Fashion media is a term used by the fashion industry to communicate about a brand to prospective consumers. The medium of communication comprises of public relations, advertising, sales promotion and several others. The traditional methods of communicating the availability of a new product through lifestyle magazine is now taken over by the new ‘two way’ method of communication that includes advertisements as well as feedback from the customers1.
Fashion journalists are keen on publishing what is happening in Londonand Paristo be the first to report fashion revolution that not only consists of innovation but is also of importance for cultural production. Fashion writers are conscious about associating the culture of each nation to a season’s fashion to ensure there is a national identity for the products2.
Advertisement is a mass media because it reaches a mass market. The notion that advertising is non-targeted and non personal is a wrong implication. Advertising luxury brands in mass media like television and magazine targets a narrow group comprising of the specific luxury consumer market. Advertisement is a method of communicating the brand history, personality, products, image and services that increase the visibility of the bands. Traditionally advertisements of superior brands usually appear in business publications, fashion magazines, high end publications and airline in-flight magazines focusing target audience1.
1.Uche, Okonkwo, Luxury fashion branding: trends, tactics, techniques (New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2007)
2. Sandra Niessen, Re-orienting fashion: the globalisation of Asian dress (Oxford:Berg Publishers 2003)
Some of the modern communication strategies are Push Trade promotion, Pull Customer promotion and Profile Stakeholder promotion. In push trade promotion the brand is promoted through traditional print advertising. The prospective customer gains knowledge about new brands from advertisements. In pull customer promotion, the prospective market is attracted to the brand through methods like internet promotional campaigns. In profile stakeholder promotion, the broad market is target through promotional methods (Okonkwo, U. 2007 p.144).
With the beginning of globalisation and increase in intercultural influences, digital media and international travel there has been a considerable change in the fashion consumption patterns. Cultural awareness through various media has led to increased need for overstated fashion. In the 1990s the luxury consumer market widened and matured with a fashion consumption that followed a global outlook inspired by factors such as globalisation, information technology, digital media and fashion magazines 3
The global media culture offers new vistas for identities and pleasures that re-define new fantasies, role models and novel cultural experiences. The changes in fashion media post globalisation paves way for the fragmentation of traditional identities and subjectivities and the evolution of new identities from multifarious and conflicting configuration of local, national, traditional and new global forces in vogue. Thus fashion media intersects the local and the global perspectives to produce new matrixes that legitimize the formation of hybrid identities. Therefore, the changes in fashion media can sometimes be oppressive and wipe away cultural identities and traditions and also offer new source to rework personal identity and empower individuals to act against traditional styles and forms to recreate more emancipated styles 4.
3. Uche, Okonkwo, Luxury fashion branding: trends, tactics, techniques (New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2007)
4. John Benyon, and David Dunkerley, Globalization: the reader (New York: Routledge, 2000)
The culture industry has led the fragmented identities to form synthetic models and consumer identities that create superficial changes to style and fashion that re-conceive traditional identities with respect to attitudes and looks that are opposed to fundamental choices, commitments and action. The postmodern personality that has evolved as a result of these changes does not make any fundamental choice and live on the surface totally lost to hyper-real media images becoming mere characters of postmodern carnival. Popular media sources that introduce the new identity are from North Americathat sets a trend not only of globalisation but also of Americanization. Global popular figures like Madonna, Beavies, Rambo and other American personalities pose as seductive and symbolic models for followers and cultures that are imbibing new culture due to globalisation 5
Globalization of publication
Fashion media has undergone changes due to globalisation with mergers and collaborations of publications. Chinese publishers cooperated with foreign magazine publications since 1981 to bring out regional editions. A significant influential copyright cooperation was the publication of ELLE in Shanghai in 1988. Another collaborative publication was between Hearst Corporation and Trends publication in 1998. Further, the Pictorial Press of China joined hands with VOGUE to publish Vogue China in August 2005. The current setting of the periodical market in China indicates that crucial competition is between native and foreign capital. To certain extent universal publishers that work together with Chinese publications envisage various areas of risk, danger and concern. In terms of globalisation, there should be common factors to integrate external business processes not just for profit and capital gain as the sole motto 6
5. John Benyon, and David Dunkerley, Globalization: the reader (New York: Routledge, 2000)
6. Pin, Li, International Cooperation and Globalisation of the Magazine Industry in ChinaVol: 24, No.1, (2008) , 59-63
Globalization and the change to expensive commercials
TheNew Yorkbased Curious Pictures Corporation is a company that produces commercials. The president of the company, Stephen Oaks claims that a thirty second commercial requires six to twelve week for production and the average cost for such a short film is $120000 to $300000. The commercial is taken with intricacies like discussion with client for every frame because it has to influence people when it goes on air and has to be converted into business. A heavy amount is spent on advertising to grab a good share of the competitive market in the aftermath of globalisation.
Advertisers annually spend $8 to $10 billion for the production of TV commercials in theUnited States. Enterprises that use commercials are serious about the results of their daily publicity campaigns. If a commercial does not yield satisfactory returns then the advertising strategies are changed immediately. In case the commercial message does not deliver the specific information, it could be terminal for a fashion firm and the capital spent for the formulation of the product.
