Fashionable Conversations

I recently stumbled upon an article that analyzed the existence and use of fashion discussion forums and came to a shocking revelation—I had never heard of such a thing. According to the article, these forums act as a combination between an internet chat-room and a blog. Users of the site must register and post under handles that are similar to Twitter in their anonymity, and have free reign to post as much or as little as they see fit, start their own conversation thread, and be as brutally honest as they like. For a fashion fanatic, this would seem to be a digital heaven—the freedom to let their voice be heard, their opinions known, and their knowledge shared on a global level—yet such sites aren’t experiencing much use. 

The article’s author seems quite puzzled as to why fashion forums aren’t being taken seriously. He speaks of the disconnect between registered users in comparison to active posters and wonders why people aren’t contributing to conversations; either users have a strong voice and post frequently or they go to the websites to simply educate themselves. Fashion forums could be a powerful driving force within the industry—not only can you find the typical threads regarding trends, must-buy items, and daily depictions of ensembles, but new designers to watch out for, global trends, and the state of the market. These are not your average fashion blog. 

In addition to the public’s lack of use of these sites, the article also speaks to retailers and bands who refuse to take social media seriously. Of course I can see why brand strategists would be skeptical of some of the information mined from fashion forums, since they are available to everyone, and thus, on a statistical level, not all of the posts will be credible or even worthwhile, but these sites could also prove invaluable for market research. Retailers in particular could benefit from close inspection of fashion forums—delving into discussions about what people are wearing, what kind of purchases they’re making, and what consumers are coveting for the next season could help predict which items should be stocked on store shelves and which will sell-out the quickest. Designers could also benefit from fashion forums—after all, aren’t they looking for honest feedback about their collections? Whether or not people are wearing their designs? If consumers consider their particular handbag or shoe to be the next hot item? Fashion forums are where this information can be found—and best of all, it’s free!Image

Source: Dianepernet

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Fashion For a Cause

When I recently stumbled across Nina Garcia’s “Decoding Style” videos the other day, I was struck by the thought that fashion can be used to infuse so much good in the world, particularly in respect to women. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the fashion maven, Nina Garcia is the Fashion Director at Marie Claire and also a judge on the hit TV series “Project Runway.” A well respected fashion critic, Colombian-born Garcia is a force to be reckoned with in the industry. The premise of this series of mini-videos is to reinvent women who are having a tough time defining their style and characterizing their personal identity, in the hopes that they will recognize their true potential and embrace their individuality. The most recent episode features a soccer-mom and recent breast cancer survivor who is struggling to find clothes that flatter her new body and compliment both her lifestyle and personality. At the end of the segment, Nina Garcia has succeeded in reintroducing the woman with her self-worth and natural beauty, and has given her the strength and clarity to see the amazing, beautiful, brave woman that she is.

A TV series similar to Garcia’s “Decoding Style” videos is TLC’s “What Not to Wear.” The show’s hosts, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly, scour the country for the worst fashion victims, and what they find, more often than not, is the individuals (who are nominated by their friends and family) that are chosen, are expressing their poor self-esteem and distorted body-image through their atrocious style. Episodes are typically filled with tears, heartfelt emotions, and ultimately, glorious revelations. What makes “What Not to Wear” a great show is not only the hilarious banter between the two hosts, but also the transformation that the individuals go through, both physically and mentally.

Watching both “Decoding Style” and “What Not to Wear” have made me see how much fashion and personal style can influence a person; clothes are not just superfluous extras, and having great style is not just a vain talent. Teaching people how to dress for their specific body-type, and in a way that expresses their personality, not only boosts their self-esteem and self-worth, but it betters their chances for career success, in addition to empowering them in the social sphere. Everyone should have the opportunity to feel beautiful and valued, and these shows are finally using fashion to its fullest potential.

Fashionably Rude

The fashion world is ripe with cyber bullies. The day after new collections are sent down the runway, designers hold their breath while they log online to read the reviews—the results often lie at two ends of the spectrum: really positive or really negative. “Trolls” rule this space within the fashion sphere and have the power to make or break designers’ careers and subsequently the success of global companies. Although professional critics are the ones who ultimately decide whether or not a collection fits within their confine of what qualifies as “good” at that particular moment in time, they have been known to be quite harsh. Despite cutting words from these critics however, words from the mass populace can prove to be equally detrimental. After all, it is the fashion-informed public that will be purchasing the items from such collections upon their arrival to retail outlets.

