In a recent interview with Dazed, fashion’s first backstage photographer Guy Marineau discusses the immense changes new media has brought to the industry. After 40 years photographing fashion behind-the-scenes and candidly, Marineau, now 70-years-old, is quite possibly the only authority who can truly shed light on this subject.

It seems now that fashion shows and street style are all smoke and mirrors; an industry that was once centered around art and quality now revolves around labels and advertising.

“Before the 1990s fashion week didn’t mean anything to anyone,” Marineau tells Dazed.

“That may come as somewhat of a surprise if you have experienced what is now the fashion week norm: a narrow, Parisian street outside a show, swollen with editors and Ubers, street-style photographers and their subjects, who linger with intent, smoking with a studied aloofness,” Dazed continues.

“This exact scene is re-enacted multiple times throughout the week, roughly four times a year per fashion capital, in what is perhaps emblematic of an increasingly chaotic, ever-expanding industry.”

Christy Turlington by Guy Marineau [source: Guy Marineau]

But, things didn’t always work that way. Not too long ago, fashion week was a completely different experience. In fact, it was an experience, period. Now, the four continuous weeks that make-up fashion month are more like a serious of pseudo-events documented on social media platforms by the starlets who occupy the front rows.

According to Dazed, “it was before this pre-internet, pre-street-style era that Marineau first began to document fashion week, unwittingly creating a template for much that we now take for granted.”

As bloggers, video bloggers (“vloggers”) and social media influencers begin to sport the styles shown on the runway during fashion month, true fans of fashion long for old school editorials–not sponsored content created to get likes and views, and increase sales, on Instagram or Snapchat.

“The atmosphere in 1980s fashion shows was completely different from today. Paris was a source of inspiration, it was a free, wild city without any real competition at the time. Backstage, there weren’t many people around, just models, the designer’s team, the dresser, prop masters, two or three hairdressers, very few make-up artists. Girls would generally do their own make-up,” Marineau tells Dazed.

“There was much more freedom than now. It was an era of unaffected, relaxed, happy and rather good-looking young women who would go and have lunch with us between two fashion shows. They were far from the unhealthy-looking models of today. Backstage, models would read literature while waiting for the show to begin, but today it’s been replaced by selfies. Taking your own picture by yourself or with others has become a way of life. But who am I to judge?”

Once upon a time, models were far from household names in the United States. Today, they have millions of social media followers and fans of all ages. Not to mention, they are now synonymous with celebrities. They no longer quietly read while waiting backstage; they snap pictures with one another to post across various social media platforms, which receive thousands of views within seconds.

“Professionals and fashion cognoscenti would attend the shows without knowing much. Unless they carefully read women’s magazines, they’d only notice events on the scale of Christian Dior’s New Look,” Marineau continues.

“Today, many people have unwittingly become fashion experts. But is it normal that fashion should change so often? Can it be said that fashion is a form of art reflecting both a specific time and society?”

Kate Moss by Guy Marineau [source: Guy Marineau]

This change brought about the need for more fashion photographers. As soon as backstage photography like Marineau’s became prominent, designers saw it as a successful means of advertising. Tempted by a growth in recognition and sales, both designers and photographers began trading their creativity and craftsmanship for acceptance by the mainstream media and mainstream consumers.

“Fashion photography became a job in the mid-1970s when houses like Saint Laurent and Calvin Klein decided to turn these presentations into a bigger event to advertise their fragrances. Now, it’s still about sales, but, for me, the charm is gone,” says Marineau.

“I used to see fashion as a large playground where you could experience the highest stress or the biggest joys. But it also was a unique and authentic opportunity to express who you are.”

Once cameras become more accessible and photography became a pastime for many, fashion photography changed immensely. But, despite the advancements in technology, the number of photographers in the fashion industry shrunk from 350 to approximately 15 in a span of approximately 30 years, according to Marineau.

“Every magazine, every paper, every press agency had their own photographer. So each of them had original images, a different angle, a different light, a different shot. In the 1980s there were about 350 of us, photographers approved by the Chambre Syndicale. Today there’s only about fifteen. Now all the magazines and websites all use the same pictures–bland, processed, edited images,” Marineau says.

