You and I looked onto each other.
Eyes talked (we linger).
Long as the day, deep as the night.
They find us
m u s i n g.
By Margretta Sowah
Twitter – @bohomags
It’s not hard to spot a beautiful person. I’m convinced the world is full of them.
Man, woman, child. Caramel, chocolate, vanilla… yes, even ice cream flavours can be beautiful. There’s a formula to most things, a science for the way we work. When talking about Fashion what we are addressing is aesthetics; the emotional and sensory feelings we have to something. A wedding dress is a perfect example. The emotional feeling attached to a wedding dress makes it aesthetically pleasing, generally speaking. With that being said, beauty will always be in the eye of the beholder, and the same goes for opinions.
What makes fashion so exciting is its influence within culture and society. This is the only platform where being an odd beauty is commercially sellable – the kooky, quirky, avant-garde and weird (I say these with quotation fingers). Without the appreciation of subcultures we wouldn’t have websites likeDAZED, I-D and Oyster Mag. I’m not just talking about models and designers with an ‘edge’. I mean trailblazers like fashion reporter and Diesel campaign model, Jillian Mercado, who has muscular dystrophy. Daphne Selfe is a 60 plus stunner, still earning top dollar in a world obsessed with youth – grey haired, fine lined and teeth better than most. Amazon Eve (otherwise known as Erika Ervin), the tallest model in the world at 6’8’’… sidebar: I would feel a certain type of way if I was in the cubicle next to her. If I were her height I would be tempted to take the piss every now and then. Wouldn’t you? Just saying.
These women are not what would be called conventionally beautiful. Whether it is ageism, the power of privilege or stereotyping particular features, society is quick to ignore and criticize anything that is perceived as a threat to established cultural norms. The fashion industry has embraced subcultures like no other industry can, despite having a capitalist and elitist mentality. In this bubble we are able to challenge aesthetics (to a certain degree) and hold a mirror to all our unique worlds – from the lame and the limber – for relation.
Woman like a man, like a woman like a man
Everyone is talking about the trans-[insert title] community at the moment; women wanting to be men, men wanting to be women and children just wanting to be taken seriously – insert Kylie Jenner. Conventional roles are changing; people are liberated by different channels. A good example is Casey Legler. Casey a female who models menswear, exclusively. This 35 year old American (born in France) woman is also an established artist and ex-Olympian swimmer… Anyone else feel they should up their Linkedin game?
Ms Legler has been signed by Ford Modelling Agency for men. Ford Models are the world’s leading talent management, with a portfolio of models like Naomi Campbell, Beverly Johnson, Janice Dickenson and Brooke Shield. Casey is no doubt a woman of beauty, but her unique style was not maximised until photographer and friend, Cass Bird, placed Casey in a photoshoot originally cast for a no-show male model. This began Ms Legler’s journey into male modelling. Fortunately her strong jaw line and androgynous features made an impact on editors and designers.
Another Ford model making bold statements is Elliott Sailors. This blonde bombshell, according to The New York Post, was on Bacardi billboards globally before her work load began to drop. At 31 Elliott made a decision – she gave herself a ballsy makeover, cutting her long blonde locks in hopes of success within the male model arena. Elliott told the New York Post; “I’m starting over to have a longer career […] Men don’t need to look as young as possible, so I have a lot of time.” If you are wondering how she hides her… accessories, Elliot assures she binds her breasts and accentuates her strong jaw line for maximum effect. She also said, on a more personal note, no one (except her husband) opens the door for her anymore, assuming she is male because of her appearance. As disappointing as that is to hear, she doesn’t need to worry – or anyone else for that matter. She can open or close her own doors and so can you. She doesn’t need a man – or a woman dressed like a man, dressed like a woman, who is actually is a man – to tell her boo. #yesallwomen
There is no denying it would be a different sunny day in Sydney if I opened Harpers Bazaar and saw an advertorial, two page spread with a man selling a female handbag – I don’t care how sexy he is. This includes you, Tyson Beckford. Even your aesthetically pleasing chocolate self won’t convince me to part with my money for your bag. It is yet to make sense in my head though I’m sure over time we will be desensitised to most things. On a serious note, besides visual concerns, there are obvious proportion issues when a female wears men’s clothing… extra pockets are not needed when women have handbags, boy/friends and a decent bra – to keep your phone, lipstick, lighter and pen close to the action.
