certainly padded their tan tartan pockets with huge profits.

Fashion marketing is where designer creativity and concepts are expressed in full. As fashion thrives on visual experiences interactions with their websites strengthen brand image. Designer atmospheres can immediately be transported through Wifi. One only has to go to Calvin Klein’s domain to see his vision of scantily-clad models dancing in a boxed white room. (You’re going to open a new window for that now, aren’t you.)

Designer website capabilities do not stop there. Real-time customer service becomes a lot more obtainable with bidirectional communications. Facebook and Twitter with their 400 million and 22 million users respectively are marketing tools that cannot be ignored.

Victoria Secret has taken note of this and now has 2.63 million loyally engaged Facebook fans. What’s more Diane von Furstenberg, one of the most popular designers on Twitter with 22,000 followers, tributes a 13% increase in DvF sales to her online traffic.

The power play between the fashion industry’s top brands and the Internet’s technology savvy shows how powerful new social media and modern technologies can be. The Internet has captured fashion’s imagination and ignited Utopian dreams, which is a trait undoubtedly attached to fashion’s notched collar. The fashion industry is running in heels, but consumers should never be passive and fashion is all about moving forward anyway.

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