PHABRIK Magazine

How Social Media Will Kill Fashion’s Bottom Line

By Mark St. James - Marquis of Fashion

March 2014

I am sitting in a warehouse in New York as intricately placed incandescent tube lights flicker to life on what was then the Diesel Black Gold Fall 2013 show. The models hit the catwalk in waxed wool and lacquered studded pieces that screamed early 90’s. It wasn’t like anything else I’d seen that season and I knew it was going to be popular.

I left thinking that hiring Andreas Melbostad as Diesel Black Gold’s new creative director was a perfect idea and after tweeting madly and Vine-ing the finale, I strutted off to find myself a slim-fitting pair of waxed pants. I went to a number of stores, but ultimately found what I was looking for at H&M. I squeezed into them, tore off the price tickets, paid and wore them out… no questions asked.

One thing I noted was how many other obvious fashion enthusiasts were hunting for waxed denim, glossy finished leathers and studded body-con dresses – all in the name of achieving the trends that hit the Diesel runway that very morning. I took the liberty of asking one of the girls (a young fashion blogger) who was buying a leather studded skirt—in the name of market research—where she got the drive to buy such an impractical item from? Her answer… “Diesel Black Gold.”

So there we were, literally a half year before the pieces we saw this morning will even hit the shelves, wearing out the trend. And I DID wear out that trend! I wore those pants to World MasterCard Fashion Week in Toronto, I wore those pants to Europe when I went with my family on vacation, I wore those pants to the movies, the club, the after parties. I WORE THOSE PANTS!

Six months after the show, the pieces from the collection hit stores. I was excited to check out the clothes in the flesh and there they were. The studded calf skin pants, the fitted dresses, the unforgiving slim knits, all of it was there. But… I was over it. I was tired of the collection pursed under the “New Arrivals” sign.

I’d seen it on every fashionable Instagram account, on every Facebook News Feed and Fanpage that had anything to do with fashion. From Style .com and WWD I relived the show taking notes on styling and how to emulate the looks from the runway; not to mention that the colours, the fabrics, the silhouettes… they were all available and ready to be picked up at a moments notice. All I had to do was go out and buy them at the nearest fast fashion retailer. Not the same as the ready-to-wear collection by a long shot, but conceptually they lacked difference, aesthetically they were more consubstantial than they were contrasting and so I went for it… and so did everybody else.

The shows were nearly too accessible with livestream viewing, bloggers blogging on location (like myself) via social media sites like Instagram, Vine and Pinterest; then there were the traditional media sources like: Huffington Post, Vogue and the Telegraph. So not only did you see the shows, you were bombarded with images, gifs and videos of them from HD video to the lowest quality blurred images of models walking down the runway sloppily snapped up by Anna Dello Russo or Bryanboy, from the instant the pic was taken to long after the show had finished. By the time the product is in stores you are overexposed to it. And if there’s something I’ve learned about fashion… it’s that it needs to be needed, it needs demand. Overexposure kills demand.

Social media creates a buzz about certain items like the Bambi Givenchy sweater or the Chanel Lego clutch, which we love to love (and love to buy). But aside from the one offs, we are becoming numb to the industry’s seductive pull because every Man Repelling, Blonde Salad, eating, Cupcake and Cashmere, wearing blogger out there is tweeting fashion’s bottom line to DEATH!

The solution? Couture darling! The only way to stop the cycle is to go back to basics and invest (heavily) in the building blocks of fashion. By going to the source, we cut out the wait because couture is shown on the runway, sold right after the show, then made for each buyer and finally shipped to their abode.

There is no hype, there is no chance to be “popularized” and more importantly, there is no wait. We have become such a “buy now wear now” society that the only way the fashion industry can keep up is to show their collections closer to the shipping date and by so doing, give stylish people the opportunity to buy the pieces they see on the runway almost instantly. Or the designers could just emulate what Burberry did…

Fast forward to the Fall 2014 Burberry Prorsum menswear collection, which showed in early January. The collection was unique in that you could buy the pieces on their e-commerce site right after the collection showed. How inventive and lucrative. This endeavor, though challenging for the tailors at Burberry (constructing the items as the orders come in), was revolutionary in that it afforded customers the opportunity to wear the pieces immediately after they walked the runway. Christopher Bailey and his team should all win medals. This model may have shattered the prestige factor for a great many fashion lovers and will most definitely hinder in-store sales when the Fall 2014 products finally hit stores in June or July, since everyone who REALLY wanted those pieces will have already bought them and worn them to death. It’s better for Burberry if a buyer wears the Burberry Prorsum scarf rather than an extremely similar, slipping under copyright law by a hair “Burrberry” scarf on sale bundled up in a ball, or better yet on the dusty floor of your local Zara.

If you love fashion, you will justify the piece, the price and the wait, but what if you didn’t have to wait? With this new model you may not have to, but in the mean time… hold onto your cash and try to wait for the real deal otherwise designer fashion may not make it into the next generation.


Artist Profile: Hayley Wright Women’s Trends: Spring/Summer 2014
Artist Profile: Hayley Wright
Women’s Trends: Spring/Summer 2014


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