The Not-So-Glamourous Reality

Behind the glossy pages, billboards and fashion weeks, a darker reality lies beneath the glamourous exterior. It’s no surprise that back lash has resulted from years and years of abusing this illusion within the industry. These bad behaviors have led to the encouragement of eating disorders, sexual abuse and disregard of labor laws. Of course, it’s understandable that designers want to find a model that will portray their collection in the best light, but that’s no excuse for the consequences that have come of these actions.

Picture Me 516lr4gQfiLis an eye-opening documentary directed by Sara Ziff, a successful veteran model, and her boyfriend, Ole Schell. It starts out by explaining the basics of the industry and shows how Sara started her prosperous career at the age of 18. At first glance, Sara’s life is the epitome of glamour: jet setting to Paris, walking in shows like Chanel, seeing her billboards line the streets and cashing checks a size that some of us may never see in our lives. As time progresses and Sara meets more and more models, their struggles become more apparent. The documentary introduces us to models across the globe who have come face to face with this harsh reality of the modeling industry.

Since this documentary aired in 2009, there definitely have been improvements within the fashion industry as a whole. In 2015, Paris Fashion Week declared that all models must be of a healthy BMI to participate. Fashion weeks across the globe have slowly followed suit. There has also been an increase in diversity, especially in New York. This season of NYFW featured the most models of plus sizes, ages above 50 and transgender. Even 31.5% of models were of color. Designers, like Christian Siriano, Marc Jacobs and Brandon Maxwell, casted models in a variety of ethnicities, ages and sizes. Another trend setter has been Aerie. 56df40e41500002a000b16a1Their #AerieReal campaigns have received much positive recognition from consumers. They include models of all kinds without the use of retouching. Consumers were so adamant about these changes that Aerie saw a 20% increase in sales during its initial launch in 2015. These are feats in the right direction for the fashion industry, but they are only baby steps in the larger scheme.
Sara Ziff has also founded The Model Alliance to help combat these changes. As models do not have access to a union as other performers, such as actors with SAG, The Model Alliance was created as a volunteer-run advocacy group for American models. Their goal is to ensure long lasting change in labor standards, financial transparency, affordable health care and set an industry standard code of conduct. These changes will not only directly benefit the models but create more ethical work environment for all and set a better example to the many who admire the fashion industry. 
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NYFW Makes a Statement

New York Fashion Week is always about making a statement- but this season went past just a daring fashion choice. The fashion industry reaches nearly every person on the planet (well besides nudists), so why not use such a powerful platform for the greater good?

Designers and influencers took note of this for NYFW AW17 to make a statement to society: whether it was about human rights, feminism or diversity. This season was host to the most models of plus sizes, ages above 50, and transgender. Even 30.3% of the models were of color. The CFDA set the tone before the week started by giving away pins saying “Fashion Stands with Planned Parenthood” to industry leaders and attendees to provide support and education on the benefits of Planned Parenthood. Mara Hoffman even invited the leaders of the Women’s March to speak prior to her show.

As the week continued, designers used their platforms to spread positive messages in their own unique ways. Christian Siriano, Prabal Gurung, and Jonathan Simkhai still featured gorgeous garments as well as groundbreaking slogan tees. The influence of the 1970’s was still prevalent this season with the use of extravagant furs, bold colors and meticulous detailing. Christian Siriano and Prabal Gurung closed their shows with slogan tees that left a statement in the mind of the attendees. “People are People” was the stand out at Christian Siriano while Prabal Gurung had an array like “Revolution Has No Borders” and “I Am an Immigrant”. Jonathan Simkhai highlighted his beautiful designs on the runway, but attendees left with t-shirts that said “Feminist AF”.

