Thursday, March 11, 2010


Posted by Fashion Junior at Large

'The Internet does for fashion what the mircowave does for food'

 Take a look at this very trendy older gentleman shot by Scott 'The Sartorialist' Schulman. Judging by his clothes where would you guess he is from? Paris? Florence? New York? Milan maybe? Let's be honest, he could reside in any stylish city in the western world (Apart from London. The weather is a bit too sunny and the gentleman a little too jovial to be London). 

This was the analogy Ben Beaumont-Thomas of Bad Idea Magazine used to introduce 'Fashion's Microchic Shake-Up' - a talk held in the basement of Shoreditch's The Book Club. He wanted to demonstrate the profound affect the internet - street-style blogs, social networking and all that jazz - has on the way we dress. Welcome to the age of 'Microchic'; the global homogenisation of hyper-personal style.

Phew big words! Maybe it's best we stick to Ben's street style example for simplicity's sake. On the first day of London Fashion Week I was stopped by WGSN who wanted to photograph me in this outfit:

(Velvet Jacket: vintage, Leather Jacket by Topshop, Bag: Jimmy Choo for H&M, Trousers by French Connection, Shoes by Office)

 For those who are not familiar with WGSN, it's a trend forecasting website. The world's biggest fashion brands subscribe for a hefty yearly fee and in return they get a constant stream of information and inspiration to feed their creative vision (this kind of explains why all designers seem to miraculously agree on the trends each season). 

One of the resources they provide is street style reportage. One individual's style might inspire a designer who then shows, for example, patterned satin trousers in their next collection. Those trousers are then copied by high street stores, and eventually feed back down to the consumer on the street. It's one big marvelous cycle! This tool also means that a t-shirt worn in a Tokyo club could be emulated by Topshop and end up on a Londoner's back within a matter of weeks. Virtually instantaneous global style!

Street style blogs have a knack of celebrating subjects with a flair for individualistic or slightly unusual dressing (like our trendy older gentleman above). Our access to these sites allows us to cherry-pick influences from the wardrobes of stylish people across the world - establishing a uniform of global cool which is visible from Copenhagen to Sydney. 

The second part of the talk enlisted the help of Iris Ben Davis (CEO of Style Shake - a site which allows shoppers to design their clothes from scratch), Helen Brown (founder of Catwalk Genius - where fashion fans can buy shares in the businesses of new designers they love), and Ruth Marshall-Johnson (senior editor of WGSN). These are three women who are very much in the business of Microchic and their predictions for the future of fashion pretty much pickled my brain...

Style Shake has made bespoke available to the masses, and even more significantly it has made bespoke affordable (mainly because, Iris told us, being online keeps overheads ultra low). So what does this mean for bricks and mortar stores? Will online bespoke businesses eradicate fast fashion? Or will our penchant for social shopping prevail?

The panel's coverage of the latest technologies was also beyond interesting. Augmented Reality will let us 'try on' clothing virtually with the use of our humble webcams. 3D printers will allow us to 'print' out our purchases (I don't quite understand this. Get on to Wikipedia for a more articulate explanation), and 3D body scanners will ensure our bespoke designs fit perfectly. Apparently software is even being developed with will allow us to virtually 'feel' the material - emulating the tactile experience many of us value as part of the shopping experience.

Super fascinating (if a little mind boggling) right?

Pic credits: TheSartorialist,
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