Here’s how the media used to cover Toronto’s LG Fashion Week: Media representatives were invited to spend a week attending runway shows, snapping photographs and taking detailed notes about new collections. Photographers and journalists would enjoy the shows and then ponder on how they wanted to present their fashion week experience with the general public. Articles and photos were submitted to editors at the end of fashion week, and magazines and newspapers ran features on new collections and new seasonal wear.
With developments in social media, the turn around time on articles and photos covering fashion week has accelerated. Today, not only are writers and photographers supposed to attend the shows, their also expected to share their observations instantly on Twitter and Facebook. Content and images are uploaded directly after, or even during runway shows, and the general public has developed an insatiable appetite for instant style news fresh off the catwalk.
I spent Monday and Tuesday at Fashion Week, which is hosted at the Heritage Court on the exhibition grounds in Toronto. I witnessed runway shows, clothing exhibits, and studio presentations. As interested was I was in the designers and their new collections, I was also taken by how social media has shaped spaces like LG Fashion Week and influenced the nature of fashion journalism.
This year, the LG team provided writers and journalists attending fashion week with a media section, a quartered-off space in the middle of Heritage Court where they can blog and upload videos moments after the last model leaves the catwalk. In addition to the media room, LG ensured the entire venue was wireless, which allowed journalists to tweet and update their Facebook statuses directly from the runway rows.
I saw Jeanne Beker of Fashion Television at the IZMA show (front row, of course), and she was, as usual, attached to her Blackberry. After following her on Twitter, I soon learned that @Jenne_Beker was tweeting thoughts and commentary of the show, the collections, and the Toronto fashion scene all together (“WHAT IS WRONG with this picture? Meanwhile, fashionistas flock to where there’s hype” Beker tweeted moments before Denis Gagnon’s early afternoon show, which was light in attendance. Beker also shared snapshots from the runway as well as drive-by commentary on what celebrities in attendance were wearing.
If Beker and other noted industry specialists are uploading their commentary instantly via social media, what does this mean for the fashion industry?
Well, for one, social media allows designers and those involved in the runway shows instant feedback, as they no longer have to wait for reviews to be published in newspapers to gather a consensus on how audiences felt about their show. Additionally, social media allows the general public to access Toronto Fashion Week in a way never before possible: Even if you don’t have a ticket or media pass, interfaces like Twitter and Facebook circulate images so quickly, it’s almost as if you were there.
But there is a downside to the digital coverage of Fashion Week: with images circulating so quickly, it’s easier for copy-cats to start producing knock-offs. An image taken from the runway can be sent overseas in minutes, and imitators can start manufacturing copied designs in a fraction of the time, for a fraction of the price, which deprives designers of their revenue.
Social media makes everything happen faster, so it’s up to the people behind the cameras to circulate their images ethically.