That’s a question we ask ourselves every two weeks: what if the media model of fashion was actually destroying fashion?
In fashion, journalists don’t publicly criticize institutions
Whereas for films, literature, theater or music, critics are very intense and deeply argue on the value of a creation, we very rarely read that a collection is bad or pointless. Who (except Cathy Horyn, an American woman, not an European one…) did criticize Heidi Slimane during the last seasons? Which major is going to explain to the whole world why Terry Richardson is just a joke, a marketing gimmick? Fashion sometimes wants to become an art majeur. And there are reasons for that: Chalayan, undiscovered talents in Asia, there are people who are real artists. But because fashion media seem to be stuck with Saint Wintour and Athena Roitfeld, fashion cannot become Art. The genius of art can only appear when strong oppositions rise. Zola had his Dreyfus; Damien Hirst generates strong debates. We should have this crystallization of passion and ideas. But it’s not the case, because fash’ world is in a vicious circle.
In fashion, brands and stakeholders do not hesitate to pick up the phone to make us shut up
In France, where we write on a popular blog, some brands called us because they were not happy with some of our posts. Our inbox is frequently filled with insults and threats. If fashion brands are not ok with a negative share of voice, they just stop the media buy pipeline. In fashion, there are very few counter powers. There’s a famous word in France which says that we arrange fashion weeks for less than 1,500 people. It’s not wrong. And this concentration of attention is not very safe, a fortiori for brands themselves. If you don’t want to solve the reasons why bloggers or journalists are not happy with a specific product or collection, you can reduce the digital footprints we are going to generate. But you won’t be able to do the same with your customers. If you want to sell premium, you need to be premium in all the layers of your relationships.
In fashion, there’s now internet…
The reduction of time and the explosion of borders between bloggers and journalists are big news for brands. It’s a big opportunity to set up a revolution in the way influencers, consumers and brands work together. But it’s also a very conservative battlefield. Suzy Menkes’ Circus of Fashion spotted all these bizarre wannabe wandering around catwalks, while fashion journalists set up a confusion between promotional activities and professional abnegation. That’s a shame that we bloggers copy the bad habits of these “professionals”. We must keep our right to say when we don’t like a piece or an attitude. Otherwise, our detractors will be right forever. We will only remain a bunch of superficial, excessive, meaningless people.
In fashion, retailers are far beyond media
While media maintain a stupid distance with their readers, hesitating between an aspiration for luxury and an exclusiveness which only satisfies 2 PR agencies, retailers have understood for a long time that they need to make their customers the true heroes. If customers buy, it means that they validate the idea. If they don’t buy, the idea is not validated. In this new check & balance fashion system, retailers accept criticisms. If it doesn’t work, let’s try again. But how many fashion and luxury brands are really ready to resist and manage online consumers, who declare that they’re not happy with a product? Look at electronics: it’s not one but millions of consumers who go on forum and set up the new rules of consumption? In fashion, it’s like if the word “No” does not exist. We adore, we love, we can’t wait for the next collection of Mister BS, even if we’ll never buy THAT. But it seems like saying no, thank you, is not an acceptable cultural habit.
Jimmy Kimmel, who’s not a newbie, plays with that. If you attack fashion, it’s easy, no one will pay attention. But if you attack a cross-practices creative icon like Kanye West, you need to be ready to argue, ripost, well set up a real conversation. As usual, for the microcosm, a debate between Kimmel (3 million followers on Twitter) and West (10 million followers on Twitter) is not worth to write an article in the fashion columns.
How could they get their backstage access otherwise?