“That means Vogue France can contain the same photos as Elle Germany, Brazilian Bazaar or Chinese Marie-Claire”

Gisele Bündchen by Guy Marineau [source: Guy Marineau]

Not only have cameras themselves changed, photography software has, too. Now, anyone with an iPhone and the photo-editing app VSCO can make editorial-worthy images. This has led to a very monotonous array of both backstage and street style images. Airbrush and other photo-altering tools designed to remove imperfections take away the uniqueness and the charm from an individual’s images.

“For me, there’s no merit in it anymore, because it’s no longer photography, it’s informatics. Post-production has become more important than the shooting itself. Photography, photos-graphos in Greek, means ‘writing with light.’ Software takes this ability away from you. You can be a very bad photographer and a good Photoshop user, so you’ll still deliver images,” Marineau continues.

“It’s become too simple, too easy.”

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If you are active on Instagram, a photo-centric social media platform, it is highly likely you’ve seen your favorite celebs and influencers promote FitTea: an online-based brand known for its tea detoxes, i.e., “teatoxes,” that the brand claims promote weight loss. Kylie Jenner and big sis Kourtney Kardashian (with 90.5 million and 55.2 million Instagram followers, respectively) are two of the many well-known FitTea promoters.

According to The Fashion Law, the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) began investigating FitTea last year, “after receiving complaints from consumers regarding [the company’s] posting of disclosure-less endorsements and unsubstantiated health claims.”

“Upon initiating an investigation of FitTea, NAD claims that the company modified its website to include the ‘#ad’ disclosure on the paid-for Instagram endorsements, and vowed to require paid endorsers to disclose their connection to the company and to monitor posts to ensure compliance,” The Fashion Law continues.

“Moreover, the NAD held that FitTea should separate its endorsements and testimonials from its authentic product reviews on its website, as well as to prominently distinguish which reviews on its website are authentic user reviews and which are not.’”

Source: [Instagram user @kyliejenner]

But, proper advertising practices and transparent disclosures are only half the battle. FitTea is also under fire for false weight-loss and other health-related claims.

“The NAD criticized the content of some FitTea’s paid for endorsements, namely ones that assert that consuming FitTea helps to promote with weight loss,” according to The Fashion Law.

Per The Fashion Law, the NAD decision states, “While the diet and exercise program that FitTea promotes to customers who purchase FitTea might result in weight loss or other weight-related health improvements, there was no evidence in the record that drinking FitTea by itself will boost metabolism, boost immunity, burn fat or otherwise result in weight loss.”

Upon its findings, the NAD stated that FitTea should abstain from publishing or re-publishing the false weight-loss testaments on its website.

Despite the issues at hand, “none of the influencers at issue, such as the Kardashian/Jenners, actresses Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Bella Thorne, Lindsay Lohan and Sarah Hyland, among others, [as well as] the huge array of Instagram famous models, were named in the action,” according to The Fashion Law.

“As such, the burden falls exclusively on the advertising company [i.e., FitTea] to ensure that the individuals it is paying disclose properly.”

Kourtney Kardashian promotes FitTea [source: The Fashion Law]

Detox teas are not the only web-based brand falsely promoting such claims. In fact, Galore points out that diet pills like QuickTrim, Instagram-famous waist trainers and body wraps (such as those from It Works!) are all guilty of deceptive advertising.

“Nowadays there are endless diet tips and weight loss supplements out there, all promising to help us lose weight and live happier, healthier lives. It’s tough to figure out what’s the real deal and what isn’t. But there’s one marketing ploy that’s always a red flag, and it looks like this: ‘When combined with a healthy diet and exercise,’” Galore writer Kayla Jackson points out.

“If a product will only help you lose weight ‘when combined with a healthy diet and exercise,’ then guess what? That product isn’t doing jack shit. It’s the healthy diet and exercise that are making you lose weight, not [whichever] garbage product you’re combining it with.

Jackson spoke with exercise physiologist and nutritionist Dr. Bill Sukala to confirm the issue.

“Just because something is sold over the counter does not automatically mean that it’s been vetted by health authorities and has been deemed safe or effective,” Sukala tells Jackson.

“Losing weight the natural way through exercise and eating healthy is and always has been the smartest and cheapest way to ensure success.”

Jackson specifically explains the problem with body wraps from pyramid schemes like It Works! While they do in fact promote weight loss on their own (i.e., sans diet and exercise), all of it comes from water weight.

“Once you rehydrate the weight that is lost comes right back,” Jackson says.

“This product is a quick fix if you want to lose weight immediately, but the results do not last long at all.”

