‘Art fashion trends around the world (Christopher Brewerd). Print

‘Art and commerce, elite
and ordinary cultures, spaces, times, professional and amateur practices meet
and intertwine in the field of the fashion media’ (Bartlett 2013:1). In this
essay I will be looking at how Fashion media has changed in form as well as
content, throughout history encompassing so many influences as Bartlett points
out. I will start off by looking into the rise and fall of Print Media and its
efforts to stay current, looking at the ways in which print reflected the times
through its medium as well as content. Then taking a digital shift, I will be
looking into the rapid growth of the image medium as well as digital culture
and current social media platforms most popular for its involvement with
fashion media. I will be focusing on the acceleration of our fashion time and
questioning where Fashion media is going next.

 

 

Before the influence of
television and movies, let alone digital platforms and social media – fashion
magazines were solely responsible for spreading the Parisian fashion trends
around the world (Christopher Brewerd). Print media is the oldest and most well
established form of fashion media to date. Women as early as the 1700s
treasured magazines, taking inspiration from the sketches of the up-to-date
dress and accessories to see what was going on in fashion at that time. Most
fashion ‘journals’ at the time, took the form of engraved illustrations,
woodcuts and sketches of costumes and dress of the wealthiest Europeans. Moving
on to the 1800’s Both Harpers Bazaar, founded in the United States in
1867, and Vogue magazine, in 1892 were created to provide sketches and
patterns of fashion derived from Paris designs. Vogue was expressly
designed to promote the superiority of French couture to an ‘increasingly
well-informed provincial and urban female readership eager for the latest news
of fashion’ (Blackman 2007: 6), to the elite American clientele who could
afford to buy the clothes, mirroring the simple, straightforward engagement
between society and fashion at that time, magazines only purpose was to sell a
product.

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After the Industrial Revolution
in 19th century, development of the fashion magazine
paralleled the development of the fashion industry from ‘a simple manufacturing
to a culture industry’ (Breward 2003:115) due to printing technology and the
capacity to reach the masses.  A rise of full-blown consumerism with the
emergence of industrial capitalism swept across Europe, causing a greater
middle class with ever increasing disposable income. ‘The ‘society of
consumers’ stands for the kind of society that promotes, encourages or enforces
the choice of a consumerist lifestyle and life strategy and dislikes all
alternative cultural options’ (Bauman 2007:2). The changes in societies
such as market demand, print technology, transportation systems, and financing
‘worked to place magazines in the hands of ever-greater numbers of readers. As
Americans gained more leisure time and became more literate, they turned to
magazines for education and relaxation.’ (Zuckermann 1998:16). Because of
this, even the style of writing became more relaxed and informal, connecting
more to the readers, magazines were not used just to sell a product but more
and more to connect and educate their readers in such way, gaining devoted
followers as well as their trust.

 

In the 1850s/60s the
first fashion photographs were created by Parisian fashion houses to document
their designs. US Vogue was ‘the first magazine in which fashion photography
was the norm rather than the exception’ (Cunnington 2010:156). As well as the first photographic cover for a magazine shot by
Edward Steichen, (a Luxembourgish American photographer) for US Vogue in
1932. Photography, this new source of fashion media ‘allowed for the
vocalization of aspiration and lifestyle messages’ instead of ‘documenting
fashion’. Its shifting aesthetic demonstrates shifts in ideas of fashion in
relation to gender, class, bodies and culture throughout the 20th and
early 21st century. Publisher Condé Nast thought fashion
illustrators were too interested in exploring their own ‘artistic aims’ and not
faithfully show casing the clothes, which he believed the readers wanted to
see.

 

 

Magazines were a staple of communication
and culture in the 1950s and considered to be the height of print. Television
was new, therefore print media was a main source of leisure as well as the way
most people kept up to date with the current trends and world events. However
due to the times, it was a less globalised world, there for fashion and the
media surrounding it wasn’t so quick. There were no computers there fore
everything was done manually, taking around four months to produce one issue.

 

Niche magazines began to
expand in the 90s including art photographers, which further blurred the
distinctions between the commercial sphere and art, blurring the distinction
between art/fashion, celebrating independent labels/aesthetics, and ignoring
mainstream fashion trends. This collapse of former divisions should be seen in
relation to postmodernism (Cotton 2000; Kismaric and Respini 2008). Indeed, the
‘erosion of the older distinction between high culture and so-called popular
culture’ (Jameson 1985: 112) is one of the key features ascribed to postmodern
theory on contemporary culture, reflecting a new form of contemporary visual and
popular culture. As
production of consumer goods kept increasing and became more readily available,
the need to educate and inform the
market increased, and so did the desire to consume. ‘Fashion became
part of the popular consciousness, and the mass manufacture of clothing enabled
it to become part of popular culture’ (Wilson 2013: 157) Dressing
fashionably as a popular mass phenomenon and as a leisure activity was
influenced by other leisure activities like cinema, sport, music, television –
which all influenced different styles of dress. ‘Journalism, advertising and photography have acted as the mass
communication hinges joining fashion to the popular consciousness’
(Wilson 2013: 157)

