By: Arathi Devandran of Love, Miffalicious.
What is fashion to me? I have been grappling with the meaning of this question for a while now. Since I was a young girl, fashion had always interested me. My interest was probably piqued because of my stylish mother; my mum never believed in being extravagant about how she looked, but she has the knack for putting together things that suit her in the best possible way, even if it was the simplest of designs or the most basic of clothing.
My mum is also the person who taught me the single, most basic rule that I’ve worked to follow through my life: Dress for yourself, and dress to be presentable. Wise words from a very wise woman.
Yet, even my mother’s wise words haven’t helped to stem this constant question that resonates: What is Fashion To Me?
Living in a time and age where we are surrounded by masses of advertisements, ambush marketing, branding, consuming, consuming, and more consuming, it seems like fashion is slowly being reduced to one (if not all) of these things.
Sometimes, I wonder if fashion is synonymous to brands, and brands alone. Don’t get me wrong, brands deserve the fame and attention that they get because they offer products which are relics of design, made painstakingly as a form of art. Art, in any form, warrants appreciation of the highest degree. And yet, in this capitalist, consumer-driven world, brands have become status symbols, and fashion has become just yet another marketing campaign of said brands. The unnecessary connotation that only “branded” things are fashionable has to be critically considered. Is that what fashion, is, then? A medium in which the rich and the famous thrive, because frankly, can mere commoners ever afford some of these items?
2. OVER CONSUMING
As a fledgling fashion blogger, and someone who is generally interested in fashion, I frequent many, many fashion blogs, websites etc. I have gained much insight and inspiration about most things fashion-related, and made some great friends because of my interest in fashion. Yet, a worrying and disturbing trend that I have noticed for a while is this obsessive compulsion that we have towards consuming. Constantly, I am bombarded with messages and posts and tweets about wants. In some extreme cases, wants are wrongly interpreted as needs. “Oh, I must have that pair of bright pink suede shoes that I saw at XYZ store. Need, need, need.” No, lady (or gent). You do not need those shoes. As human beings, all we need are things for survival – food, water, air to breathe, and a job (some people nowadays are content without that, as well). You just want things with a passion. It is human nature to want. Want constantly, excessively, and in abundance. Yet, I fear that there is an emphasis on consumption that doesn’t seem to be abating. An emphasis that can be toned down, a paradigm that can be changed. More focus on reuse/recycle/reduce or even donate would be a great start. Surely, fashion is more than just consuming, isn’t it?
3. FASHION = BEAUTY? EXCESSIVE WEIGHT LOSS
Ah, here comes the age old debate about fashion, beauty, and the image of beauty that all of us have probably encountered one too many times. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the first half of the equation stated above – fashion is beautiful. Fashion is a medium to all things beautiful. Yet, somehow, over the course of time, this whole idea of beauty has been misconstrued and destroyed to a point of self-harm. Skinny and Curves are both different sides of the same coin that is Beautiful. But there is absolutely no need for fashion to portray that just one particular body type is beautiful. Wrong. That’s wrong. Excessive weight loss that leads to self harming should not be condoned in any way whatsoever. As consumers of mass media, we too, need to be more discerning and thoughtful when we process images that various fashion outlets might be projecting. There are many ways in which we can be beautiful. Do good, be good, think positive thoughts, work hard, work out, etc etc etc. None of this includes self mutilation in any way. This is definitely NOT what fashion is.
So what is fashion to me?
After my mindful rant, I can safely conclude that none of the points above comes close to defining fashion for me. Fashion, to me, is based on the concept of being comfortable in your own skin. It’s an art form, the coming together of brilliant minds, beautiful fabrics, textures, thoughts, designs and colours to create beauty. As an art form, it is to be appreciated, coveted, and if possible, emulated. But like all art forms, it is also to be absorbed discerningly, and with various degrees of maturity. So if anything, fashion is art to me.
What is fashion to you? I’d love to hear some thoughts!
About the author: She is from Singapore, currently living in a city in the United Kingdom. She has been here for one and a half years thus far, studying International Relations, both the boon and the bane of her life. In her handbag are the few essentials by which she leads her life: a book, several pens, her notebook, her phone(when she can manage, she lugs her big camera around), her iPod, her passport and a bottle of water filled with hot water(always, no compromises there). Read more from her blog…