Fashions are the biggest story in the fashion industry right now, and it’s the story that everyone wants to hear.
That’s why fashion news has long been a hotbed of misinformation.
But now, after years of effort by brands and editors to try to stamp out the spread of fake news, fashion industry leaders are starting to get serious about fighting fake news.
The most notable example: the release of a new report from the Fashion Industry Group, a consortium of top fashion editors.
The report is aimed at “deterring the spread” of fake fashion stories.
As you can see in the graphic above, the authors describe fashion as a “culture of fear.”
That’s not exactly accurate.
The reality is that fashion is rife with misinformation, from “fake news” to “fashion trends” that don’t actually exist.
And many fashion brands are not happy with how the industry has responded to the crisis.
The Fashion Industry has always been very hands-off.
As far back as the 1980s, fashion magazine Esquire famously printed “fakes, fakes, and more fakes,” and the industry was notoriously slow to recognize the problem.
But in 2015, with the help of the fashion press, the industry started to take notice.
“The beauty of the media is that it’s a way to create a sense of credibility,” said Ben Felt, a marketing professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Felt explained that the media “helps you communicate your product or service, but it also provides the information, the context, the audience.
And once you have that, it’s easy to create the perception that the consumer is buying it.”
So, fashion magazines like Esquire are the perfect outlet for brands and media to publish stories that would otherwise go unnoticed, because the brands themselves have a vested interest in getting their stories out there.
The problem, however, is that this is often not the case.
The FICG report, which was published by the publication Glamour and the publication Elle, also acknowledges the importance of brands’ involvement, as well as their “social media influence.”
The report explains that “fear of being branded as ‘fake’ can drive brands to create ‘fake accounts’ that are more likely to spread misinformation about their brands and products, including through social media.”
As part of the process, the FICg team identified over 2,000 brands that have “taken steps to prevent and address fake news.”
“These brands include major retailers like Walmart, Forever 21, and Prada, as companies that make money from their clothing,” the report notes.
The companies then went on to list out the steps that they’ve taken to combat the spread.
For instance, the brands listed included using social media to “ensure that posts that contain a misleading statement are removed or deleted from their social media accounts.”
“In order to reduce the spread, we ask brands to take action to prevent the spread by: Using hashtags to identify the content in their posts that is false or misleading,” the Ficcg report states.
“If the posts contain a false or potentially misleading statement, the brand will be asked to remove the content and delete any social media activity associated with the post.”
In a follow-up email to Motherboard, the Fashion Group confirmed that “we are in the process of updating our platform to remove posts that are not accurate, and we are working to ensure that our brands’ social media posts are accurate.”
The group also pointed out that it has made it a priority to “focus on the fake content that is disseminated through social platforms, not the content that brands are promoting.”
“We have seen that many brands have become proactive in combating the spread and the misinformation that they see,” Felt said.
“And as more and more brands are stepping up to the plate to prevent these fake accounts from spreading, the fake news has become less and less prevalent.”
“The fact that brands continue to take this approach underscores the importance that they place on their social accounts and the importance to brands in communicating with their consumers,” Ficg said.
This is the first time the industry is taking action to combat fake news in fashion.
It’s not the first that brands have taken a stand to combat it.
The “Fashion Industry’s Digital Strategy for the 21st Century” published by Dior in February of 2016 explicitly addressed fake news as an issue, calling for brands to “take action to identify and address false or unsubstantiated content in social media content.”
The plan includes “tasks that include the following: Identifying and removing false and misleading content from social media, and curating and publishing relevant content, such as verified facts and facts verified by the brands.”
“Focusing on the content of brands in their social channels that is inaccurate, distorts facts, and/or otherwise distorts reality,” the plan said.
And it also outlined