In December 2006, TIME Magazine announced its “Person of the Year”, a tradition that it had started with Charles Lindbergh.
Every year except for a few times, a person of public life was chosen that had influenced the world events “for better or worse”.
However, this time TIME Magazine chose a person, that nobody had expected: You.
How did that happen? It all started with the Internet, a combination of academic and military project, that was developed in the USA to facilitate information exchange.
Increasingly, the internet was opened to the public who has used it to an unforeseeable extent, especially since the emergence of visually attractive tools like the browser.
Running parallel to that, the rapid decline of prices for consumer electronics like photo and video cameras have made it possible to cheaply produce rich media content.
This combination has created a situation where anyone can produce content. Not everybody does, but the vast amount of private, public and commercial web sites demonstrates that many people do.
With its decision for “You”, TIME Magazine acknowledges the fact that individuals are gaining a potential influence that is truly dramatic. It is also worth noting, that the increasing cooperation of users creates a new quality in human affairs.
By means of the Blogs, YouTubes und MySpaces of this world, a collective process has begun the consequences of which will most probably outshine the Gutenbergian Revolution.
This phenomenon of “User-generated content” and its general availability questions the current paradigms of human interaction, it ́s a new ball game.
The common word for this new phase in the evolution of the Internet is “Web 2.0″, with “Fashion 2.0″ describing the fashion-related developments.
This aforementioned general outlook, equally valid for the Fashion Universe, is unfolding in a gradual manner with the occasional “milestones” attracting the public ́s attention.
For example, it was not really a surprise when the Wall Street Journal ran the article “Bloggers get under the tent”, describing how more and more fashion bloggers are gaining entrance to fashion shows. Not everyone is invited, but many bloggers have reached a level of relevance that makes them attractive for fashion houses ́ PR departments.
This newly acquired importance was also acknowledged by Vogue France, that did a report on Fashion Blogs that -by the way- are mostly run by a single individual.
It is clear, the new media are partly disenchanting mainstream journalism by often being better and faster, raising the question what exactly it is that makes classic media so “respectable”.
At the moment, the answer is that classic media products are obtaining advertisement and subscription/purchase money and place value on investigation, of course the former making the latter possible. These aspects implicate that the “dinosaurs” will not lose importance in the near future, especially since they have demonstrated learning ability in the recent past.
A fantastic example for the current situation is the video interview (link to the video here) that fashion blogger and Coutorture founder Julie Fredrickson did with the legendary Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue USA.
In what can be called a historic document the current pecking order of fashion is accurately represented: on the one hand there is the young blogger, already enjoying “entr©e”, and on the other the fashion superstar, who has the interview ended with a bored side glance.
Still, the jealously guarded limits of journalism and its “gate-keeper” function are constantly attacked and redefined, as is the way how we produce and consume information.
MySpace and YouTube, or ShareYourLook and IQONS in the fashion space are some examples that people are (inter)actively participating in the process of communication.
Web sites like Flickr or Slide allow for the publication of photos, that can be used in all kinds of contexts, so that an exhibition in the Lausanne Mus©e de l’Elys©e can rightly proclaim: We are all Photographers now!
These new means give creative people the chance to present themselves in ways that were inconceivable until today. For instance, while in the past designers were dependent upon fashion magazines, today they can directly get in touch with potential buyers. But once they have published their information a process of judgment, approval, criticism and inspiration begins in which everybody can participate.
All branches are subject to changes, with selling also taking new forms. Granted, classic shopping will not be completely replaced in the near future, since clothing must be touched, felt.
Nevertheless, the comfort of online shopping is unbeatable and with the improvement of product description methods, more and more consumers will buy online.
But there are new concepts emerging, that have the potential to revolutionize fashion shopping.
The so called “Social Shopping” , as represented by Etsy, Spreadshirt or the Austrian HOKOHOKO, facilitates recommendations for friends and other interested parties, but it goes one step further: everybody can produce clothing and offer it, lowering the entry barriers to the fashion market to practically zero.
And for all those designers with no talent or desire for real clothing production, there is still virtual fashion.
However, the most important paradigm constituted by the internet remains “anything, anywhere, anytime”.
Everything is available, there are no limits or borders to the exchange of information and goods, hereby opening a new chapter in human history. Everyone competes or cooperates with everyone, is scrutinized by everyone, and even if fame is achieved, it might only be for the Warholian 15 minutes.
This vision of globalization, the neutral consequence of technological progress, will have effects for “you” and “us” that can not yet be assessed.
modabot is the News Service for Avantgarde Fashion based in Berlin.
modabot is published in german, but will be complemented by an english edition in the future.
However, due to the international interest concerning specific topics, some articles are already presented in english.
For an overview of our english articles, click the tag “english”.