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23 November 2017

South Tyrol tour, part 1: Castle hopping, the finding of fashion and women's magazines of the mid-19th century, and the comparison to nowadays' fashion communication

South Tyrol tour, part 2: After walking through nature, I relaxed while reading at mid-19th century fashion magazines about women's movement activities

South Tyrol tour, part 3: Women as drivers of cabriolets, the depiction of women in art,... are themes in fashion and women's magazines of the years 1866, 1867

South Tyrol tour, part 4: Dresses made of toxic fabrics, health tips, bakery recipes,... - themes in 1866, 1867

South Tyrol tour, part 5 - final: Jewelry, traveling, statistics... - themes in 1866, 1867 fashion and women's magazines

by Fashionoffice publisher Karin Sawetz

Part 5 is the final edition of the 'South Tyrol tour' series which led me to several castles and opened the doors to the history of Tyrol. After I have found mid-19th century fashion and women's magazines* during the reorganization of a library, I started to dive into the world of an around 24-years old Tyrolean woman, her times and questioned how fashion journalism has changed with regard to the content (inclusively themes) and the formal representation of the content such as the structure (categories, columns) and the visual depiction of reviewed fashion, art and other topics like women as drivers of horse-drawn carriages.

*'Damenkleider Magazin vereinigt mit Musterzeitung & Frauenzeitung' (could be translated as 'Women's Clothing Magazine united with Pattern Journal & Women's Journal'), published by the J. B. Metzler'schen Buchhandlung in Stuttgart, Germany

fig.: The image shows me at the entrance to Bruneck castle.

Except the visual richness of early 21st century media, fashion journalism hasn't changed in its basic structure (categories) so much. Everything starts with the latest trends - only that in 21st century, trends concern in many cases not only new colors or patterns but the message, inspiration of a designer or brand and/or information about who is wearing the new items such as recently reported at the Fashionoffice article about new ball gown trends 2018.

For the final part, I will review three additional themes and compare them with today's journalism: travel journalism, culture and jewelry coverage, and the presentation of statistics.

Travel Journalism

Other similarities to contemporary fashion and women's magazine journalism are tips for traveling like the article with the title 'Ostinidische Eisenbahn' ('East Indian Railway', issue 1 November 1866) about a new train route from Calcutta over Allahabad and Delhi to Bombay. The article is directly addressed to the magazine's "...wanderlusty ladies..." and contains information about the distances between the big cities and the price (changes with the three offered classes) for the whole journey.

Today, articles about traveling routes can be optimized with special features such as with interactive resort finders or route calculators (car, train, airplane) and reference to the CO2 footprint which varies for example with the amount of people who are using one car (Fashionoffice article about a Ski Resort Finder).

Culture and Jewelry Coverage

Even when the magazine was distributed mainly in Middle Europe, non-European culture was theme at several articles of the years 1866 and 1867. At the issue of 15 April 1867, the magazine reports about a zoological lecture about glowing beetles named 'cucujo' which were sewn like jewelry pieces into taffeta and used as decoration on evening gowns by women in Mexico.

Decorations or jewelry made of living animals won't be accepted nowadays - neither by the wearer nor animal rights activists. But new approaches to jewelry are still high ranking themes in fashion magazines such as 3D digital modelling or making new jewelry from old pieces. Fashionoffice's article about the activities of Viennese jewelers chronicles the impact of new technologies and sustainable thinking on jewelry business in 2017. Perhaps Fashionoffice's review will be read in 150 years with the same interest as I consumed the articles published by the fashion and women's magazine in the mid-19th century - and perhaps the future readers will say "This was the time when arts & crafts began to use digital technologies!"


Also statistical reports can be found such as numbers about the population of the United States of America. At the issue of 15 September 1866 under the title 'Statistisches' (Statistics), the magazine reviews the research on the population of the United States by Englishman Morton Peto, published at 'The Resources and Prospects of America' in 1865. In the year 1800, 5,305,925 people were counted in US. Sixty years later, the population had grown to 31,429,000 people. In 1860, 21,000,000 of the population of the USA were migrants and their descendants. Several states like Minnesota, Wisconsin or Indiana are mentioned as extraordinarily fast growing during the observation period.

Another statistical report (issue 15 December 1866) concerned the traffic in the streets of London. First, the overall population data were compared between 1801 (960,000) and 1865 (3,000,000 people). Then, the writer refined the statistics with single day observations of the traffic on London Bridge compared through the years such as 1859 when on one day 107,000 walkers, 20,000 wagons which carried 61,000 people were counted. On one day in May 1860, 706,621 people were on their way to the city of London. The statistics are accompanied by reports about injuries caused by the increasing density of traffic as well as the negative effects of the traffic jam on the public transportation business.

Statistics provide also in our days an overview over the world. Only that migration movements or the growing of metropolitan cities are visualized with - in many cases - animated graphical charts. Statistics allow people to estimate their environment and plan their future; if its for comparing distances/route and vehicle decisions/CO2 footprint/travel costs, or simply for finding a new book via bestseller ranking such as offered by many online shops. What's really new at journalism of the 21st century is content which is produced in real-time from the statistics of the publications themselves: rankings of the most viewed articles, trending video collections, or charts of the most shared music tracks have become already essential parts of media today.

Fashionoffice publishes each Saturday a summary of the favorite articles of last week. The data are calculated objectively by third-party suppliers. Trustful statistical methods in media analytics are of the same importance as telling the truth in journalism. In 150 years, a 24-years old woman in South Tyrol probably won't browse herself through digital fashion journals to get an insight into the lifestyle of 2017; I can imagine that she will say to her digital assistant "Collect 100 most viewed articles by international fashion publications, viewed in my geographical region in 2017."

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