“Back then with technology in the early millennium, we never had that financial backing to access fashion or afford such liberal thinking like how we are able to do so now with the Internet. Or have that capability to spend like we do now.”

Part 2 of interview with Shauna Voon from Silhouettes of Chic


Nicole Fang (NF): What if you decided to go in your own direction versus what your fan base wants, where does that leave you?

Shauna Voon (SV): From the day I stepped into this industry, I’ve been taking risks. Back when I was younger, I wouldn’t even have done half the things I’m doing now. But after realizing that sitting still at just one thing for a long period of time didn’t suit me very well, I learned that constantly chasing for work was also a good thing to continuously strive for. Whether it is sitting down from 8PM to 5AM just to code my entire website, to running around carrying your heavy equipment (my form of working out just to meet a client even if it doesn’t get used). It is a risk. Everything you do in such a consumer driven industry is a risk. Your physical and mental health, how tired, how awake you are, your attention span..things like that in general gets affected and multiplied when you go digital. Even running around for meetings, you are giving up your time and energy to do those things. Your mental strength gets tested too, patience is everything. And I feel like being a free-lancer, those risks we take are done to adapt to the environment. Especially those people with kids, don’t assume that free-lancing is their only job. They may juggle multiple jobs just to put food on the table. It’s just that what we see on social media is still a very shallow perspective of a person’s life. So you don’t actually see what’s behind all that. Would you want to constantly see something depressing on your social media feed?

NF: Course not.

SV: Exactly. That tendency to make assumptions even based on the shallowest of things is something very common on social media because you get lulled into this sense of closeness with the individual that presents a platform of their life to you. As a Creative, I have my own personal problems and issues like everyone else! But I prefer to use my platforms and channels to inspire instead. And I think that is the job of Influencers and Creatives. Despite being in fashion or not. We are made to inspire, to keep moving on. I know its more than just a little distraction from reality, but you need people in your own life to look up to in those cases to keep pushing forward in whatever you do. Then again, we can’t drown ourselves entirely in social media. That’s called being in a delusion. You can’t just get something because someone else has it all the time. Things have to be looked at from a very practical perspective. And to be painfully realistic.

Despite being in fashion or not. We are made to inspire, to keep moving on.

NF: And I don’t think these “true fashion insiders” if there is such a definition really understand that the entire lot of us doesn’t have an endless supply of resources to draw from to sustain this type lifestyles they themselves constantly project. The grumblings about having to pay your dues, that’s why we have other aspects of our lives as well right? We work just as hard if not harder sometimes, all for peanuts, or just a peanut in some cases. What’s the one thing you wish individuals who do not identify with make a living off these platforms would understand about this community?

SV: Okay if we are really doing this (laughs), I gotta be real here. One thing everyone has to know is that it is going digital. Whether you like it or not, the traditional way of doing fashion is slowing down. Technology advancement has been very fast paced, and booming since the first Nokia phone. If people think like the 2016 American Vogue team and complain about how long and how hard they themselves have worked to get to where they are now when comparing themselves to this entire collective of bloggers; note that it also has to do with how things are also run economically. Especially when trends are at it’s prime. Back then with technology in the early millennium, we never had that financial backing to access fashion or afford such liberal thinking like how we are able to do so now with the Internet. Or have that capability to spend like we do now. The spending power in fashion right now is high. The higher it goes, the more funds financially successful brands have to utilize as marketing tools. Instead of going for big ads right now, who do you think they look for instead? Influencers.

NF: I mean that’s how I do it, I check Instagram to see the latest fashions because these same brands and labels are always the first to give a sneak peek in to the next thing or trend all in the comfort of my own home. What is your favorite Influencer or Creative wearing right now? What type of styles are they gravitating towards that they are not so subtly suggesting you should be doing as well? Isn’t that like a crystal ball for people in the industry to learn what is selling and what’s not?

SV: You want to know why they want to go for these kind of people? It’s because they are more real compared to professional models. And because majority of these Bloggers don’t exactly get paid to do their job in the monetary sense. They get compensated with clothes and gifts. If some are lucky enough, they get a percentage cut off the ads that they display on their websites. But how often do you take notice of ads versus Bloggers actually touting those products? Once you see an actual person wear the actual thing, and how it looks on them. You relate. Which one do you think resonates more with paying customers? Generally if we are talking about how Vogue spat on these “Bloggers” for constantly changing in between shows, strutting and parading past photographers multiple times, potentially risking themselves in traffic accidents for that perfect street style image, that’s all a little exaggerated. But then again on a better note, you did take notice of these “Bloggers”. What about the people who look up to them? How much attention do you reckon is devoted to these few individuals? If you put an ad in a magazine, it’s a little harder to take notice of said ad unless you really rummage through all the pages. And not everyone has the attention span and choose to be alliterate instead.


NF: Compared to a ten-dollar magazine versus something free like the Internet. Which one would the younger generations prefer as an alternative instead?

