First question: How often does fashion change? It’s no kitchen secret that fashion is ever changing. The signs are everywhere; for instance, I just watched Clueless, and I thought to myself, “My God, can you not with these knee-high socks and plaid skirts?” But I digress. Second question: How often does the business behind fashion change? Unfortunately, the answer is not as easy. Historically, fashion is synonymous with pin-thin runway models and glossy photoshopped spreads. Fashion trends come and go, but who’s to mess with its big business? Unattainable beauty has proven to be a big seller; however, we’re finally witnessing a paradigm shift in the business behind what we wear.
The most notable example of this shift lies in the headline making use of gratuitous photoshop. It’s one thing to utilize photoshop to enhance a photograph – we’re all guilty of it on Instagram. However, it’s another thing to distort and obliterate the photograph entirely. Here’s a timely example for you: Kimye’s now infamous Vogue spread features a photo of the couple in a room surrounded by mirrors (the jokes write themselves) – Kanye is positioned right in front of said mirror, but his reflection is missing (GASP!). This is either an example of photoshop gone horribly wrong, or Kanye is a God AND a vampire! I imagine Anna Wintour whispering, “Maybe no one will notice.” Sure. Throw in a few photos of Kimye’s baby, East West, and no one will mention the missing reflection. Wait. Is it East, North or South West? I’m awful with names and directions.
Target provides us with our second example of photoshop gone horribly, horribly wrong. I mean, who doesn’t like Target? Well, even Targeè is susceptible to chopping off an innocent young girl’s thigh. No, literally – they took a massive and noticeable chunk out of a swimsuit model’s thigh. Come on guys! I know you’re thinking, “Target is totes the cool Wal-Mart, right?” The retailer is making high fashion affordable and always up on the latest trends, such as missing limbs. You will literally turn heads this summer by sporting that must-have bathing suite, whilst rocking your missing thigh chunk. You go girl (insert hand-flip emoji)!
Thank God we’re collectively saying, “cut the bullshit.” However, photoshop-shaming can be a double-edged sword. Let me quote Bret Michaels, the voice of some generation, with the poignant saying, “Every rose has its thorn.” Jezebel, the “hard-hitting” news source and “feminist” blog, is a great example of the thorn. The girl-power website actually offered up a cash sum for the untouched images of Lena Dunham’s anticipated Vogue cover – now that’s an oxymoron (emphasis on the moron). Needless to the say, Queen Dunham blasted the site, by describing the incident as a “monumental error in their approach to feminism.” This was a pivotal moment for me – not only because we can now put photoshop on blast, but we can also address the public’s hypocrisy. Liberation!
Retailers are inadvertently capitalizing on the anti-photoshop trend. Women’s retailer, Free People, recently launched an online campaign featuring real customers as their models. I used the word “inadvertently” because the retailer is actually capitalizing on the trend of personalized digital content, but they’re benefitting from the demand of fashion marketing inclusivity. Leave it to a Bohemian lifestyle brand to beautifully utilize this trend – it’s like your hipster friend who’s doesn’t care what people think, but they spend 20 minutes editing a photo of their shoes. Personalized content is yet another double-edged sword – it can either work in tandem with narcissism or break down barriers, creating content for everyone like Free People’s latest venture.
The good and the bad aspects of personalized content and photoshop usage remind me of that quote from Spider-Man, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” [P.S. Why did they have to remake Spider-Man so close to doey-eyed Tobey Maguire’s reboot? P.S.S. I wonder if Tobey thought The Great Gatsby would be his comeback? Poor Tobey.]
It only makes sense that all-inclusive fashion marketing extends into the LGBTQ community. Fashion has always been extremely LGBTQ-friendly; however, it has recently become more visible. For example, Barney’s Spring 2014 campaign featured an entire section devoted to transgender models. In addition, Tyson Beckford made headlines after posing for a steamy spread in France’s OOB Magazine with the beautiful transgender model Ines Rau. Androgynous Australian model Andrej Pejić can also teach veteran models a thing or two; the in-demand model has owned high-fashion campaigns like Jean Paul Gaultier and Marc Jacobs.
Finally, fashion adapts to the everyday person. It should never perpetuate selectivity and distorted depictions of reality. It knows no size, shape, color or sexual orientation.
Last question: Why has this shift taken so long to become mainstream? I don’t have that answer, but I do know that the new face of fashion is here to stay. Let’s be clear, reprimanding gratuitous use of photoshop and expanding the historically narrow parameters of modeling are not trends – it’s a shift in consciousness. A healthy, all-inclusive depiction of beauty never goes out of style – it’s timeless.