January 29th, 2006
This week, Omiru is proud to participate in "The State of the Fashion Union," a blogging carnival hosted by Julie of Almost Girl.
We’ll continue to post the product-focused fashion guides that you’ve
(hopefully) come to love, but we’ll intersperse them with posts about
more philosophical issues in the fashion world. We encourage you, as
always, to tell us what you think about these issues. Our opinions are
opinions. If you have another way of looking at the issue, or anything
else to add, we wholeheartedly welcome your comments. And with
Back in December, Cathy Horyn wrote an article in the New York Times about how fashion is Two Clicks Behind. That is, the processes of the fashion industry (and particularly the mainstream fashion media) hasn’t caught up to the speed of the Internet. Julie of Almost Girl, however, believes that, thanks to fashion bloggers, the fashion media isn’t all Two Clicks Behind anymore—in fact, some of us are Two Clicks Ahead.
My question is: What happens when the fashion media is Two Clicks Ahead? What does this mean for the fashion ecosystem?
As it stands, the fashion ecosystem, like those found in nature, is the result of a careful balance of forces. Designers staging runway shows wield great influence. These designers influence the buyers that stock store shelves, the designers at mass market fashion brands lower down the food chain, as well as the consumers who ultimately buy the clothes. Some consumers go straight to the source and buy clothes from the designer. But those of us who don’t have money to burn need not worry. The trends these designers espouse find themselves interpreted by mass market fashion brands, repackaged and resold at more affordable price points. But these designers don’t design in a vacuum. They, in turn, are influenced by anything and everything—street style, art, music, movies, and the work of other designers.
Back in fashion school, I was taught about the Fashion Trend Life Cycle. It was a very nice, simple diagram. You first have your fashion innovators creating the trends. Next up are the early adopters who popularize the trends. After the early adopters comes the mass market, after which are the late adopters…and then the trend is over. This is the way fashion has always been. Each trend starts somewhere, it gains popularity, it goes mass market, it starts to go Out of style, and then it’s gone.
But back to the question—what happens when the fashion media is Two Clicks Ahead? To answer this question, one first should look at the time it takes to go through one cycle. Back in the Olden Days, it used to take several years for a style to come in and go out of fashion. Then it took one or two years. Now, it can be a matter of months. As the fashion media moves towards being Two Clicks Ahead, the time it will take for a style to rise to prominence will become shorter and shorter.
I wonder, how far can we take this accelerated fashion trendmill? What happens when it’s a matter of weeks to popularize a style from obscurity? Or, even scarier, a matter of days? What will fashionistas do?
I don’t know the answer to these questions, but here are my predictions:
Fragmentation: As the fashion trendmill accelerates, I think the
fashion market will fragment more and more. It’s going to be harder
for big companies to sell tons of the same style. Companies that are
going to benefit from this sea change in the industry are going to be
those that produce clothes in small batches as close to market as
possible. Small batches because of this increased fragmentation, and
as close to market as possible to more accurately predict demand for
Confusion: As fast as fashion moves now, it’s hard enough to choose what’s right for you. It’s going to become more and more important to choose your trends wisely, based on your personal style, body type, etc. My sad prediction is that we’re going to see a lot more fashion victims who choose their trends willy nilly.
Backlash: As trends come and go in what seems like the blink of an eye, smart fashionistas are going to rely more on their own concept of personal style in order to dress stylishly without having to run to the mall every couple of days. We’re going to see a lot of interesting fashion bubbling up from the streets, and it’s not going to be all about what you’re wearing. It’s also going to be about how you wear it. Well, that’s my pie-in-the-sky hope, at least.
But my predictions aside, tell me, what do You think will happen to fashion when it’s Two Clicks Ahead?