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Oct / Nov 2011
Fashion Files

Writer: Monita Rajpal / Illustration: Gina Abou Hamad

Monita Rajpal looks at how the online world is shaping the future of fashion.

As this article goes to press, the fashion establishment is making its way from London Fashion Week to Milan. The biannual extravaganza of all that makes the industry celebrated and yes, even fickle, converges on these cosmopolitan cities making us all dress a little smarter and stand a little taller (albeit with higher than usual heels). With world-famous brands and their even more highly esteemed designers and celebrity fans, these shows are events to be attended – places in which to be seen and be photographed. Whilst the goal is to showcase the new look for the year ahead, the way the fashion world now works is with a sense of immediacy, with the full knowledge that consumers don’t want to wait six months for these new trends. They want it all now.

We can thank the internet for that. From online shopping outlets to bloggers, the internet is perhaps the most powerful tool available to the fashion industry. Burberry knows this and has opened its cybersphere to followers, continually tweeting the latest news and even streaming shows live in HD through their Facebook page. This spring/summer 2012 collection showcased the first ever “Tweetwalk” show in partnership with Twitter. Vogue U.S. editor-in-chief Anna Wintour hails Burberry Creative Director Christopher Bailey as someone who, “Every season surprises us with a new twist.” And while she may be talking about the clothes he designs for the iconic British brand, with its most notable offering being the trench coat, Bailey envisioned early on the power to connect with people globally as its popularity beyond British borders continues to explode. With its year-on-year earnings more than doubling thanks to demand from Asia, the luxury powerhouse isn’t stopping there. They’ve opened an office in Brazil and a third store there is in the offing in the near future.

Brazil is also a prime place where we find growing demand for fashion. Not just from the outside, but from within. Alice Ferraz, brand consultant for names like Issa (the blue dress Kate Middleton wore to her engagement announcement was an Issa dress), says long before names like Louis Vuitton and Gucci came onto their shores, Brazilians were determined to create brands of their own to cater to their own. Now, in order to get the word out on what Brazil has to offer, she has created a website where bloggers from Brazil share their insights into the fashion world. Called F*Hits, she describes it as the first aggregate platform for top fashion bloggers in Brazil. So far, she has 26 style bloggers who draw in close to 4 million unique users per month and she says it continues to grow. As many as fifteen bloggers were brought to London to cover Fashion Week and now she hopes to recruit a UK-based blogger to bring the fashion worlds together online.

What Ferraz is doing is tapping into something we’re seeing more and more of at the catwalk shows: bloggers, whose faces you may not know but words you have read. Many are getting widespread recognition from the brands, so much so that they’re getting front row seats at the shows – the row normally reserved for celebrities, fashion editors of major magazines, and key buyers. It highlights what is fast becoming the biggest trend in fashion: immediacy and individuality. The industry is just here to help you along the way but the online channels are opening up endless possibilities when it comes to fashion.

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