Fashion and Technology

I have to admit, when HP Curates asked me to write them a piece about fashion and technology, I suffered immediate writer’s block. After several weeks and many nudges, I finally decided that the best thing to do was to start writing, and see where I ended up. Which turned out to be with the below ramblings… the closing paragraph of which actually sparked my eventual submission! (You can read that here… though I do wish I’d been able to edit it – I don’t recall writing such disjointed jabber in a long time!)

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I am a blogger. I am a social media marketer for an international publishing company. I have a desktop PC, a macbook, a smartphone and a digital camera, all of which are in use on a daily basis. You could say that technology plays an important role in my life. I have been blogging my daily outfit shot since 2007. My blog began as a way to promote my ebay shop, demonstrating the ways in which items could be styled to achieve the latest catwalk looks. This probably lasted all of about a week, before my vanity took over, and I started blogging about myself. I found that people are nosy by nature, want to know what your average jane has been doing with herself and what she wore to do it in. The internet has fed our inner snoop – we can now share in the joys and tragedies of complete strangers, hundreds of miles away, at the click of a button.

We can also share in their style.

As something of a fan of fashion through history, I have pored over books depicting dress throughout the ages. A couple of hundred years ago, subtle differences in style would allow one to pinpoint, not only the country from which an outfit hailed, but the region, living arrangements and social standing of the owner. A dress was said to be “in the English style” or even “Parisienne”, and those not accustomed to courtly dress were often shunned at social balls for dressing in their “country fashions”. These days, styles of dress pertaining to social class are deliberately chosen as a badge of belonging. Regional fashion is almost indecipherable across the western world: elements of my wardrobe could be interchangeable with Erin’s in Texas, with Cecilia’s in Toronto, with Andrea’s (formerly) in Christchurch… Certainly, we each have our own individual and decidedly different style, but it is far more likely to be influenced by what we’ve read on one another’s blogs than by what is deemed the order of the day.

So, how is technology linked to fashion in my experience? The answer is, intrinsically. What I see and read online daily influences what I choose to put on in the morning. I have been sent items of clothing as gifts from quite literally all over the world, and can order handmade goods from African craftspeople or Asian traders at the click of a button. Technology makes the entire world more accessible.

Another, hugely important role technology has played in my personal experience of fashion is that of recording inspiration. Never before has it been so simple to keep an archive of your style, of what works and doesn’t, of which colours suit and which drain you – even of what you have in your wardrobe. I keep thumbnail references of my previous outfits and, when short on inspiration, trawl through making a mental note of clothing I’d forgotten I owned. Ok, it’s a low tech version of Cher’s amazing wardrobe-match software in Clueless, but it works like a charm!

For fashion bloggers like myself, it’s not simply the internet that has allowed us to share and express our style. The most important element of my day-to-day existence is without doubt digital photography.

As a point of fact, I have two digital cameras, one at home and one that lives in my handbag, as well as the camera on my phone. Between the three I can rest assured that I will never have to miss an outfit shot or an inspiration picture. I can use my smartphone to surreptitiously snap that amazingly well-dressed student on the bus, and send the image straight to my dropbox. The amazing multi-tones of autumn leaves can be photographed to a decent quality standard via my handbag point-and-click, to be uploaded and referenced at a later date. And, of course, I can share what I’m wearing with the wider interwebs every evening, downloading, cropping and uploading my outfit within 5 measly minutes.

I am certain that technology will soon take us in exciting new directions as far as fashion is concerned. But I am tempted to say that the uber-technical stuff will remain the reserve of science fiction speculation (we have refined the creation and manipulation of fabric over generations – while production and technique will doubtless be subject to continuous refinement, the basic materials will most likely remain the same) and bad but short-lived experimentation (remember colour change t-shirts in the 80s?!). The production costs of complicated, technologically advanced clothing would prove far too high to replace an existing, working model.

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