Not to overkill the topic of Saint Laurent Paris, but one particular designer who has received a noteworthy amount of heat from critics and fashion fans alike this season is Hedi Slimane. I’ve mentioned my opinion about Slimane’s immediate re-branding of the iconic YSL label in my post Why-SL?, and yet, I’m surprised by what he chose to send down the runway of his Fall 2013 Ready to Wear collection. According to critics, Slimane’s second women’s collection was an extension of his men’s show, and drew inspiration from the 90’s grunge era. Similar to the L.A. environs that dictated his vision, Slimane made sure that the venue was heated to a true Californian temperature and vibrated to the bass of true grunge rock. As reported by The Man Repellerrejections of this collection came fast and furious and included a few of the following:

What the hell is Hedi Slimane thinking?

 

Oh my dear Lord. Is this Saint Laurent, or an average girls high street wardrobe? I want to cry.

 

What the hell happened to YSL? I’ve seen people on skid row dressed better.

 

We did not need a Rachel Zoe x Marc Jacobs grunge resort collection.

Saint Laurent show, a huge joke on the fashion industry?

 

Women’s Wear Daily reports that Saint Laurent is relocating their Paris studios. Hopefully they don’t tell Hedi where they’re going.

Twitter, among other social media sites, were afire with disgusted fans’ opinions. Not only were YSL aficionados shocked by Slimane’s complete disregard for the house’s legendary aesthetic, but critics weren’t impressed by the old-school grunge look. In this sense, I have to agree with this overarching public opinion, but there is always another side to the story. Although his collection may not be of mine, or the collective public’s taste, Slimane stayed true to his vision—and based on his re-branding of the company, his vision would inevitably differ from Yves’s. Bashing on designers’ collections will never be void from the fashion world, but people need to remember that theirs is not the only opinion, nor is it necessarily the best. Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but people should try their best to express it in a constructive way, not through a nasty comment. Designers are artists and they operate with specific visions in mind, yet they are also creating garments for the public to clothe themselves in—they want people to admire and wear their clothes, just as much as they want to turn a profit.

Why-SL?

To the fashion fanatics out there, this is extremely old news, but I wanted to put a post out there that addresses Yves Saint Laurent’s controversial name change to Saint Laurent Paris. When I first caught wind of the rumor that the legendary fashion house’s new creative director, Hedi Slimane, would be dropping Yves from its name, after decades of building a luxury brand around the moniker YSL, I was completely flabbergasted. At the time, I was living in NYC, interning for Harper’s Bazaar, and my fellow interns and I were oddly devastated. All of a sudden, a fashion label whose accessories and apparel we handled on a daily basis, which we pined after with desperate longing, was forever changed. My point comes to this—after years and years of financial stability and iconic collections, why would Slimane choose to rebrand such a legendary label?

As a college marketing major, I have learned that rebranding an existing product or company is among the hardest marketing feats to pull off. The new branding strategy must encompass everything the company is about, including the brand as an organization, product, person, and symbol. The company has to live and breathe its strategy, via its brand position, in order for consumers to believe them. What really puzzles me in the case of Yves Saint Laurent is why the creative director felt the need to introduce change. And why leave the famous company logo (YSL) intact? According to the press, Slimane was attempting to introduce a brand overhaul, yet looking at his latest collections for Saint Laurent Paris, the overall aesthetic of the clothes is almost entirely unchanged. Perhaps I’m a stickler for believing in the old adage “don’t fix what isn’t broken,” or perhaps I’m averted by change, or maybe it’s the marketing major in me, but I believe it was the wrong marketing move.

Or was it? The brand management student in me has begun to think on a more abstract level—can’t rebranding be used specifically to generate buzz around a particular label? Ah, the revelation. Slimane’s decision to change the label’s name was not accompanied by drastic changes in the genre of clothes he produced, nor the design sense they exuded. Even the brand’s logo remained unchanged. So what was the point? At first, I believed that enacting such a change merely confused customers and made loyal consumers susceptible to brand-switching, and I still believe that, to some extent, this holds true. But I now also believe that the whole thing was just to get people talking about a fashion house that had been around for decades. And from that perspective, I think Slimane was an absolute genius; he had the fashion world in an uproar! People were devastated, confused, angry—yet they were all talking about the label with great fervor. The YSL rebranding taught me a very valuable marketing lesson—sometimes it’s the small changes that lead to the biggest results.Image

Source: Dandy Diary