Another common theme was drawn from patriotism. Designers like Coach, Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs all drew inspiration from America. Coach and Marc Jacobs both channeled the old school, New York hip hop scene for their collections. Coach even took it a step further by combining influences of the wild west in the garments as well as using a prairie as the runway. Raf Simons utilized the classic red, white and blue for his runway debut for Calvin Klein. His statement was less obvious but still effective as he closed his show with David Bowie’s “This is Not America”.
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Change is Coming… And It’s Under 30

It’s no secret that the world of fashion is evolving at a rate so fast that some of us are even having a hard time keeping up. Although, change is ultimately what the entire industry is built on; that craving for the latest and greatest is never quite satisfied. With media playing such a prevalent role in our consumption of fashion, change is moving faster and more drastically than ever before.

Vogue recently posted an article titled “Change is Coming: 13 Talking Points for an Evolving New York Fashion Week”. Change has been a rapid influx since the “see now, buy now” model was put into place by various designers then followed by NYFW heavy hitters’, like Rodarte and Tommy Hilfiger, decisions to show in other markets.

All of this led to my interest in talking point #1 “Is NYFW optional?” and #3 “Is NYFW more important than ever?”. My initial impression to these ever changing formats, whether it’s “see now, buy now” or outlandish forms of presentations, like Opening Ceremony’s display at the New York City Ballet, is a call for attention. With the overabundance of media coverage, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of various forms of coverage. It has nearly become a competition of who can stand out the most.

With that being said, it is more important than ever that brands are participating in NYFW. This the most covered and reputable access point for brands throughout the year. Even though the market is so saturated, it is not worth missing out on the opportunity to stay relevant to the consumer. The various presentations are now focused on grabbing the attention of the consumers rather than professionals. Whether they gather their information from Vogue Runway or Instagram, an intriguing presentation will get a brand notice. This format has truly risen the bar and now is the time for designers to take advantage of the opportunity to shine.

This change is not only relevant at New York Fashion Week but within the fashion industry as a whole. A prime example of this is in Forbes 30 under 30 2017 Arts & Style list. These professionals are making waves in the industry with their innovations across all platforms.

Julia Gudish Krieger, 28, is the founder of VillageLuxe. She describes it as “Rent the Runway” for your everyday wardrobe. They offer high-end items to their customers like Hermes Birkin bags and Chanel boots. It’s become so popular that there’s actually a waitlist of thousands, and you need an invitation just to join. She’s found the perfect way to maintain exclusivity of their products while still making them more accessible to a wider market.

Another young professional bringing change to the industry is James Charles. He’s only 17 but has achieved the ultimate beauty rank of a CoverGirl ambassador. As the first male ambassador, he is opening doorways for beauty influencers of all backgrounds to reach success. In fact, he is only a high school senior and a self-taught makeup artist. He goes to show that with enough passion and determination, the sky isn’t even the limit.

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Fashion in the Age of Technology

This past semester, I had the honor of working as the Managing Editor of Kent State’s fashion, beauty and culture publication, A Magazine. Our staff had so much collaborative talent, and I couldn’t be prouder to have been a part of that team.

After reading seemingly endless amounts of articles about the integration of technology in retailing, taking courses on media, and ELLE’s 2017 initiative of “Why You’re Going to Love Shopping Again”, I was inspired to write an article for A Magazine about the fading boundaries for readers who may not be as aware of these changes. If you’re not lucky enough to have access to our amazing print issue, check out the article below:

