Fashion Designers Of The Future – Old Vs New
Why is it taking so long to bring fashion and technology together? If judged by their necessity for continuous renewal, keen desire for expression, blatant irreverence for time, history, and boundaries of any kind, fashion and technology seem quite alike.
Indeed they look similar. However, several discrepancies are dividing the two, and for the time being, these rifts seem almost insurmountable to mend.
Fashion Designers – The Collision Of Fashion With Technology
The intricacy stems from the different structures and perspectives both have on how democracy and self-governance should work. By form, technology – the Internet in this case – has to bring people together. Users, opinions, concepts and ideas, indirectly equalising and levelling them in a continuous stream of data.
Fashion, on the other hand, is all about control. Hierarchy, uniqueness power. An industry designed to glorify not the masses but the chosen few; the famous, the influential, the wealthy ones.
The rest, wishing to uphill their social status and image, are buying fashion tempted by the promise it comes with the finesse, charm and refinement of the few, selected ones. It is a quintessential distinction, and yet, the collision of technology with fashion is forcing the later to rewrite most of its secular rules.
Fashion Designers – The New Leaders Of Fashion
But the times are changing, even in fashion. An unstoppable process of mass empowerment, where the buyers and their chosen representants, the fashion influencers, take control is reshaping the industry, top to bottom, pointing towards the ending moments in the theocracy of fashion.
It is not the end, but a new beginning. Almost for too long now, the fashion designers carried superhuman, divine-like traits. Surrounded by close entourages of like-minded servants, together containing “the secret” and holding the power of might and magic, the spring of creativity and inspiration, the power of fashion.
Unfortunately for them, nothing lasts forever. Constant technological advancements change everything, everywhere, at an accelerated, exponential rate. Nowadays everyone is online, on the Internet. Connected. Broadcasting live. On Snapchat, Periscope, creating and consuming data, home-made visuals, rudimentary representations of digital fashion.
The Internet has made fashion widely available and ready for visual consumption; on Vimeo, Youtube, the digital world has lifted the mysterious darkness surrounding designers, catwalks, models, making and promoting fashion, while diminishing its power in the process.
Global digitisation, cheaper and faster internet, have created new leaders of the fashion world. Kings and public properties alike, they dictate fashion trends on social media by publishing their lives in a continuous show, online, for their followers and anyone interested to watch.
Fashion Designers – The “Flower-Power” Era Of Digitisation
Digitisation has also created a new generation of consumers, where the notion of ownership and privacy comes second. Just like their kings (the fashion influencers), to them, digitally is neither about shame and fear nor about mine or yours, but us, almost like in a modern version of the “flower power” era.
Together, they are pushing for a sharing type of society, commenced online yet slowly spreading into the physical world, in an “it’s all about us”, our ideas, our creations, our experiences, kind of world.
These are times of connectivity and openness, ripping apart the traditional, tight-lipped, conventional fashion mentality to pieces, forcing “the demigods” of fashion to refute or adapt to the changes, or risk losing their celestial thrones.
But, the changes do not come easy. Not to a generation that ruled the fashion empire for over a century, a generation that does not find technology easy to decor and palate. A generation that’s still unsure if technology is good or bad, black or white, human or machine.
— Tamara McCleary (@TamaraMcCleary) August 28, 2016
Confusion ensued, and a fabricated war has started, against the Internet; portrayed as the ultimate enemy, the cancer of the authentic, unique, genuine fashion. A conflict fuelled by fear, uncertainty and mediatic propaganda, by preachers little comprehending that, in fact, humans and technology are one.
Fashion Designers – The Promethean Fire
In contrast, the upcoming generation of designers regards technology like the modern Promethean tool, the only weapon able to dissolve the impenetrable gateways to the kingdom of fashion. The new “digital fire” the instrument that empowers – with a single tap on the screen of a smartphone – everyone, from everywhere, their free ticket to the world of fashion.
“With the rise of social media, teens have access to fashion 24/7. Their favourite styles are available with a simple tap of their phone.” VP of Merchandise at Forever 21, Linda Chang.
And true, irrespective of where you are, who you are, your age, your upbringing, your education, your wealth, you can now dive – thanks to the Internet – into a global network of information and knowledge and be part of a shared consciousness type of society, where fashion is available and free.
The Internet is breeding a new generation of heroes, right from the crowd. Young, innovative, avant-garde fashion designers with contemporary thoughts and concepts.
