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Fashion Watch: Two Alarming Trends for Consumers and Employees

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16 July 2018

If you happen to work in fashion, you intend to work in fashion, or you just really love fashion, this post might make you just a little bit sad. Lately, there has been an avalanche of bad news when it comes to fashion and retail. As consumers or employees of these industries, we are in the odd position of being the sources, victims, and beneficiaries of these changes all at once.  Our relationship with the fashion industry? Well… the Facebook classification would be “It’s Complicated.” Brands themselves are trying hard to make sense of these tectonic movements, but I believe we as people must try to make sense of them too.

Here are some titles I came across just today:

How ‘Fashion’ Became a Bad Word
What’s Ailing America’s Fashion Darlings?
How Algorithms Are Threatening Fashion’s White-Collar Jobs
Influencer Ex Machina

Maybe reading just the titles alone won’t give you a full impression of what’s going on, so here’s a long (news) story short:

Fashion has fallen… well, out of fashion.

That’s it. Point blank. Fashion is no longer in vogue. How can I say that? Because evidence shows that we consumers are still spending money, but just not the way we used to. In the last year alone, the luxury market has experienced a 5% growth that has benefited not only them, but also digital upstart brands and direct-to-consumer companies. However, the cool kids of fashion from a couple of years back didn’t feel the same love. Brands like Narciso Rodrigues, Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler, Rag and Bone, and Opening Ceremony, once encouraged by the enthusiastic response in their heyday, have hyper-expanded using the old-fashioned department store business model of distribution and are now struggling to understand the shift in the market. They’re scrambling to cut their losses and reposition themselves. Brands like Everlane that praise themselves for basic clothing and price transparency are the new cool kids.  Blame us, fickle consumers. It’s now trendier to spend money on wellness than on fashion.

Well-paying fashion and social media influencing jobs are filled more by AI and less by humans.

After years of education, internships, and endless efforts to make the right connections, you are finally ready. And then you read the news: more and more companies use artificial intelligence to design clothes, and to serve as buyers and merchandise planners. Some of us grew up dreaming to get a job in fashion and a few lucky ones have actually made that dream come true. But for those still dreaming, what shape do those dreams take now with these fewer options?  While the fashion industry was one of the first to export the manufacturing jobs overseas, it’s the first we hear of losing its white-color jobs to computers. So far it looks like machines are there only to “augment and automate tasks” and I understand companies’ efforts to be as efficient as possible, but I am not looking forward to a future where an algorithm decides what I buy, what I wear, and how I wear it. No matter my feelings about social media influencers (I’ve never been a fan, but that’s for another post), I still doubt that replacing them with computer-generated models will make me feel any better.


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Posted by Staff Writer at 02:58 AM
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