Amelia’s Magazine | Future Human Lectures: Fashion’s Microchic Shake-Up

The latest in a series of events from Bad Idea Magazine, doctor approved ‘Future Human’ explores a new topic each month and hosts an evening of discussion and debate at The Book Club in Shoreditch.

This month’s topic ‘Fashion’s Microchic Shake-Up’ pondered on the impact of the internet on the global fashion market we see today. Prior to the invention of the internet, this origins of fashion trends could be pinpointed to say, a specific youth culture, a political movement, or a new music trend. Times have changed; the way we see fashion has changed. The serge of information made accessible to us via the internet has created a new breed of consumer, a fashionista in his or her own right. Hello Microchic. 

The term Microchic is used to describe fashion today – fashion derived from a variety of new, and inspirational sources. A style influenced by social networking sites, trend blogs and small cult labels adopted by highstreet clothing lines. A Microchic consumer knows about fashion and demands individuality, quality, innovation and fashion-forward appeal. 
Ben Beaumont-Thomas began the evening with ‘The Great Microchic Shake-Up: A Primer’, in which he defined microchic as a ‘hyper-personal multi-faceted look’. The internet allows us to cherry pick fashions, it’s no longer about subcultures showcasing specific looks but about a consumer being able to choose a look for that day without the commitment. London’s fashion-forward hubs like Shoreditch accommodate many a microchic fashionista and, it seems what used to be ironic now just ‘is’. In order to track cult fashion movements on the streets of London, Paris, Milan, New York and Tokyo big brands subscribe to online global think tanks and trend forecasting services such as WGSN. These think tanks track fashion movements all over the world. Data is collected to give information on a global scale. Sales figures, market research, on-the-street trend spotters, and research into new manufacturing techniques all form a hub of information essential to any brand that wants to survive. It seems clear; the Internet has played a huge part in turning the way we think about fashion around.

So began the evenings debate; “Can the British High Street compete with Microchic?” The audience were able to upload thoughts in real-time via a live twitter feed which was displayed on stage for debate interaction. Guests Iris Ben David, CEO of Styleshake, Helen Brown, founder of Catwalk Genius and Ruth Marshall-Johnson, senior editor of WGSN Think Tank also shared their thoughts, prompting further debate. A particularly interesting point made by @cushefootwear via twitter was “Internet is to clothes what microwaves are to food”, prompting us to question the importance of ‘experience’ and ‘sensation’ when buying fashion. 
Alterations in consumer shopping patterns have led to many interesting technological developments. Innovative systems are being designed to meet new sets of consumer demands.

Styleshake allows a user to build a look within an online interface. The idea is, the user can create the garment they have in their head (you know, that absolutely perfect dress you wonder if you’ll ever find) through the selection of various characteristics, such as fabrics, necklines, and detailing. After you’ve designed the garment you can have it made at very reasonable prices.

Catwalk Genius is an innovative creative platform in which unestablished and up-and-coming fashion designers can sell their ranges. It’s a great resource for those looking for something ‘not on the High Street’. Users can also invest in emerging talent by buying shares in a designer’s next collection.

Perhaps a more extreme example of innovation is Augmented-Reality Shopping in which tools such as 3D scanners are used to replicate the body shape and look of a user, allowing him or her to see what they would look like in any chosen garment. 
Emerging trends are all about the involvement of the consumer. The consumer is part of the process. Innovative systems like these are designed to combat consumer frustrations such as differentiation in sizing between brands or inability to find a specific item or size, while offering an alternative consumer experience. Many consumers would be happy to do away with the days of long queues, sweaty changing rooms, rude salespeople and traipsing round shops all afternoon. By adopting an online shopping sphere, however, we lose out on the interactivity, the social nature and the tactility of shopping the High Street. Retail brands will need to facilitate technical developments such as 3D scanners (eliminating the need for changing rooms) to compete. 

