I scrolled, and I scrolled, and I scrolled. The clothing on the Asos app became nothing but blobs of colour that my interest had become immune to. I didn’t intend to become an online shopping zombie, but it just happened. I entered a mind space somewhere between daydreaming and being hypnotised by my phone. Of course, I began with the innocent and hopeful intentions of purchasing one or many (too many) items that I would think was worth my investment (or at least that’s how I would try and justify my spending). But instead of happily finding that one perfect lbd (little black dress) or that oversized denim jacket that is so aesthetically pleasing, I ended up in a daze. I was slowly but surely being sucked into the impersonal world of pixels and codes. So, as I let my glazed eyes peruse the screen I wondered: is the personal experience of shopping being lost to technology?
Flash back to Milan Fashion Week at the Dolce & Gabbana show and you’ll see that the Autumn/Winter collection of handbags was modelled by the monster of every pigeon’s worst nightmare: drones. Dolce & Gabbana cut out the human aspect of a fashion show, ‘I, Robot’ style, and took the definition of ‘runway’ back to its aeronautical roots. The bots flew in, did a little choreographed mid-air hop and zoomed out again. But, just as Dolce & Gabbana had removed the personal, human aspect of fashion, are we not doing the same by online shopping? Not only is the fashion and retail industry slowly losing its humanity, but it is also replacing the realistic human characteristics with fictional characters. Which is just not fair because I would like to have perfect skin like the computer-generated musician and model Lil Miquela but that’s just never going to happen because, well, I have blood in my veins and not data.
It is not only the removal of personal characteristics within the fashion and retail industry but the lack of a sensory shopping experience that is losing its battle against the screens of our digital devices. Shoppers are trading the feel of leather Doc Martens for how matte they look in the picture and the texture of a velvet dress for the spaghetti straps they see when they scroll. They’re abandoning the experience of walking into a shop and seeing the item they’ve been looking for for a long time, taking it to the changing room, trying it on, looking in the mirror and getting that feeling defined by 2 words: yas queen. Why order your weekly grocery shop online only to have the most mediocre pick of the fruit and the already-bloomed flowers land at your doorstep when you could go to a market and not only see the colours but smell the fragrances of the strawberries, the oranges and the peonies? Why exchange that biweekly friend’s day out at the shopping centre for a parcel that just wastes excess plastic? Technological advancements are great, don’t get me wrong, but let’s not swap humanity with technology or trade experience for convenience.