Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Finding the Middle Ground

    In my last post I referred to the conundrum we all face about the dissonance between what we get presented by the fashion press and design community, and what our reality requires of us.  But there is more, so much more to that conundrum.
    We get presented a vision of living, where an endless parade of newness overflows into our inboxes daily.  We get shown a plethora of options, most of them of higher price than we would like, that urge us to spend, spend, spend.  And we get told time and again that last season's things are so passe' that we dare not be seen in them, so second hand stores bulge with perfectly wearable clothes, that never really needed to be discarded.  I know this for fact since the vast majority of my wardrobe is, frankly, second hand.
    Within these seemingly silly considerations are others that are far more important. Any of us who pay attention, (and I know you do, because you wouldn't read me if you didn't), know that we are tipping our toes over a precipice where the amount of our consumption of resources will ultimately consume us.  The relentless search for the new for it's own sake has become a cancerous growth that threatens us all. We need only look at the ever more frenzied and outrageous attempts to get our attention by designers with their runway collections to see it.  It is no longer enough to create beautiful, wearable clothes. They must be presented with outrage, fantasy, and almost insane extravagance.
    The immense majority of us, however, live in a world where such things not only are unavailable to us because of price, but have no relevance to our world and lives.
    I, you, we, want to have apparel we like and that serves us well, not only for its utility, but for its ability to enhance us.  At the same time we are also cognizant of living in a world where resources continue to be more limited each day, so the idea of a vast wardrobe of ultimately disposable things stops feeling right.  What happens, at least for me, is that when I look a high fashion image, which I do daily,  I find less and less connection to it outside of a theoretical understanding of objective beauty, or an appreciation of the design concept shown.
     So, where do we go?  What do we do?  Do we abjure the fashionable world and clothe ourselves in only home made togs that we will wear for years?  Do we dive headlong into the deep end of Fashion and forget all about the profligate waste, and the abuse of labor?  Or is there some middle space we can find, some narrow pathway that serves both our desires, and our ethics?  I do not know myself.  I post these questions because they need posting.
     We surely need a retreat from the endless, mindless purchase of more of everything.  Who truly needs 20 pairs of jeans?  Yet I know people who have that many.  I am myself a fool about shoes, with way more pairs than is really needful.  So I'm party to this just like most folks.  We all either know people who have wardrobes vastly bigger than they need, or we are those people ourselves.
    This blog is about how apparel communicates, and that greater numbers of garments create a larger vocabulary.  So you can readily see my difficulty here. My path through this is narrow indeed. How to convey what I believe is a valid set of points, without becoming part of the issue myself.
    So I will leave you with these questions to ponder, both for yourself and for our larger society.
    What constitutes an appropriately sized wardrobe?
    Should we routinely bring more consideration to the selection of our clothes?
    What can we as individuals do to offset, or change the direction we have been going in for so long now.
    And if we are to live smaller, how do we re-employ the millions who would lose work as a result?

    Honestly, when I think on how huge this issue is, it makes my head hurt.

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