Won’t do it for love: The Fashion industry

Won't do it for love: The Fashion industry

The fashion industry is sacrificing quality to increase profit. In times of recession it’s turning to grassroots fashion bloggers / student designers to save its mock-croc hide…

When you ask a five year old girl what she wants to be when she grows up she’ll most likely tell you she wants to be a doctor, a nurse, or even an astronaut. Ask a twelve year old girl what she want to be and she’ll say a model or a fashion designer – or she’ll want to own her own fashion magazine. Books have been written and films have been made about how cut throat, back stabbing and bitchy the fashion industry can be in the scramble to make it to the top. But what is it really that sucks the hope and the passion out of these young girls the moment they climb the steps to the skyscraper or city office that holds their first ever job in fashion?

Last year I wrote an article about how the recession was gradually killing off the print magazine industry, due to companies no longer able to pool the resources to take out as much advertisement space. Advertising is what pays for the magazines. The price you pay for them is just to cover some of the printing costs. Flip through your average copy of Vogue, Harpers Bazzar, Elle – even cult fashion favourites such as Paper and Nylon – and you’ll find more advertising pages and campaigns than actual content – and the sad but true fact is that’s the only way the magazines can afford to run. This is also excluding all the paid advertising placements which are written as if they were genuine magazine content, and ignoring items placed on shopping pages as a traded favours between designers, advertising departments and PR companies.

The fact of the matter is that magazines are being made for money rather than the love of the industry, the love of the glossy pages or for journalistic integrity. However, down at my end of the industry things work a little differently. Magazines are made online, or in small print runs where editors and contributors dedicate hours and hours of their time for little or no money to put an issue out on time. I made the decision to shut down my own, grassroots online fashion magazine rather than compromise the content we were putting out. I didn’t have the time to run it anymore for free, so rather than having to take on advertising and placements (and thus compromising the hand-picked content) I pulled the plug. What I saw with my own magazine is what has been translated onto an epic scale at big name publishers; content being compromised in favour of money. Is this really the industry the teenage girls clutching their copies of The Teen Vogue Handbook envisage? Is it right that that is the case? There is an element in truth in the saying that the industry is nothing but fake, but not in the way the phrase is intended.

Now let’s go back to the fact the print magazine may be an endangered breed. Advertisers are not willing to pour money into magazines which have half of the readership they used to. The rise of online media and the rise of the fashion blogger has meant that everything you previously relied on your monthly glossy for you can now have free access to online. Fashion week shows are being streamed for the world to see, top designers are giving interviews and front row seats to fashion bloggers and advertisers are pouring their money into space on top fashion news sites. So what are you going to find in your average glossy that you won’t find online? The answer is… nothing. Not unless the writers, photographers, editors and illustrators behind the magazine have poured all their passion into its pages – and that’s something you no longer see in publications whose editorial calendar is dictated by what is going to pull in the biggest revenue. This unhealthy focus on publishing profit margins in such a creatively driven industry is what’s killing it. The fashion magazines are poisoning themselves. I stopped paying the 60p (about 90 cents) more per month than when I first started reading British Vogue in 2005 because every issue started to look the same. The passion and creativity behind one of fashion’s biggest names had gone.

This death-knell of artistic integrity isn’t just sounding in magazines; designers are paying celebrities staggering amounts of money to sit front row at their shows, when the celebrity in question probably doesn’t have much of an interest in fashion, just so that the designer can say the celebrity was present and so that celebrity can be photographed watching the models stalk past. Target and H&M are commissioning high end designers to produce budget lines so consumers will fork out just for the label sewn into the back of the dress rather than the cut, fabric and finish of the individual garment.

The fact that big name web divisions of magazines have started turning to fashion bloggers for content inspiration and Coach have been drafting in young bloggers to design some of their handbags is proof that the industry knows what it needs to do to save it from itself. But are they willing to take the pay cut and go back to their roots in order to do it?

That’s nice. Pictures of celebrities at the front row of a fashion show. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to document the clothes themselves?

The rise of the fashion blogger has given people an immediacy of content and feeling of intimacy with the clothes as well as the people who love them and talk about them

Lipstick Royalty – a grassroots online fashion magazine that refused to bow to economic pressure. Founder Rachel Phipps ceased its publication rather than place focus on advertorial rather than editorial content.