Did you know that both consumers as well as creators in the fashion industry suffer by the way the fashion machine works?
I have recently read, again, that change in the fashion industry should not only come from the industry itself, but also from the consumers. Most of those times the remarks are aimed at sustainability issues. Often it seems that the changes we are talking about are simply changes in production methods (less CO2, biodegradable fabrics and so on.) It may implicate that all we need to do is to make sure production isn’t environmentally impactful and we are good to go.
But that is not enough. The whole of fashion should be changed, and could be changed. Because it isn’t just the impact of the chain of production, that is a problem. It is the soul of fashion that is hollowed out through so many years of high speed roaring of this fashion-machine.
Both consumers and creators in the industry are not happy with how the fashion industry works. For the consumers it means they have plenty of clothing but nothing that is really worth it to wear. I would like to add to that a feeling of inadequacy that is being fed by all kinds of media. Consumers do not feel well about how they look even after spending so much time and energy on their looks. If they would, there wouldn’t be a problem.
The creatives working in fashion, whether that is in production, design or in a store often are not so happy with how it currently works, either. They won’t often tell you this, though, because it seems so normal. It seems so normal to only worry about how many items you can sell in a day and not if that person is going to be happy with the outfits on the long run. It seems so normal to work extra hours when you are working as a designer or buyer in fashion, because, well, that is what everybody does! When drawing from my own experience, I have heard many manager or head of design say; “I expect them to keep up with the trends in their own time.” At the time it didn’t even sound like a strange thing to say, when you work in fashion you have a feeling for trends. But next to the workload and the extra hours you already work, it is not reasonable. What hurts too is that often creativity is not the real propeller. It is cold hard numbers that will decided whether or not a design gets through to the final stage of the process.
Fashion is strict; there are only a few ways to wear clothes. There are only limited ways to experienced fashion that you can see represented around you in daily life that is considered the right way to do it. That makes it hard for a consumer to look and be who they want to be. It is hard to dress the way you want because it is easy to stand out. Besides, standing out is hard when you do not feel confident.
For creatives it means that it is hard to do things differently. When they have out of the box ideas it is often hard to get them to work. Fashion has worked in a certain way already for years. It means that people through the entire production chain are used to the way things work. It makes creators feel like they are swimming against the current even if they want to do something simple, like having no sale.
And that hurts even more, on a deeper level.
On a deeper level fashion lacks creativity. Because fashion is so generic it is hard for creatives as well as consumers to think outside the box. Both should be able to find a way to be truly in love with the clothes they produce/wear. Fashion is only experienced, produced and sold in a very narrowminded way. If there would be more examples of fashion being made and experienced differently, for a larger audience, it would be easier to find a way that is novel still, and works for you. We all have a sort of tunnel-vision when it comes to fashion and what we expect from it.
How do you get rid of this tunnel-vision?
Well, you start to dream. You start to figure out what what you would want your relationship with clothes to be. How would you want to feel? Where should clothes come from? What should they have to represent in order to be that what you want them to be? What should they be in order to feel great in them?
When you start brainstorming what you think clothes should be, in their very core, it means you need to make sure you do not think in limitations. It doesn’t need to be here tomorrow. It doesn’t matter if you can afford it. It doesn’t matter if production can already be done that way. It doesn’t matter the current system doesn’t support it yet. It doesn’t matter that kind of fabric doesn’t exist yet. Fashion is rapidly changing. If you create a clear goal for yourself, you can start to take steps to get there. Without a long-term goal you wont get there. If you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything.