Technology has unmistakably taken over the world. Luckily, it's in a much more useful way than those in the past imagined, like being attacked by sentient robots who have developed, somehow, the emotions resentful and anger and turned on their makers. Instead, the power of social media to give a voice to the everyday Joe has changed society as a whole--and, arguably, fashion the most.
Scrolling through Instagram has become the equivalent of flipping through a catalogue. But instead of perfectly styled models, you see real, normal people--every day social media stars and fashion bloggers who have had not signed with a modeling agency or graduated from fashion school. Nowadays, anyone can be a fashion expert by studying what other people just like you think is trendy and cool.
As such, social media is now being studied, analyzed, and researched in a serious manner. No longer can social media be cast aside as a frivolous or purely superficial outlet, but instead, must be respected as the vehicle of trendsetting. Massive agencies such as WGSN study these trends by their presence on social media, their influence from top designers, and their connection with social, political, or economical events. Since my first encounter with trend forecasting by way of the introduction of K-Hole in a Vogue documentary with Alexa Chung, I have become, let's say, mildly obsessed with the idea. There is nothing more interesting to me than being a professional oracle who browses every surface of the digital and physical world, greedily collects it all into one large mess, then picks through it to analyze patterns and connections, only to determine what direction everyone is heading in. Trend forecasters are modern-day mystics able to read and manipulate the collective mind and grin in pleasure when herd behavior overtakes as they expected.
The power of social media is overtaking fashion: no longer is the catwalk the visual Bible of fashion and trends. The ground-up effect coming from the streets is just as if not more influential as massive fashion houses. Lauretta Roberts, the director of brands at WGSN, describes this phenomenon as being because of peer-to-peer communication which has become instantaneous with the power of technology. Instead of waiting for designers to launch a new collection every season, resident fashionistas are turning to their friends for ideas on the latest trends. Sure, the omnipresent and seemingly omnipotent fashion houses are still relevant, they aren't taken totally out of the equation just yet, but their voices are dimming as the Instagram comments roll in.
The mix of the stylist modern everyday man with the influence of trends can mean radical changes for the future. Voiced en masse, these "normals" have say in what the fashion houses must produce. As the Millennial generation as a whole is keen on the idea of sustainability and acutely aware of the future of the food industry, will they move onto fashion as the next victim of a green makeover?
Liz is a senior English major with minors in Spanish and Computer Science. Her research interests, like her areas of academic speciality, lie in the intersections between humanities and science. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and playing with dogs.