Independent fashion could be the new voice of the times

In his recent book, Peru Unbound: An American Nation-State (eds. Ramel Bradley and Elizabeth Deutsch), indie designer Ramel Bradley attempts to make sense of the complicated politics behind independent fashion in Lima, Peru.

Although many fashion enthusiasts are familiar with the work of Christian Audigier, few have paid attention to the internal politics of independent fashion in Lima until now.

The authors maintain that the independent fashion design within Peru constitutes the many voices and diver currents of this multidimensional diaspora. They describe how such a diaspora arises through social, cultural, and economic circumstances-and they offer an international readership with which to understand this largely transnational creative tradition.

Bradley rightly claims to offer “a different vision of fashion.”

His arguments build on those advanced by Peter Savoie and others who argue that contemporary designers have become isolated within their studios and fail to appreciate the influence of the larger fashion industry.

As such, they argue, they have jeopardized their overall success by refusing to acknowledge and critique its workings. Independent designer fashion is therefore the precondition for survival of independent fashion in Lima.

Independent designers to shape the industry

What makes independent fashion design relevant in terms of the future of the fashion industry?

Bradley contends that while the global economy provides the foundation for most of today’s high-fashion designers, it also serves as a filter through which high-fashion designers can parasitically benefit from the structures of the system.

On the contrary, independent designers are at a strategic advantage because they have the ability to circumvent the high-costs of advertising. Instagram is now firmly established as the base platform for indie designers, and everyone can be heard there if they have enough skills to handle their social media accounts well.

Traditional advertising can be used to marginalize independent designers and push the more insular companies into mainstream fashion. But independent designers have the potential to create a unique niche for themselves and, as such, are capable of providing a new market for the overall fashion industry. See Xiao Li’s work for a prime example of that.

To put it simply, independent fashion designers should “resist the temptation to fall into the trap of belonging to just one industry or label.”

Independent fashion design should be full of innovation

The good news is that the internet has opened up numerous opportunities for small and independent fashion designers.

One underused way for small businesses to promote themselves is to launch a blog and then promote their clothing through various social media platforms.

Blogs can act as an effective vehicle for independent designers because they offer a platform whereby independent designers can make their designs known to the world and build a credible reputation as they go about creating innovative new designs. The effect of blogging can be even magnified when combined with state-of-the-art technology setup that cuts the costs at the same time.

Another avenue for small businesses is to set up an online store where they can sell unique items such as T-shirts, jewelry, and bags. Online stores listed on Google Maps give small businesses the ability to reach to a local audience and, as such, increase their chances of profiting from their designs.

Bottom line

Independent fashion designers can use the internet to build a loyal customer base.

Let’s just reiterate though that while the internet can be a valuable tool for promoting independent fashion design, it does not replace the need for real-world independent fashion design venues such as fashion shows, runway shows, and fashion weeks.

Fashion is a reflection of culture and zeitgeist, after all.