The New Social Media-Fueled Fashion Democracy

Have you ever looked at the latest fashions coming off the catwalk and heaved a sigh of dismay, wondering why they can’t design fashions for people like you? Things are changing – no longer can an elite group of couture designers shape and dictate fashion for everyone. A revolution is happening. Fashion is becoming more democratic, thanks in no small part to social media such as Face book and Twitter and the rise of independent fashion bloggers, who are becoming a force to be reckoned with. An increasing recognition of ethical fashion and the need for more plus size fashion has undoubtedly been consumer led.

At the forefront of this trend is The Shopping Forecast, a unique forum which allows consumers to see, share, vote and comment on next season’s lines. The Shopping Forecast provides a link between the buyers of fashion, and professional store fashion buyers. The selected outfits that viewers vote on are chosen by “The Style Council” whose members are predominantly independent fashion bloggers with no financial interest in the big couture houses or large retail outlets who have previously dictated fashion. Could the Shopping Forecast lead the way to a genuine change in the way the fashion industry operates – fashion by the people, for the people!

Listening to consumers improves the bottom line. And fashion industry is a business like any other so this is a compelling argument to encourage more customer feedback. Earlier this year, Marc Jacobs CEO Robert Duffy received a large amount of Twitter feedback from customers who wanted plus sizes. His response was to tweet back to the company’s more than 26,000 followers, “We gotta do larger sizes… As soon as I get back to NY I’m on it,”. This is clear evidence that designers are listening to the fans and no long operating solely for the elite fashionistas in their ivory towers.

Struggling retailer Ann Taylor saw a saw a 16% rise in same-store sales for the second quarter of 2010. Analysts have attributed this to the company’s vigorous use of social media for helping to lure new customers. In response to criticism of a skinny model wearing a new pair of pants on its face book site, the company responded by posting new photos of employees of a range of sizes wearing the product. The feedback from customers was remarkably positive.

It is not just big fashion houses and retailers, who are utilising the internet and social media to sell fashion. The internet and viral marketing using sites such as Face book and Twitter has made it cheaper and easier for small independent fashion retailers to sell their products and to get customer feedback without having to pay for costly professional market research. Leading the way, ASOS marketplace is now accepting applications to open boutiques in the Marketplace from Fashion designers, Independent labels, and Vintage resellers. More choice for the consumer means more opportunity to make their own decisions about what sort of fashions they want including the ethical trend for recycling clothes. Fashion is no longer about buying all the right labels but producing a stylish mix of high and low pieces and the move towards a more democratic Fashion industry is part of this trend.

In keeping with the move to a more democratic industry, it seems the size zero vs real women debate is starting to be taken more seriously. Online plus size mall One Stop Plus made history this year as September saw the first ever “plus-size only” show showcased during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York.

However, it is one thing listening to your customer’s opinions to try and improve business, but one designer has taken it a step further. British fashion designer Katie Eary has launched the first ever fan-funded clothing. All of the shares for the collection have sold out which has created fashion history! The Katie Eary collection at Catwalk Genius went on sale in September. With investments from as little as £11, part ownership of a collection by a designer you like seems the ultimate way to influence the fashion industry!

Whether this move towards fashion democracy is permanent remains to be seen but with the advent of social media and the internet, it seems unlikely to change. Customers are, at last, able to make themselves heard and any business would be stupid to ignore them.

Who’s Hiring in Fashion? Hot Jobs You Can Land With a Fashion School Education

When one thinks of a career in the fashion industry, the job that most comes to mind is that of the fashion designer. But the fashion industry is broad and multi-faceted, with myriad job opportunities available. So even if you don’t have an interest in starting your own fashion design label, you can still be an integral part of the industry. Take a look at the following jobs, and you’ll see that depending on your particular interest and skills you’ve learned in fashion school, there is a perfect job in fashion for you.

Fashion Merchandiser – Do you see clothes in stores and think, “I know I can make that better”? The fashion merchandising professional spots trends and translates them into products that sell. He or she is responsible for product development from conceptual design, budgeting and production, to the final marketing of the product.

