Fashion: A potential new language?
Knowing yourself is a way to determine what you want to wear and how to express that knowing, which often translates into the language of fabric called style. As a designer it is a thrill with each collection to create oneself new, and for buyers to create new vivid images of themselves living in the clothes.
Clothing is hopeful, as the endeavor of design usually is, and oriented towards the future because of it's aspirational aspect, so it's a look forward, what's next? It's like looking out of a window after a long night's rest, alone, and seeing the possibility to communicate an "I." Clothing is personal, what to wear and not wear is private, it’s an encounter with yourself, almost healing. Once you are out and about those private moments are transformed into a public statement.
I think this epidemic and also this new commitment to more vigorously and loudly fight systemic racism, will inspire a different kind of investment in our wardrobes, a more conscientious effort with more awareness of how clothing is made: What it is made of, who made these threads and did they get paid a fair wage, and how am I a part of this cloth? Moments of aching upheaval produce great imaginative new things in an effort to process what we went through and how it has changed us.
I predict that clothing will be more a kind of discovery, rather than simply a consuming enterprise. The purchase of clothing may be a way to find a way to express one's idiosyncrasies. We designers can make a revolution or reflect one so consumers, the buyers, can develop their own self expression. Vanessa Friedman, the fashion critic of the New York Times predicts that the era of sporting designer's garish logos on bags, shoes and clothing is probably over. I personally hope so. Designers, hopefully, will also be making political statements with the clothing they make which may be embraced by shoppers who will undoubtedly be buying less and consuming less disposable (fast fashion) clothing. Fashion shouldn't be thrown away to disintegrate, slowly, for hundreds of years in landfills. It should hold its value and be of value. Clothing that we still wear and covet after years traces our history, clothing that we get reacquainted with when the season change can thrust us back to last summer, that pair of pants we never threw out or gave away will save us from humiliation 10 years later, or that shirt you see your child wearing that you wore as a teenager - that’s a weeper.
Just like every significant and radical sea change -- like the end of the two world wars, women's suffrage, the depression, the feminist movement, women going to work -- what we wear changed radically. This moment which will be marked as a new era, this epidemic, and more importantly this cultural leap to finally recognize the poisonous culture of racism will invent it's response. And we will look a bit different.