CÉLINE debuted its Resort 2014 collection last month in small presentations for buyers and editors, under the pretense that no photos were to be taken and no reviews written. Attendees were promised photos and additional information about the collection once the lookbook is ready. While CÉLINE's limited presentation technique isn't exactly novel (Tom Ford did similar shows when he returned to womenswear in 2010, and has since reverted to a "normal" showing), it is noteworthy. Fashion today seems to be the antithesis of what it once was. Case in point: the sites with which we are all certainly familiar, such as style.com and the very appropriately named nowfashion.com, among others, that offer live streams of the fashion shows and within-the-hour photos and reviews of each season's collections. Moda Operandi gives consumers the opportunity to shop these runway looks not long thereafter. At this rate, attendance at fashion shows, a once-prized ode to your stature in the fashion world, will be sorely out of style in the near future - because who really has the time?
In 2009, Forbes wrote that every brand, high fashion houses included, must be connecting with people via social media in order to stay afloat. Since then, we have seen luxury designers and design houses attempt (and succeed?) to forge connections with the mass market. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. give brands the opportunity to reach out to a wider group of people (and not just the select few invited to fashion shows and other events). And the demand from the general public is there. For instance, in February, Oscar de la Renta offered his fall 2013 show via live stream on his website. His website crashed because so many people were trying to tune in. So, while people are certainly interested in this expansion of high fashion beyond its formerly-limited space, does this correlate to people buying? I'm not so sure. With the profits of fast fashion retailers increasing every. single. fiscal. quarter., is this internet-created sense of accessibility of high fashion really drawing in buyers? Or is it just over-exposing brands, whose entire appeal and existence largely depends on the preservation of their identities as high fashion houses?
While the downsides of the instantaneous nature of modern-day fashion are quite obvious (increased speed of copying and the overall dilution of the essence high fashion, which whether you like it or not is founded on exclusivity and unattainability), there must be some benefit to making fashion accessible on such a large scale (aside from being a method of penetrating emerging markets), or else brands would certainly go back to the old way of doing things, no?
This article as initially posed on July 31, 2013