The New Social Media-Fueled Fashion Democracy

Have you ever looked at the latest fashions coming off the catwalk and heaved a sigh of dismay, wondering why they can’t design fashions for people like you? Things are changing – no longer can an elite group of couture designers shape and dictate fashion for everyone. A revolution is happening. Fashion is becoming more democratic, thanks in no small part to social media such as Face book and Twitter and the rise of independent fashion bloggers, who are becoming a force to be reckoned with. An increasing recognition of ethical fashion and the need for more plus size fashion has undoubtedly been consumer led.

At the forefront of this trend is The Shopping Forecast, a unique forum which allows consumers to see, share, vote and comment on next season’s lines. The Shopping Forecast provides a link between the buyers of fashion, and professional store fashion buyers. The selected outfits that viewers vote on are chosen by “The Style Council” whose members are predominantly independent fashion bloggers with no financial interest in the big couture houses or large retail outlets who have previously dictated fashion. Could the Shopping Forecast lead the way to a genuine change in the way the fashion industry operates – fashion by the people, for the people!

Listening to consumers improves the bottom line. And fashion industry is a business like any other so this is a compelling argument to encourage more customer feedback. Earlier this year, Marc Jacobs CEO Robert Duffy received a large amount of Twitter feedback from customers who wanted plus sizes. His response was to tweet back to the company’s more than 26,000 followers, “We gotta do larger sizes… As soon as I get back to NY I’m on it,”. This is clear evidence that designers are listening to the fans and no long operating solely for the elite fashionistas in their ivory towers.

Struggling retailer Ann Taylor saw a saw a 16% rise in same-store sales for the second quarter of 2010. Analysts have attributed this to the company’s vigorous use of social media for helping to lure new customers. In response to criticism of a skinny model wearing a new pair of pants on its face book site, the company responded by posting new photos of employees of a range of sizes wearing the product. The feedback from customers was remarkably positive.

It is not just big fashion houses and retailers, who are utilising the internet and social media to sell fashion. The internet and viral marketing using sites such as Face book and Twitter has made it cheaper and easier for small independent fashion retailers to sell their products and to get customer feedback without having to pay for costly professional market research. Leading the way, ASOS marketplace is now accepting applications to open boutiques in the Marketplace from Fashion designers, Independent labels, and Vintage resellers. More choice for the consumer means more opportunity to make their own decisions about what sort of fashions they want including the ethical trend for recycling clothes. Fashion is no longer about buying all the right labels but producing a stylish mix of high and low pieces and the move towards a more democratic Fashion industry is part of this trend.

In keeping with the move to a more democratic industry, it seems the size zero vs real women debate is starting to be taken more seriously. Online plus size mall One Stop Plus made history this year as September saw the first ever “plus-size only” show showcased during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York.

However, it is one thing listening to your customer’s opinions to try and improve business, but one designer has taken it a step further. British fashion designer Katie Eary has launched the first ever fan-funded clothing. All of the shares for the collection have sold out which has created fashion history! The Katie Eary collection at Catwalk Genius went on sale in September. With investments from as little as £11, part ownership of a collection by a designer you like seems the ultimate way to influence the fashion industry!

Whether this move towards fashion democracy is permanent remains to be seen but with the advent of social media and the internet, it seems unlikely to change. Customers are, at last, able to make themselves heard and any business would be stupid to ignore them.

Finding Careers in the Fashion Industry

The vibrant, ever-changing fashion industry is always looking for brilliant minds with an idea of what comes next in design and merchandising. Could you be that visionary voice? What does the future hold for jobs in the fashion industry?

Check out some of the top fashion industry jobs, and learn what you can do to work your way into one of these exciting careers.

Fashion & Retail Management

If you love fashion and you’ve always wanted to own your own business, a degree in retail management could be right up your alley. You already know what shoes to pair with that little black dress for the perfect night out, but you need to learn the details of management as it relates to fashion. Courses in fashion sales, retail history, and more can give you the experience you need to enter the field with confidence.

Management Salary Points. In 2007, retail sales managers and supervisors saw mean annual earnings of $39,210, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Management positions at high-end boutiques and specialty stores might earn more, depending on location and experience.

