Fashion in 280 characters or fewer

Fashion has found a new, but questionable form of communication

Image Caption: Viveka Herzum

There’s a new breed of fashion commentator – and no, it’s not the next round of budding freshers writing for Cherwell Fashion, such as myself (I know, I’m excited too) – it’s a social media phenomenon. High fashion twitter has been undercover too long not to be recognised for what it really is: bitchy, overbearing and bloody addictive.

If by any miracle you’re new to social media, fashion or just being opinionated in general, here’s what it is: HF Twitter is a circle of accounts, often hidden behind an icon of Daphne Groeneveld or Megan Fox, that comments on upcoming trends, reviews recent editorials and collections and promotes a glamourous yet unrealistic view of life all in 280 characters or less. In fairness to the community, it means I can keep up with the new SS18 collections far better via the endless colour co-ordinated photosets than by spending £4.50 on a magazine. I experienced practically the entire Victoria Secret 2017 show through a 30 second video, a picture of Candice Swanepoel retweeted 1000 times and, ironically, a singular thread explaining the evil machinations of the Victoria Secret Corporation.

But as with everything to do with social media, anonymity is dangerous. The come backs can be hurtful, unfair and personal and some of the debates are worse than talking about Brexit on a crew date. The world of HF Twitter gets bitchy. And I mean really (really really really) bitchy. I had my own dose of condescension when I outed a girl for calling a £150 La Mer eye cream ‘essential’. She told me ‘I agree if you don’t care about getting bags under your eyes you shouldn’t buy”. She’s right about one thing: the bags under my eyes are simply not worth spending £150. Those of us on a student budget cannot relate. That I can get over, but more than that, the community is free to join, but quickly becoming exclusive. Still, it’s a guilty pleasure of mine to sit back and enjoy reading quote tweet after quote tweet and threads venting about other threads. If you have a thick skin and are still intrigued, simply make a twitter account and follow the right people: look for handles with the brands ‘Dior’, ‘Gucci’ and ‘Prada’ paired with the words, ‘angel’ ‘fairy’ or ‘hoe’.

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When you love fashion, and want to talk about it, it’s almost too easy to get sucked in. It’s even easier to forget that these accounts are run from an age range of 12+, with unsurprisingly no credentials or experience. The best part is when a HF Twitter account truly believes they’re the glamazons they aspire to be and begin coaching on how to achieve this. Trying to clear some chronic acne? Well, by following the right accounts, you can get fully unqualified dermatological treatments including, but not limited to: ‘drink lots of water!’, ‘use Mario Bedascu rose water daily!’, ‘eat greens 5 times a day!’ They might even tell you which face wash is best for your star sign! Of course! It all seems so obvious now! It’s tiresome trying to ignore the not only fake but almost damaging health tips, especially when these accounts are run by girls, (and guys!) who’ve hardly hit hormonal acne. Somehow, they dream of becoming both the editor-in-chief of Elle magazine as well as doing nothing all day as a rich socialite, eating breakfast in bed and living in sweet, sunny Sorrento, Italy.

Now, I’m not shitting on dreams here and I’m not even one to say you can’t have it all – I’m just trying to keep a level head when ‘10 tips to an easier life’ are being relayed to me through incredibly abstract and probably toxic gifs from Sex and the City. Maybe it’s all a matter of attracting the lifestyle you try to project: if you retweet a picture of your icon wearing haute-couture then you might truly be able to afford haute-couture one day, right? It’s nice to feel glamorous. It might be even nicer to have your followers believe that you’re glamourous. Does it work? Should someone let them know? Probably not…but I digress.

Yet despite my criticism, I’m hooked. As an avid follower of the community, there is a lot to respect. High Fashion twitter definitely calls it as it is. Taking no nonsense when Kylie Jenner released her £300 makeup brushes, unearthing Naomi Campbell’s vindictive actions towards fellow models and employees, and withholding applause for the Balenciaga’s SS18 collection which literally sells ‘refugee’ clothes as luxury items. HF Twitter doesn’t sit around supporting everything it sees, and sometimes finds itself a venue for worthwhile discussion. With instantaneous access to commentary, you can vouch on someone saying what needs to be said. And if you’re passionate, why not?

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But where does this community stand in the world of fashion? What do they offer? How much do we care? Well, there is something unbelievably satisfying about being able to criticise an industry that is asking to be criticised. Fashion is not about how you look, but whether you look good. And this world of commentary does just that: they questioned Dolce and Gabbana’s AW17 collection, plastered with the supposed ‘favourite’ teen icon Justin Bieber, and saw straight through Kendall Jenner from the start – her lack of talent, experience and evident problems with using the same facial expression every time she is on the cover of Vogue. In some small ways, these accounts can go against the trends they’re told to like, the collections they’re told are good and the models they’re told are enough to show diversity on the runway. Suddenly there’s an opening to share your opinions, which is arguably what the fashion industry thrives on – although this space has been limited previously to the most elite people in the business. Commendably, these accounts even stand by their tweets and the opinions they share, they’ll defend them to the point of being blocked. Even Nietzsche said, “he who cannot put his thoughts on ice should not enter into the heat of dispute”: HF Twitter is always ready for a fight.

It’s not obvious yet how this small corner of the industry will affect the world of fashion, or what kind of legacy it will leave, if any – except the odd tweet that gets over 30k likes. High fashion will remain unobtainable to the masses, but the conversation is undoubtedly more accessible. Maybe they’re doing a better job than Vogue, Vanity Fair and dare I say it … even Cherwell?! What took me almost a 1000 words to say they’re doing in 280 characters or less.

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