*is* there anything wrong with fashion right now?
perhaps it's all fine and dandy to some, and some aren't perceiving anything...but...
sometimes i get this feeling that something seems like it's all coming to a head...there's a certain, but increasingly palpable uncertain-ness in the air, from a fashion industry perspective, but also, from a consumer perspective. i know a lot of people may not be able to perceive it, they may not care, but i'm feeling it acutely, almost like it's a premonition.
it feels as if, collectively, as a culture, we're all wondering where to go next and what's going to happen next.
i know i cannot the only one feeling a subtle paradigm shift happening in terms of fashion...and really, a shift happening in the culture at large. it seems as if perceptions are shifting on a grand scale.
do you feel this too? or no? if not, what do you feel? articulate it, if you can!
(frankly, i love thinking about fashion and style, i like the idea of fashion, the process of making wearables...but the reality of the way it is in the stores and on the runways right now just leaves me wanting, leaves me cold and questioning.)
(and so, i absorb. i think. and i question.)
on the absorbing tip...
the article from WWD (in the snap above) queried fashion industry insiders who were pondering the current state of fashion at this very instant. the aforementioned called out the following as possible reasons why all things fashion-related feel more than a little uncertain:
-the economy tanking (especially here in the US, it's beginning to look pretty dire...)
-insane prices of designer wear (coupled with the aforementioned weak US economy and value of the dollar against other currencies like the pound and euro)
-the lack of color in the recently commenced fall shows: black is dominant. people want and connect with color, but designers aren't offering it (these dark colors for clothing seem almost funereal, and are, interestingly enough, an apt metaphor for the malaise and fear in the air culturally, politically and economically. hmm!)
-an overhyped fashion industry machine: stuff is churned out so fast and slammed into our face so much (via magazines, blogs, websites and the like), we lose sense of what season we're in and what's really significant at any given moment stylistically.
-the lack of a single, solitary "must-have" item in the market at the moment (a trend for consumers like us to fixate upon, which would drive us to the stores to buy, buy, buy)
-an off-kilter delivery cycle that puts clothing on the racks and shelves of stores months before a season actually starts...which works against the fact that people want to wear what they buy RIGHT NOW. why stash it away for later?? (think: putting out spring threads in the dead of winter, fall clothes in the heat of summer.)
-fast fashion is a worthy adversary: some retailers push new, relevant designs out to their floors constantly, pleasing the customer...something it's more difficult for big designers to do or sustain. designers feel the pinch.
-some people would rather spend good money on the latest gadgets (think: iPhone), something that ensures long-lasting, practical use, than buy lots of (inevitably) trendy, disposable clothes.
on the thinking tip...
other possible reasons for malaise and uncertainty:
-some lament (and others celebrate) the diversity of today's style scene: anything goes. this is bad news for manufacturers, who, like it says above, would probably prefer one dominant look to foist upon a large number of potential customers.
-and trends change SO FREAKING FAST now, consumers can't keep up. and what happens when the trends du jour don't resonate with customers? not everyone's into each and every look! just because designers are into it, because designers are making it, doesn't mean that customers are going to eat it up. the aforementioned diversity of today's cultural landscape is at odds with that designer motive: many people cannot relate or find what's on offer as being relevant to their bodies, or their lives.
consumers, people like us, all of us, who buy clothes, are feeling more than a little blasé about the current state of fashion and shopping too. a recent article from the telegraph references the article i paraphrased from WWD. called why fashion has gone off the rails, i feel it sort of encapsulates this current uncertain fashion zeitgeist:
You scarcely need to listen to the biblical chorus of retailers blaming the credit crunch, the weather, energy bills (anything but themselves) to see the evidence that this spring women have risen up, taken a look round the shops, pulled a face - and kept their plastic in their purses.
Clock the fact that the "mid-season sale" has arrived in so many places before the "season" has even got going (with barely a moment to clear winter's discounted leftovers) and there's only one thing to conclude: sorry, but we just don't like these clothes that much.
consumers biggest complaint?
that, increasingly, clothes are not just blah in terms of style (non-comittal, non-novel, bland details), but are made cheaply of cheap materials. why bother buying when the garment is garbage even on the hanger?
low, low prices are only convincing for a while...when money is tight (and tighter with each passing day), buyers want to know that what they deign to buy is actually a deal, and not a dupe. *something* about that piece, whatever it is, has to sell it, has to signify it's special nature to the shopper...and in that arena, manufacturers are falling short. perhaps the bottom hasn't been reached, but we're falling toward it.
something has to give, eventually, doesn't it?
...because after all, those manufacturers and marketers are feeling the pinch too. cheap materials and labor mean the potential for eking out more profits...vitally important in economically restrictive days to come. some might call it greed, indeed. and some might say, well, those mass-market makers are just trying to stay afloat, to brace themselves from the wave of uncertainty and possible hard times that feel as if they just might be rumbling toward us all.
and so, some questions to foster discussion:
-what's the answer, then? what do we do and buy in these times, if anything?
-in this dismal economic scene, where does fashion go? where do we go as consumers? what DO we choose to buy and do to express ourselves when what's on offer doesn't suit us anymore?
-do we keep on with this movement of making our own? do we increasingly take fashion and style into our own hands? could this mean even more interest in sewing, restyling, and the needle arts?
-will second-hand shopping become even more desirable for more people? what happens when we turn to said sources, and only find them crammed with discards from those cheap-chic stores? then what?
-what will happen to these designers, to luxury fashion, if the customers stop lining up to buy, from lack of funds, or lack of interest?
-if everything is in style, if everything is up for grabs, is there any way that we could, collectively, go back to accepting one main directive? is there a potential for one overriding aesthetic anymore?
-how do we digest and make sense of the call for more ethical, more green ways of living, of clothing and expressing ourselves, if at all? do these factors weigh in any with this feeling of uncertainty with what's on offer in the shops, and what we choose, in the end, to put on our bodies? if so, what do we need to do?
where is fashion going next?