They can wield masterfully, not one but two weapons – technology and fashion – taking the power through their armies of tech inclined social media soldiers, unitedly celebrating the display over the merchandise and the digital, social media persona over the physical one.
— THE FASHION LAW (@TheFashionLaw) August 31, 2016
Fashion Designers – Old Vs New
But, it was not always like this, and this is the problem. Less than ten years ago times were different. Simpler, unsophisticated, with fashion designers finding inspiration in journeys to secluded and exotic places, or in the serenity of their personal libraries.
Nowadays, to spring a new collection, they have to compete with a weird generation that eats and breathes technology, a generation that finds inspiration online, juxtaposing ideas, matching designs, breaking patterns. A generation that creates and destroys faster, with little reverence for tradition, past and heritage but cost, efficiency and time.
So here we are, back to the beginning of the story, at the rifts dividing the lands of fashion and technology. To the titans of fashion, the Internet does not mean creation and uniqueness, but copy and re-copy, uniformity and homogeneity.
In their view, the Internet produces nothing but technological similarity by replacing the actual physical emotions and experiences with digital images crafted to look good on social media, Pinterest or Instagram.
In their eyes, connectivity has put fashion, or at least what’s perceived as fashion by the new generation, almost everywhere at the cost of irremediable flattening, along with a constant distillation of mystery and magic. To them, the increasing reliance on “artificial” could only lead to repetitive, tasteless, and uninteresting fashion.
Fashion Designers – The Future Of Fashion
However, as challenging as it might be to determine who’s right and who is wrong, it is indisputable that the balance is tilting in favour of consumers and their chosen influencers. Like it or not, the times are moving towards new generations of designers, able to articulate wearables, nanotechnology, augmented and virtual reality, social media, 3d printing and big data.
— IfmParis (@IfmParis) August 30, 2016
Moreover, if you are one of the “fallen gods” of fashion, afraid and feeling threatened by the latest technological advances, stand up. Your skills and experience are more valuable than ever in the years to come. There is no war, no winners, no losers but the future of the fashion.
Yes, the technological train has already reached a speed that makes it impossible to stop it, let alone the idea of going offline, however, the need for experienced, qualified conductors is more evident than ever. No gods but starts. Not stars but light bearers, and leaders.
Fashion is fundamentally about new ideas, creativity, originality and the Internet can make them bloom once again, in a new fashion revolution. It does not matter if the inspiration comes from the library, secluded beaches, or the internet, what is important is what you do with it in the creational process, in the making of your fashion masterpieces.
Fashion Designers – The World Is Changing But…
Sadly, I already know fashion designers that sworn not to surrender to the world of technology and connectivity, even if they risk to fade away from the lights of fashion. It might be their inability to adapt, vanity or simple incapacity of seeing that the world around them is changing.
And still, you’d be mad not to acknowledge their concern that one day we might end up in a pseudo fashion industry ruled by digitally-savvy amateurs, hiding behind “smoke and mirrors” and pumped up by well-orchestrated teams of social media experts, in a globalised digital panorama.
Blind not to see that the hordes of followers on social media have become the “de facto” unit of measure for talent and creativity in the digitisation era and that there is an increasing number of designers believing that technology should come first and fashion second?!
Fashion Designers – What Comes First? Tech Or Fashion?
I am a geek myself and pro-innovation in fashion, to the bone. However, I cannot be oblivious to the obvious danger. It is real. By prioritising technology over fashion, we can only end up in a communistic type of ecosystem, tasteless and dull, where everyone wears the same garments, recommended by functionality and specs rather than their rich aesthetic and unique style.
Similar Read: FashionTech Or FashTech? What Is The Difference?
Allowing technology – and its multifaceted variations – to conduct the fashion industry will only take us to a “Tron: Legacy” kind of universe and uniformity where the style no longer matters but the number of smart sensors, the ratio of variable geometry and the mass of nanotechnology per centimetre square of textile.
Too futuristic? Well, we do not have to look that far. Just watch the smartphone culture of today, where you either wear Samsung or Apple. And yes, you wear your smartphone as a fashion statement, like it or not.
Fashion designers, retailers, marketers, bloggers, influencers, young or old, do understand that the role of technology is to improve, augment and support fashion, not reinvent it. If tech takes over, we’ve killed the fashion.