“Personally, I think there is too much fashion in the world. Now you can go on Style.com or blogs and there is always another collection launch, cruise, resort, accessories, and on and on and that’s a pity. For me it’s an overdose.”
– Dries Van Noten, speaking to WSJ in 2011
When fashion week (on week-on week-on week) rolled around last month, I found myself dreading it. This, despite the fact that I’m not directly involved in it in any way. It would not affect my daytime schedule whatsoever, or have me out late feting some hot new kid on the block whilst getting up to no good at Up & Down. No, it would simply alter the landscape of my daily virtual intake, replacing my daily dose of fashion-related content with a sugary and overwhelming substitute. It would be inescapable—the complete antithesis of everything in moderation. “Except moderation,” is how Instagram would reply to that motto, with its bombardment of fashion show images, about half of which were entirely negligible as worthy content.
I am so bored with this, I thought to myself, as I ran through the numerous ways in which fashion has, for me, trended in the wrong direction over the past few years. I’ve hinted at this before when writing about my dismay for the cesspool of fashion blogs out there, 99% of which appear as nothing more than narcissistic placeholders for actually doing something interesting with one’s life. I can count the blogs with genuinely great content on one and a half hands—those few that make readers think, always challenging us with a unique perspective or idea. I struggle to wrap my head around how someone who solely photographs their outfits all day justifies that as a worthwhile pursuit. Which is not to say that there is anything inherently wrong with that—hey, I do it too—and I love to see what certain folk are wearing. It’s simply that I don’t think that’s enough to make for a great blog, or a front row seat at fashion week.
And yet, if you have enough readers, it will result in just that kind of coddling. And, as such, hundreds of bloggers and Internet personalities are now invited to shows, where most will inevitably document their experiences to death. In a recent piece for Business of Fashion on the same subject, Mark C. O’ Flaherty hit the nail on the head when he concluded: “The whole thing has become one glorified, ridiculous, narcissistic, nauseating selfie.” Leandra Medine, whose blog is one of the few on my little pedestal of greatness, had the good sense to reflect on the subject herself, as she is constantly at the center of this pseudo-storm. She wonders:
It used to be that fashion shows functioned similarly to the way a book jacket does, providing a summary that would either push you to purchase what lives between the front and back covers or leave it dejected where you found it. But when that book jacket stopped summarizing and instead began laying out all its content for you to digest, sans enticement, in one quick glance, what happened? What were you left with if not mindless, void-filling precision? What are you left with if not mindless, void-filling precision?
It’s an important question, one that’s obviously affecting not just those who partake in the so-called circus (some with more hesitation than others), but also those of us at home who are supposedly the ones benefitting from this onslaught of once-exclusive information.
There was a time, before fashion had grown into a giant pie that everyone and their mother wanted a slice of, when my fashion intake was relegated to the magazines I received in the mail and Style.com—when it was still run by the head honchos at Vogue. Fashion week still excited me then, because it hadn’t become so ubiquitous—the flame was still alive, so to speak. I wouldn’t necessarily trade the few blogs I do enjoy to go back to that more insular era, but I also wouldn’t mind if a lot of the excess content disappeared.
Alas, this is the downside of democratization, and arguing against it is dangerous territory to tread. It’s just fashion after all, and blurry Instagrams won’t kill me. But the fantasy of fashion, the allure it used to exude without fail, is weakening. Those inside and outside the bubble are tiring of it—but few of us are able to unequivocally answer the incessant question of what’s to be done.