We the news of Mercedes-Benz pulling out of New York fashion week I can't help but smile and think "here it is". I lately see the decay of the fashion weeks since most of them are heading in the wrong direction. What once was the only outlet to show a collection to vendors, fashion editors and stores is now just another glorified plea to be seen.
The urge to post anything and everything linked to a fashion event has become frenzied and hysterical
It’s all several thousand Tweets too far; the blown out, blurred flipside of fashion’s digital revolution. I was at a show the past fashion week and around a third of the audience spent the whole time clamouring to shoot stills or a Vine with their smartphones. Now, don’t get me wrong, smartphones are wonderful devices. They can summon a taxi within minutes. Image-capturong technology has improved with each generation, but fundamentally they just aren’t designed to shoot fast-moving objects under high-contrast lighting. If they were, then the photographers at the end of the catwalk would ditch their hefty tripods and start wielding Android handsets rather than $10,000-worth of equipment.
A fascinated public can watch shows streamed live at home, whereas once they were staged solely for the insider rather than the end consumer. You can click and order items while they are being debuted. This is all well and good. Similarly, serious editors and journalists use their phones as visual notepads. And there is undeniably currency in the Tweet of a styling detail from the front lines, as a show is happening, or indeed a succession of 140-character text reports.
But, at the same time, the urge to post anything and everything on social media that is directly linked to a fashion event has become frenzied. The invite! The queue! The lighting rig! A chandelier by the lighting rig! And then… the blur of a boot striding past, shot from row two, slightly obscured by a shoulder. Much of the urgency stems from publishers insisting that their employees engage as fully as possibly with the brave new world of #digital and #socialmedia. But much of it is little more than a flimsy electronic postcard. “Look where I am!” Much of it is also stems, I firmly believe, from a deep-rooted disinterest in — even boredom with — fashion itself.
Fashion is one of the most expressive and difficult mediums in which to excel. How many other industries demand that the core product is reinvented twice a year? But fashion also attracts people to its inner circle who are desperate for validation and glamour by association.
The point is, for the outsider, fashion shows are boring. Too many people go to see and be seen, but aren’t there to study the garments or evaluate the collection and the story being told by a designer and their team. Like navigating a particularly large art gallery in a foreign city, when you aren’t interested in the art but feel like you have to do it because otherwise you aren’t “doing” the city properly, these people reach for their phones as a way to engage and own a part of the experience, while distancing themselves from the fact that they don’t really care about the fashion in any significant way. One of my editors at a major international title agreed that this was definitely an issue, but added that there was a kind of satisfaction in the result being “content” that hadn’t been “spoon-fed” to them by a brand. It was a trade-off for blanket marketing
Let's hope that the different companies as Mercedes is doing try to go back to basics and find the right way to really get designers to showcase and stores to get those products to the final users.