subject to the whims of fashion

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I just saw an ad for Gateway flat panel LCD TVs. It said, "Your big fat bloated TV went out of fashion with, well, big fat bloated TVs."

In The End of Fashion, Teri Agins says, "fashion, by definition is ephemeral and elusive, a target that keeps moving. ... Traditionally, the fashion system has revolved around the imperative of planned obsolescence." I doubt that original developers of CRTs were evilly plotting the introduction of LCDs 50 years later, though that's not to say that LCD manufacturers are above exploiting what now looks and feels like a dated technology.

Agins also says, "Today, a designerís creativity expresses itself more than ever in the marketing rather than in the actual clothes. Ö In a sense, fashion has returned to its roots: selling image. Image is the form and marketing is the function." Technology companies can play this game too. Apple's Think Different campaign from a few years back is a perfect example of this, as is Microsoft's pairing of Madonna and XP.

Such emphasis on design and marketing may not be surprising from companies that target the general public, but even Sun's mid- and high-end servers are designed with pretty purple details that remind me of running shoes.

Exponential growth in performance means that systems from six months ago are on their way to the junk heap anyway. Their longevity will only decrease as they are more frequently designed and used as fashion pieces. Have last season's iPod or a cell phone that is too large? Better get shopping!

What will the market look like when these devices are physically integrated into clothing?

1 Comments

One of the things that always bugged me about "fashion" is its propensity to become a tool of marketing. In my more cynical moments, I'd even assert that fashion exists solely as a force for putting social pressure on the general public to purchase products that they probably have little need for.

I think you've touched on this here, Kerry; e.g. the new thin iPods sure are desirable, but the old ones play music just as well.

I'd like to believe fashion primarily exists as a means of personal expression and a positive force for forming group identities, but I fear that your examples show that often this isn't the case.

Just my 0.02$...

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This page contains a single entry by published on August 24, 2003 11:25 AM.

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