Ask a friend — or yourself even — what is fashion?
Words like ‘Style’, ‘Designer’, “Trend’ and ‘Identity’ may pop up in your mind. Yes, they are associated with fashion, but they do not define fashion per se.
Fashion is a business — an industry like any other. And this industry has since long moved on from the days when designers are kings, and customers are bound to trends dictated. Today, the industry lives in an era when customers reign supreme, and designers have to anticipate the next big thing that brings in the cash.
As harsh as it sounds, fashion today is haute couture on life support, and fast fashion ready-to-wear on steroids. Karl Marx may cry foul but why would he when everyone has equal opportunity to dress in style?
However, the fashion industry does not quite end and begin here. Far from that, in fact.
There are suppliers, who can be your average farmer (wool and natural dyes!), or the chemist sporting a white labcoat (nylon and chemical dyes!). Then, you have your mills that turn wool into spools of lovely, lovely cashmere. Not to mention, seamstresses, merchandisers, product managers, stylists, photographers, models, graphic designers and the coffee boy who ensures that the designer remains functional and alive. You also have jewellers, watchmakers, and technicians — they are a part of the fashion industry too. And, of course, bloggers — well, how can we ever forget them since they sit front row, in between editors and designers.
The entire value chain has since gotten too big — too long: so long that even companies themselves barely know what goes on the other end.
And bigger is not always better.
When firms strive to sell us what we saw last night in that certain movie a few days later at ridiculously low prices, we get the 2012 Dhaka fire. When fashion houses think that they can get away with better profit margins, we have “Made by Chinese immigrants of Italy” posing as “Made in Italy”. When luxury conglomerates pressure designers to churn out eight seasons instead of the usual two, we have designers checked-in rehab. Also, let us not forget about unpaid internships, underaged models, and Terry Richardson (not sure how he can get away with everything!).
Not so glamourous now, eh?
Yet within darkness, there is always light. Now, more companies are looking at sustainability of fashion — even luxury conglomerates. Maybe it is window-dressing. Perhaps, it is greenwashing. However, customers are certainly demanding greater transparency and accountability. In short, sustainability is in fashion.
So, what is fashion? You tell us 😉