Brianne Chapelle, Contributor
To start- the event was a huge success, so visibly well planned. The thing that can be tricky about career-panel type events is that everyone wants to give you outlandish advice (maybe so you remember it). I found it funny that one speaker, Sonia Zarbatany, said “If you listen to anything I said today, make it that you shouldn’t listen to anyone’s advice”. Being that this was a panel on innovation, I think that is good advice. It takes listening to yourself and your own ideas to innovate- and don’t forget that.
I, a contributor to Leacock’s Fashion section, am deeply interested in media and content creation concerning fashion. I know. It’s shocking. Based on the secret I just told you, it shouldn’t surprise you that the Evolution of Fashion Culture panel was the highlight of the conference for me. On the panel was blogger Samantha Cutler, Founder of Silver Lining by S, Julia Cyboran Group Publisher for LOULOU and Chatelaine, Julie Buchinger, Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Québec, Aasit Thakkar, Founder of DressQode Strategies, and blogger Gabrielle Lacasse, Founder of Dentelle+Fleurs.
The discussion focused on the sorts of innovations happening within the media and editorial landscape in the fashion industry, especially regarding realities like digital becoming as, if not more, relevant than print. Discussed was the truth that fashion bloggers have entered the space that was traditionally taken up by historical publications like the ones owned by Hearst. Even though I love love love digital, print will never be dead in my eyes. That said, of course I loved listening to Julie Buchinger from Elle Québec and I talked to her briefly during the networking portion of the evening-she is super nice and cool. Her advice for young people trying to break into this industry was very insightful. She had an edge becoming a very young editor-in-chief in her early thirties because she knew digital. The takeaway here is to know what is new and cutting edge in the field, and know what you want your part to be in it.
It was inspiring, too, to hear that the presence of bloggers, while still annoying for some in the industry, is also met with open arms by others. Bloggers are making what is written about fashion less of a trickle down thing and more of a democratic space where anyone can participate in the conversations. Julie Buchinger said that she feels it is a possible place of collaboration and has left magazines with catching up to do.
There were some nay-sayers who were very much of the belief that print is dying and will be in fact pronounced dead soon. I don’t know what real authority they have in saying that, as none of the panelists seemed to think so. Gabrielle Lacasse pointed out that magazines still have that clout of being a magazine, so it is not as if they will suddenly become passé. Julie Buchinger added that she does not believe print is dead, that, if anything, print magazines may become collectors’ items. The panel generally discussed the idea platforms are evolving at such a fast pace, but the focus really should be on not losing “the fibers of our storytelling” and the tangible relationship it creates with the readership via whatever platform is used because that’s “what we look for in media”. I love what Julia Cyboran said about us moving towards a “platform agnostic world” because I think we have so many platforms now to express our ideas, so what matters (and this is what she meant) is the content and the quality of it.
What I love about fashion is this kind of “democratic” existence of it, where it is removed from a space of sole capitalism and is really about regular people liking what they like. Gabrielle Lacasse warned of writing content that your heart is not fully into, saying that the lack of heart will show, resulting in a perceived fakeness of the blogger and their content. Sponsored content is a reality in this sphere. If done well, it seems like it is a form of more targeted advertising, deliberate because of shared interests between bloggers and their audience that are genuine. I guess, like anything else, you just have to think about the source and whether or not the blogs you read seem authentic to you or not. Gabrielle, too, had some advice about starting your own blog: you cannot rush things in the sense that you think you will have a huge following overnight; do not get into this if it is for free stuff; and know how to do everything and have a hand in every stage.
The keynote on Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality was incredibly interesting. Going into this presentation, I only knew of virtual reality in the context of contemporary art and very limitedly in the context of gaming (only because I’ve heard anecdotes, not really a gamer). The speaker discussed it with the fashion business and innovation, that this could be the future retail experience moving past traditional notions of in-store shopping and even e-commerce as we know it today. Particularly, he showed an example of a project he had worked on with Little Burgundy. It was a magazine that, when read with the VR goggles, was interactive in a way that my words cannot accurately describe.
There is so much potential there to revolutionize the way we consume fashion. Immediately I thought of fashion magazines, but he also mentioned the possibility of recording runway shows in 360 degrees. This would be amazing, especially for people viewing them remotely. While there are many creepy aspects to the VR world (and by creepy I mean my own discomfort with replacing lived reality with a virtual one) I see now how these are ways this technology could innovate different spheres in potentially monumental ways.
Media is changing and I’m down for the ride.