How Technology has Shifted the Fashion and Publishing Industry

New technologies have been morphing the creative industries. The publishing industry has gained new tools and faced new players due to advances in technology. The fashion industry has similarly faced new challenges. These industries share some common woes such as the decline of physical stores and the increase in online shopping. Technology has created power shifts in both industries from creators to consumers and vice versa. The Publishing and fashion industry are adapting to the new technologies. With all the new software and hardware, technology looks like it is driving both industries to its roots.

Technology has changed the way the creators of both industries work. Fashion designers are sharing their designs on social media. Brands such as Saks Fifth Avenue are using the data gathered by social media to help with their inventory. Cowen (2012) shares in The Guardian how “Carla Dunham of Saks Fifth Avenue talked about how social media is helping to shape their retail lines. For instance, they might post a new designer shoe to their Facebook Page and, based on the response, they would know whether to boost stock levels in preparation”. Social media is becoming a tool that the fashion industry is embracing more than the publishing industry. From New York to Milan to London annual fashion weeks were events that were highly exclusive. With the rise of new platforms like Twitter and Instagram these elite events are now being opened to the masses. Brands are even experimenting with ‘one click’ buy buttons for pieces that are coming down the catwalk. There are several new companies that have started up due to the synergy of technology and fashion. Decoded Fashion is a company that host events that bring together top fashion industry experts and technology experts. Following the styles of fashion week, Decoded occurs yearly in different fashion hubs around the world. Their London 2015 Summit highlighted how the potential for personalization for brands is growing progressively. The more recent Tokyo Summit explored consumer-creator evolution and fan content.

Writers can now interact with their audiences via social media programs such as Facebook and Twitter. Authors can also gain feedback about ongoing work. The definition of an author is also being blurred by new technology and self published works are on the rise. Fanfiction sites such as Fan Fiction or WattPad allows anyone to put their own spin on popular titles. The concept of fan fiction and self-publishing is not new but has accelerated with the growth and spread of the Internet.

The creation of self-publishing could pose a threat to large publishing houses, but this has not been the case. Big publishers are using the websites as channels to find authors and new titles. These authors already have a fan base and so the marketing and promotion budget can be low. The fashion industry may not go scouting for new designers online but designers can gather inspiration on the Internet.

Sharing and connecting worldwide is not just a click away. Both industries have been subjected to piracy and copyright infringement before but each industry has different views and methods. The fashion industry is a more open industry and some view the copying as challenges to create something brand new. Johanna Blakley explains in her talk 2010 TedxUSC talk how fashion does not worry about copyright and piracy as much as other creative industries such as music and film. A key point that she makes is that counterfeit and knock off designs will not affect brands, because they are not the market that buys pricey luxury goods.

Fast fashion has emerged from the trend of ‘copying’ and ‘borrowing’ designs. These retailers such as Zara and H&M take runway fashion and make it cheaper and more affordable by outsourcing the manufacturing and other technologies to create product when there is demand. This type of fashion is growing exponentially. New technologies are allowing this part of the fashion industry to thrive.

The publishing industry has not welcomed the ease of sharing with open arms. Copyright and plagiarism has been a battle that publishers have been fighting for decades. However with new technologies of e-book and digital files it is easier to copy and distribute works. Thompson (2012) explains how publishers have three ways to protect themselves: security, policing and proactive supplying to the market. Security involves the use of DRM (Digital Rights Management) for electronic works. Policing is a bit harder to achieve due to the prolific websites, blogs and forums. Thompson (2012) also notes how publishers have to be flexible with formats. He states “nothing would do more to stimulate illegal trade in electronic files than an inability…[to adapt] to genuine demand for content on reading devices” (pg. 367).

