At the end of last month, the New York Times ran an article begging the question, “Are trends passé”? According to fashion blogger Garance Doré, “they are not as they used to be – the days when things were 'in' or 'out' are long gone”. And that's true: in a saturated market, there's something for everyone, which makes economic, if not always creatively inspiring, sense.
Robert Burke, one time fashion director of Bergdorf Goodman, meanwhile, argued that until the Noughties, the looks of the forthcoming season were communicated via fashion editors and buyers who attended the international collections staged behind closed doors. He could have added that all of those present were required to sign forms promising that they would not pass on information or images from the shows in question that might in any way aid and abet any copycats. How times have changed.
Brands from Prada to Topshop allow instant access to their shows (the latter recently announced it would live stream its spring/summer 2013 collection only days from now for the first time; Prada has done so for the past two seasons). And so, anyone can catch a glimpse of clothes that won't go on sale for months and at the same time as the privileged few. Burberry has taken this concept one step further. At London Fashion Week six months ago, it tweeted looks from its forthcoming collection even before they made the runway.
Only a dinosaur would argue that mass exposure of the most innovative fashion is a bad thing. Far from it, it enriches and inspires. That said, and I declare a vested interest here, the raison d'être of covering fashion in individual titles – newspapers, magazines and online publications included – lies in the way it is edited. The savvy consumer – and the number of these is ever increasing – doesn't need to be told what to wear or how to wear it. That's just patronising. But there will always be trends and she (and indeed he) knows who to trust to identify these whether she wants to buy, browse or even just balk at them.