February 4, 2010

The New Social Currency

  Still from Vol de Jour, film by Karl Lagerfield via Chanel

With today's technological advances, it's hard to imagine how life was before the invention of the Internet. The world wide web has become such an integral part of all our daily lives, we barely notice how much it has affected us in such a short period of time. It has completely revolutionized every aspect of our culture, from how we run our businesses to our every day menial tasks. We adapted into a society where everything is accessible at anytime, anywhere. Checking status updates on Twitter and Facebook, reading newspapers on Kindles, listening to music on iPods, and writing emails on smart phones are all normal things most of us do everyday.

As we live in such a world, having virtual presence is key for the longevity and success of any business company. Smart retail companies and fashion brands recognize this and are shifting their marketing and branding strategies. These days, in order to stay afloat in the market, having digital content is vital. Without a platform in the digital world, a brand has almost no identity. And since creating a Facebook fan page, Twitter account, or a blog is free, building an online community has never been easier.

With the influence of media and technology, brands must begin to think in a more creative manner and offer something special in order to stand out against the crowd. As we are constantly bombarded with new ideas, brands must offer something interesting to keep their audience engaged. And to stay on top, it's much more than just about having presence; it's about innovation. Chanel, for example, has been making some changes lately with their runway videos, a silent film, video diaries, and their most recent development, Chanel News. Although Chanel is regarded as one of the most exclusive Parisian design houses, the brand recognizes that the world is not the same today as it was twenty, or even ten years ago and change is necessary. And even smaller designers are experimenting with film and media; Designer Vanessa Bruno for example, collaborated with model and actress Lou Doillon and director Stephanie Di Giusto for her last two seasons to create a fashion video "Visual Poem."

Tavi for Vogue Paris via Jak & Jil
Fashion is no longer about elite runway shows or exclusivity. Anyone can have a voice these days, and people are eager to exchange and criticize. The newest magazines are no longer in print, but online. Instead of monthly or weekly subscriptions, online magazines offer daily updates, videos, and endless content, and everything at virtually no cost. In addition, blogs have become even more important where blogging is now an acceptable full-time job. Gaining fans from around the world, bloggers, despite their age, location, or background, are influencing fashion trends and starting new ones. One does not necessarily need the traditional credentials to be offered a design collaboration or magazine spread. Just look at the thirteen-year old blogger from Chicago, Tavi, who is now Rodarte's muse and invited to cover almost every runway show.

We live in an exciting period where all the traditional systems of fashion are being redesigned, criticized, and restructured. And as we live in a global society where technology is the driving force, we are ready to leave the old, and embrace the new. Andy Warhol was right when he said, "in the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes." But even if recognition is easier to achieve, the challenge now lies in permanence.
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