Being a socially-concious young individual, I have had some misgivings about pursuing a career in fashion, which is known for often being a completely shallow, ruthlessly commercial industry. Fashion can help people fit in or stand out. Fashion can be a form of protest, as with punks. It can also enforce uniformity, as in the case where so-called Mao suits became the national uniform of mainland china. As someone who has an intense love for fashion, style, and trend but is inspired by revolution, nonconformism, and expression of beliefs, I have issue with the way the fashion industry works and the way it is viewed. I've written often that style is about individuality. It can also be about social reform or protest. Think of Tinker Vs. Des Moines- students wore black armbands in protest of the vietnam war. Hopefully this generation will be the group to change fashion again, and get people's attention.
My friend Emily- a.k.a. Bean- and I wrote an article for our school's newspaper about this very issue, and I'd like to share it here.
And yes, our working title is "Things". We were working under a deadline. :p
Nikki DeBenedetto and Emily Hripak
Students go to high school to figure out their goals. But what happens when your goals conflict with your principles? The dilemma with being a young person who is both honest and goal-oriented is that a lot of things become contradictions. Someone who is sincerely interested in fashion as a career, yet against the fierce consumerism of this capitalist society, is up against a most interesting catch-22.
Fashion changes constantly. Trends have always been a big part of fashion. For some, modern fast-paced changes in trends embody many of the negative aspects of capitalism: they result in waste and encourage consumers to buy things unnecessarily. However, most people have a constant desire for something new and more interesting, and fashion’s constant changes can provide that.
As a society, we are constantly attracted to what we are told is better, newer, more attractive- even if what we already have is perfectly fine. Style by definition comes from personal expression, and not trend. Many designers consider themselves artists, and the clothing they make is a means of artistic expression. But the high price tag that accompanies the wearable work of art is off-putting and concerning, especially during a time of economic crisis. High-end designers and trend followers must not forget that fashion begins with the true artists, who use fashion as a form of expression or even social commentary.
As young people considering careers in fashion, the goal is ultimately to be an inspiration to the world of fashion with a self-run company. And striving to run a company based almost completely on a exploitive capitalist system - as a hybrid artist, advertiser, business manager, and marketer, in fact- it is conflicting to be placed between your beliefs and your passion for creativity.
As an industry of creative professionals, the fashion world as a whole could benefit from slowing down and taking a good look around. Fashionable clothing is worth so much more when it is given 100%- not only designed well, but made well, and valued as an investment to be saved, used, and reused well into the future. In the words of Vivienne Westwood, “There’s this idea that somehow you’ve got to keep changing things, and as often as possible. Maybe if people just decided not to buy anything for a while, they’d get a chance to think about what they wanted; what they really liked. If you ask me what I think people should be getting next season, I’ll tell you what I’d like them to buy—nothing. I’d like people to stop buying and buying and buying…”
So, readers, what's your stand? I would absolutely love to hear opinions on this... start a debate!