2016 : the officialization of fashion as entertainment
What is entertainment? While examples are plenty, its meaning remains foggy maybe because, like in many cases, to each his own.
As the word would suggest, the goal should be to keep us busy, focus, amused or all three at once. Instead, its latin roots, “divertere”, leans towards diverting, outside the focal point. Forget the self and focus on something else.
Entertainment is a billion dollar business. Yearly.
Therefore, it’s only natural, brands and people want in and to do so, channeling and maintaining people’s focus on you instead of your neighbor is both key and challenging. Entertainment is a cultural thermometer: it’s a vital component of the world economy but it also adds value to the other socio-cultural dynamics Western society is based upon. It is “Good” in its almost biblical sense.
Originally, Fashion was a conversation between “Couturiers” and rich clients. An elite playground, a fantasy factory, Willy Wonka inviting (opulent) grown ups. Times changed though. Many Houses thought they could prosper on this axiom alone. Wrong. Fashion thinks forward, channels the greats but departs from them. “Thanks but no thanks”.
In a global context, streets took over. Rapidly. Fashion is now accessible to everyone, almost everywhere, in real time. Internet allowed Fashion “democratization”. Fast Fashion mammoths allowed the young, the students, the low-income strata to be part of it, to mimic the grown ups, the lawyers, the upper 5th percentile.
Fashion is a now an experience, lived through a screen. A “spectacle” to echo Guy Debord. Fashion has always been entertaining with only happy few laughing. Along fashion came a “l’art de vivre”, the manners, the taste. It made sense. Now we talk about “lifestyle”. It makes money. To each his own.
Now, more than ever, fashion entertains the masses while History takes place. Elsewhere. Shows are neither for the press nor the buyers. They are for the masses. Then its only natural clients are able to buy right away, following the “See now, buy now” principle. It’s logical, almost cynical. We “forget” by lunch what we had for breakfast.
Fashion changed so we did. Or is it the other way around ? Anyway, thanks to Instagram, we no longer wait, much less imagine AS the IWWIWWIWI (I Want What I Want When I Want It) generation doesn’t tolerate frustration. Burberry, Tom Ford just shook the game by announcing two shows a year, mixing genders.
This was enough for the Media and other insiders to foresee a new big mutation while forgetting that as early as 2014, Moschino’s collection was on Rent the runway the day after the show and that Moda Operandi offers similar services.
So, to review: big buzz? Yes. Structural change? Not so much. It’s true the Fashion system needs both order and timing between shows and racks. Some prophesize the death of the designer or marketing’s take over because when you put God’s fear in people art (pun intended), retail rules.
We don’t lie here so yes, Fashion is a business, and some pieces will be added during the sales while other runway silhouettes will only live on style.com. Runways will enhance brand image. Press, it girls and Instagram will continue to give “cool” points to brands for their public. As Geoffroy de La Bourdonnaye, Chloé CEO, put it in Le Monde: “Having immediate access wont’t help people choose”.
This debate isn’t one. Again, we forget that fashion goes beyond clothes. Its impact is deeper, its influence growing. Kanye West’s Yeezy season 3 at the MSG, livestreamed on Jay Z’s Tidal was coupled with the premiere of “The Life of Pablo”. Fine art-Music-Fashion. 2016 Holy Trinity.
The 20 000 weren’t there for the clothes (forgettable albeit hot as a New York summer). They were there for the “event”, the “cultural” manifestation. Listening to Kanye, seeing hype, feeling it. Being part of a (big) inner circle. If fashion is this strong, it’s because it synthetizes aesthetics and cultural streams, to give birth to something “else”.
It bridges the gap between social strata, cities and colors. To “double his dollars” and reach different/diverging demographics, Kanye uses Fashion and its aesthetic and socio-cultural flexibility. And, last but certainly not least, his wife Kim Kardashian and the rest of her tribe, Instagram royal family, allow his message to echo even further. “Fashion is now pop and maybe it was better before” lamented Raf Simons. The truth is, we off that.