In my earlier posts, I discussed the Five reasons the Fashion Industry is slow to adapt within the online space. Today I would like to elaborate about reason #2: Internet Democracy.
In the last few years numerous posts have been written about the purpose and influence of fashion bloggers, starting with Harpers Bazaar in 2007, pointing that “An awful lot of people not only have an opinion about fashion, they also believe those opinions are worth broadcasting“, and ending with Business of Fashion just this week, questioning “the trusted authority” of bloggers taking part in the NY Fashion week initiative – InsideTheTents.com.
Disclosure – I was one of the brains behind Inside The Tents idea and proud of the fact we could shake the exclusive world of fashion in just one week. For the first time in the fashion week history fashionistas around the world could tune in real time and get updates from the front rows at Bryant Park: newest trends, celebrities spotting and of course our personal insights (isn’t it what’s blogging all about?).
Excuse the comparison, but in this sense the Fashion Week isn’t any different from the Olympic Games. Just because professional athletes (or designers) compete, and judges (or editors) judge – it doesn’t make the event non-accessible to public watching and oh well… judgment. The Olympics are perceived as one of the major entertainment events of the year, with billions of watchers, millions of readers and thousands of bloggers and commentators voicing their opinion on everything from team performance to the athletes’ physics. So why in fashion world we are so protective of any piece of information, any photo, single opinion or God forbid a front row Tweet?
The answer for me is the old elitism, that is still managing to survive in the fashion world from the old times, when fashion was accessible only to certain class of wealthy aristocrats. In 2008, the fashion world is challenged by becoming a mass consumption reality, where any girl with a laptop can become an “influencer” in just one night. Even if she doesn’t have the proper credentials and is able to physically attend the event. In this digital age, you don’t have to. Runway photos are usually available within hours after the shows and people online weight in on everything from the collection itself to the front row celebs attending the show. This is the reality we live in, and nothing can be done about it, except trying to listen.
Moreover, the same influencer might not share the “admiring” opinion of the glossies, but have a bigger audience of readers and followers, and here again- nothing can be done about it, except listening and trying to understand.
In worst case scenario (or let’s call it the ultimate PR 2.0 nightmare), one snarky blogger may even cause a major drop in sales for one of the designers he/she disliked. Again – nothing can be done about it, except trying to learn from the feedback and creating a dialog.
The question is how to create that dialog, but that’s a subject for another post.