Technology: End of Fashion Hierarchy and Distinction? Or a Rise of Imitations?



Fashion is both democratic and exclusive, depending on its target audience. However the days where the elite attend Fashion Week and wear such elegant and unique pieces may be coming to a close to some extent. Some fashion has become meant for a broad audience making designers go “main stream” by selling clothes at Target like Isaac Mizrahi. But some fashion is simply not wearable for the mass consumers either because of the cost, elaborateness, or because most wouldn’t have anywhere they could wear such items. However the ultimate question we face is technology affecting fashion and it’s hierarchy or does it help the fashion world?



Going back 10 years one can see a large difference with public awareness of fashion, particularly Fashion Week.  Fashion Week is the time to show off the new innovative designs to the elite that top designers have been working on for months or years.  At this important time there’s a new part of the fashion world that is getting more involved with Fashion Week: technology.  How fashion is exposed in our generations growing dependence on technology, things are seen differently. With the growing dependence on social networking, twitter, youtube, facebook, apps, bloggers, and vloggers for our information about what’s “in” designers have had to adapt to be accessible in this market for their consumers.  Could this mean the risk going out of business if they don’t change to make themselves more available or would this mean designers would become even more successful with technology?

Today there is the risk at Fashion Week of someone sneaking in and filming the show on their phone, ipod, etc and posting it on youtube. With this growing online exposure could this mean a wide variety of things for the designer and it’s something we are looking to find the answer to.  Will it create more competition, lose the ascetics of fashion or will the Internet completely cut out the middle man, designers instead turning to sell directly the consumer?

The outcome of competition and technology leads to imitations.  Imitations also play in reducing hierarchy when you see so many “designer” bags.  For example on a campus I think people assume if you’re a student and you have on a designer piece it’s probably fake, and even if it isn’t any “status” or hierarchy you originally received when you purchased is lost in the assumption of fake.  As Vlebon says “A cheap coat makes a cheap man,” These fake or real pieces might lead to things being about material or original pieces firmly establishing a hierarchy once more since “true” pieces shouldn’t have any look a likes, any copy of the same will be seen as fake. Or the black market will just continue to grow and ensuring that brand (logo) purses lose any hierarchical meaning.

There is a lot of debate whether or not technology ruins this hierarchy as it could be said it helps the business thrive with these imitations and fast paced society.   Without knowing the statistics of each aspect it’s hard to gage this opinion but regardless it’s something to ponder.  It’s important think to about this and realize the pros and cons.  Even if there is less of a hierarchal difference one thing still will remain and that is that fashion and Fashion Week will always be extremely profitable and important to us all.


7 thoughts on “Technology: End of Fashion Hierarchy and Distinction? Or a Rise of Imitations?

  1. I am a positivist when it comes to Technology infiltration and hopeful that Technology will revive various industries by proving more intimacy between suppliers and buyers.

    At the same time, I am greatly against counterfeit products because they misappropriate money from the top sector and allocates the wealth to make other individuals wealthy. The end result being that the originator of the product or logo receives no benefits from this money flow..

    While I myself find great pleasure from scouring through blogs and to see the latest shows presented alongside insider info of the fashion world, i think further steps need to take place to protect creative content.
    If the creative content of an artist has tighter barricades around it, then by those means we can enjoy the next Alexander Wang season in a more connected form.

  2. I think it goes without saying that technology has affected the hierarchy of fashion; however, determining if this effect is good, bad, or impartial depends in large part on the particular person being asked. In the article “Fashioning Political Identities: Cultural Studies and the Historical Construction of Political Subjects,” it says that “fashion served as a display of class distinction and taste, a cultural marker of privilege and difference;” yet, we find that with advancements in technology this line is being slightly blurred. Technological advances in the internet have given way to a plethora of fashion bloggers, twitter followers, and youtube videos. We have seen young girls from all over that have started fashion blogs, and they are able to attract a massive amount of followers as well as gain serious notoriety in the fashion world. The fact that girls as young as 15 years old are able to post their opinions on facebook, twitter, or blogs challenges and complicates the notion of who can be an expert in fashion. By changing the face of the expert from this elite class of fashion gurus that went to fashion school to young fresh faces with no degree, it in some way empowers the masses. Many of these blogs like College Fashionista demonstrate how designer styles can be imitated or copied, and usually at a much cheaper price; therefore, the masses can participate in fashion.

