PART ONE: AN INTRODUCTION
Styles have all depended on my state of mind, my perception of reality and how I felt best portraying myself outwardly either to mask the onset of my thoughts or to flash it out there. I have been fascinated by styles and how they transform, enhance and portray personalities. Whether we like to admit it or not, fashion plays a central role in all our lives. We dress every day based on occasions, weather, patterns of thoughts and comfort. Looking at the range of style across cultures has always intrigued me and to the detriment of my anthropology professors, a signature of mine has become to reference fashion and art somehow into all my summatives. I’m also intrigued by the violence in dressing, whether that be how people in jails are forced to wear the same coloured uniform, in essence addressing these individuals to be of one: criminals. Or whether that be how chains and padlocks (which were once associated with violence and in certain contexts still are) have filtered not only in the sex scene but also now in contemporary street.
Styles have shaped the way people perceive me and how in turn I get viewed by wider society. People will judge you often instantaneously by the way you come across to others — and although today judging people on their style or formatting has become redundant in the way I communicate with others, in the west we have often become drawn through the likes of social media and branding to dress in order to convey who we are, as a distinct individual rather than another entity in the system. You can’t really do your own thing, dress the way you believe is your true nature, your personal style if you are looking for the approval of others in the way you dress. Because of social media, runway and fast fashion people have sought fashion not to identify with themselves but more for the approval of wider society. Somewhere along the times, we forgot for who we were dressing for and the rise of consumerism upscaled. Perhaps if we focus on who we are innately, find the path to clarity this will match our consumerism habits and our sustainable mind and lifestyle.
The luxury of being able to choose who we want to be, how we wish to be perceived should not be taken for granted. Once a symbol of class, fashion has demonstrated its’ power to reflect how society and culture both changed and merged into a new development. Jeans are a good example, once worn by the ‘working-class’ are now a signature classic piece in a wardrobe.
Looking at the diversity in clothing today, looking at how fashion evolves proves how often it is the creative circles which push boundaries, break down social norms and decide on cultural changes. Fashion is linked and fused with the social sciences, culture, society and the individual. It is important that we observe the different styles not only within the west, but also across the many cultures, societies and civilisations and how perhaps religious rituals, beliefs and customs influence the way people dress, perhaps in a country where gender is binary we will not find the radical creative stance the west has portrayed in light of recent years, where non-binary and non-gender conforming garments have been produced. It is interesting also to note how in the west, we have the demonstration and pressure of fashion shows and the world built around them, influencing the beauty industry and in turn, the confidence of you and I.
Fashion has played a central role in defining who we are, yet I am at point where ecology, sustainability both in my mind and my outside world have become paramount. Embracing diversity, inclusivity and addressing that in our clothing, to put on a demonstration in wider society have also been focal points in recent times.
I decided to write a column based around the concept of individuality, personhood, fashion and culture and how we can best have a dialogue around what is fashion today.