The recent Versace scandal featuring their “Medusa” shirt really forces us to ask the question, “what is happening to the fashion world?”. Visual artist Kesh alleges that Versace has “ripped off” one of her prints, used in a 2013 collection featured by American Apparel. Kesh’s shirt, called “Face Le New” originally sold for $50. The recent “Medusa” shirt launched by Versace sells for $650. Normally one would not expect a more expensive “knock-off” of a shirt. According to Walter Benjamin, “Man-made artifacts could always be imitated by men. Replicas were made by pupils in practice of their craft, by masters for diffusing their works, and finally, by third parties in the pursuit of gain” (2). The current situation with Versace does not seem to line up with Benjamin’s view. It is believed that the authentic came from Kesh but yet it has been ripped off by a brand that would be considered a “master” in the fashion world. So is the master imitating the pupil? Or does this situation take away Versace’s “master” status and puts them into the third party described by Benjamin. I cannot help but agree with the latter. Are they now nothing but a “third party” in the pursuit of profit, no longer respected as an artist in the fashion world? I suppose only time will tell.
Benjamin, Walter. 1936. The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Pg. 2. https://sakai.uri.edu/access/content/group/50b74466-ba02-4b2a-a96f-6240db108e88/Readings%20_Main_/Benjamin%201936%20The%20Work%20of%20Art-KA-NOTES.pdf
Ledbetter, Carly. April 2, 2015. Versace ‘rip-off’ of an American Apparel t-shirt sells for hundreds of dollars. HuffingtonPost. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/01/kesh-versace-rip-off-american-apparel_n_6979048.html
According to Georg Simmel, “Fashion is the imitation of a given example and satisfies the demand for social adaptation” (544). Simmel wrote this in 1957 but the quote still rings true today. An example of this is the creation of a new type of fashion called “Ath-leisure”, a combination of athletic and leisure clothing that are offered by higher end brands. Even though the clothing looks like it will be worn while exercising, the costumer will actually treat it as everyday leisure wear. Costumers are able to imitate athletes and look as if they are athletic when in reality they are not. According to fashion columnist Elizabeth Wellington, “They [ath-leisure clothing] easily go from cubicle to cocktail hour”… “and have a touch of trendy athleticism”. It also shows how costumer’s tastes have adapted over time. The growing popularity of these brands allows for a strong demand of ath-leisure clothing. According to Wellington more boutiques are trading out former “it” brands for these luxury leisure wear.
Simmel, Georg. Fashion. The American Journal of Sociology, vol. 62, no. 6 (May, 1957): Pg. 544, https://sakai.uri.edu/access/content/group/50b74466-ba02-4b2a-a96f-6240db108e88/Readings%20_Main_/Simmel%201957%20-%201904%20Fashion.pdf
Wellington, Elizabeth. April 29, 2015. Mirror Mirror; Ath-leisure brands dominate boutiques. The Philadelphia Inquirer. http://www.philly.com/philly/living/style/20150429_Mirror__Mirror__Ath-leisure_brands_dominate_boutiques.html
“Whether the extension of consciousness, so long sought by advertisers for specific products, will be “a good thing” is a question that admits of a wide solution.” This was a quote from Mcluhan’s Medium is the message. Another quote from his is, “It was not the machine, but what one did with the machine, that was its meaning or message.” Technology is the key in Mcluhan’s theory. The techonology is the message. Technology is an extension of ourselves and our nervous systems through Mcluhan’s eyes. Technology is also an extension of the retailer nervous system. Technology extends people’s ability to buy clothing. An article from Vogue shows this well. A company called Lyst has just invested 40 million dollars into an online universal shopping cart. This allows shoppers to check out from multiple retailers in one unified checkout. The universal checkout has 500,000 products available. This technology investment extends the consumer’s ability to look through many retailers and buy from many of them with the same check out. It has been very successful so far with over 150 million sales. Technology makes shopping easier therefore it is the message for retailers and consumers to connect as it is in Mcluhan’s excerpt.
McLuhan, Marshall. Excerpts from: Understanding Media, The Extensions of Man, Part I. 1964
O’halloran, Scarlett. “Lyst announces 40 million dollar investment.” Vogue. April, 30, 2015.