Welcome to the new world of retail. We suddenly blinked and entered an altered dimension of shopping. The barrier between the brick-and-mortar and digital experience has begun to fade, and this blurred line has created enough chaos to end the world of shopping as we know it. It’s brought us to one of the world’s largest retailers, Macy’s, set to close over 150 stores in 2017, yet Amazon is planning to open various brick and mortar locations. There’s been a takeover of pop-up shops sweeping the nation, while more and more designers have joined the “see now, buy now” bandwagon.
For all of this change, we have technology to thank. None of this is necessarily a bad thing, but it does call for adaption. In today’s economy, we’re all about experiential shopping and accessibility. With online retailing rapidly advancing, shoppers are exposed to an extensive array of colors, sizes and completely different styles than those offered in stores with a simple click of a button.
The behind-the-scenes look at online shopping shows us that retailers are embracing the use of metadata. Often referred to as cookies, metadata tracks anything from your most clicked on color to how often you shop for shoes. This information is used to tailor your shopping experience, even when you’re just browsing the web. Metadata is responsible for those sidebar ads that conveniently contain that skirt you were looking at earlier, so it’s always on your mind and in your shopping cart.
Online discount retailers are on the rise. Similar to the brick and mortar stores like Ross or Marshall’s, AreaTrend is one of the companies taking full advantage of the online retail trend. Since 2011, they have nearly tripled in size and offered us at A Magazine an insight to their digital success. They offer luxury products at a fraction of the cost, all while providing excellent customer service and expansive variety. By connecting with retail giants like Amazon, AreaTrend and others, online retailers are able to post their products on multiple platforms to be accessed by customers from around the world.
“The biggest advantage for online retailers is the customer base. With the right price, products and promotion, the customer base is seemingly infinite,” says Jordan Sweress, Retail Buyer for AreaTrend.
Without face to face contact with the customer, these retailers rely heavily on business analytics to predict what their customer is looking for and providing respected quality assure to their customers. It’s quick, easy, and comfortable for the buyer: the ultimate, modern retail combination.
These online retailers are using pop-up shops as a way to compete with already established retail locations. Businesses are coming to the customer versus waiting for the customer to come to them. Using these analytics, they are able to pinpoint places of interest to their frequent consumers.
There are also bloggers and new media techniques playing a key role in this. Social media allows potential consumers to see designers’ collections months in advance, but who really wants to wait to buy that must-have item? Avoiding the three-to-six month delay, this has caused designers to alter their previous business models to launch seasonal lines much earlier. Bloggers are constantly posting about what’s on trend at that very moment. With the tap of the screen, followers can purchase whatever item is showcased in real time. IBM Digital Analytics
have shown that there has been a 29 percent increase in mobile shopping since 2013, and that number is only rising.
This is a lot for the classic brick and mortar stores to compete with. Industry leaders, such as ELLE, are recognizing this. The magazine’s 2017 initiative is “Why You’re Going to Love Shopping Again”, which emphasizes the importance to shop local, integrating technology and psychology with the shopping experience.
A common goal is to have customers want to come into a store, since it is clearly not a need at this point in modern society. Malls used to represent a place to relax, socialize and of course, shop. To captivate the attention of the contemporary shopper, brick-and-mortar stores are adapting their ways to create an enriched experience. Many malls are attempting to turn a shopping trip into a whole day affair by offering restaurants, spas and movie theaters to capture the customer’s full attention.
An Infosys study showed that 78 percent of consumers are more likely to return to a store if they receive targeted, personalized offers. The emphasis on customer relations is what is pushing this shopping generation to the next level.
“Change in consumer buying patterns is having a transformative effect on current retail business models and new formats are emerging, although the essence of the retail business remains the same. Retail is the exchange of goods and services for money, with the customer in charge more than ever before,” says Marjorie Wachowiak, professor at The Fashion School and industry veteran.
The use of business analytics allows personalized retailing to better satisfy the customer’s needs much more efficiently and caringly than in the past. Targeted marketing comes into play here by offering consumers special coupons, promotions and VIP clubs, which increase the store’s foot traffic and return rate. This also includes warranties and guaranteed return policies to make customers more comfortable with their purchases. Customers are more likely to make those high profiting purchases if they feel they are getting a good value and are confident in their decision.
Solid customer service is key. Many retailers are reformatting their employee training policies to ensure that employees are knowledgeable, helpful and patient with customers. Retailers like TopShop and Nordstrom are offering in-store stylists to assist their customers in addition to their regular sales associates. Stylists work one-on-one with customers to guarantee the customer finds what they are looking for in the most efficient way, as well as making the customer feel comfortable with what they are purchasing.
Forecasting methods are also improving to more accurately depict what each store location needs in terms of selection, color, size and so on. The use of eye catching displays and fixtures throughout the store exemplifies what the customer can gain from shopping at that particular store. Store planners must take into consideration what that particular demographic is looking for when entering the store: certain locations require more “trend items” or larger array of sizes. This all boils down to understanding the customer, because shopping is ultimately about them.
Technology may be causing madness within the retail industry, but in the end, it only results in benefits to the consumers. Get your wallets ready for a whole new shopping experience.
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Teen Vogue x A Magazine Back-to-School Party

