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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 797

Marketing and Fashion

Gibson uses fashion to explore how ideas are marketed in the twenty-first century. The business models of the fashion world often lead to inferior products and shoddy business practices.

Meredith’s story highlights the failure of the mainstream fashion community. Meredith used to work as a model. She...

(The entire section contains 797 words.)

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Marketing and Fashion

Gibson uses fashion to explore how ideas are marketed in the twenty-first century. The business models of the fashion world often lead to inferior products and shoddy business practices.

Meredith’s story highlights the failure of the mainstream fashion community. Meredith used to work as a model. She was flown around the world to model clothing, but she recalls being often so desperate that although she was in Vogue she could not afford to buy it. Ultimately, she characterizes the fashion industry as stumbling from one season to the next.

In contrast, military garb has been enduring. The design team at Blue Ant explains that most of men’s fashion in the twentieth century was influenced by military fashions, ranging from the trench coat to bomber jackets. However, they have determined that the American military has failed to come up with new fashions for the twenty-first century that are capable of competing with street wear. Although only American businesses can manufacture clothing for the American military, Bigend hopes to acquire a recession-proof contract to design clothing for the American military. The most iconic design currently on the market is being produced by Gabriel Hounds, and Bigend hires Hollis to find the designers of Gabriel Hounds to help him land his design contract.

Clothing produced by Gabriel Hounds is of very high quality and is described as “real, not fashion.” When Cayce Pollard reveals her approach to design, she explains that American-made shirts that sold for a nickel at the start of the twentieth century were actually made to higher standards than most contemporary clothing. However, to make that clothing now would require the shirt to cost hundreds of dollars.

As such, Gabriel Hounds should be an impossible line of clothing to produce profitably, just as Meredith’s attempt to make quality, durable shoes failed. However, Gabriel Hounds forms a new business model around secrecy. It is a brand, but it is a “very secret brand.” It is almost impossible to find Hounds clothing. By the end of Zero History, Cayce Pollard reveals that Gabriel Hounds has reached the point that it will have to adopt new marketing and business strategies.

Paranoia and Technology

There is a great deal of paranoia throughout Gibson’s Bigend novels. In Zero History, the influence of technology is primarily revealed from Milgrim’s point of view. Milgrim, who has been addicted to drugs for the ten years, is often surprised to discover what twenty-first-century software and hardware are capable of.

Milgrim is first disturbed to learn that his phone, called the “Neo,” is capable of tracking his movements. Sleight uses the phone to communicate with Milgrim, asking him to plug it in to download new software applications. When it is revealed that Sleight has betrayed Blue Ant, Bigend tells Milgrim to no longer use his phone for important messages. In fact, Bigend finds that he is no longer able to operate within Blue Ant’s headquarters because he does not feel secure there. Instead, he meets his employees in cafés.

Even personal Internet use has become insecure. When Winnie begins tracking Milgrim’s movements, she tells him to communicate with her through Twitter. Milgrim sets up an account, sets his tweets to private, and allows only Winnie to read his posts. Garreth takes this distrust of the Internet even further, relying only on “darknets” to communicate with his network. A darknet is a private network and seems to be used only by “spooks” (retired spies).

The ubiquity of the camera and CCTV also serves to destroy privacy. Zero Historyis set in London, a city in which it is perhaps impossible not to be recorded in public on a daily basis. Additionally, Bigend has developed balloon-based espionage technology. Shaped like either a penguin or a manta ray, these devices “swim” through the air. Users can control the devices from their iPhones. Bigend claims that the technology for these spy devices is so easy to create and reproduce that anyone can able to spy on others.

The only devices that can counter these pervasive and cheap technological invasions of privacy are highly sophisticated and expensive. Through his connections, Garreth acquires the means to become invisible on CCTV. Although there are cameras everywhere, there are not watchers everywhere. Instead, data are recorded in digital files. Garreth finds a code that essentially makes the bearer digitally invisible—the code of the bearer’s image becomes irretrievable.

Ultimately, it is easy for the rich and powerful to spy on the lower classes. The lower classes can also acquire these devices to spy on each other. However, only the rich, the government, and corporations can afford or have access to the devices that allow people to live privately in the world of Zero History.

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