However, both Jackson and Sukala find detox teas the most problematic of all the Insta-famous dieting fads.

“Once a person has lost weight from a ‘detox’, [he or she] will inevitably gain it back in short time,” Sukala says.

“This is because most of the weight loss was in the form of feces and fluid. If the person was dieting and drastically cutting calories, then there might have been some fat loss, but probably also a loss of valuable metabolism-boosting muscle.”

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Knockoffs are all too common in the world of fashion–especially now that social media allows retailers to have an inside look at their competitors’ inner workings.

The latest high-profile lawsuit, involving New York-based swimwear brand Kiini and famed lingerie powerhouse Victoria’s Secret, was settled late last month, despite the fact it was filed in October 2015.

“According to Kiini’s complaint, Victoria’s Secret produced a bathing suit that looked ‘virtually indistinguishable’ to its original bikini design. Though the terms of the settlement are confidential, the [law]suit is worth reflecting on,” The Fashion Law writes.

“Kiini, which has gained a ‘cult-like following and is known for the original, distinct, copyright-protected swimwear designs,’ initiated the action against the lingerie giant for copyright infringement, trade dress infringement, and unfair competition.”

There are tons of Kiini dupes on the online market from small web-based boutiques nowadays, but when a retail giant like Victoria’s Secret blatantly copies a high-end swimwear brand, there are several complex lessons to be learned.

Kiini original bikini [source: Lyst]

Victoria’s Secret dupe [source: Bikini Mecca]

“As Kiini set forth in its complaint, Victoria’s Secret allegedly marketed and sold an infringing copy of Kiini’s well-known bikini design ‘in the pursuit of its own self promotion and profit, and to Kiini’s unfair harm and detriment,'” The Fashion Law continues.

“The Kiini swimsuit in question–which is stocked by high end retailers, such as Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman and Net-A-Porter, and retails for $165 for a top and $120 for a bottom–has ‘become a much sought after bikini.'”

The pricey bikinis, worn in a number of editorials, as well as by celebrities like Heidi Klum and Cara Delevingne, are known for their amazing attention-to-detail and stunning bohemian design are obviously of the highest quality. Not to mention, they are ultimately a product of Ipek Irgit’s, the brand’s founder and creative director, intellectual property.

“Irgit obtained federal copyright protection for the bikini design in December 2014, making Kiini the ‘sole and exclusive owner to all right, title and interest in and to the copyright to the design,'” according to The Fashion Law.

“The brand alleges that in addition to enjoying federal copyright protection, it has developed trade dress rights, as ‘the purchasing public has come to associate the distinct Kiini trade dress with Kiini, and Kiini trade dress has achieved secondary meaning.'”

The trade dress at hand?

“[It] consists of: ‘1) a triangle profile bikini; 2) a distinctive, rectangular crochet pattern that borders the edges of the bikini; 3) the rectangular geometric pattern is doubled at the bottom edge of the bikini top, and the top edge of the bikini bottom; 4) bright color blocking resulting from a woven interlaced pattern of contrasting colored and textured material, specifically elastic and crochet yarn; and, 5) the bikini top’s upright triangle profile and the bikini bottom’s upside down triangle profile,'” according to The Fashion Law.

“For the uninitiated, trade dress extends to the total image of a product and can be based on shape, size, color, texture and graphics. In order to be eligible for trade dress protection, a design must serve as a non-functional identifier of source.”

Furthermore, “per Kiini, the triangle designs featured on the bathing suit at issue are in no way functional and that ‘the only reason to copy the Kiini trade dress is to attempt to trade off its goodwill and draw sales away from Kiini. This is exactly what [Victoria’s Secret] has unfairly and unlawfully done here.'”

Unsurprisingly, this is not Victoria’s Secret’s first rodeo. In 2012 the California-born, Ohio-based lingerie retailer was sued by Zephyrs, a hosiery supplier, for selling shoddy versions of their designs.

“Zephyrs filed a complaint in federal court in Ohio charging the lingerie behemoth with using images of its products on packaging and in-store product displays, while selling a cheaper version of the product inside,” according to The Huffington Post.

“In a nutshell, Victoria’s Secret used to sell Zephyrs’ Italian-made hosiery, but cut ties with them, switched to a Canadian supplier and allegedly didn’t change images or text on the packaging, except for adding a ‘Made In Canada.’ In addition to the $15 million for breach of contract, Zephyrs is also seeking “corrective advertising” and a recall of the accused products.”

