Sunday, August 7, 2011

SOUTH AFRICAN FASHION MUST NOT CONDONE MEDIOCRITY

We have a relatively young industry that still struggles with many things, including its own identity. For this reason, even though it has become a lot better these days, fashion directors and editors struggle to find (or sometimes even get) locally produced fashion to put in their editorials.
The supply chain is rather dodgy and designers are just not getting their business models to work. That’s if they even have business plans to start with. For the most part, I doubt they do.
However important these points may be- in my books anyway- what I’d like to tackle here is what I encountered this past week with a True Love fashion spread that I believe should have never made it into the pages of a magazine that we have all seen rising from fashion mediocrity to being a respectable (in some respects) voice in the industry, thanks to its current editor Sbu Mpungose.
I’ve often complained about the level of content space that magazines and even the media at large afford the industry and I can’t see how anyone could dispute that True Love was addressing this in their own way.
In their August issue, however, I was dumbfounded when a friend of mine pointed out that one of the fashion spreads was a cut ‘n paste of one done by American Vogue creative director Grace Coddington, about 18 months ago.
The shots, the poses, the entire story behind the shoot, were an almost literal remake (rather than being a take) of Coddington’s shoot. Some have pointed out how there is nothing wrong with referencing global magazines, and I have, rightfully, defended the concept of referencing. In doing so, however, one does have to differentiate between that and copying. What True Love did here was to copy and claim Grace Coddington’s concept as that of the stylist responsible.
This is rather disappointing and a blow for the integrity of the fashion editors’ profession, but beyond this- for me- it highlights a failure to cultivate South Africa’s rich heritage and storytelling traditions in conveying our talent for using fashion to tell stories, as I believe any good fashion editor should do.
I believe everyone in the fashion industry, for it to grow to its full potential, should be held to the highest standard, be it designers, stylists, fashion editors, publicists and even us, the fashion media and blogosphere. No one should be immune to criticism and we should often exhibit our love for the industry by participating in forums of discussion to evaluate and improve whatever it is we do.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is indeed an atrocity to the image of the industry & the country itself. I can't even begin to understand how would a well known mag conduct such an act. It's not just a betrayal to the loyal followers but also an insult to one's intelligence. Really am puzzled!

Jenny said...

There are some extremely talented fashion editors in South Africa - Robyn Cooke, Jenny Andrew and Jackie Burger immediately come to mind - but unfortunately this kind of thing does happen. Thankfully with careful eyes like yours and a platform to comment on it, the industry can only get better. Where would any creatives be without constructive criticism pushing them to try harder?

Anonymous said...

OMG , just discovered your blog today even though I've seen your name before . I tend to avoid South African (fashion)bloggers cuz you guys ain't as ballin on the interweb as your other African counterparts BUT these essay right here makes me consider returning to your blog!!! It reminded me of a quote I once came across "mediocrity is a popular cult"

waheeda sadik said...

I totally agree with you as there are so many talented
people in the fashion industry and it pains me to see ideas stolen from the international mags.What is really sad is do these people think that we are stupid and do they not realise that we get alot of international magazines locally.This is really dissappointing as i have come across this on numerous occassions.