There was a time, not so long ago, I’d follow my mother around the aisles of supermarkets ‘helping’ with the family food shop, the sheer torment assuaged by a single treat – my fashion magazines. As a young woman, they were my inspiration, my source of empowerment and the basis for my style choices. Other than my friends in my small town, before the days of satellite TV and internet in the house all I had to rely on was the glossy mags for inspiration.......
Flash forward 15 years and the world has changed so phenomenally, it’s almost unrecognisable to that young girl in the supermarket. Now information moves so rapidly it is as imperceptible as air. You are immersed in it and by osmosis absorb it, without recognising it has occurred. Today the vortex of print fashion press seems archaic, a relic of a past and testimony to a time when fashion was in fact one dimensional - served by few and swallowed whole by the masses.
The web has transformed how we view ourselves and the value of our contribution to the world. The brilliant Belle, has certainly taught me (and her followers from across the globe) a thing or two about style (about hair about shape about the beauty of the once ignored black women), as have the thousands of other bloggers (regular people) given a platform to demonstrate their definition of style. It’s exhilarating to witness this revolution and observe the response from the industry.
I work in Europe’s largest urban shopping mall. This year we dedicated our spring summer campaign to the people who keep style alive, our shoppers. Situated in east London, among some of the most experimental, notoriously artistic and vibrant communities in the world, we responded by giving our shoppers the freedom to define the parameters of style.
The event took centre stage over Easter. With five zones including a 3D fasion show and beauty lounge, each offered an interactive experience, through which shoppers were empowered to take control of their own fashion destiny - showcasing their idea of fashion to the masses. Each experience was based on the sweeping digital trend of ‘personalisation’ whereby shoppers created their own fashion looks and moods on massive digital touch screens. They then browsed and selected from over 700 fashion items at the touch of a finger, introducing a change in the way we traditionally shop and self-style.
Once you had curated your look on the big screens you could share it via our Facebook page –where we created a gallery of the best designs, your own Facebook and Twitter pages. I was on duty watching with delight as the young girls creating their own looks/ mood boards so effortlessly; each one unique from the other; and promptly sent it round to their friends and family. They were independently generating a style, albeit within the parameters of the products uploaded from our retailers, and developing something that inspired them.
We hosted discussions with prominent people in the industry and invited our shoppers to participate. I was surprised by my own negative reaction to the magazine editor who was preaching about the kente designers like Burberry were using this season as lining in their traditional macs; as if the cloth had just been invented. I fell a little bit in love with Disney Roller Girl, the infamous London fashion blogger.
Her appearance as a ‘special guest’ alongside editor of Grazia Magazine was testament to the change in fashion; now people at the helm are everyday people, without the backing of a publication or magazine, utilising the web to make an imprint. She was the perfect embodiment of fashion, projecting her internal wrangling about the value of the industry on to the audience. It was an intellectual discussion about fashion, control, access, through which I saw the future of fashion. It is women like Belle, Disney Roller Girl and the girls designing their perfect outfits on the screens. They will not be told, they will decide...
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