  3. I believe that with increasing technological advances there will inevitably continue be a huge shift in the fashion industry as to how the fashion world and everyday person interact. The capability of finding out everything you would ever want to know is right at your fingertips is a positive aspect for those who are ignorant to the ways of the fashion world. This can also be detrimental to the elite fashion designers and their affluent customers who seek one-of-a-kind items. The supply use to be low for couture and runway pieces which made their demand high for those who could afford them giving the designers more recognition for their unique pieces. With the ever-changing advancements in technology, there has been a shift in the consumer base allowing people from middle-class backgrounds to be able to afford runway imitations or similarly designed clothes. The concerns and problems that the fashion world faces with the integration of technology also parallels that of the music industry. Artists now have to worry about illegal downloads of their music and leaks of their songs before their release. I believe that it isn’t a question of whether the fashion hierarchy will cease to exist and imitations will take over rather how each side will learn to adapt to these changes and co-exist peacefully.

  4. I’m not a huge supporter of the fashion quizzes because they seem to marginalize individuals. Placing people in categories is very damaging to the innovative person devoted to their unique style. After taking the quiz in class, I certainly did not fit into any of the categories. In fact, people who didn’t fit into distinct categories were seen as outcast or criticized for their “unbalanced” fashion identity. Normativity is embraced in our society, and anything outside the safety net is a threat to it. I’m a fashion blogger, and I suggest certain trends, and looks to try out for my readers, but I always emphasize on personalizing your individual style. It’s okay to take away from the runway but make it your own. Most importantly, brand your own fashion identity.

  5. I feel as if technology will allow designers to get their name out there on a larger scale through the use of “apps” and other forms of “social networking”. However, I feel that this does not close the hierarchical gap, but almost increases the hierarchy. When a middle class college student browses the Versace, Chanel, or Manolo Blahnik websites, they become more aware of their inability to afford such items. It creates a sense of longing to be able to afford the items and be one of the rich and “elite” that can.

    The rise of the imitation designer pieces is certainly a result of this gap in socioeconomic classes. Imitation pieces allow those who cannot normally afford $3,000 bags or $1,000 shoes to look like they can. Personally, I have noticed a stricter policy on imitation pieces. While it seems like imitation designers are more popular than ever, I feel as if there is an attempt to remove imitation designs all together. I used to travel for a couple hours once a month to the Kane County flea market, a flea market that had as many imitation designer bags, sunglasses, clothes, and accessories that you could possibly think of. Over the summer, I went to this flea market, and there was a huge sign that basically stated any vendor with imitation merchandise would be fined and/or persecuted. Needless to say, the vendors from then on just carried typical flea market/garage sale items. Gone were the days of imitation designs. I found this intriguing because it demonstrates a small effort to preserve the “real” and eliminate the “fake”.

  6. It is obvious that technology improves at an astounding rate, and it is up to these designers to decide if they want to utilize technology in a beneficiary manner. Fashion is a hierarchical business, but at the end of the day it is a business and to make money, one has to cater to a wider range of people. Sure, a couture gown can retail at $8,000 but how many people are going to run out and buy 10 of those? I firmly believe that designers and businesses alike use technology to their advantage to both open the gap and close it. Contradictory, but it works for them. By allowing people to stream runway shows from their computers, the designers are allowing people to view the extravagance that they have to offer. It’s almost like window-shopping, and perhaps a person or two can afford what they are watching. After they watch the show from the convenience of their computer, phone, tablet, etc. they are exposed to who these designers are and are able to search any cheaper alternatives under the same label. As I mentioned during my group’s presentation, Alexander McQueen is known for his couture, yet the brand is able to sell ‘cheaper’ items, such as scarves, pants and blouses. This tactical approach works because they (the designers) are able to gauge a wider audience while allowing them to see both of the spectrums that they seem to teeter on. With this, imitations are able to boom quicker and at a larger capacity. How do I feel about this? Not quite sure, but if people like to buy something that is close to the real thing, than go for it. I think the real core of the issue is that technology is opening up the doors for some people to thrive and make money off of it, while others may be suffering and need to utilize the technology in a different manner.

  7. I think it can go without saying that the improvements in technology is creating a shift in fashion. I believe that because there is a heirarchy in fashion that when the advances in technology increases, it is a way that high end fashions can be sampled so that it can be geared to the low end clientele of shoppers. I find that many of the blog posts have to do with the idea of clothing being an indicator of the economic status of a person. My opinion will always be the same on this topic. I do think that clothing can play a role in determing the social class placement of a person, but it should not a factor. I think that determing where a person comes from based off of the clothing they wear is redundant. I also belive this about people assuming that someone’s item of clothing is fake. I agree with the statement that even if an article of clothing is real, once someone makes the assumption that it is fake, it loses its value. I think this is ridiculous. Who is to say that a person is even in the position to pass judgement on a person? Who are they to identify if someone is wearing something real or fake? I think it just goes to show how competitive the fashion industry is becoming. What will happen next? In technology? In fashion? Will that two intertwine? Just something we can all think about.

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