FASHION
*TECHNOLOGY

by Jessica Parker

«I sometimes think how different our tastes may have been pre-internet…»

I’m lucky to say that I’ve ‘dipped my toes’ into the technological industry here in Australia for the past three years, working for a major telecommunications corporation, working amongst computers, mobile phones, the Internet and much more. I also hold a strong interest in fashion and follow the industry quite closely.

I never planned on working in technology funnily enough; I was lucky to have kind of fallen into it. I never sat there as a child and said to myself “I.T. – that’s for me.” No, it was more like “I want to ride a pink unicorn around the universe in a Valentino gown and eat mud cake on top of the Eiffel Tower”. However, I have always aspired to be a fashion designer. Little did I understand just how closely the two, fashion and technology, today are intertwined in a beautifully futuristic regime of science meets art.

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British pop band, The Wombats once sung, “I never knew I was a techno fan”. Technology has just become one of those things, we don’t even notice anymore. Yet it’s all around us, remember in the millennium 2000 when they thought the world was going to end because of the technology overload? If only they saw us now. I mean Samsung even sell a watch that is literally a mobile phone now you can walk around and talk into your watch, check your calendar and do other ridiculously cool things.

I’ll pick up my iPhone to check the weather, multi-tasking on a phone call, whilst searching for a new dress on an online store on my MacBook, the radio is on in the background, not to mention the lights beaming on, my iPad pushing through my emails every five minutes, the television blasting the daily news report, the air-conditioning going, my digital watch is ticking away and the gym clothes I’m wearing are ‘scientifically’ modified to help my endurance and performance on the treadmill. Hello technology.

Technology and it’s apparent role in fashion has seen changes to the production of garments such as the introduction and evolution of environmentally responsive fabrics and textiles, 3D printers, the faster distribution of goods through improved technological in-house stock control and ordering systems, access to increased competition globally, virtual fitting rooms, scientifically improved endurance and quality of goods performance, graphic design, significant improvements to design techniques and the smarter recycle and re-use of existing fashions.

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Fashion is technology and technology is fashion. The two almost cannot function without the other. If there is one thing I’ve learnt in my twenty-one years, that is, that fashion and technology simultaneously move very fast. Coco Chanel is famous for her saying that Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. Chanel was right for her era, but I argue that things have changed now. It is not only fashion that exists everywhere; it is technology too. Technology is the concept that flows around ideas, living, movement and existence. Fashion quantifies this concept of technology and oversees the embodiment of personal style and it’s creation of six billion unique perspectives and interpretations of the universe.

Coined as the term ‘fast fashion’, we now see most designers producing anywhere between four to six collections per year creating entire look-books and clothing lines. These collections are designed, critiqued, constructed, manufactured, marketed and distributed around the globe.

The Devil Wears Prada character, Miranda Priestly, summarised the transition of high fashion to ‘fast fashion’ and its relation to globalisation perfectly: «You think fashion has nothing to do with you. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. It then filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of ‘stu!f’.»

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The reality is that the world is constantly changing, environmentally, legally, ethically, technologically, fashionably and economically. Those who cannot keep up, fall behind and we see the workings of Charles Darwin’s ‘Survival of the Fittest’ theory come into play. Companies that cannot embrace and roll with change in regards to the fashion and technological demands of the market, crash. Fashion and change advocate, Karl Lagerfeld, says in his latest book with regards to the fashion industry, “I hate people in this profession who get stuck in a particular era and who think the world is going mad. The world isn’t wrong, it’s just changing.”

Todays’ industry is arguably led by a new technological army of style soldiers, armed with mobile technology such as mobile phones, tablets and laptop computers which as a result is seeing a rise in blogging. People are literally getting famous now for taking photos in random clothes, voicing their opinions and reporting on fashion news. One example is the famed photographer, The Satorialist. The explosion of blogging and its influences on marketing and public relations in the fashion industry has also seen an influx on the craze of ‘street style’ photographing.  Brands are sponsoring bloggers to feature their clothing lines due to their high volume in ‘followers’ giving the brands larger brand awareness and market exposure. Websites such as Pinterest and Instagram have boomed on the backbone of these recent e-trends.

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These bursts of fashion fueled technologies has also seen the introduction of Internet emporiums of online fashion stores, everyone from Gucci to ASOS are selling and shipping goods globally at the swipe of a credit card and click of a button. You no longer have to leave your bedroom for the latest Christian Dior coat or Dolce and Gabbana purse. I can still remember buying my very first pair of Christian Louboutin heels, in someways; I really cheated myself out of half of the fun. I bought them online whilst sitting crossed-legged in my dressing gown in my study late one night, Vogue would have cried an ocean of tears had they have seen what I was wearing. That’s the reality though today, we have a lot of power. I for example live in a smaller Australian city called Adelaide, whereby, we are limited to the access and exposure we have to fashion brands. We don’t have many ‘high-end’ labels here yet, which for someone like myself, a connoisseur of the expensive art, am thankful for e-commerce! I have access to anything I want almost instantly.

I sat on this idea for a while of how powerful the Internet is making us. We can be heard from millions of miles away, our opinions can be voiced relatively freely for billions of fellow tweeters to read and we now have access to more information than we could ever comprehend in a single lifetime. We can know what almost any celebrity is up to at any time thanks to websites like ‘Celebuzz’. Has this changed our style and our fashion taste?

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Having been exposed to higher fashion magazines, the Internet, YouTube and e-commerce, I sometimes think how different our tastes may have been pre-internet. Maybe this is why everyone seemed to dress the same in the 1800’s. We only knew what our culture had exposed us to; maybe this is why Australia doesn’t really hold a ‘national identity’ as such compared to say… China, this is because we are new like technology. Arguably I feel I can say that the Internet has globalized each and every one of us that has had access to it whether we have traveled or not. I see fashion trends the ‘IT’ girls are wearing in the United Kingdom and within seconds I can get online and order almost the identical look. I feel that the degree of fashion separation has now become zero.

Image Source: Pinterest.