Fashion Tribe

Living in a virtual world ... byebye material girls

February 14th, 2013

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As part of New York Fashion Week,  SiriusXM hosted "Town Hall with Kenneth Cole,” with SiriusXM Fashion Insiders host Fern Mallis, who was instrumental in starting NYFW, interviewing Cole about his return to the runway and the importance of social media.

The most interesting part of the brief interview was when he said, “What’s interesting now is that we don’t consume the product by buying it in the stores. I mean, one percent do, maybe. 100 percent view it [and] consume it, by shooting it, by posting it, by pinning it, by blogging it, by tweeting it, by retweeting it, and today it is being consumed everywhere in these unique and interesting ways. And they define themselves by it … there’s Pinterest, Instagram and all of these social platforms.”

I've been doing this for at least a decade. If I can't possess an item I find beautiful, I'd save a photo of it as a reminder. Before, I would have to save the images in folders on my computer desktop, but now Pinterest makes it easy to collect photos and create storyboards. For retailers, it's a great marketing and advertising tool as the public spreads word of their love and affection for a brand.

But in the long-term, I wonder what happens to the retail business model when everyone does make consumption virtual. The economy is questionable, unemployment is still high. It's conceivable that the cash-strapped won't need to make purchases if they can enjoy items vicariously via Pinterest. It can be unexpectedly satisfying, because let's face it, even if we buy coveted items, chances are we tire of it in three months or even before the credit card bill arrives.

If so, retailers might one day find themselves in the same boat as the record, book and newspaper industry, trying to stay afloat in a world where increasingly, life is being led online.

Or, maybe it really is the 1 percent that props up the industry, and its just the 99 percent of us who have to use our imaginations. It sort of works in the way it really couldn't for food and housing.

You can view his show here:

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