Out of the thousands of Teen Vogue IT Girls across the country, I was lucky enough to be chosen to host one of the thirty Teen Vogue Back-to-School events. Being an IT Girl has definitely been an honor. Thus far, I’ve been able to participate in exclusive product trials, be featured as IT Girl of the week, as well as attend Teen Vogue Fashion University, but this has been the cherry on top of a priceless experience. Of course, I chose to share this exciting opportunity with KSU’s Fashion & Lifestyle publication, A Magazine, where I work as the Managing Editor. Our fantastic team put our hard work and dedication together to make this event the best it could possibly be. We had our booth set at KSU’s Black Squirrel Fest which features over 200 organizations. Guests were encouraged to enter raffles by posting on social media with our hashtags, browse through various goodies gifted from Teen Vogue, and ask A Magazine staffers about what it’s like working for A. Kent’s massive student body, especially made up of fashion and media related majors, were the perfect prospects to introduce the latest must-haves from Teen Vogue. A huge thank to Teen Vogue, the amazing sponsors, A Magazine, and everyone who came out to celebrate the start of another incredible year at KSU!

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Trend Report: 2015/2016

As 2015 is coming to a close, it’s time to reflect back on the fashion trends that for some of us nearly broke the bank. The big question is: were they worth it? After careful research, here’s my list of trends that made the cut for 2016.

Trends to be left in 2015:

As fun as the 90’s comeback can be, there’s certain items that just aren’t adding any benefit to a woman’s wardrobe. Pieces like overly distressed denim, flatforms, and plastic chokers are adding more of a “tacky” feel than a real fashion moment. Sure, these items can done tastefully, but that’s the key. An edgy leather choker or clean, metallic choker can make an outfit. To continue these trends into 2016, it’s crucial to reevaluate if they’re really doing anything to complement your look or having the opposite effect.

Trends to welcome in 2016:

It looks like we’re in for an innovative year in fashion. There’s many trends from recent years making a comeback, but in a redefined way for 2016. Two years ago, cut outs were all the rage, but to the point where it took away too much class from a look. Designers are introducing the concept of showing skin in a more tasteful way this time around. Personally, I can’t get enough of the deep V neckline and cold shoulder looks seen on the Spring 2016 runways. Another trend that took 2015 by storm was the 70’s. Designers aren’t quite ready to let that end because even more suede and fringe took over collections this season. Finally, Pantone made a statement with their choices for colors of the year with Serenity and Rose Quartz. Not only are they beautiful, but go to show that the line between the segregation of men and women, especially in fashion, is fading.

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Trend Report: The 1970’s

As you’re flipping through a fashion magazine or browsing stores this season, you’ve probably noticed the immense take over of 70’s inspired fashion. The boho chic look is definitely an acquired taste, but certain pieces are fun to style and absolutely perfect for summer time.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite 1970’s inspired items:

Off the shoulder peasant blouse:

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$45 Asos

Suede Skirt:

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$30 Brandy Melville

Floral Shift Dress:

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$79 Brigitte Bailey

Fringe/Crochet Top:

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$38 Nasty Gal

Chunky Platform Heels:

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$110 Jessica Simpson