Fashion Merchandising Careers

If you stand behind your brand, you have to be able to sell it. Fashion merchandising is an umbrella term that covers a range of careers, including: Merchandise managers ” Fashion buyers ” Fashion marketers ” Fashion sales

Even those who specialize in creating window dressings for department stores fall under the category of fashion merchandising.

Fashion merchandise managers see a lot of use in today’s fashion economy. “Today it’s the merchandise manager who carries the weight,” Marvin Traub, a retail consultant, told the New York Times. “He has an eye to the numbers.” While a degree or certificate in fashion merchandising may not be required for all careers, it can help to have the technical knowledge you can pair with you existing passion.

Merchandising Salary Points. Wholesale and retail buyers earned $53,580 in 2007, the BLS reports. That same year, purchasing managers across all industries earned mean annual wages of $90,430. While that figure goes well beyond the fashion industry, it should give you an idea of the kind of salary a skilled manager in the field might expect.

Fashion Designers

When you first think of jobs in the fashion industry, you might picture famous fashion designers like Donatella Versace or Michael Kors. While it’s true that most work can be found in fashion hubs California and New York, designers typically work all over the country, running small businesses and boutiques. Whether you’re dreaming of small-town success or a big-city dream, training in fashion design can get you there.

Fashion Design Salary Points. Fashion designers saw mean annual wages of $71,170 in 2007, according to the BLS. Most designers worked in New York or California, cementing the notion that your best chances for employment are on the opposite coasts.

While competition is keen for many careers and no degree can guarantee a job, graduates of fashion schools are still finding a viable job market. Research fashion schools to get a better idea of your potential future.

Determinants of a Rewarding Fashion Buyer Salary

Nature of Work

Salary of a fashion largely depends on the nature of work. Opening a fashion outlet or a boutique gives a low start, but; ensures higher returns in the long term depending on the creativity and market sense of an individual. Obviously; working for a retail garment store, private fashion outlet or a fashion store adds up to the returns of a buyer, as it provides the required practical exposure and professional training.

Skills and Experience

A degree in fashion designing or fashion management is enough to start off the career of a fashion buyer. But, a good amount of relevant experience at a retail outlet or fashion outlet is always a must to get a high start in salary. Being analytical, logical, organized and strategic also increases the monetary gains of a fashion, as these skills determine the scale of business.

The creative spark present within a candidate makes him earn a large amount of money in the long run. That means, higher the creative ideas, higher the returns of a buyer. In addition to these elements, a high degree of self motivation is required to face the highs and lows of this hectic profession.

Knowledge of Market Trend

Understanding the past, present and future market and fashion trends is equally important for a fashion. Tapping the scope of innovation, launch of new fashion design, identification of new fashion apparel markets and timely elimination of the outdated fashion apparel makes up the market sense of a fashion buyer. More the fashion sense and knowledge of market trends, more the fashion buyer salary.

Fashion Buying

Fashion buyers forecast industry trends and transform them into effective business proposals. Careers in fashion buying are extremely popular and challenging.

As a fashion buyer, you need to know what trends sold in the past and what is likely to be popular in the future. It is advisable to keep yourself updated on the changes in trends. You need to have a thorough knowledge of what’s been happening with the fashion changes in the past as this will help you decide what’s needed in the future. In fact fashion buyers must work months in advance, so that the goods are ready when the season starts. It helps to have a formal degree in fashion buying. You can also opt for an internship with the major stores and established companies to gain sufficient experience.

Attend fashion shows and keep yourself updated on all the latest aspects of fashion. Make a meticulous research on the quick selling styles, fads and other trends in the past and the present. Also, be original, inventive, organized and be primed to take risks. Work on your communication and interpersonal skills, as you might have to take bold decisions.

A fashion buyer gets to know about the newest and hot trends before anybody else does. You get the privilege of setting trends and predict what the next hot thing will be. You get to travel globally and meet interesting people. You also get to order interesting items from the major fashion capitals of the world. On the whole fashion buying is a very thrilling career, after all very few get the opportunity to formulate and set trends.