Written By:Liana Fahie
For some fashion means throwing on whatever they can find on their bedroom floor, for others, it is a means of self-expression, and for a select few it’s their life. Most of us are in some way a part of the fashion world whether we like it or not. After all, for the most part, public nudity is illegal. However what seems to differentiate fashion lovers is that fashion is never about conformity, its viewed as an art form up for open interpretation rather than a simple “oh that top looks good with those pants.” It’s a language of its own as well. From clothing cuts to designers to even models, it’s quite a task for a fashion outsider to keep up with.
The forum that I chose to observe is called Fashion Spot. It is a fashion website that was established in 2006. It contains articles about fashion, beauty, celebrities, and the latest trends. They post interviews with various influential people in the fashion and entertainment world and behind the scenes shoots with models at various fashion shows.
One unique element about The Fashion Spot is their coverage of fashion weeks. The site either hosts web-streams themselves or finds streams of a large percentage of the runway shows. The best attribute of this feature is that it is not limited to members. This helps to drive traffic towards the site during a time when others are interested heavily in the new looks for the upcoming season. In addition, those attracted to the site by the streams can get drawn in to the features that the other content on the site has to offer and thus The Fashion Spot can increase the amount of consistent users to their site.
What type of people are there?
For starters the membership process is very different from most other sites. You have two ways of getting in. You either get a member to invite you in or you can fill out an application to get on the waiting list for membership. Even through this selective process, membership is not guaranteed. Not all members are eligible to invite members into this community. The oldest members are the ones granted this honor. Their members are mostly people in the industry such as photographers, stylists, designers, shop owners, pattern makers, and what they call “influencer members.” Influencer members are those members who aren’t in the industry but appreciate fashion. The Fashion Spot seems to be very strict on adhering to structuring itself mainly on fashion and beauty. Other discussions are not welcome. While there is talk about celebrities it is always fashion based talk rather than celebrity gossip. If they desire more members in a specific geographical location to have membership then invitations for people in that area become more open. Community and connections are strongly encouraged. After 45 days of socializing with other members, some of the newer members then are awarded invitation rights. Members who invite people who were previous banned members or spammers are at risk for getting their membership revoked. Membership requirements on their website are as follows:
Attributes we are looking for in new members:
- LOVE fashion & LIVE fashion.
- Trendsetters and influencers amongst their peers.
- Always seeking more info on fashion trends, products & news.
If you are denied membership, you are not notified.
What are the values the people have?
Members of this forum are extremely dedicated to fashion. While this forum does encourage learning and having an open mind one cannot join this forum without a substantial amount of knowledge of fashion. While they are more than eager to help you learn certain things there are some general things that you should know, such as certain designers. Also I’ve noticed that people are very respectful towards each other. It creates a very comfortable environment for spreading ideas
What ideas are accepted without evidence?
Most ideas are generally accepted without evidence. It is an open-minded community. It’s one of the requirements to join there. Everyone does not necessarily have the same tastes when it comes to fashion; members have to be respectful of that. It’s an environment that promotes new ideas, although they may be bizarre at times. Originality is greatly encouraged. Yet it’s an odd concept considering that everyone has something to offer in the form of a new idea yet some are rejected based on decision of the website.
What type of rhetorical appeals do they find credible (ethos, pathos, logos)?
Due to the excruciating membership process, it is naturally assumed that all the members would know a substantial amount of information. Therefore members rely on each other for advice without knowing them because they feel that the membership process is excruciating enough to weed out “amateurs.” It’s hard to pin logos and pathos to a fashion blog. Fashion is mainly opinionated.
What types of behavior are policed (trolling, reposts, religious discussion)?
In this community members are very encouraged to interact with others in their community. One would assume that lurking is frowned upon. A non-member can lurk but more activity is required of members. Reposts are also closely regulated. Anything that is not fashion or beauty related is immediately deleted. Membership could be revoked and reconsidered if a member is caught spamming or being rude to other members.
Yu-Chu Yeh cites Chang with identifying ten basic elements that a structured social network should posess. Those elements are “participants, shared visions, devices, services, rules, relations, manners, learning domains, learning goals, and learning activities(Yu-Chu,140).” Yeh also cites the most utilized roles are that of information providers, opinion providers, and troublemakers(Yu-Chu,149). However in fashion spot troublemakers are quickly eliminated so they don’t play a role worth mentioning. Interaction is especially important because it shows the level of membership commitment. The exclusivity of this community creates such an illusion that attracts many. Membership commitment also can be explained by the social exchange theory (Byoungho,591). Gaining membership is often times a drawn out process at this forum. In a world where it’s so simple to join any site without a process this is seen as a rarity. This therefore makes it seem more attractive to applicants and adds feelings of prestige once they gain entrance in. While it does not monetarily cost prospects to gain entrance, there is much to be gained from acceptance, such as helpful tips, a chance to interact with other members with way more experience and exposure to the industry. This possibly can be seen as a place where many connections that lead into great opportunities could be found that would be difficult to find elsewhere.
To conclude, this quote from the Devil Wears Prada summarizes the fashion world’s effect on everyone, even those who don’t believe it effects them. Andrea, Miranda Priestly’s fashion challenged assistant states that she feels that the belts all look the same and doesn’t understand the fuss over them. Miranda then responds by saying:
“This… stuff’? Oh. Okay. I see.Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select… I don’t know… that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.”- The Devil Wears Prada
Byoungho, Jin, Park Jin Yong, and Kim Hye-Shin. “What makes online community members commit? A social exchange perspective.” Behaviour & Information Technology 29.6 (2010): 587-599. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 27 Feb. 2011.
Yu-Chu, Yeh. “Analyzing Online Behaviors, Roles, and Learning Communities via Online Discussions.” Journal of Educational Technology & Society 13.1 (2010): 140-151. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 27 Feb. 2011.