Fall 2010 concept by Anthropologie
I post quite a lot here about little bits I get excited about in the fashion world. Sometimes because I think they're an example of a bigger trend, but often just because I really like the aesthetic conveyed (sometimes it's both; it's nice when that happens). The other week in my '5 things I'm thinking about' post I wondered if there could be something beneficial to non-profits and charities in following the direction of fashions more closely, and I was hoping to explore that here now.
When I talk about fashion, by the way, I'm usually referring to the higher end of the market, the designers and the writers covering them. I'm always interested to see what's being picked up by the high street (I read Inside Out as a good start), but I'm usually looking for simliar strands in the different collections that I think could have a wider appeal later down the line.
So. For me, the appeal and intrigue of fashion comes from its aspiration, its craft/quality and its 'nowness'. The rotating seasons, the exclusive marketing and the price tags all conspire to create an ongoing frenzy that fuels a huge industry and 'cool' societal movement.
Just to point out that I think sustainable fashion is cool and necessary, but that's not what I'm talking about here.
Digital is also about nowness, but it's also about appropriation, self-publication and bricolage. It's a massive challenge for high-fashions as their discourses move online.
When you look at how people create their personal brands through their clothing, tastes, beliefs and their online personas, and then at the big campaigns of the past few years, there are probably some points of similarity - Areas where the campaigns have not just been worthy causes, they've captured the zeitgeist and therefore become bigger and more potent than they might otherwise have been.
I wonder if, in future, campaigns could be crafted in such a way that they're able to predict that national spirit, through more closely following trends as they concieve themselves on the catwalk (and on television, as Grant McCracken propounds).
Obviously the charity sphere is about a lot more than single-season issues, and there will be times, like during climate disasters, where this kind of thinking would be less effective. But if we're operating in a world where we're relying on our supporters to be our advocates and movement-builders, then we need a hook. We need to get people interested initially, but we also need to create campaigns where our supporters are proud to wear the badge and actively tell their friends. The campaigns can become part of our supporters' personal brand creation.
Make Poverty History is an obvious example
I think that by being more aware of emerging visual trends and what they mean for people's lifestyles, charities and non-profits could more accurately tailor their future events and campaigns, and make them more effective.
What if The Uniform Project had been more closely aligned with a charity and a wider campaigning infastructure? What if the Goodwood Vintage festival had been more actively promoted and curated by the charities involved with it?
Just a thought.