The way I see it, If men are okay with buying and relating to clothes modelled by a woman – who is no longer projecting feminity (let’s face it, men can be a little clueless at times) – then we have come a long way in society. We aren’t there yet, not by a long shot, but the streets have been talking and we eventually will have no choice but to listen. That in itself is a strangely beautiful thing.
This article is written by Margretta Sowah; a freelance writer and Fashion Marketer based in Sydney. All opinions expressed are her own. She cannot be held liable for bad taste. She also likes to spin yarn from time to time. Read more: http://www.allmyfriendsaremodels.com/beautiful-people-not-just-women-or-men/#ixzz3op5SFwrg
By Margretta Sowah
Perception is a funny thing. Have you heard the saying, ‘good from far but far from good’? It usually refers to a person who appears amazing from a distance but the closer you become, the less attractive they are. With Fashion Week stitching itself up after another deliciously sewnful season, I can’t help but question the context of affluence in fashion.
In times of economic strife (this being one of them) society subconsciously gazes to fashion for soci-pyschological direction. In a way, this industry is able to tell us what is hot and what is très moche (so hideous). It is no surprise the fluctuation of brand power is one of great debate. In the world of glitter and gambles, does having an accessible brand mean tacky, or has luxury taken on a whole new meaning – attainable?
Affluence vs. Accessible
Moschino, a luxury Italian fashion brand, has been on the market since the early 80s. If you have never heard to Moschino, you’ve probably heard of Jeremy Scott. I’m going to go out on a limb and call him a remixed John Galliano – in terms of his creative reservoir. Scott is an exceptional designer, being hailed by Faces magazine at number thirty-one (higher than Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen) on their Most Important People in Fashion issue. One of Jeremy’s iconic collaboration was with Adidas. To put it into a Fashion perspective, Adidas would be the Louis Vuitton of the Active Sportswear market; a powerhouse in the industry but also symbiotically tied to a specific subculture.
According to an article by BusinessInsider.au, “brands that become too accessible are less appealing to super rich buyers. Louis Vuitton, for instance, is considered a ‘brand for secretaries’ by many wealthy Chinese.” With multiple monogram copies, the LV bubble has been flooded by cheap knockoffs to the point of social recession. After further research into the customer perception of LV, most Australians agreed with the above statement, with it being over-worn and under-sold for years. It’s understandable to question whether Louis Vuitton still retains its extravagant seat in the table of opulence.
There is no backpedaling for a brand of this nature. Product-wise their collections are incredible. In the area of perception it would seem Vuitton does not hold the same feelings most would have towards CHANEL, even though there are as much knockoffs of Coco’s signature 2.55 bag as there are ofLouis Vuitton’s Speedy bag. Has Louis Vuitton’s unintentional commercialism caused their brand to now be seen as accessible instead of affluent?
Vuitton is the other half of the huge multinational conglomerate LVMH (Moët Hennessy.Louis Vuitton) and houses brands such as Christian Dior, Pucci, Fendi, Givenchy and Kenzo. I don’t see anything accessible about bags, clothes and accessories worth thousands of dollars. Do you? This is where perception comes into play. If a brand aligns themselves with personal and positive benefits along with emotional meaning, it would be very hard pressed to change public opinion, even if the trends show other signs (this goes for people as well).
What’s the secret?
Victoria’s got a secret. You know what it is, don’t you? You don’t? Her secret is that she has no secret – it is a marketing form of ‘Chinese whispers’. It starts with the truth and ends up becoming a subjective; a bit of bull***t, half a line of your favorite song and a quarter of people-stopped-caring-ten-ears-ago. When discussing brand perception, there is one company that sings with heavenly angels to get our attention – Victoria’s Secret. This brand is very successful at tugging heartstrings and drawstrings. A friend of mine who works for VS was quick to affirm the brand’s leverage in most segments of the market; whether fast, mid or luxury.