The parties settled out of court for an undisclosed amount and “mutually agreed to dismiss the claims and counterclaims with prejudice,” according to The Fashion Law.

More recently, in 2015, Victoria’s Secret began copy-catting Triangl, another upscale swimwear brand. The distinct sporty swimsuits feature thick black lines that separate blocks of bold colors. Via social media platforms like Twitter, The Fashion Law then went on to explain that Australia-based Triangl is the one of world’s most-copied swimwear brands.

Flipping through Victoria’s Secret’s catalogs or strolling through a brick-and-mortar store, nearly anyone in the fashion or retail industries will notice the company frequently knocks-off designs from high-end brands like Kiini, Triangl and Gooseberry Intimates, a world-class French lingerie label.

“Kiini goes on to bolster its claim by stating that it is not the only one who noticed the similarities between its designs and the Victoria’s Secret copies. According to Kiini’s complaint, ‘several discerning customers have generated electronic content posted on popular social media, referring to the Victoria’s Secret copy-infringing design, and stating: ‘totally Kinii [sic] knock off,’ ‘Kiini copiers,’ and ‘Victoria’s Secret knock off Kiini,'” writes The Fashion Law.

“The complaint continues on to note that the similarities between its design and the Victoria’s Secret copy gave rise to actual confusion amongst consumers and offered evidence that consumers ‘queried on photos’ of the Victoria’s Secret copy, asking: ‘Is this a Kiini swimsuit or a Victoria’s Secret?’ Victoria’s Secret allegedly ignored the customer comments ‘chiding it for stealing the Kiini design, and they continue to intentionally market and sell their imitations.'”

Despite the number of copyright- and patent- based lawsuits Victoria’s Secret has faced, it seems the company is not slowing down its infringing design procedures. However, The Fashion Law makes an interesting point regarding the company’s practices:

“Interestingly, in the time since [Kiini] filed suit, Victoria’s Secret has folded its swimwear division entirely to focus exclusively on lingerie and loungewear.”

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Anyone who uses social media is familiar with the concept of memes. But, no one expected to see memes created and published by an esteemed high-end retailer in lieu of a traditional ad campaign.

According to Google, a meme is “a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.” Earlier this month, luxury brand Gucci began utilizing memes to advertise their newest campaign, dubbed #TFWGucci. (For those of you who are not social media savvy, “TFW” is an acronym meaning “the feel when.”)

A scroll through Gucci’s Instagram profile (@gucci) reveals a slew of popular memes repurposed and aimed at its luxury consumers. Many followers were slightly shocked to see Gucci’s memes on their Instagram feeds.

After all, “it’s kind of a well-known fact that the fashion world, particularly the luxury goods industry, has been slow to adopt technology. And then it moved at a snail’s pace to get on social media,” according to Dash Hudson, a company that focuses on Instagram return on investment (ROI) for many big-name brands.

“Luxury labels have been getting by on these platforms thanks to name recognition, but as Instagram evolves and various content trends come and go, it is indeed becoming increasingly imperative for them to start shifting their thinking toward devising social-first strategies.”

By implementing this unique strategy, Gucci instantly set itself apart from its competitors, who do not keep up with social media content trends, such as memes.

“A lot of luxury brands don’t really appear to have a concise social strategy in place and just go about it according to their HQ’s marketing activities,” Dash Hudson continues.

Luxury fashion brands tend steer clear of mainstream trends, on social media or otherwise, in order to maintain their aloof, exclusive personas. So, it is no surprise that it came as, well, a surprise, with the Italian fashion house took on the quirky trend full-force.

[source: Dash Hudson]

The second post of Gucci’s entire meme campaign features a watch showing through a torn suit sleeve, captioned “When you got that new watch and have to show it off.”

With an engagement rate of 1.34 percent, according to Dash Hudson, this post sits in second place among the Gucci account’s top 4 highest performing posts of all time–second only to another #TFWGucci post. The third and fourth place posts are not associated with this campaign.

Gucci’s highest performing post of all-time, by a margin of .21 percent, is a close-up shot of a female model adorned with what appears to be Gucci-inspired temporary tattoos. Her hand and face are covered in drawn-on tags: an Instagram feature used to identify who’s who in a given picture.

