Fashion and the spectacle, by Grace Stevenson

The never-ending stream of new consumables fuels our desire for commodities. Advertising targets our emotions and weaknesses to further increase our appetite for ‘things’ which, in turn, support our need to constantly update our status and image.

Guy Debord’s ‘Society of the Spectacle’ is an apt summation of the fashion industry. The image is promoted over the real, just as the image created around an elite designer’s clothing is more important than the practicality of the clothes, and it is that image that fetches high price tags. This obsession with fashion and status dictates that if you wear a reputable label or clothes that cost a large amount of money, you will be, by association, a more desirable and worthy person. The reality is nothing like this of course – people are far more than just the clothing that they wear, whether high-couture or Target bargains.

The issue with street style in today’s world is that it has become easier for anyone to be involved in the industry. It is now more difficult to discern who is wearing what, and which items are expensive or not. Increasingly, designers have been influenced more by street wear for their collections than the other way round. In a way, street style could be de-valuing the high fashion industry.

Advertising campaigns for clothing labels are compiled of images that tap into our emotions. They invite us to place ourselves in the position of the model so we then perceive the clothes as obtainable, though they are unaffordable to most. The image projected by the model has a higher value than what the consumer would get out of the clothing.

Even without words, the concept of fashion is communicated socially through images, designs and modelled parades. The spectacle of fashion means more than fashion itself.

With fashion TV, social media and even magazines, the idea of time within the industry has been altered. Anyone can view a runway show at almost at the same time as the audience attending. Live snapchat, instagram and facebook, show instantly what people have uploaded daily. As well as instant viewing, the trends move down quicker – mock garments being sent to production only days later. As well as the runway, bloggers have become part of the fashion industry. Everyday people have access to fashion writing and it is becoming harder and harder to tell who has ‘earned’ their position in fashion writing and who has not.

In this sketch by American comedian Jimmy Kimmel, he asks Fashion Week attendees about designers, who happen to be fake. Their responses show that they do not know much about fashion at all. Towards the end of the video a garment is given to the people being interviewed. It was a ridiculous piece of clothing with a fake designer’s name attached to it, yet a woman says she would buy this dress for $3000. Others claimed it was a statement, whether it was art or fashion. I think this video beautifully sums up the fakeness within the fashion industry. It shows that people should step back and take a look at the ridiculous things they would do for status.