This leverage also has negative connotations with public opinion. While one half of VS lovers are avid fans of the lifestyle and the products, there are others that have a lot to say to Vicky about the body conscious and unrealistic fantasies of the human body – I’m not saying there are not plenty of women who look like Doutzen Kroes or Maria Borges (I do sometimes fantasize about being Naomi C though), but us women have enough issues surrounding positive body image and the notion of healthy vs. thin or thicker vs. fat. There is no doubt VS promotes a fitness culture but the ads are for lingerie. A double standard? Yes, but they are laughing all the way to the bank… maybe that’s the real secret.
The way majority of us perceive VS is a testament to excellent brand strategies, tapping into the lifestyle of Victoria by using celebrated models in a sort of sorority system approach. Girls apply to become a Victoria Secret Angel; if approved they receive a contract and off they go modeling, jetsetting to some of the most breathtaking places in the world – all documented for customers to get ‘behind the scene access’. We all know though, it’s the star-studding runway show we tune in for. In the hierarchy of luxury brand, VS is considered a luxury store. Their products are mid-priced and well designed (it’s no La Perla), enough to pique social and superficial intrigue, but the main reason most buy (from young to old) is because of the VS Angels themselves – Adriana, Alessandra, Miranda, Candice, Chanel, Karlie and, once upon a time, Tyra.
When a brand is over exposed to the market it’s easy to assume they are no longer precious or special. I believe there is a new perception on luxury; one where having a strong brand culture with tailor-made products allows consumers to be a part of the journey – because they get it. There is logic to business that we can’t deny, or be snobbish about – this culture is saying, ‘I want to be heard! I am making money and appealing to my audience. This is a new form of extravagance.’
Luxury, no matter how you and I spin it, has to do with a feeling. It is rarely judged solely on tactile operations. Putting it back into perspective – what we perceive, we believe.
This article is written by Margretta Sowah; a freelance writer and Fashion Marketer based in Sydney. All opinions expressed are her own. She cannot be held liable for bad taste. She also likes to spin yarn from time to time. Read more: http://www.allmyfriendsaremodels.com/brand-perception-think-matters/#ixzz3op3XJZuw
By Margretta Sowah
When was the last time you purchased a glossy magazine? You know, the ones with a shiny finishing coat and eye catching, type-esqe features like: FROM POSH TO PUNK – how piercings became the hottest new accessory. GET RICH QUICK – how other women like you are cashing in and (I feel half embarrassed, half facetious writing this…), ORGASM MASTERCLASS – why women like you are signing up for sex school, (ELLE Australia, February & March 2015 editions).
Spending upwards of $8 Australian on a magazine doesn’t seem like a necessary purchase, especially when you can interact (shop, read, view, chat) on your phone, tablet or even a watch! – As a non-watch wearer I can’t seriously justify spending over a thousand dollars on Apple’s new iWatch, for basically time and energy, not to mention the chiropractic bill for abnormal neck strain. Does anyone remember when LG released fridges with internet access on the doors? Hm… I digress once more; who still uses old school pick-up lines like asking someone cute for the time, or a lighter? In this digital age it doesn’t matter if you’re anti-clock or just can’t seem to make it to twelve, if you follow my drift. The availability and accessibility of newly pressed content is across all platforms, bringing likeminded people to the online marketplace for various reasons.
Whether you subscribe digitally or with more traditional modes, content (information and experiences created) is still the primary reason for purchasing from a brand. Humans are naturally blessed (and cursed) with curiosity. We want to know how, why, what, (when) did she (wear) that? And (where) can I get it? In the print publication industry there are major makeovers in progress – a huge ‘wardrobe’ change, so to speak.
Articles, panels and forums are speaking up about internal and external rumblings that need urgent and ethical solutions. Fashion Week, the NYE of the Industry, has been infiltrated by “smart” technology, ushered in with the new front-row of social experts. These invitees are bloggers, public social figures and digital socialites. In the one-size-does-not-fit-all Mecca of Fashion, are people still interested in educated, opinionated and constructive editorials? Are they still relevant? Or just another trendy and convincing voice in a sea of information? #CopyRated?
