from where i sit: democratization of fashion?

2 Oct

as i was sifting through my regular blogroll and sipping my coffee this past saturday, i ran across this gem of an article on refinery29. while typically geared toward the more fun-loving, eye-catching content, the site made a sharp editorial turn with their blatant, unapologetic (and rightly so) opinion piece that brought into question the so-called democratization of the fashion industry.

the author puts the shift of the industry’s editorial arm to the online world smack dab in the middle of the piece’s focus, but wisely brings up the point that, while yes, it’s great that more people have more access – whether first-hand or a couple degrees removed – to the once closed-door shows of fashion week, perhaps all this distant viewing through the lens of someone else hasn’t really brought fashion to the masses at all. Perhaps it’s magnified the feeling of being left out and the fact that yes, still not everyone is allowed at fashion week.

i admit that i’ve felt a tinge of this “FOMO,” as refinery29 put it (read: fear of missing out), a couple of fashion weeks myself. every once in a while, i’ll sit a fashion week out, not attending or covering any shows at all. it’s during those seasons that i’d really rather not pay attention to the runways, because the fact becomes crystal clear that i’m not there enjoying them first-hand. and how could you not feel that you’re being left behind when all you see, hear and inadvertently tweet about is someone else’s experience at the tents?

but more importantly – in my opinion anyway – the refinery29 editor brings up the point that this shift is also a reflection of the state of our nation today – the unpleasing and dangerous growing separation between the haves and the have-nots. while i see the point that there’s an inadvertent divide instituted by constant focus on who’s at the shows or even in the front rows and who’s not, i tend to think that the ever increasing elitist and superficially motivated invite lists and seating charts are more an indication of our country’s social, rather than economical, pitfalls. how have we become so egregiously obsessed with “celebrities”? how have society’s “chosen people,” who make mistake after glaring mistake, become a representation of the pinnacle we’re all supposed to lust after? it’s upsetting, and frankly, extremely off-putting to see an industry that once focused its attention on artists’ talent, and instituted processes (i.e. fashion week) for the purpose of business, flip a switch and now tout such superfluous things as “this person needs to sit front row because they’re famous” or “get that person because she caused such a scene the other day at x trendy restaurant, and it would create great buzz around our show.”

and yes, i get it – more buzz (superficial or not) creates more press, which creates more attention, which can ultimately trickle down and create more sales. but isn’t that the exact problem to begin with? why are we, as a people, so inclined to fall prey to, celebrate, and reward the salacious?

an industry that was once serious, is now moving toward being quite petty (ok, not all of it – there is still a very serious-minded side of fashion, thanks to real critics, real business men and women, and real artists who still possess real integrity), and to use refinery29’s words, verging on a spectacle.

photo is my own.

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