The changes to copyright and piracy are handled by each industry differently. The fashion and publishing industry do have a common battle with new technological advances. Both industries have seen a decline in their brick and mortar stores and an increase in their zeros and ones binary walls. Now exclusively online retailers such as ASOS (As Seen On Screen) from the UK are entering the retail market. Companies have no choice but to have physical stores and online stores because online shopping is on the rise. E-commence is booming and new players are emerging in the retail landscape. Clothing manufactures can directly sells goods to customers and so can publishers (Thompson, 2012). There is no need for intermediaries such as stores when a web programmer can build a store online, which cost little to nothing compared to a physical store.

Niemer (2013) writes in Reshaping Retail: Why Technology is Transforming the Industry and How to Win in the New Consumer Driven World how manufacturers are not the only new contenders. Logistics companies such as Fed Ex are aggregating items and selling them, magazines have more editorial commerce on their pages and consumers are selling to each other via sites like Ebay (Niermer & Zocchi, 2013).

The publishing industry has gone through the same tribulations as the fashion industry. One retailer that is a key e-commerce player in both industries is Amazon. Amazon started as a bookseller but has spread to a broader base of consumer goods. Amazon aim is to get consumers to buy off their website which means undercutting other websites and stores. In the publishing industry Amazon is selling books and e-books with large discounts even losing revenue with each book purchase. Thompson (2012) explains how Amazon and other large online companies, “[used] book content as a lever to drive the sales of its hardware” (pg. 369). This is referring to how e-books were sold by Amazon for only $9.99 with the purchase of a Kindle. This pricing model has publishers worried because it devalues the price of the book. In the fashion and retail industry Amazon is creating competition and lowering prices through their Price Checker App. This application scans barcodes of products and shows if the consumer can buy it at a reduced price online (Niermer & Zocchi, 2013). Amazon and other companies now control the bargaining reins when it comes to deals with publishers and manufacturers. If brands and publishers want their products on Amazon’s virtual shelves they have to follow amazon’s style and rules.

A technological advance that the fashion industry has capitalized on is information. Niermer & Zocchi, (2013) defines big data as “data for which the scale, distribution, diversity, and/or timeliness of delivery require the use of new technical architectures and analytics to enable insights that unlock new sources of value” (pg. 69). Retailers are gathering more information on their customers to advertise and sell them products that have been tailored to their likes and needs. Gross (2013) explains how retailers must adapt an ‘omnichannel strategy’ that complies data from physical stores, online websites, mobile devices to create a custom shopping experience to customers. Stores can track spending habits and what particular items are being purchased. Duhigg (2012) wrote an expose about how companies are learning our secrets. Marketing departments are hiring analytics and data specialists to compile and find patterns in customer data. Customer data is collected through loyalty point cards, credit cards, phone applications that give coupons and even postal codes that some retailers ask for during checkout. Duhigg (2012) writes about how Target created a pregnancy prediction model that would calculate if a woman was pregnant by the goods that she purchased in store. This model is not directly a part of the fashion industry but similar models can be created. We now have applications and tools that tell us what to buy at a lower price (Amazon Price Checker) and can find out almost instantly where an article of clothing is from. Whether it is on a television show or a movie or just the girl or guy sitting next to you on public transit.

The publishing industry does not collect data like the fashion and retail industry. It may collect data about what types of book a person purchases and recommends similar titles. It does not use big data the way the fashion industry uses it to personalize and customize emails and flyers for its customers. Consumers may be buying clothes but the real money maker is the information that the brand or retailer collects.

Technology has changed different aspects of the fashion and publishing industry. All of these changes could be leading both industries back to their roots. Brands and publisher may start to create custom and unique pieces that are only sold in boutique shops or small book stores. However, these items and stores will be a novelty. In the future we might all just buy everything on Amazon. Each consumer will have a custom Amazon page with all the items they need or Amazon thinks they need and want. Both the publishing and fashion industry will not die out with the advances of this new technology. They will adapt and grow.


Work Cited

Blakley, J. (2012, April 1). Lessons from fashion’s free culture. Retrieved October 1, 2015.