Madonna’s iconic song Vogue has made the line, ‘what are you looking at?’ infamous. It is no secret that magazine sales have dropped over the recent years. The music industry is suffering also, people just aren’t consuming tracks the way they used to. According to Mia Freeman of Mumbrella.com.au, 51k copies of Vogue per month are sold and 54k copies of Harpers Bazaar are sold. Vogue online, however, has 1.1 million active users per month. This is a huge gap.
Is buying a Vogue with Rihanna on the cover any more valuable than RiRi’s personal Instagram (@BadGalRiRi) for her story, words and photos – unfiltered? Vogue Australia’s Instagram has 6.1m followers, where as Rihanna has 26m followers. Yes, they are different markets but both benefit from each other’s business. Who can say or prove which is the fairest of them all? It isn’t always a numbers game.
Membership to this club is not easily attained either (ask Kanye West – he knows all about that). This point is proven by the continual disregard for issues around fat-shaming/skinny shaming models and excluding a large portion of consumers – if the average, healthy woman can’t fit into [x] designer’s clothing because size 10 is considered ‘Plus Size’ then we have a problem; racism – it matters today, will tomorrow and the next, mis-representation in the form of social ignorance (cultural appropriation), elitism, too high/too low price points and the issue of sustainability.
We need to use any form of communication and attention to highlight these issues. The more avenues Fashion is able to use for social and economic change, the better it is for us as a culture. We are attracted to the glits and glamour of the stories fashion can weave.
Influencers & Experts
Credibility online is as easy to find as an Uber on a Friday night. All that is needed is a platform for engagement and promotion. Bloggers (Vlogging, personal blogs, and sharing platforms like Periscope) are making millions of fashionable dollars by relating to an audience. Does the beauty Vlogger Em Ford, with over 300k followers on Youtube, have more social relevance than an experienced Make-Up artist with key industry insights and extensive product knowledge?
Logically, we assume the more we have, the better [x] will be. The more M&Ms in a packet, the better. The more time you spend at a job, the better. The more followers someone has, the more social credibility is received, right? Instagram allows us to showcase pictures with stylised filters. Anyone these days can be as good as a professional photographer, at least on first glance. This shift has strategically spotlighted profiles with a high number of followings. Most of us would easily confuse some of these social pages for Experts – instead of Influencers.
An Expert can critically, objectively and passionately articulate a researched and purpose-driven perspective. An Influencer can and should use expert information (with accreditation) to guide and inspire their contemporaries, organically and with relevance. These two brands in their own right – theExpert and the Influencer – need to advocate for our industry by playing and catering to the unconscious consumer need to desire and acquire.
It is easy to believe the hype of print approaching its final publication but there are still paper lovers, willing to wait month by month while still engaging online platforms and content. In my opinion the best thing about a fashion magazine is the soft (lightly scented) 50+ pages of forecasted trends, beauty products reviews, naughty occasional tear-out Q&As and not to mention the layouts – print will always be a visual delight. The expectations may be different with each platform but the goal is still the same – to sell the dream.
I don’t believe as consumers we need to decide one platform over the other. Technology has created these multiple-choice variety machines, competing for our short attention spans. Society is constantly seeking to feel more connection… even if it’s through WiFi.
To steal a Sex and the City quote; “I like my money where I can see it. In my closet.” I say, less where more wear.
This article is written by Margretta Sowah; a freelance writer and Fashion Marketer based in Sydney. All opinions expressed are her own. She cannot be held liable for bad taste. She also likes to spin yarn from time to time. Read more: http://www.allmyfriendsaremodels.com/print-or-paper-is-the-editorial-dead/#ixzz3oR6IETQT
By Magretta Sowah
Brands have pull – no doubt about it. If a brand was a real person strutting into a bar, it would be pulling (wo)men left, right and centre. Okay, let’s talk about Instagram. This social media platform, bought by Facebook a couple of years ago, is a digital giant. Its speciality? Visually driven content. Statistics show 70% of companies have an Instagram account. So what are they sharing, besides the product? It’s The Good Life.
What turns you on? Makes you look – head at 90 degrees, neck stretched back, eyes rolled to consume … Dries Van Noton peplum dress in Vogue Australia’s September issue, worn by Naomi Watts (@belinda_international). We all have a tick and it has a lot to do with perception. From a very young age we learn about height and depth, assessing situations based on measurable and favourable outcomes. It is the same with the retail experience.
