The word best suited to describe the fast-paced movement of the world of fashion is transformative. Fashion can allow for an entirely different persona through the zipping of a boot, and also decide what personas are best with the glossy images of a new editorial. However, as we continue through 2017, and reflect on the past years from 2014 to beyond, it can be assessed that fashion is losing some of its splendor to a common entity: social media.
Fashion’s connection with social media is the re-occurrence of the age old question: friend or foe? There is no way to avoid the power of social media in the twenty-first century, but there should be a way to curtail that power from debilitating the long-lasting stature of fashion.
Gone are the days of Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, and Linda Evangelista and now arrives the prime of Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Gigi Hadid. From the 70s-early 2000s, the supermodel enigma was unshakeable.
To be a supermodel, meant being transcendent and someone that people were working to know and admire. There was a certain je ne sais quoi that allowed for celebrity to become attached to your name. Social Media has redefined the qualifications for becoming a fashion God or Goddess because now models like Jenner and the Hadids are all shoved down your throat repeatedly without consent. There is a difference between being a supermodel and being forced upon the general public. The two existences are far from interchangeable and compete as an antithesis in the developed history of fashion.
This expurgation of larger-than-life auras from the concept of the model belongs to the screens controlled by social media. Instagram specifically has completely revolutionized the modeling world whether it intended to or not by featuring a follower account at the top of each user’s profile.
Chris Gay, President of The Society Management, (known for representing Kendall Jenner), explains this phenomenon by saying that “these models [have] become more and more influential because they are the conduits of media–not only somebody who can be the face of the campaign but a powerful means to distribute it.” If you have seen what seems to be the face of Jenner or either Hadid painted up and down your tv, magazine pages, and social media feeds, it is not a coincidence but instead a purposeful marketing tactic.
Even the most quintessential piece of fashion has become a slave to the virtual fists of social media: clothing itself. Unfortunately (for most), you can now pick up a purse that says “All I Need is Love and Wifi'”, and shoes that say “#DG” right next to a pile of Justin Beiber shirts from Dolce and Gabbana. Before social media ran the industry into a self-destructing frenzy, Dolce and Gabbana was known for its ability to capture the it-guy/girl with its patterned mini-skirts and muted but luxurious color palette. Who is to say that Justin Beiber t-shirts are not something a lot of people would sell their souls for? But at the same time who would dare to say that they belong in the world of high fashion.
Trends no longer come from magazines, but instead, magazines now copy trends from the tyrannical dictates of Twitter timelines and Instagram feeds. Some designers have emulated this way of life and have copied each other to the point that fashion is no longer transformative but instead common beyond repair. The most unsettling expansion of clothing in fashion is the unbridled praise for Vetements repeated copy-and-paste collections of sweatshirts with Champion brand logos, DHL courier services t-shirts, and Juicy Couture sweatpants. Social media stars took a liking to this brand as well as celebrities and thus it became the brand to be seen in. But why? Can it honestly be stated that co-opting other brands logos, but under another label is fashion? People (especially Anna Wintour) are afraid to speak up about true expression because of the claws of social media and simultaneously killing fashion.
Social media has the power to both expand and contract on fashion’s global impact, but as of present, the latter seems to be taking control. No one is arguing for the September Issue to be printed on a stone tablet, but no one is arguing for fashion to lose its legacy.