The Association of American Advertising Agencies states that an average individual is exposed to one thousand six hundred advertisements every day. The annual average advertisement viewed by an adult is 21000. Hundred largest American corporations pay for the approximately 75 percent commercial time on television and 50 percent public time on television 7
7. Joost Smiers, Arts under pressure: promoting cultural diversity in the age of globalisation (New York: Zed Books 2003)
Globalization and cultural import to developed countries
While there is umpteen examples to indicate that fashion is being imported from developed countries to developing countries through mass media such as television, there is a reverse import of fashion from colonized and developing countries to developed nations like the United States. Though immigrants carry their culture to rich countries (McQuail, D. 2010 p.265), the desire to use a product from a poor nation symbolic of its culture is instigated by the media through marketing and advertising to fulfill the lifestyle needs of consumers. For example, the import of Indian fashion accessory such as the vermillion mark (bindi) and nose-ring into American fashion culture symbolizes that American women adopt these symbols as a fashion statement to imbibe exoticism and cosmopolitanism. These changes are indicators of the fashion media inducing commodification into the American market rather than it is viewed as a way of adopting multiculturalism 8
Mass media – promoting shopping as a fashion symbol
Consumerism is a significant cultural factor of globalisation induced by the fashion media. Western culture believes in acquiring material wealth, in enjoying a better lifestyle of consumption, possession and better services that contribute to sustainable economic development. These fashion and cultural value of consumerism is introduced to the South by means of advertisements. The fashion media post the globalisation era creates these needs in people by emphasizing novelty and fashion through advertisements that inject new social expectations, products and services 9.
8. Dennis McQuail, McQuail’s Mass Communication Theory (London: SAGE Publications Ltd, 2010)
9. Malcolm Payne, and Gurid.Aga Askeland, Globalization and international social work: postmodern change and challenge (Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. 2008)
The media frames these factors as a symbolic event to entice consumers that consumerism is a significant social activity. The fashion media projects personal identity on the basis of a person’s lifestyle and to create an image in the society. Fashion and design are crucial factors for constant change and consumerism and to increase sales. Therefore these ideas need to be economically powerful for communication and entertainment media like the Internet and television to communicate fashion and innovative ideas at an ever increasing rate. Sophisticated communication technologies are influencing the customers to use advanced technology to copy the presentation and style of entertainment that are sometimes not affordable to the societies in the South 10.
The influence of fashion media on the dressing style of Middle East women
The Middle Eastis a very conservative society when it comes to women’s dressing. The government has curbed western influence in women’s dressing. However Middle Eastwomen now use clothing with western fashion to mark a political statement by blending the distinctive Islamic factor with western concepts. The Elle magazine has launched the Middle Eastern edition featuring a fusion of Western and Eastern fashion that cater to conservative clothing with a western touch. The fashion media has encouraged women in the region to have a fashion statement of their own in terms of colors and lengths that change every season 11.
10. Malcolm Payne, and Gurid.Aga Askeland, Globalization and international social work: postmodern change and challenge (Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. 2008)
11. .Rachel. Treister, Negar 2006 Globalized Fashion a Political Statement in the Middle East: http://www.policyinnovations.org/ideas/briefings/data/000001# . (Accessed on November 28, 2011)
It is interesting to note that despite being highly traditional in terms of interpreting Islamic dress, Saudi Arabia has emerged to have access to high end luxurious designer wear and make up worn in female settings. Though the dress code is strict Saudi Arabia has surpassed the liberal Dubai in terms of German fashion product imports in the Middle East. This is by adjusting the fashion to Islamic standards that vary in size12
Globalization, mergers and acquisition of media firms
Besides the changes in content in the fashion media as a part of the globalisation there has been numerous mergers and acquisition of traditional fashion publications to keep in pace with the changing trends in readership and subscription. Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) is a hundred year old trade publication that published the production and retail clothing business of the Fairchild family. The market explosion in the American fashion industry in the sixties and seventies made WWD the fashion bible ofNew Yorkfor aristocrats, models, artists, party people and all who loved to wear great clothes. WWD then brought out a bi-monthly broadsheet called W in a glossy colorful newspaper format.
W transformed into a monthly magazine in 1993 with stories that ranged from fashion designers, decorators, celebrities, society restaurants as well as rich Europeans. From the mid to late 1990s the magazine was in its height and in 2000 it was sold to Conde Nast though the editorial team of WWD continued to work in W. In the recent years, the advertisements in the magazine dwindled and the W world comprising of luxury vacation lovers and luxury shoppers has shrunk indicating a significant decrease in the magazine’s readership 13.
12. Rachel. Treister, Negar 2006 Globalized Fashion a Political Statement in the Middle East:
13. W magazine and women’s wear daily divorce – big changes afoot for the ny fashion bibles.
The rumor that the magazine would fold finally substantiated and the magazine is to move completely from the Fairchild Fashion Group and be reconstructed and managed under the editorial direction of the Conde Nast. The W magazine is set to wear a new look in line with their other magazines like Allure, Vogue or Glamour that are more consumer oriented 14
The media has had an international dimension like collecting news from different parts of the world and the distribution of movies in foreign countries. Till the beginning of globalization in the 1970’s most media companies operated in domestic market based on regulations from the respective governments. Print media, cinema, television and radio have had their share of independency in handling their job. After globalization profound changes have occurred in the media industry. Fluid global markets have taken over national markets and new technologies have given rise to the fusion of various types of media. In the beginning of the twenty first century the worldwide media market is dominated by around twenty multinational corporations with their presence in almost every nation of the world with production, marketing and distribution of entertainment and news. Media ownership rules are also relaxed to permit cross border acquisition and investment. In the post globalization context, the fashion media has undergone changes in content and structure to suit market demands that are in line with the globalization where money is the only factor that divides the consumer and consumption.
14. W magazine and women’s wear daily divorce – big changes afoot for the ny fashion bibles: http://fashionrules.com/2010/03/w-magazine-and-womens-wear-daily-divorce-big-changes-afoot-for-the-ny-fashion-bibles/. (Accessed on November 28, 2011).