What is Fashion For?
On the 28th November 2016 I built a blog. It had just two articles on it. The first, and arguably one of the most important articles I’ve ever written, remains the cornerstone of why @WorkinFashion.me exists. The premise of the question “What is Fashion For?” informs everything that is published, promoted and publicized on this platform. I didn’t mean to disrupt the narrative with that introspective question, but as it happens I did – and now I have zero regrets. (66,240 Views and 1,348 comments to date !!! )
As I approach the third anniversary, I find myself here again. After three years of political turmoil. Two years of public condemnation of the fashion industry, and a year of peak corporate greenwashing in both the fashion and financial sectors, here we are: staring at the horizon asking, once more: “What is ‘Fashion’ for?”
Since I have accumulated over 12k+ new subscribers this year – it would be negligent of me to assume you’re all familiar with our ethos. Rule numero uno: Fashion isn’t actually about fashion – like if you didn’t know – it’s not actually about the clothes – it was never about the clothes: It was always about the people (the people who make them, the people who wear them). Here we base all dialogue on the original etymology of the word: Facere (Latin) meaning ‘to do or to make’. Fashion – is the discourse of all things made and manufactured. It’s the intersection where design, geopolitics, economics and self expression meet.
To borrow a quote from my father to my teenage self: “consider the hearts and the hands of the people who make your clothes”. Fast fashion? Luxury? It’s far from frivolous. If you’ve landed on this website, you’ll be introduced to the investors, designers, entrepreneurs and thought leaders who share in this belief. There isn’t a simple solution to fixing the world’s problems, but design – designers and entrepreneurs are natural born solution providers. @WorkinFashion.me was built, to be a platform to elevate their stories and share their narratives. Knowledge is power: so the more you know about the change-makers – the more (hopefully) you’ll feel empowered that all is not lost.
@workinfashion.me is also a safe space where I – alongside my contributors think out loud. The benefit of spending the last three years looking, exploring and examining the macroeconomic impact of fashion and design, is that what you’re left with is a more acute awareness of the serious global problems such as modern slavery, human trafficking and pollution. But at the same time, you’re also presented with real-time solutions. The solutions are not coming from policy makers, or the big conglomerate fat cats. The real change is happening on the ground, mere mortals – in touch with their sense of ethics, have decided to weaponise their creativity, in the fight for the preservation of civilisation and humanity. A worthy cause.
On a personal level, when I published ‘When The World is Not Enough’(2017) – it was the first time, I had come to terms with the reality that between 2012-2016 I was battling a very real war with anorexia nervosa. Somehow, staring the beast that it is in the eye, uttering it on a public domain – in the hope of shattering the silent prison that it is, inadvertently set me free. Fashion – the exploration of craftsmanship and enterprise, was a means of an escape. It introduced me to a world of optimists, who spend every waking moment, assessing, evaluating and then delivering, alternative, positive means to everyday problems. Their energy is infectious, and I wanted to share it with you.
The Collective is my dossier of changemakers and their stories. Reading about how other people overcome their problems, celebrating their victories and sharing their solutions, has given me a new sense of purpose. I don’t have billions or even millions in capital – but I know how to write, and I know how to design a wireframe – so that’s what I’ll do.
Design > Solutions > Create > Hope
In December 2017, I wrote another confessional: ‘Citizens of Hope: The World Refashioned’. It was barely a sketch, but it is the blueprint of where I’m heading with all this. As the daughter of artists, it’s impossible for me not to look at the world through the prism of design. Nothing hangs in orbit by chance. If something is flawed or broken – it can be redrawn or reconfigured, or re-purposed or recycled into something new. We have the power to reorder our universe. At least that’s what my Father taught me, and I believe him. The problem is society has downgraded creativity as an extra – superfluous skill – as opposed to the bedrock of human survival.
How did we end up with a system where bankers and data farmers are at the top of the food chain, accumulating the world’s capital and resources, meanwhile the creatives who generate the GDP, the wealth, the goods, the natural capital and intellectual property are living in modern day slavery?
Change isn’t coming: It’s already here. Don’t wait for your local MP. Interrogate, ask questions, be proactive in your own social circle. “Fashion activism starts everyday when you open your wardrobe” (Orsola de Castro, co-founder of Fashion Revolution). Being a citizen of humanity, being a Citizen of Hope – requires daily participation. Activism is not an extra-curricular activity – it’s a state of being. If you are not an active member of your community, why not? What will the universe give you – if you give nothing back?
Our society is in a season of famine, because the investment in our youth was withheld. That’s the long and short of it. Don’t blame the governments that WE elected, for not delivering on promises that WE have not held them to account for. Our democracy is only as good as the ‘demos’ – people within it. So the first rule of citizenship is personal accountability. We’re all designers of our own lives, so let’s be responsible for the lifestyle and the opportunities we create.
In a nutshell this is the conversation we’re having on @workinfashion.me. I felt the need to revisit the Functionality vs The Aesthetic conundrum because socially, people are asking if it’s possible, if it’s even realistic to expect fashion to be ethical or sustainable… Well to the detractors I strongly suggest you pay attention. Fashion – is an extension of human expression. It’s a performance of humanity. Can humans be ethical? Do humans know how to live without exploiting, murdering, trafficking and stealing? – Ethics is the framework that keeps the world from spinning into chaos and oblivion, but Ethics- being ‘ethical’ is also a lifestyle choice. All we can do is keep asking the right questions. All we can do, is provoke, prompt and cajole to make the right lifestyle choices.
Thank you for following me on this journey – and sticking with me. As the @workinfashion.me community continues to grow, so too does the movement for an ethical and sustainable way of living and of doing business. We draw the pictures, We set the tempo and We design the narrative so let’s rewrite the melody, reconfigure the composition so that functionality and the Aesthetic are no longer in opposition, but in symbiotic harmony.
Thanks for listening.
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