In a far-reaching cultural shift, taste has gone from being the property of the aristocratic few to the province of the democratic many. And the evidence of how teenage bloggers have made tastemaking more democratic is abundant. Tavi Gevinson, one of the best-known examples, launched her fashion website Style Rookie in 2008, when she was just 11 years old; today her site attracts a global audience of millions. The following wave of tweens and teens influencing their peers continues to this day.
The standard definition of a tastemaker is a person whose judgments about what is fashionable are accepted and followed by many other people. A fortunate encounter of my own with a tastemaker makes me partial to a definition that insists, if not on the aristocratic requirements of the role, that it is at least experience-tested. In the 1990s in New York after a concert by Bob Dylan, the man who persuaded a generation to listen to folk music, I had a backstage conversation with him about Lead Belly. It is difficult for me not to believe that it was more ear-opening than any teenage podcast I could ever have listened to.
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Fashion critics have been rendered harmless to a lot of brands. We’re not saying that they don’t have powers, they still do, but the impact has been largely minimal and contained. Remember when Suzy Menkes was banned from all shows owned by LVMH. Yes, it was the era where critics had the power to obliterate the sale of a single brand. Fashion has shifted to put the emphasize away from innovation and creativity to sales figure.
People buy products not because they look exquisite and sublime but because the brands, when worn, carry prestige.
It doesn’t help as well that most fashion critics don’t carry as much clout as social personas outside the fashion realm. Sadly to say, if Taylor Swift were to have a bad experience with say, Louis Vuitton, the toxic PR materials spewed would have had more impact to the public image and the sale point of the brand.
The fashion industry has become too dependent on celebrities.
Individual trends kill many fashion magazines too. They still produce fantasy editorials where we would visualise to escape from the reality but when it comes to how to dress, many of us scroll through the likes of Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr to find the style that suits us most, rendering the “perfect summer dress” tips in magazines obsolete. It is not long before magazines as big as Vogue will take a tumble too.