 

Since the
early 90’s ‘The rise of digital culture
has caused readerships to shrink’ (Jamieson 2015: 7) and mainstream
magazine (eg Teen Vogue now publishing quarterly, magazines like The Face,
Arena and more Recently Glamour all closed down) are struggling to stay afloat
due to the rise of digital culture in the late 20th and early 21st
century. Advertisers moved business online, as it’s cheaper and are even reaching
more consumers. However, there are
more independent magazine titles on offer than ever before as digital
technologies have created a demand for
material objects that can be kept and treasured – in distinction to the
fast moving digital environment. ‘Traditional print publishing … is increasingly presenting its products as
valuable objects and collector’s items, by exploiting the physical and tactile
qualities of paper’ (Ludovico 2012: 154). Ten-twenty new publications
launched per month, according to Jeremy Leslie of magCulture.com and digital
technologies have made it easier to
publish magazines (eg getting it printed, reaching suppliers and selling
subscriptions). ‘The printed page has
become more valuable, less expendable’ (Ludovico 2012: 29). Magazines
are experimenting with the over all look: formatting, binding, paper stock,
size and shape of magazine, producing long articles and photo essays with
limited edition runs, focusing more on the appearance of the magazines, turning
them more into collectibles. In addition, advertising is specially created
(i.e. The Gentlewoman and American Apparel) either very minimal, selectively
curated, or completely absent, relying on cover price or crowd funding to keep the
business afloat. This allows for modes of readership that digital media does
not (slow reading, collage and tearing out, annotating, referring

back to
etc.) ‘The printed page, with its sense
of unhurried conclusiveness, allows the reader to pause, to reflect, to take notes’
(Ludovico 2012: 29).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

None the less print’s
role as the up-to-date communicator of news has been superseded by new media,
and the decline and efforts to resist are evident. The traditional role of print is unmistakeably being threatened by the
new digital world; but it is also, paradoxically, being revitalised’
(Ludovico 2012: 7) The death of print has been frequently acknowledged since
the beginning of the 20th century and ‘essentially, any new medium
always claims to possess characteristics superior to those of printed paper,
and thus to be in a position to potentially supplant it’ (Ludovico 2012: 8-9).

Magazines now look to advertisers, web content, TV networks, and product
licensing much more to stay alive as well as constantly revamping their style
to increase interest and public attention. For example, Edward Enninful being
appointed as the new editor of British Vogue, switching up and bringing new,
exciting and relevant content to the magazine focusing on important yet popular
topics such as diversity, race and gender representation which will defiantly
gain readership, resisting and holding back the decline of print.

 

 

In the mid 1990s there
was a shift in the way fashion was mediated, a digital turn which changed the
path for fashion media forever. The first fashion websites Vogue.com
appeared in 1995 (as well as Net-a-porter (2000); SHOWstudio (2000);
DazedDigital (2006) in the following years). Fashion Media relating to the time
was a less globalised world, therefore fashion

websites ‘become
key platforms for the circulation of fashion discourse’ Rocamora (2015:
86) around the world, posting content on the seasons runway shows and style
from the top fashion capitals around the world, updated every few days,
speeding up the amount of information people received then ever before as there
was no time needed for print, therefore increasing the pace of Fashion.

Following swiftly after this, the rise of the first fashion blogs appeared in 2001, as well as first personal style blogs in 2004. Bloggers
like Kathryn Finny, Bryan Grey Yambao of BryanBoy
and Susanna Lau of Susie Bubble along with many others created a more relaxed and
in depth style and a new doorway into the fashion industry. A few years after
they launched their blogs, they were seen attending New York Fashion weeks,
giving the idea and sense that anyone can do it, creating the beginning of a
social breakthrough in Fashion.

