In my mere 22.5 years of existence, I’ve spent nearly all of it being invested in fashion in some way. I remember saying I wanted to be a fashion designer in 4th grade and then realizing that in 11th grade I couldn’t be one because I couldn’t draw realistic figures. Or so I thought.
Before I started researching, I had no idea that some creative directors have no technical design experience. That baffled me–how can you make clothes but have no practical training in construction, textiles, or similar fields?
After I thought I couldn’t be a designer, I decided that I wanted to be a fashion editor. I could write pretty well, I told myself. This is why I ended up majoring in journalism in undergrad. (Side note: At that time I was a TERRIBLE writer. My Cs in AP English and Lit said it all. I just thought I could write because I loved reading, but writing is truly a chore for me. I have never written a paper ahead of time. I finished my thesis ten minutes before it was due even though I loved my topic.)
When I thought I wanted to be a fashion editor, I had no idea that editors were often gifted items from brands in order to promote pieces for the upcoming season. It’s arguable that fashion editors are the original influencers; market editors are specifically the ones that observes trends during fashion and decide what to incorporate into their publications. They dictate what we’ll consume.
Once I got to grad school I realized I was yearning to work in fashion at a deeper capacity. Everybody knows I’m passionate about ethical fashion and sustainability, whatever that means. I learned the role that the FTC plays in protecting consumers and how both influencers and editors fail to disclose gifted items. According to the FTC, people must disclose a product:
“…if there is a “material connection” between an endorser and an advertiser – in other words, a connection that might affect the weight or credibility that consumers give the endorsement – that connection should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed, unless it is already clear from the context of the communication. A material connection could be a business or family relationship, monetary payment, or the gift of a free product. Importantly, the Endorsement Guides apply to both marketers and endorsers.”
These days, people no longer go to publications to consume fashion media. They go watch their favorite influencer’s page and swipe up to shop that cute cult bag they just saw on their timeline while the influencer gets a cut from the sale.
Humans have been wearing clothes for quite a while at this point and it’s going to be quite hard to create products that are completely original at this point. With pages such as Diet Prada (and Estee Laundry for beauty) copycats and those who don’t reference where they got their inspiration from are constantly being thrown into the pit to be picked apart by fashion enthusiasts and self-proclaimed historians.
Yes, it’s annoying that everyone thinks they’re an influencer, especially when they don’t seem to be influencing anyone–but it’s the direction the industry has taken. It’s annoying when you’ve spent thousands on your art degree but someone with no degree seems more successful than you, but that’s our own faults, right? It’s not their fault. Influencers are even starting clothing brands and being funded by billionaire investors. When blogs came out, journalists mocked bloggers. Blogging became an industry that was actually fruitful until it became oversaturated and everybody had a blog, including me. But hey, you’re here reading so that’s a good sign!
The front row of fashion week is now crowded with influencers. People would rather see who’s sitting front row than really look at the clothes. We now get a glimpse of fashion week through someone’s iPhone XS, even though their wobbly hands barely capture the clothing and we really can’t observe and dissect the clothing like we could before. Does anybody even go on Vogue Runway anymore, or was it truly dead when Style.com transformed into Vogue Runway? (By the way, Style.com now redirects to Farfetch, which acquired and fully shut down Style.com in 2017.)