Friday, June 24, 2016

Dancing The Edge Of the Blade

    It's true.  I stand daily on a knife's edge when I talk about Attire.  I do. It seems silly when I think of it, but the truth is that ethically, I do.  On the one side is a passion for design, beauty, and a desire to elevate as many people as possible into that world of sublime luxury and glamour.  On the other I see the uncountable millions who build the clothes we wear, when they cannot ever hope to afford them themselves.
    It creates what seems to be an inescapable problem.  How do we navigate through this?  How do I navigate through this?  How do we find a balance between the entirely legitimate desire to be beautiful, and to have some variance of appearance, with the devouring maw of consumerism that threatens to take us all down in a fury of shoddy products?  What are we to do?
    The fact we cannot turn away from is that, for good or ill, a massive percentage of the world depends upon just that endless pouring forth of ill-considered consumer product.  A huge number of the laborers on the planet are involved in one way or another with the production of the clothing we wear each day.  Farmers, ranchers, truckers, mill workers, warehousemen, spinners, dyers, weavers, designers, cutters, fitters, sewing machine workers, advertisers, shop keepers, stock boys, salespeople, visual merchandisers, and register clerks all take part, even if only tangentially, in this massive process.  There are many more. The makers of buttons, ribbons, zippers, velcro and interfacing, work alongside those who make thimbles, sewing machines, measuring tapes, and tailors chalk.  When we start musing along these lines, it's hard to think of anyone who isn't touching, or touched by this vast industry we have created.
    The fact remains that we have created a monster.  We have.  It must be admitted by anyone rational, that we have created something which now runs entirely out of control, fueled by one overarching goal: PROFIT.
    How do we bring this back to a human scale?  How do we make this again a process where real people get what they really need?  Honestly, I'm not sure.  The fact is that what we see as the Fashion Industry did not exist before the later 1800s.  So it's not like this is something that has gone on for untellable ages that has the force of ancient tradition.  This is something, by human history, really quite new. 
     We have been, and continue to be sold a bill of goods.  The force of media, now so pervasive due to the instant access of the internet, has allowed more and more people to fall thrall to the idealizations and fantasies promoted by the people who most want to sell us things.
     Where in the 1930s, a girl had to wait for the latest issue of Photoplay to see what the Hollywood stars were wearing, she can now see those stars almost moment by moment. We had to deal with an issue of time which has evaporated.  And that is one of the prime concerns we face; the instant nature of our Attire language.  No other spoken or gestural language has had the opportunity to morph with the rapidity, or the breadth, as the Attire language.  It seems to shift instantaneously to our silly whims.  Whatever evanescent thought pops into our heads, it appears as apparel before day's end.  And we have our increasing technology to thank for that, which allows a design to be sent clear around the globe to be manufactured today, for shipment in a few days, to anywhere.
    Here's the thing.  If we are going to move forward further into the 21st century we must take stock about the responsibilities we have both ethically and environmentally with regard to our choices and consumption of goods.  The major question is this.  How do we move forward, wanting what we want about our own lives, while also supporting the lives of the unknown millions who depend upon us for their meager living?  Is there a way to move forward together, or is the system so cancerous that it must be excised like a tumor?   And if it is at last excised, will we survive it? If it does not survive, what replaces it?

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