Fashion is an ever evolving process that until recently was only decided by the fashion gatekeepers. Fashion was reserved for those that could afford it but today, due to the vast resources that the Internet offers, it has become democratized and universal.
Prior to the innovations in technology, fashion functioned in a completely different manner. Globalization and technology has altered the quality, length and has inspired democratization. Prior to these innovations, fashion was expensive, only was able to be purchased by the elite and had a longer life.
“The beauty about trends today is that you no longer have to spend much and look like a million dollars, “ said Michelle Rodriguez, fashion merchandising senior and Zara head retailer at the Austin, Texas store. “Trends today are dictated by the consumer, who is smarter and more conscious about what he or she buys then before.”
Since the early 2000s, a type of store now known as a fast fashion retailer has grown in popularity. These now take styles straight from the runway, produce them in cheap fabrics and sell them within the week.
“As a fast fashion retailer store [Zara] must scout for the latest and most innovative trends while at the same time assessing which ones will have a longer life in the market,” Rodriguez said. “We do this because in less than six months these trends will become obsolete and people don’t want to spend too much in something that will be passé.”
The fast pace that these stores operate with is all due to the Internet and technological advances being social media or even manufacturing.
With the fast pace that technology grows in, fashion goes with it. According to a study by the University of Rhode Island, consumers now have stronger bonds of communication and have created a culture of wanting more and later to surpass the trend almost immediately.
In a recent event prompted by trend analysis firm L2, the firm explained the democratization of fashion.
“The way we think about the 90s and 80s many clothing item comes to mind, but when you think about this current decade nothing really comes to mind because trends are moving so quickly due to technology moving so fast,” said Tavi Gevinson, a 16-year-old prodigy blogger who began a career in fashion at the age of 11. “This means trends can no longer be dictated by designer, there is a new democracy which means brands can just focus in their aesthetic, “
The designers Gevinson mentions are a degree of innovators who now have made their work a tangible art. These include Alexander Mcqueen, Rodarte, Celine among others. Their work has become synonymous with art and have been exhibited in museums. Their practices have now become the highest order of fashion and it is because of their artistry.
In the fashion industry there are many principles that determine the nature of a trend. Among them is the trickle up and trickle down theory.
Prior to the media’s involvement in fashion, high society was in charge of determining what is fashionable and what is not. In the “Survey of Costume History” book written by Phyllis Tortora, explains this idea of the aristocracy essentially owning fashion until the first half of the 20th century. Prior to mass publications, the elite dictated trends and later it became the job of designers to so.
Following the Second World War, French designer Christian Dior sought to create a new modern look for women that would rid itself of the what was recently experienced from the war. Essentially, restoring the feminity after woman took to the workforce. Dior gave birth to the “New Look” which was a trend that soon many wished to imitate.
This system would not hold truth today.
“Designers can’t dictate fashion now, it’s to hard, there are too many subcultures that value individuality,” said Keila Tyner, a professor at the fashion merchandising department at Texas State. “We are at a point where trends will be rejected and now designer must hire professional forecaster in order to determine what direction they should head in.”
The fast rate of fashion has produced deterioration in the garment’s quality. Many new methods of garment construction and technology has been created in order to deliver clothes faster.
“Fashion now has a delivery system where fast fashion stores create clothes that they can have in the market place in 48 hours. Trends can hit the runway and can be in every price point average within a week easily. This has really speeded up the fashion adoption and makes the rate of fashion change much faster.” said Anne DuPont senior lecturer at the fashion merchandising department.
According to a recent survey conducted by Monitor magazine, 44 percent of consumers say they would pay more for better quality apparel, up from 41 percent in 2011.
The rate of trend flow, however, has not translated well in terms of professional wear. Many experts have stated that trends have now become innapropriate in the work place.
“Today fashion is completely relaxed, “said Dupont. “It seems to become progressively more relaxed every time reaching to a point where it could no longer be more casual.”
This, DuPont said, has affected the quality of the fabric in which clothes are now made in.
“Historically, when trends become exacerbated that is when they usually disappear for how exhausted they become,” said DuPont. “I believe that in the next coming years we will see a change in presentation, perhaps a more dressed up approach to fashion will now arise, one thing is for sure: fashion will continue recycling from past trends and will make it on its terms.”
But amongst so much innovation, many believe fashion has lost its values.
“We have technology and new fabrics with new methods of construction. It is all innovative and definitely a different dynamic to trends but it has sacrificed the art that was in fashion,” Tyner said.