 

 

As Social media began to increase so did the
ability for more and more peoples voice’s to be heard, especially in Fashion
and the Arts. The release of smartphones
with cameras in early 2002, taken up more widely in 2005 with release of
phones with autofocus and flash made images a significant and readily accessible
tool as well as a gateway into the communication of Fashion Media. Tied to fashion’s preferred way of
communicating its product: through visual means (eg illustration, photography)
as well as intertwining into blogs and how people read online, ‘online readers allocate short fragments of
time to each text they engage with, favouring a swift movement through web
pages … often being very short, blog posts allow for such swift movements on-
and offline and for the rapid flicking through of information’ (Rocamora
2014: 88). Due to a need for shorter, faster and more instant online
communication, this became the start of the rise of social media today. Between
2003-4 My Space and Facebook, two of the biggest social media and image sharing
platforms launched. However, neither took off for Fashion, and as the on going
development of personal devices increased, they became dated for younger
audiences. The increase of camera qualities in phones enabled the emergence of media platforms that privilege
the image. Instagram launched in the summer of 2010, an internet-based image driven
application that allows consumers to share pictures and videos either publicly,
or privately to their followers. The
app has been rapidly embraced by fashion brands and ‘influencers’ imaging their
product/themselves for visual consumption. Instagram revolutionised the way in
which fashion is mediated, allowing anyone, anywhere, of any race, ethnicity or
religion to suddenly have a platform and compete to be a voice. Breaking all
boundaries, Instagram enhanced and intensified the effects of globalization in the
fashion industry by connecting the masses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This gave
in rise to Insagram celebrities, suddenly many different platforms rose to
fame, gathering enormous amounts of followings and dedicated fans, which would
do and essentially buy whatever the platforms told them. This lead to
influencers collaborating with brands, and advertising their products on their
behalf. Lately, Instagram has now created a setting for paid sponsorships,
linking to one’s images, Instagram influencers are now earning a living by
posting images of subjects they enjoy. Consuming visual constantly and the
relentless circulation of images instantaneity ‘has become… a dominant value society is striving for’ (Rocamora
2014: 84). On top of posting images, many Instagram influencers opt for
creating moving image posts, using Instagram stories or Snapchat, another
popular social media platform used to promoted fashion media nowadays. Videos
and other styles of moving image such as boomerangs and gifs tend to have an
effect of friend to friend marketing. Even though influencers are advertising a
product, which is initially a job and gaining them income, an influencer has to
gain trust of their audience in order to sell, videos are a way in which an
influencer can show a more “vulnerable” side and begin to relate to their
audience, growing their following. ‘The
flow of posts replicates the flow of goods, with the posts and goods of today
promised to be rapidly overtaken, out-fashioned by newer arrivals that freeze
time, and fashion, online into a perpetual present’ (Rocamora 2014: 90).

In fashion-oriented media, the flow of
goods is given significance through branding.  The brand selling the product, or in this
case the person (blogger/influencer) imaging it – symbolically links the
product and the image, tying the consumer goods into the image of the
influencer and what s/he represents. Instagrams ease of networking, being
connected to brands and its easy accessibility truly reflects the times in
which it was created.

 

Rocamora
argues that time as a concept in the field of fashion is being redefined: we’re
seeing the emergence of ‘a new time
defined by the speeding up of the circulation of material and symbolic goods’
(Rocamora 2014: 80). The increasing of fast
fashion, and sped up media cycle as now ‘the rapid flow of commodities has been paralleled by an increasingly
rapid flow of immaterial fashions’ (Rocamora 2014: 86). An increase of
the sense of fluidity and rapidity, through hypertext and hyper links allow a
movement across websites and images, one can see fashion’s constant change ‘mirrored in the rapid renewal of posts and
the endless replacing of one site by another that links enable’
(Rocamora 2014: 89). One is constantly fed hundreds of different images and
information a day, on any subject matter one is interested in. Our society has gone from being
exposed to about 500 images/ads a day in the 1970’s to as much as 5,000 images a day today, every
blank space is filled with some kind of brand logo or advertisements and our
mind is constantly bombarded, questioning as to where the future of fashion
going?

 

In conclusion it has become evident that fashion media reflects the
times in which it was created, in terms of medium as well its content. The rise
of social media will continue to break boundaries of the way Fashion media is
exhibited, pushing and increasing the speed of fashion media’s communication and
globalisation to higher heights. More dated platforms of fashion media such as
Print need to make more of an effort to stay up to date and relevant with the
changing times, and our modern economy.  I believe readers don’t read content the
way magazines intend them to. People don’t want undeviating articles and
information following a structured theme but instead access to a wide variety
of articles and photos from many different sources. From there, we can
look around and read what truly inspires and interests us, curating our own
experience. Magazines are still insisting to express to us what should be
important, however this goes against everything our modern society believes in. 
We don’t want to be told what to like or how to act anymore, we can do
that on our own. Therefore, magazines need to become part of the
conversation and stop trying to forcefully lead it. In a culture
dominated my images, fashion media feeds this popular desire to regenerate
ourselves constantly through images and their connotations, images have become
so integral to our lives, they are our witness our fashion identity and a
witness of the real, ‘Photography’s vaunted
capture of a moment in time is the seizure and freezing of presence. It is the
image of simultaneity, of the way that everything within a given space at a
given moment is present to everything else; it is a declaration of the seamless
integrity of the real’. Rosalind
E. Krauss.

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