Social Web & our increasingly generic culture

I think today a lot of consumers talk about wanting to be unique and having their personal style, but in actual fact, almost everyone belongs to one of a few sub-groups of style. Since fashion went digital, everyone has access to the same information at the same time. And a lot is still very influenced by what goes on at the large luxury houses. Most shopping centres and main shopping streets have the same stores — many of them vertical retailers owned by multinational corporations who all have the same goal: to make money and expand. In order to do so, they have to look at what trends can be adapted for the mass market, which means the products are pretty much the same everywhere…..It’s all about the packaging and the advertising, [and] ultimately the brand experience. — Jörgen Andersson, co-global chief marketing officer at Uniqlo & former chief marketing officer at H&M in conversation with the Business of Fashion.

Jörgen Andersson’s comments encapsulate the truth about our connected planet and our increasingly generic culture. Two years ago, I observed the rise of new brands and the New New Globalization and noted that:

  • Planet is more connected because of the Internet and that allows brand messaging to spread much faster.
  • The consumers are more global.

Since then Twitter is bigger. Instagram is bigger. Pinterest is bigger and Facebook is bigger. We are taking photos of the world around us a sharing them with the planet. Today, the culture and cultural trends spread at light speed, replicated, reformed and are adopted at network speed. It has made standing out much harder and only very few can standout.

“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months” Oscar Wilde once said. Make that every six weeks! I am not a fan of big chains like Uniqlo or H&M and the whole fast fashion movement that is thriving because we are a planet of constantly changing tastes, creating waste in our wake.

From the 1900s to 1950s, American consumers spent approximately 12-14% of their annual income on clothing. Today, we spend about 3%. But our closets are actually bigger. The average American house has doubled in size since the 1950s and closet space has increased, too, particularly with the advent of the walk-in closet in the 1980s. We likely have more than five times as many clothing items as we did in the first part of the 20th century. (Quartz)

After years of rampant consumerism, I have slowly embraced the idea of owning fewer and fewer things. I like the idea of fewer and better clothes. Clothes, are merely a manifestation of what’s on our minds. The more cluttered my mind got, the more cluttered my closet did. When I asked myself the question, why I was doing a certain things.


“Life should always be moving towards more simplicity rather than more complexity,” Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard once said. And it started with moving into a smaller apartment, with less closet space. It pushed me to reconsider how much I wanted to own and why, I wanted own something. Every month I try and get rid of few things, making space in my life for things that bring true joy — often from new experiences. (I make an exception for shoes, which are my one true addiction, a better and less expensive one compared to smoking.)

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