Friday, February 5, 2010

Fashion and the Social Media

Fashion Magazine Explorations 3, copyright of Ingrid Mida 2009
Apparently I was holding a hot ticket in my hands this morning when I entered the Spoke Club to attend a seminar called Having @ Style, Social Media and Seismic Shifts in Fashion. There was a long waiting list for the event. Having been given the heads up last week, I signed on as soon as I realized that Dr. Alexandra Palmer, author of a recent book on Dior and Senior Curator of Textiles and Costume at the Royal Ontario Museum would be speaking on the panel. Other speakers included Lisa Tant, editor-in-chief of Flare Magazine, Susan Langdon, Executive Director of the Toronto Fashion Incubator and Cherie Federau, owner of Shrimpton Couture (cited by the Huffington Post as the vintage equivalent of Net-a-Porter). The moderator was Jyotika Malhotra, Editor-in-Chic of

The topic for discussion was how the world of fashion has changed by the use of social media, including blogging, Twitter and Facebook. The audience was encouraged to use their phones and laptops if they wanted to tweet and/or post on the fly. I felt practically ancient with my little notebook open on my lap as people madly typed away on their keyboards. I also regretted not having the foresight to bring my camera along.... (I'm going to blame it on getting too little sleep this week!).

The presentation of the panelists was for the most part entertaining. Cherie Federau, owner of Shrimpton Couture, talked about her business model being totally on-line, giving her access to a global marketplace which included Courtney Love, Rachel Zoe, and other celebrities, even though she lives and works from her country home an hour outside of Toronto. She said that her business tripled in size once she started using Twitter. Lisa Tant and Susan Langdon also cited blogs and Twitter as a important way to stay in touch with what was happening in fashion. 

Dr. Alexandra Palmer gave the most enlightening presentation, going through the technological developments that had changed the course of fashion, such as the button, the loom, the sewing machine, the cage crinoline, the steel-front busk, the bias cut, the zipper, new age materials like rubber, elastic, spandex, and new techniques in merchandising like the pop-up shop. Admitting to be faithful to her role as a historian, she diplomatically did not really give her opinion of how blogs and Twitter would affect fashion. One had to guess from her presentation that it was akin to these other technological advancements in history.

Even though four of the five speakers (including the moderator) insisted that Twitter was an essential part of creating a place for one's self in the new social media, I will not be signing up. I take great pride in presenting a unique voice in fashion on Fashion is my Muse! For that reason alone, I'm staying my course, even if my reluctance to Twitter makes me seem somewhat outdated and irrelevant.