Buyer – If you love shopping and always seem to know trends before anyone else, a career as a buyer could be right for you. Responsible for maximizing sales and profitability, fashion buyers stay ahead of the curve on fashion trends as well as their target consumers’ tastes so they can plan retail store inventories. Besides selecting merchandise, they are involved with the promotion and selling of the goods.

Brand Manager – Fashion companies are not just selling clothes, they are selling a brand. Brand managers create an image for their fashion line, and then develop unique and creative ways to present this image to the public. Fashion college courses in Merchandise Product Development are a great background to have for this career.

Trend Analyst – These professionals have a direct impact on fashion’s future. Trend analysts shop for and research the latest trends and analyze their influence on future markets. They provide forward direction on color, style, and fabric to the merchandising team, who then incorporate the upcoming trends into new product lines.

Technical Designer – The all-important technical designer takes a fashion designer’s idea and works with the factory to make that idea a reality. They determine the most efficient method of producing a garment to fit a particular market and price point, and are responsible for pattern making, size fitting, technical flat sketches and garment specifications. These are therefore some of the most important skills learned in any fashion institute.

Visual Design Director – When you walk into a store, your shopping experience is created by the Visual Design Director. This person develops visual merchandising presentation and store concepts that enhance the brand’s image. The Director also determines visual merchandise directives for all the stores in the chain to make sure the vision of the store is carried out across all locations.

Textile Designer -This job is perfect for designers with a love for creating graphics and patterns. Textile designers develop designs for a variety of apparel and interior design markets, including printed, woven and knit fabrics.

Footwear Designer – If you believe that fashion is all about the shoes, you might consider a career in footwear design. Footwear designers travel to the hottest markets to research trends, attend trade shows, and find inspiration to create designs for a company or their own labels.

Costume Designer For those interested in the entertainment industry, costume designers create costumes used in film, television, or theater, overseeing everything from apparel and accessories to jewelry and wigs. They work with the director and production team to develop the right look for each project, whether it’s set in the past, present or future.

Schools for Fashion Design: Helping You Get the Fashion Career You Want

Several schools for fashion design offer different courses to help students pursue a career in the field. These colleges provide training and education for students to help enrich their talent, while strengthening their cultural, social, and economic experiences. Students can choose from several career paths. Here are some of the jobs they can take once they graduate from a fashion design college.

Merchandisers

These people specialize in clothing production and market analysis. They can earn over $100,000, depending on their level of expertise. They determine the production cost, sales number, and product direction manufacturers can take for every season. Fashion merchandisers may also design mannequins, store windows, and layout of an outlet. Their overall evaluation depends on the inventory-a merchandiser can become successful if a specific style of apparel is sold out of stock. They also keep up with the fashion trends, anticipating the supply and demand to prevent the inventory from selling out too quickly or not selling at all.

Managers

These people can work as supervisors in boutiques. They are accountable for arranging the sales force and handling back office support staff, which are important for the store’s success. Some fashion managers oversee a particular section of an outlet, monitor employees, manage the inventory, and ensure the store meets its sales goals. Some managers are also in charge of making advertisements and other promotional displays for a certain project or clothing.

Marketers

These people work in the frontlines of the fashion industry. This profession is also one of the most sought after in the fashion industry. Fashion marketers research and analyze the public’s taste and different methods of trades. They can conduct interviews, surveys, and study customer traffic throughout different stores. They compile their findings to help clothing manufacturers and stores make a unique selling point that can appeal to their consumers. Marketers should have a graphic design degree from an accredited university. They should also be creative and capable of working with others.

Fashion buyers

Like merchandisers, fashion buyers aim to analyze the trends and help manufacturers or stores come up with the right course of action. They are responsible for maximizing and boosting sales through development and implementation of business strategies. They visit boutiques, meet with clothing manufacturers, and attend trade and runway shows. Fashion buyers need to have an impeccable taste and knowledge when it comes to forecasting trends. Fortunately, fashion schools provide training on different techniques for product selection, pricing, and promotion.

Fashion designers

This is one of the most exciting and popular careers in the fashion industry. Fashion designers use their inherent sense of style and creativity to create unique and eye-catching apparel. Fashion design schools in Texas train aspiring students with different courses on production, textile, and illustration. This profession opens several opportunities-designers can make a major name in the industry or work with clothing companies to produce their designs.