April 26, 2015

Are Brands Becoming Irrelevant?

Last Friday, somebody asked me, “what’s your favorite fashion brand?” This question caught me a bit off guard. It’s a perfectly reasonable question, especially since we were at a talk about fashion. And isn’t fashion a world carved out by empires of brands?

I thought about what I like, and it’s not brands that come to mind. I think about styles, silhouettes, colors, lines. Abstract concepts. I think about people whose fashion sense I admire. I don’t know (or care) where they buy their clothes from.

There are a few brands that I like. But, I don’t like these brands for their name. I like these brands because I like their style and I know they have clothes that fit my body. Defaulting to a favorite brand is a cheat sheet, a filtering mechanism. I’ve already evaluated that brand against my standards for style and fit, so if I shop there I know I will find clothes that fit and flatter. It’s not the brand that I love, it’s the style and fit that I love.

Look forwarding, I wonder if other sources will replace brands as the “cheat sheet” for finding good style and fit. Rather than perusing the latest White House Black Market catalogue, I am browsing blogs like Garance Dore or Extra Petite to find inspiration. Or maybe Pinterest and Polyvore will implement some genius AI that recommends outfits based on my boards and likes.

Brands update their collection a few times a year. Magazines publish every month. Blogs, Pinterest, Polyvore publishes new content every second. Talk about fast fashion, right?