I am obsessed with eras bygone. Particularly, how women dressed and what fashion dictated in the eras bygone. It’s fun and illuminating to study how fashion manipulates choices and how those choices ended up tweaking behaviors and outlooks, hence, bringing about a change. I am absolutely oversimplifying history here, but please don’t tell me that shift dresses of 1920s, miniskirts of 1960s and Bohemia of 1970s did not influence the Suffragette movement or the Vietnam wars or the free love going about. It probably didn’t, but they sure were there to witness it. That’s a long disclaimer and might lead me to digress from the point I want to bring up, which is, what is my era going to look like to a fashion dweeb in 2065?
Runway trends have been kidnapped and we forgot to pay the ransom. Now, they are dead. What was it that lead us to here? Is it the power of the internet and the information age catapulting us forward than any other previous generation to only sit back to view photographs of eras bygone, nostalgic for something we didn’t even experience first hand? Is it the fatigue from a technological revolution outpacing our needs, world politics throwing us in a tizz that we crave for the simplicity of items, tried and tested by our mothers and grand-mothers and their mothers? It could also have been the financial crisis of 2008 that helped in the rise of fashion bloggers, DIY culture, shopping vintage and re-appropriating fashion. It’s very much is a result of all of these factors combined.
This leads us to the present where the fashion industry is going through major changes in the way it does business. The traditional model of business in fashion started from the couturiers of Paris dictating the “new” shape, color, texture and detail depending upon the technological innovation at the time in the fields of textiles, dyes, machineries to the Royalties of France, these “trends” would then travel to America from where it would trickle down for the consumption of the commoners. This model hardly changed over time, except for two factors. First, New York, London and Milan joined Paris as influential centers around which the fashion industry revolved. Second, the time span for a trend to be dictated and travel down the rungs of society to become ubiquitous kept becoming shorter and shorter primarily because of industrialization, innovation in mass production, availability of cheap labor in countries such as India (Hi!), Bangladesh, China, Mexico. and now the internet manipulating consumer behavior.
The “see now, buy now” business model that designers have been adopting for the past seasons is a direct reaction to the power of the information age. You have images from the runway circulating on social media, blogs, websites within seconds, saturating all platforms and boring the consumer before the styles even hit the stores (not good for business). I am not even getting into the knock-offs produced at a lightening fast speed by high street brands. All of these in turn, have turned the fashion scene on its head. We aren’t chasing trends anymore. At least the consumer is not. This decade so far has been heralded as the era of personal style, where everything goes, no rules, you do you. It’s the era of the weirdos who have all of the options. They wear ruffles, sequins, athletic gear, psychedelic colors, holographic metallics, distressed tees, poplin shirts, slip dresses, sometimes all together. Coupled with the desire to not be homogenized, uphold the individuality. It’s the consumer who is pushing the boundaries by questioning the rules of style, questioning whether it’s necessary to wear a shirt like a shirt, because it can also make for a cute skirt or an off-the-shoulder top. It’s the consumer that the designers in Paris, Milan, London and New York are taking cues from. You can see it in Demna Gvasalia’s approach for Balenciaga, or Alexander Wang’s decade long career or Marc Jacobs since forever. It’s trickling upwards more so than any other decade. Bringing me back to the wonders of the information age, without which there wouldn’t be any personal fashion blogs, street style blogs, Instagram, Snapchat or Pinterest. In other words, there wouldn’t be the democratization of the fashion industry.
So what does the dweeb of 2065 make of all these?