Fashion in the 90’s “moved away from the paradigm of an idealized and classical beauty towards a new vernacular allied with lifestyle, pop and youth culture” (Kismaric and Respini 2008, 29). This move towards youth culture was initiated well before the advent of social media. As the fashion industry has continued to align itself with youth culture it has resulted in Instagram models and reality television stars appearing more prevalently throughout the fashion industry and fashion media. Is fashion doomed to follow the whims and trends of youth culture?
One of the most significant changes in fashion photography in the 1990’s was that the subject of photography changed from capturing an image of an item of clothing to capturing an image of a lifestyle. With the rise of social media platforms like Instagram this trend has continued, except anyone with a phone can take a photo of themselves in a new outfit, portraying their life in any way they want. People no longer rely on fashion magazines to be shown the newest and latest in fashion or to portray a glamorous lifestyle to aspire to. The various forms of social media can do this much faster and in a more concise way. With this in mind it seems fashion magazines are becoming next to irrelevant. To combat this, fashion magazines have adapted, they now feature anyone who seems to be popular in any form of youth driven media culture. This has culminated in the September 2016 issue of America Vogue. What was once an issue filled by supermodels and A-listers, now features Instagram models and has a reality TV star on the cover.
The April 2014 issue of American Vogue featured Kim Kardashian and Kanye West on the cover. At the time there was an uproar with many people declaring they would cancel their subscriptions or that they would never by another copy of Vogue again. There was a similar outcry when Vogue started to feature actors on its covers as opposed to models, now this is commonplace. So it went from supermodels, to actresses and now to reality television stars. Is this just a sign of the fashion media adapting to the times or is this a reflection of the fashion media’s submission to youth culture? Does an industry which once set the trends now follow them?
Kismaric, Susan and Respini, Eva. 2008. Fashioning fiction in photograph since 1990. New York: The Museum of Modern Art.