Monday, October 26, 2009

When the Web Breaks Tradition

Imagine this; editor-in-chief at Vogue Anna Wintour sits in her presumably posh New York office at Conde Nast HQ. Her assistant, whoever that may be, sits at the edge of the fashion ruler’s chair, handing Ms. Wintour one Kleenex after another. Anna’s make-up is smudged and her nose is red after all the blowing. You’ve probably gathered that she’s in tears.
“How could they do this to me,” cries a livid Anna, “They are nothing but petty wannabes. How can they let them encroach on my crown like this?”
Okay, maybe this is an unlikely scene, but an encroachment on that crown is what we’re currently seeing as a new breed of fashion aficionados are being officially ushered into the exclusive club of world fashion elites.
Bloggers- the click and post, seemingly insignificant creatures who load the web with seemingly insignificant information- were, at the recent collections at New York, London, Paris and Milan fashion weeks, invited by designers to sit side-by-side with the likes of Suzy Menkes and Anna Wintour on the coveted front row. If this isn’t a confirmation of elite club membership, then what is?
The presence of these cyberspace fashionistas on the front rows of some of the world’s most respected fashion events is due to an increasing perception that a shift in power and influence is becoming evident in the world of fashion and the statistics do confirm such a notion.
The Telegraph UK recently reported that, a blog that began as one London College of Fashion student Gemma Cartwright’s labour of love, bags more online hits per day than Vogue’s website.
Manila’s 22 year-old blogger Bryanboy’s diary like blog not only landed him a string of invitations (that he was more than happy to share by posting pictures of those invites on his blog) to some of the world’s most popular fashion shows but also got him a Marc Jacobs bag named after him.
Scott Schuman’s photo gallery like blog,, earned him a spot on TIME Magazine’s list of the most influential individuals in the design industry.
The power shift is not only symbolic of the democratisation of the fashion media landscape due to the web, but clearly exhibits its increasing dominance over traditional media platforms.
US fashion house Halston, for instance, opted for a video blog to launch its fall/winter 2009 line instead of putting together a fashion show. When the recession ploughed its claws into Mother Earth’s womb the head-honchos at the US’s Nylon Magazine made a decision to can the print version in favour of an electronic one. Subscribers were told that they wouldn’t be receiving their copies in the mail anymore, but rather via email.
What is also changing is the model’s chokehold on being the canvas on which designers display their creations and their dominance of magazine fashion spreads as bloggers like Scott Schuman and Yvan Rodic of prefer taking pictures of average stylish folk on the streets. The popularity of their blogs signals the audience’s preference for “normalcy” rather than the photo-shopped, fantasy-fuelled world of the magazine fashion spread.
The instant nature of the web, which allows news to travel at unprecedented speeds, will further render traditional media a secondary source of news. Why wait for Saturday’s edition of The Showbizz Report, a three months late edition of your favourite glossy or even tomorrow morning’s newspaper to read about tonight’s news when a simple click can deliver it almost instantly?
Anna Wintour herself is realising the web’s insurmountable and undeniable power albeit via Twitter’s micro-blogging platform. That is if her twittering during the recent fashion week season is anything to go by.

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