The world of design and fashion may have its ebbs and flows, and change itself (and the desire for it) is the lifeblood of the industry. Yet no event or technological could have possibly impacted the state of things as much as the advent and expansion of the internet and communications technologies, including smartphones, the Internet of Things, and more. As you are certainly are, things are changing fast, and it’s vital to keep up.
There are multiple threads and concepts to consider, but given the scope we would like to take here, we would like you to consider and focus on the following key points:
Unprecedented Collaboration (Intentional and Unintentional)
While magazines, vital events, books, and other older mediums existed to help designers get ideas and work off of each other even 25 years ago, all of that honestly pales into comparison when compared to the content available to users online today. While all the things mentioned above had a cost associated with them (either buying the source or traveling), now there is no longer as much of a cost to keep up with the trends, and there is more fashion and design content online than multiple people could hope to see within multiple lifetimes.
And this is a fantastic development, considering that inspiration and examples (both of things that work and things that don’t) are key in fashion and design, and where better to find it than online in a sea of pictures, videos, related writings, and more? Have a bad time with one creator’s work? It doesn’t matter, move onto the next one.
For more direct collaborations, designers of all types are only are far away from each other as a video chat, complete with options to send files to each other in seconds. A livestream from Paris can be watched easily from an abode in California, provided of course there’s an excellent internet connection. If someone wants to meet a like design mind, the person is out there, waiting for them.
Increased Competition and Standards
Yet increased exposure for everyone as mentioned earlier means that there are fewer gates to the lowest levels of entry. Now an aspiring designer must beat out the competition online to get noticed either in the field or by the public, and that is no easy task. For every designer you might follow on Instagram, there are thousands you don’t, and there isn’t enough room for everyone. There aren’t enough inspiring stories and reality shows to give everyone a big break, and plenty of them still “want it” enough.
Now, in addition to being an excellent designer, hopefuls in the field must also be great self-marketers, even more so than 25 years ago, and utilize constantly changing platforms with often fickle audiences. As always, it is a lot of work.
The flipside of this is that this competition and the more widespread nature of design means that people are always getting to see the best designs and ideas from the brightest minds, by virtue of distance and locality meaning little. Additionally, for people with particular tastes or personal styles and designers with more unique visions, each can find their match much more easily, and communities and partnerships can be formed that would never have occurred 25 years ago (they simply would have never met).
The truth remains that fashion and design will still remain clustered to some degree, but that doesn’t mean that the internet isn’t giving more opportunities to designers all over the world than ever before. As explored last section, the Internet has caused and will continue to contribute towards a decentralization of the industry, and designers in some cases will be able to consult from afar, especially as technology develops over the next few years. If we can do virtual house tours, how far away from virtual design that homeowners can act upon are we?
In short, it’s a great time to start a design or fashion career if you’re confident in your ideas, and you don’t need to move to do so.
New Applications and Design Methods
As app developers and programmers are working hard to find new uses for existing programs and applications (and creating new ones), they’re also considering, whether directly or indirectly, entirely new ways of having designers interact with and work for the common design consumer. Think, for example, of sites where you can upload a photo of yourself and dress yourself virtually. They’re not perfect yet, but improvements are constant, and their existence is already changing the landscape.
While we still might still be awaiting the first mainstream 3D printed dress kit, it’s not too hard to imagine a world where designers have even more direct access to consumers, and consumers are able to envision or even virtually dress themselves in the wardrobe of those they follow. The concept of influence doesn’t change, but its form and methods absolutely so, and at a faster pace then ever as people become jaded quickly to online marketing techniques.
We’re only beginning the see the true effects of how the internet is affecting the design world, and there are only reasons to stay optimistic if you love seeing the best of what the field has to offer. Whether the internet will simply continue to foster creativity and communication or whether it will open up bold new fields is yet to be seen, but the two worlds are now tied together closely for the foreseeable future. We hope you can make the most of it.