“The top 2 memes from the campaign actually became [Gucci’s] top 2 most engaged posts of all-time, dethroning [a snapshot of] the Obamas,” according to Dash Hudson.

[source: Dash Hudson]

Followers are obviously responding well to this unconventional ad campaign, but, like the old phrases says, no good deed goes unpunished. Or, in this case, uncriticized. Fashion enthusiasts all over the world took to social media (of course) to speak out on Gucci’s new campaign.

“I’m not upset that Gucci is making memes now. I’m upset because the memes are bad,” @robesman writes via Twitter.

“These Gucci memes are not funny [and] really not relatable,” adds @erikabowes.

“I’m sure it sounded dope when they were brainstorming, but Gucci’s meme campaign is one of the lamest things I’ve ever seen,” @Sipho_Says writes.

Still, some fans of the brand are unsure how they feel about its new ad campaign.

“Gucci made itself a meme account, and I can’t decide if I love it or hate it,” @rubykburns tweets.

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If you’ve ever ordered something online and it arrived looking completely different, you are not alone. And, this is especially true if you’ve ordered from a high-end retailer like Net-A-Porter.

“In addition to Photoshopping their models, retailers Photoshop their clothes, too,” according to Galore. “At least Net-A-Porter does.”

On March 8, “Net-A-Porter accidentally uploaded a photo of a puffy coat with retouching notes on their website,” Galore continues.

[source: Cosmo]

According to the notes, the puffy coat was too puffy; “Please slim” was written with four arrows pointing towards different problem areas on the garment.

“A few hours later, Net-A-Porter realized [its] mistake and switched out the picture, but by then it was too late.”

Net-A-Porter replaced the marked-up image with a similar one; this time, however, the notes were removed and there was no apparent retouching, according to Cosmo.

“We post images that accurately represent the garments so that customers receive the product they expect,” Net-A-Porter told Cosmo in response to the incident. “This image was uploaded to our product page in error and the notes refer exclusively to the garments.”

[source: Cosmo]

It makes you wonder, if a luxury retailer like Net-A-Porter can get away with photoshopping garments that cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, what are fast fashion retailers getting away with?

But, according to Marine Michel, a former a professional retoucher for a German luxury retailer similar to Net-A-Porter, high-end retailers use photoshop much more often than their low-end counterparts.

“[Low-end retailers] do it way less…I notice these things now when I go on [the] online shops,” Michel tells Galore.

“In the UK we have Boohoo, which is quite cheap, and it doesn’t look that retouched…Maybe a little bit of skin retouching, but [it is] very finely done. The same [is true] for H&M; it’s not that bad. But when you go to luxury retailers, then you realize how much they do it.”

So, what exactly do these high-end e-commerce sites retouch?

According to Michel, it is everything from stains to stitches to zippers.

“[Retouchers make] the clothes look a little better quality and [they make] the fabric look nicer…Sometimes you have this fabric cloth where you can immediately see through it from shitty online shops,” Michel continues.

“When the girl is wearing a dress and she has her legs slightly apart and you can see through the dress, you know [it] is a bad polyester fabric. Well, we would color it in so it would look like nice heavy material.”

“I mean the dress might cost 500 bucks, but it’s still shit quality, that doesn’t change anything. But we gotta sell it, so we gotta make it look good.”

Boohoo does not attempt to hide that this 100 percent viscose dress, embroidered with 100 percent polyester, is see-through, $28 [source: Boohoo]

Certainly, there is some level of unethical behavior at play here, but are these practices legal? I spoke with Sophia Bagienski-Mangual, sales manager of a small clothing company and Fashion Institute of Technology alumna, to uncover the truth.

“Photographers definitely touch the photos up big time,” Bagienski-Mangual says. Special, more flattering lighting also plays a large role in the images e-commerce websites use, she says, however, her company no longer advertises.

“When we did shoot some of our styles, we pinched them from the back to make them fit the models better. As far as better fabrics, it would depend on the item itself. If it were a polyester blend, we would [photograph] silk or another high-end fabric.”

As long as the retailers do not claim to sell garments made of silk or other luxury fabrics, they are in the clear. That is, the items’ descriptions on e-commerce sites must clearly state what exactly the customers receive when they order a garment, even if the images themselves do not match the fabric compositions listed.

“We knock-off styles all the time from high end lines; we just pick less expensive fabrics,” Bagienski-Mangual adds.

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