H&M Garden Collection

The competitive nature of the High Street has resulted in a cycle of mass production of fast-fashion garments and large amounts of waste. In contributing to our throw-away society the highstreet fails to represent the ethical edge that can be found in Microchic. However the High Street favourites H&M’s Garden Collection made up of organic cotton and recycled polyester represents a change in attitudes from big brands.

So what does the future hold for the British High Street? Join the Debate!

Categories ,Bad Idea Magazine, ,Catwalk Genius, ,fashion, ,Garden Collection, ,H&M, ,High Street, ,internet, ,shoreditch, ,Styleshake, ,The Book Club, ,WGSN

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Amelia’s Magazine | Designer Spotlight: Hermione de Paula

hdp_ss_10 045All images courtesy of Hermione de Paula, case photographed by Kristin Vicari.

Hi Hermione! Would you mind telling our dear readers where you studied? Did you always know you wanted to pursue a career within fashion?
I graduated in 2006 from Central Saint Martins where I studied fashion and print. Fashion has certainly always been an important part of my life …my Mum gave birth to me in Chanel sunglasses so…

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What have you been up to since graduating? /When did you establish your label?
There hasn’t really been a dull moment… I spent some time out in LA which was incredible. I think the lifestyle I experienced there and the people I met will always influence me and feed into my work in some respect. It was when I moved back to London that I knew it was time to really start concentrating on my own label. I worked at Spearmint Rhino (not stripping though!) Let’s say it was an ‘interesting’ way to raise the cash to start my show. But hey, treat I’m a sucker for bright lights, exhibitionism and elaborate outfits! 

hdp_ss_10 089Do you have a career highlight so far?
Hearing I will be stocked exclusively with Browns Focus for my S/S10 collection has definitely been a recent highlight, along with my recent Merit Award from Vauxhall Fashion Scout – previous recipients were William Tempest and David Koma so I’m honoured to be seen in the same light as two incredible new labels. February 2010 is set to be a very exciting and manic month with the show and the launch of the SS10 collection in Browns Focus. Working with photographer Kristin Vicari is also a real honour- Kristin has just shot the new Diesel campaign ‘Be stupid’ and Christopher Kane’s last two look books so she has mentored and art directed all my press material – editorials/look books/cards etc which at this stage of my label is insane – I’m very privileged to work with her!

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What kind of woman do you design for?
Sexy, strong and stylish women. Women who are confident in being subtly provocative and thrive on having fun with clothing. Her motto would be- “I probably shouldn’t… but I will anyway!”

hdp_ss_10 057Would you ever consider a menswear diffusion line? Or is there any other area of design you’d like to branch into?
Possibly, I’m currently sharing a studio with two great friends of mine, who are just launching an amazing new menswear called ‘Braille’, so it would be fab to collaborate with them at some point and do some prints for them. Their garments are definitely an inspiring example of how a strong and masculine aesthetic can still be mixed with beautiful delicacy. Prints are great fun to work with, there are just endless creative possibilities…I wanted to try and print my puppy’s fur at Christmas to make him more festive but failed miserably!

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Can you tell our readers what your inspirations were for your SS10 collection?
My inspiration stems right back to the goddess Venus. I wanted to combine an essence of her erotic radiance and powerful beauty with a contemporary twist. ‘Las Venus’ the name of the collection comes from how I feel such a figure would be translated through tabloids in our society, a modern day branding. I wanted the collection to focus on the intriguing contradictions behind feminine magnetism, dramatic and subtle, fragile beauty with a tough core.


hdp_ss_10 028What are you looking forward to in the next decade seeing as 2010 is upon us?
I’m very optimistic about the next decade, life in the fast lane is set to get faster! With the launch of the collection in Browns Focus in London this February and the Merit Award Show I’m so excited to see where it will lead to next season and beyond!

Categories ,Braille, ,Browns Focus, ,Central Saint Martins, ,chanel, ,Christopher Kane, ,David Koma, ,Diesel campaign ‘Be stupid’, ,Hermione de Paula, ,Kristin Vicari, ,Spearmint Rhino, ,SS10, ,Vauxhall Fashion Scout, ,William Tempest

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