Bridle, J. (2014, November 7). Digital Rights Management: Its not as if wanting to read books is a crime. Retrieved October 3, 2015.

Cowen, K. (2012, May 16). Changing the Face of Retail: Where fashion meets technology. Retrieved October 2, 2015.

Duhigg, C. (2012, February 18). How Companies Learn Your Secrets. Retrieved October 3, 2015.

Gross, N. (2013, September 17). Managing the Technology of Fashion. Retrieved September 30, 2015.

How Technology Is Disrupting the Fashion Industry. (2015, September 12). Retrieved October 4, 2015.

Niemeier, S., & Zocchi, A. (2013). Reshaping retail: Why technology is transforming the industry and how to win in the new consumer driven world.

Thompson, J. (2012). Merchants of culture: The publishing business in the twenty-first century (Second ed.). New York, New York: Plume.


  1. cookieMonster, cla

    October 18, 2015 at 5:02 am

    Some basic knowledge about the fashion industry would be nice for me to understand the world of fashion since I have little background knowledge for the fashion industry.

    I would like to see an important/selling point right away for me as a reader to continue the topic, tell me an interesting story about the technology that impact the fashion industry explicitly, just one would be enough. The introduction seem to be a little generic by telling me many things. What are the things?

    The topic at the first is telling “shopping industry/retail” instead “fashion” at the first.

    The following topics are about the creation fashion and fashion retail lines with help of social media with Facebook and Twitter. These two platforms are more commons, and used as daily business technology methodology nowadays. I would like to see other social media platforms are being explored for the fashion industry. For example, they use “livestream” method via apps like “Snapchat” or “Meerkat” for fashion week, let the audience engaging with the fashion event by “live conversation” to each other about the fashion items. I am interested to see how the technology experience comparing to the traditional fashion event. It is like everyone attending the same party across the globe, by synchronization.

    I disagree with the following statement, “The fashion industry may not go scouting for new designers online but designers can gather inspiration on the Internet.” There must be a web publish platform for the fashion designers to display their works and get their fan base as well. Both, fashion and publishing are much the same in term of both writers and designers creating the contents for the audiences. Good head hunters are always good to discover new talents online.

    It is interesting and a good point that the fashion industry does not care about the copy right issues as the publishers do because the fashion industry is selling the brand/luxury more than the content itself. However for the topic of fashion industry, I would like see the author of this essay to separate the categories of high-end fashion and daily fashion industry separate, instead the generic “Fashion”. What is fashion?

    Both publishing and fashion industries have their ways to pass their material to the consumers, just the matter of steps. In the end, who are the real intermediaries?
    A very good explanation on Amazon publishing business model and describing the way of Amazon doing their business comparing to other book publishers, like how the Amazon competes and expands its market.

    Not much about fashion industry business model were explained in depth, but more on the “shopping industry/retailers” instead fashion industry. I have question whether the direction of this essay should be, clothing or fashion industry. Clothing, selling the wearable good, and fashion is selling the brand /luxury of the wearable, however they could also both sell the “look”. A detail of fashion industry business model description would be nice.

    For the following statement, “In the future we might all just buy everything on Amazon. Each consumer will have a custom Amazon page with all the items they need or Amazon thinks they need and want.” This assumption statement seem to be a bit overstated. Also, would it be interesting if Amazon enters the fashion industry as well like a retail.

    • This review offers some good critiques of specific points in the essay, but does so using a point-by-point takedown approach, and not one that looks at the essay as a whole. As such, it misses the opportunity to speak about the argument being made.

  2. This essay starts off very strong, with a clear and interesting thesis statement. There is a good organization of the ideas, and nice transitions between them. Unfortunately, the essay leaves the main question unanswered, and only reminds us of it in the conclusions. That said, throughout the piece, there are some good comparisons of the two, and the piece does offer insights into the overlapping role of tech between them.

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