Part of the beauty of the Fashion industry is that it’s an unpredictable mistress. What I currently claim to be the ‘world’s most fashionable cities’ will most likely be irrelevant in a few years time. However, there is one thing that can be said for its ever-evolving nature. This industry, which spans over hundreds of countries throughout the world, is united in its seasonal trends and how fashion enthusiasts interpret them as law every year. Filtering down from the designers themselves, to the high fashion editors, to the bloggers (with the thousands of followers), to the stores where we’re able to achieve whatever trend takes our fancy, it involves us all.
Writing about how ‘the internet has changed everything’ often makes journalists sound like a broken-record, stating the obvious. But, hear me out; because everything about the way we consume fashion on an international basis has changed in the past twenty years alone.
When Florence was once considered the fashion capital of the world in the 1930s, customers had to wait for stock to become available to see what trends were in store for the new year. 19th Century aristocratic American and English women would quite often venture to Europe on their honeymoons to stock up on their Summer/Winter wardrobes. It was then when they returned home, donning the latest styles that their social circle would see what was in style internationally-speaking.
Even as little as 10 years ago, Vogue was still heralded the ‘Fashion Bible’ – containing all the commandments you would need for the year of dressing ahead. It was up to the editors of magazines to inform its dedicated readership of what was in store from season to season. It’s only now, since designers have realised just how profitable social media can be, that Fashion Houses are deciding to broadcast their shows live on the internet, for any consumer, wherever they are in the world, to see. Topshop Unique and Burberry are at the cutting edge of this streaming service and others are sure to follow.
Pinterest, Instagram, and the world-wide reach of ASOS means that there’s no longer a definitive style for any one class of people in any one particular place. The fashion industry’s international outreach has changed how we shop almost beyond recognition. When it was founded in 2000, ASOS stood for ‘As Seen On Screen’. I remember first stumbling upon the site aged fourteen and the idea was that you entered a starlet’s name into the search bar and the site would provide you with a list of inspired items for you to buy. Back in those days, the cast of ‘Pretty Little Liars’ was my inspo du jour so my early ASOS purchases were largely formed of noughties headbands. Cringe. But now, when you look at the modern-day equivalent, YouTube stars and the cast of Made In Chelsea etc, you are able to buy their endorsed clothes straight from their social media feeds. It seems that, on an international scale, we prefer to buy the wardrobes of so-called ‘relatable social media figures’ over the emulated costumes of our favourite TV shows and films.
Pinterest, in particular, is incredible at providing an overview of what is trending all over the world and allowing you to engage with other users in what styles to emulate. Love it or hate it – the internet has allowed us the freedom to explore our style online if we so wish. Pinterest boards, labelled ‘Fashion Inspiration’, free returns on ASOS (so we can try out that dress that seems a little more daring than usual) or even watching endless numbers of Lookbooks on YouTube, the international outreach of the internet means we can channel whatever style we fancy, whenever we want.
So, writing about international fashion is near-impossible to pin down. From a general knowledge stand-point, when you think of a ‘Parisian woman’ you envision a put-together woman wearing all-black and red lipstick, who also looks like she’s made zero effort at all. In other words, everything I aspire to achieve in my wardrobe; but just can’t because I’m not French (read the self-help book, ‘How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are’ for more details). Equally, stereotypical London girls supposedly dress like Kate Moss whereas most true New York women would argue that, no they don’t aspire to look like Blair Waldorf whilst eating their lunch on the steps of the MET. That’s so 2007, after all. Instead, international fashion means having the ability to play around with clothes and enjoying the style you love whilst reaping the benefits of the internet age. Just don’t forgot to Instagram your #OOTD.