Media has evolved and so has the world of fashion, making fashion easily attainable to the masses whether it’s supposed to be exclusive or not. Every fashion week, runway show, etc. easily viewed through social media platforms like Instagram, Pintrest, and tumblr to name a few. Media as we know it today can’t be controlled.
Debord talks about how people in society always have an alterior motive per-say in what it is they do or portray. People want to be recognized or seen as the best or to have the best. In fashion we see this all the time whether it be one individual person or a group/soceity like in todays society that is shown through material things going to extreme mesures to be more exclusive than the next person. “As the indispensable decoration of the objects produced today, as the general expose of the rationality of the system, as the advanced economic sector which directly shapes a growing multitude of image-objects, the spectacle is the main production of present-day society.”
As you will see in the video below today’s society everything is escalated to be grander and grander with object. In fashion today we this portrayal of objects with luxurious watches, shoes made in the best shoe making countries.Or with bags worth thousands that only a select few have access to like the Hermes,birkin bag.
Matt Swider. May 23, 2015. “Apple watch release date, price and features”. Tech Radar. http://www.techradar.com/us/news/wearables/apple-iwatch-release-date-news-and-rumours-1131043
McLuhan touches on the concept of electronic extensions of the self. The Apple watch is a perfect example of what he was talking about. This watch keeps you connected to your phone, wallet, schedule, exercise, and much more. All while being attached to your wrist. And for a starting price of $349, anyone can purchase a new electronic extension of self. In my eyes, half of society is embracing technology like this and the other half finds it unnecessary. I am grateful that society as a whole isn’t accepting of a product like this because i believe a product like this only leads to a greater connection with technology. Other products like Google Glasses are also electronic extensions of the self that support McLuhan’s theory and the more that technology effects the human experience, the more it alters human characteristics.
“Pheed, an Instagram-like app that gives users the option to monetize their own content by charging followers to see their posts, gained more users than any other app in the United States on Thursday. By Thursday morning, Pheed had jumped to the ninth most downloaded social-networking app in Apple’s iTunes store, just ahead of LinkedIn.”
Nicole Perlroth. 2012. “Instagram does an About Face”. New York Times. http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/20/instagram-does-about-face-reverts-to-previous-policy/?_r=0
“The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.” Debord’s theory of what was going to happen to our society became very true with applications and websites such as Instagram. Instagram fits Debords description perfectly and I know this because I am daily Instagram user. Through this article i learned about the application called Pheed, which is much like Instagram, except users can decide to charge their followers in order to see their content. This takes the social relations among people one step further and even puts a price on their connection. I am curious to see if more social media applications start to take on this concept of applying price tags to internet material in order to make it more exclusive.
Thomas Heath. May 25, 2014. “CustomInk goes from S to XXL”. Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/customink-goes-from-size-s-to-xxl/2014/05/23/7e8e393a-e1bd-11e3-810f-764fe508b82d_story.html
This article describes the CustomInk company and how it has been growing very quickly over the last few years. This online retailer sells t-shirts and a number of other products that are customizable through screen printing or digital printing. Although this is a prime case of mechanical reproduction and it’s ability to take away from the “aura” of a product, I also must disagree with Walter Benjamin’s point of view for one reason. CustomInk allows the customer to make an order of only one piece for some of their products. With this possible, customers are able to produce an original one of one piece of clothing. I have done this many times and it allows me to create an original and unique t-shirt that is authentic. In cases like these, I find that Benjamin overlooked the ability to customize products through mechanical reproduction and related technology.
A McLuhan moment, or just hype? The APPLE WATCH is coming! OMG!OMG! (Or is it a Segway…?)
Quotation of the day:
“It wouldn’t surprise me if folks eventually began watching videos on the watch — people will watch videos on anything — but at the start, the watch seems like it provides you with quick feedback, small bits of information that you can transact on. Deeper actions will occur on the phone.”
Fast, fast, fast, eh? It’s an interesting point to consider where this will go IF it takes off and lower-priced competitors start to show up (and better battery life.) The screen is the thing, but now….?
As Apple Watch launches, smartwatch app makers explore new interfaces | Technology | The Guardian.