Researchers have found that the first thing humans tend to do in any environment is to conduct a visual search, which is driven by a desire to find specific targets, according to Megaw & Richardson. The aim for brand [x] is to get your attention, usually by highlighting a need through price, colour and design. According to JeffBullas.com the stats for online content consumption using Instagram and Pinterest are:
‘Instagram has 300 million users. 70 million photos and videos are sent daily. 88% purchase a product they pinned.’
With that being said, think again what actually turns you on? The more statistics I read the more obvious themes like this emerge. We like visual porn (acquisition) and pursuit of The Good Life can become a very real addiction.
Fast and Frivolous
Most of us would know what the High Street is. It is a term used to describe the CBD (Central Business District) where the most retail transactions are made. High Street brands include; TOPSHOP, Miss Selfridge, ASOS, River Island, Supre and Cotton On (for Australians), H&M and Zara. This mode of Fast Fashion has one agenda: to sell as much as possible to the mass market at affordable prices. This is done by copying Luxury and Couture trends, making the style accessible to most. Purchasing a Chanel-like coat for less than 50 dollars is what makes some people tick. These shoppers don’t care if it was made from a cotton-blend instead of tweed. The problem is not necessarily the price – that is mostly internal socio-economical mark-ups and craftsmanship protection. Fair enough.
The real issue is the unsustainable value we place on having the ‘latest trend edit’. We are facing a global issue to do with sustainability, with Fashion playing more of a leading role than you can believe. Sustainability is not just buying hemp clothing and making sure you recycle. It has much bigger concerns than post-purchase behaviour. In a nutshell, sustainability is the practice of finding ethical (things that are good for the whole, rather than the individual) ways of sourcing raw materials (e.g. cotton, tweed, wool etc), the manufacturing process – which is where the biggest social issues are – shipping and the disposal of a garment.
If you haven’t heard of The Fashion Revolution, or at least the hashtag: #whomademyclothes & #FashRev; it is an organisation with an aim to reclaim accountability from High Street businesses and Luxury brands practicing unethical approaches. The rate which we consume new products is already producing an unsustainable life-cycle for the industry. There are only so many resources at our disposal on this big blue planet. Overworking the environment by over-consuming, over-producing and over-demanding the new is increasing our ecological footprint at an abnormal speed. Does that make sense? It’s a lot to grasp, believe me.
Best foot forward
“On 24 April 2013, 1133 people were killed and over 2500 were injured when the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the worst ever industrial disaster in the fashion and textile industry. It wasn’t the first, nor was it the last, but it is symptomatic of how little respect is given to the people who make our clothes and the environment they work in.” – The Fashion Revolution.
In a TEDxCopenhagen talk called ‘Changing the world through fashion’, Eva Kruse makes this great point: “If you move the money, the industry will move […] Consumers – you and I – can play a pivotal role in transitioning the fashion industry towards more sustainable business models that significantly reduce the social and environmental impacts of the industry.” Eva is the CEO and President of the Danish Fashion Institute. The DFI is behind the world’s largest event on sustainability + fashion; the Copenhagen Fashion Summit. It’s worth having a look.
When you see the consequences of mass consumption (it’s no longer an isolated issue ‘over there’) how can we not be moved as conscious shoppers? The workers in factories and on the fields move Heaven and Earth to ensure brand [x] has their units shipped before the next campaign launches. The struggle and grind is real for the; ‘Just Do It’, ‘Because you’re Worth It’, ‘I’mma let you finish…’ life – The Good Life. What about accountability? We all deserve the same right for a sustainable lifestyle.
This topic is too large to be broken down into 900 words. I hope I have done some justice to a global problem. Sustainability is increasingly being over-marketed as a brand ‘benefit’ but the truth is, it’s slow-moving in its resolution. We should all ask ourselves what is The Good Life, really? Because people are literally dying to know.
This article is written by Margretta Sowah; a freelance writer and Fashion Marketer based in Sydney. All opinions expressed are her own. She cannot be held liable for bad taste..She also likes to spin yarn from time to time. Read more: http://www.allmyfriendsaremodels.com/over-consuming-in-searching-for-the-good-life/#ixzz3nT2P9DRY