Fashion deals are now struck over Facebook. Ramp shows are streamed live. But is there such a thing as too much visibility?
We have witnessed the power of the internet. Our smartphones are constantly using data for various social media apps like Facebook and Instagram. We live in a world where our morning coffee comes with a portable charger. Gone are the days when one could get away with being technologically challenged. Even for the fashion industry, the digital revolution has proven to be a game changer, something we designers have to think of while planning collections and seasons.
While there is no replacement for the experience of a live show, a lot of my friends from the fashion industry now prefer to live stream videos and images. You can also reach far more people, this way reducing expenditure on campaigns and marketing costs.
A lot of social media platforms are like e-commerce websites with orders being placed on a designer’s Facebook page or prices being negotiated through Instagram messages. Thus, digitalisation is a boon for young designers who cannot afford to create shows or open stores. They can find relative success with online campaigns.
Online, the whole world is your market. So, someone sitting in Turkey or London can see and buy your product with the same ease as someone sitting two lanes away.
Digitisation of fashion has also opened up opportunities for fashion influencers and bloggers, who are forming opinions on collections. They also curate their content, by giving a unique take on a particular outfit but styling it differently. This helps consumers understand the wearable aspect of fashion.
However, the biggest drawback of digitisation in fashion is the sheer overload of information and a voyeuristic approach towards fashion, which takes away the mystery associated with it.
There is a certain allure in seeing the designs on the ramp, then on fashion stands, on the cover of a magazine worn by an aspiration star. Once images of your designs are online, every passing day risks overkill.
At the same time, there is a big risk of plagiarism. When your designs are available for all to see, fast selling retail stores make cheaper duplicates of the designs. Therefore, it becomes important for designers to plan collections in such a manner that consumers get to wear it soon after its showcase.
I believe that any kind of change is exciting, especially in a creative field like fashion, where it can lead to great things. Observing how big international designers have adapted to digitisation, it is an exciting time to see how we, in India, use it to our advantage.
I see it as a positive step for menswear as the biggest drawback for this segment (in India) is the lack of distribution channels. At times, when the demand for menswear designer wear is on the rise and retail is as usual only focusing on high street brands for men, digitisation of fashion will help.
Kunal Rawal is a leading men’s fashion designer, he tweets as @kunalrawalvibeTweets by @kunalrawalvibe