SV: Nevertheless having a hardcopy magazine will always have a resonating soft spot with the industry as well from a more traditional standpoint. In the past it was all about making it to print. That was where you started, and that was where you go to be inspired. Whether or not people read their written content, it doesn’t matter because that’s what the pictures were for. Very much like Instagram. It’s just that print magazine companies in the fashion industries have to accept and learn how to adapt with the rate growth the technology industry is facing right now into their system. They have to learn to be more open-minded, more rational, and take off all that ego! (laughs) You put Bloggers and Influencers on your covers and in your pages for style inspiration purposes. Don’t go around spitting on everyone in the community who has been buying your magazines for the few decades or more. They have looked up to you with so much reverence since they were probably kids. And when people like you come up and shoot them down just because of an observation that they might be getting more attention than you or the magazine you work for, why? These people, these Influencers probably make up the majority of customers who still buy your prints and actively promote them in their circles and channels. They are doing you a big favor. And right now, don’t feel like you are losing out, that you’re losing sales and that it’s our fault. This industry needs to be more accepting and willing to adapt to change.

NF: Well, from my previous points about these individuals working in the industry itself, could we assume that the group in question were the ones who set these boundaries in the first place to separate “fashion insiders” and the general public?

SV: They’ve always been a backbone for individuals interested in the fashion industry to look up to as I’ve said before. They dictated what was in and what was out.

NF: Growing up, I felt that knowing about them, learning about them – they were the ones who put those restrictions and caste systems in place.

SV: This saying all of that, this isn’t how it is with all print magazines. I’m glad that most magazine are learning how to tap into the digital sphere and finding creative ways to engage and inspire readers. Because they have to adapt. It’s a full cycle. Or more of a bell curve really. No matter what, print editions’ already had their time in the spotlight in the past. Now this is where technology picks it up. Until we have exhausted all possible avenues of this alternative. That’s when print will start to go back up. It’s a cycle. And  I don’t think it’s fair to push the blame onto digital Influencers.

NF: I don’t think we are specifically the problem as a community. But with every community, we have our faults. Our over obsessive need to document anything and everything with out #picsoritdidnthappen mentality. There is a reason as to why we do that however. Every waking moment that we are working on our brand, our platforms on social media, it is all done to constantly work and build that image we want our viewers to see and be inspired by. In fact, we want to be able to cater to demand.

SV: It’s also about catering to expectations.

NF: If we don’t keep up that constant update, we get forgotten. Or viewers and readers will ask questions to the lack thereof. “What’s going on”, “why aren’t you doing this or that”.

SV: You are putting yourself out there for the public to critique! Quoting Essena O’Neil, if it’s your choice to initiate a social media presence, it’s your choice. You have the option to choose what to turn it down and just live your life as well. No matter how sucked in you are in this social media of a vortex, everyone has a choice at the end of the day. It’s only your choice that really matters at the end of the day, because you do not owe anyone anything or a living.

If it’s your choice to initiate a social media presence, it’s your choice. You have the option to choose what to turn it down and just live your life as well.

NF: Going back to bloggers, what do think about the moral codes Bloggers should still keep in mind when it comes to self-promotion or making a living off social media?

SV: I feel that quality control covers most of what Clarke wrote in his article, it’s a lot to do with the quality of work and ethics on social media in general.

NF: How far would you go to get a free shirt?

SV: I wouldn’t go that far (laughs). It depends on how I feel about the brand in general as well. I feel there is a level of dignity and pride that people should not lose. Yes free things will be waved in your face and it’s tempting. But when you start out in this industry and begin to say yes to things in exchange for content, getting free stuff doesn’t feed you after a long day of work.

NF: And I think we still pay our dues no matter what naysayers say, because we are investing in ourselves. You can’t eat clothes.

SV: When you start out as a Blogger, free shit is fun and exciting. And you think that you may not get another opportunity again. But when you do say yes to something with those same terms, make sure that whatever you do is in line with what you believe in. That is also agrees with your aesthetics. To yourself. And not saying yes for the sake of it. We get so hypnotized by materialistic things in general without having proper rational thoughts of what should you actually do with the product in question. Well obviously most things that you will receive in this line of work will be very nice, it’s just all about fitting it to you. At the end of the day you still have to be in line with your aesthetics, and your personal goals and pathways. Saying yes to everything will just confuse you if you do not have that mindset in place. Staying in that stage of confusion is not something that you want being in this industry. Because it will take up time and energy, precious resources that your could have used for more important thing.

But on the other hand, everyone’s pathway will be different, everyone has different ways and routes to evolving and growing. It is not my place to tell others how to live their lives. So I will just use my own experience as an example. If I were in their position (regarding to being confused) at this point in time after so long, what I would probably do differently is to not say yes to everything that did come my way in the past.

end

 images taken from Shauna Voon
Links to Shauna Voon's Instagram, Website and Twitter