Welcome to 2017
By Yasmin Jones-Henry
Welcome to 2017 folks. Strap yourselves in and make sure you have got your boots on because a storm is coming. In case you missed the headlines last year, 2016 was the calm before the storm. Will they Brexit? Won’t they Brexit? – They chose Brexit. Will they Trump? Won’t They Trump? – They chose Trump. The pollsters and self-appointed experts received an ‘oops-up-side-your-head’ on multiple occasions last year and by the time December rolled in with its long awaited festivities, celebrations were notably muted due to a global nervousness at what lies ahead. 2016 was consistently full of surprises, checking anyone who dared to presume they could predict the future.
Known Knowns and Known Unknowns
What we are left with ladies and gentlemen, as we stand on the precipice of 2017 – is a certainty of the unknown. In other words – screw your predictions! The only thing we know – is what we don’t know. The more honest people are about that fact, the faster perhaps we can start to make some progress as a race (the human race). Fixed timetables and tradition are the tools of the complacent. ‘It’s what we have always done’ has no credence in 2017. History, recent history has served time and again to demonstrate that anyone or any society that is not receptive to change – will in one way or another disintegrate or decay.
What does any of this have to do with the world of Fashion? – Well, everything. There is a multi-billion dollar industry that has – over the last century positioned itself in economics, world politics and society in general as the arbitrator and dictator of what is acceptable. Fashion – has been fashioned to operate as a beacon – signalling to the masses what to do and when. So, as I flick through the numerous January issues of the feted glossy reference books, I do so with bated breath.
In reference to the point I have just made about the lessons of history, a failure to heed the mistakes of the past, and a failure to recognise that universal change is necessary – creates the perfect conditions for the seeds of revolution to breed. I confess, even as a self professed lover of fashion and all things aesthetic, I am currently suffering from fashion-fatigue. Being fed the same jargon, season after season. Reading, scrolling, flicking through page after page of the same homogenous layouts with edgy – skinny models, in compromising positions – with a smug look that says ‘aren’t we clever? Aren’t we avant-garde?’ Enough!
My heart is heavy as I write this. Terrorism, political corruption and cultural inertia are rapidly consuming the future that my parents alongside their parents and their ancestors worked and fought so hard to build. I will keep beating on the drum – to draw attention to a point I made in my first article that Fashion is art. Art therefore by its nature is the most natural form of human expression. The claustrophobia that I feel as I flick through the lauded titles, is the wall of silence, the quiet refusal of those with the means and influence to do so – to speak out.
When you look at the art dating back to the Renaissance or the Abstract Impressionist movement of the mid 20th century – it is very clear that the works produced are directly influenced – a reflection – of the circumstances within which they were conceived. What is jarring to me, is that previously, fashion followed this pattern – eg. The sixties – swinging in techni-colour, the seventies – dystopia, black panther – mod, the eighties – punk and pop – I could go on. Now? What do I see in fashion that reflects what is actually current?
To be completely blunt, this is where ‘Fashion’ is beginning to come away at the seams. In adulation of its own ingenuity and in admiration of its own reflection – the industry has failed to denote – and reflect the temperature of the times. Caught up in fads – fleeting trends delivered entirely via virtual reality. The real narrative has been put to one side. An art historian looking back on the post 2005 trends will find the conversation suddenly ceases to evolve and becomes stuck. Like a scratched record – repeating the same phrases and melodies, the industry that I had once aspired to be part of is at risk of loosing its core audience.
The reason why 2016 left such a bitter taste in so many people’s mouths, is largely due to the fact that many of the events that occurred, were allegedly ‘unexpected’. But were they? Whether you were traumatised by the US election or the Project Fear that pre-empted Brexit – none of these events were genuinely surprising. On both occasions, the fashionable elite, stood by – or rather behind the candidate of choice. They backed the foreign policy that served best their interests in context to Europe and the wider luxury industry, but in doing so paid little attention to what was actually the word on the streets, in the mouths of the people. They FAILED – as arbitrators of what is ‘in’ – pay any attention to what the masses actually wanted. They mistook the echo of their personal opinions for that of public opinion.
This is dangerous territory for an industry that positions itself as democratic in its delivery of what is ‘relevant’ to the catwalk. What it exposes is a level of arrogance, that makes even the most loyal fan – uneasy. How can ‘they’ be trusted as an authority – if they show no regard – or ability to read the temperature of the times in which we live?
Am I suggesting that the industry is on the verge of being rendered obsolete? No. It hasn’t travelled quite that far, yet. What I am suggesting is that 2016 ought to be the wake up call for the powers that be to recognise that unless some radical reforms are put in place pronto – they will cease to have any powers at all. We trust the editors to put together and compile a succinct bulletin. We have for the last century relied upon magazines to layout an informative blueprint for what is to be acceptable. We look to the fashion shows – to see the exhibition of said blueprint in motion. However at the point the general public begin to see that this world they subsidise through sale and purchase – is no longer serving them, but the self interests of an exclusive coterie of withered hands, what do you think will be the likely outcome?
There is a Jamaican proverb I used to hear as a child: ‘If you do not listen, you must feel’. The same applies to the fashion industry. 2016 in addition to political upheaval also saw the beginnings of an all out war between the ‘editors of established publications’ vs ‘popular bloggers’. A combination of jealousy, industry protectionism and a lack of respect for established authority produced the aforementioned spat. As a spectator – what it showed me, is that change is on the horizon. The old guard might not be given the dignified option of passing on the baton – if they do not adapt graciously.
Where am I going with all this? A wise man once taught me that: ‘content – will always be king’. People – who thirst for knowledge will always travel to wherever they can find it. It is built into our DNA. Like a moth to a flame – we have a gravitational pull to knowledge. It feeds the mind and the soul. Desperate times call for desperate measures – while the internet is flooded with data – there is in fact a huge knowledge deficit. If the once revered publications and fashion houses do not pull their socks up – the demos – the masses, will take their commerce elsewhere.
Welcome to 2017, the year of reckoning for many. The year that will separate the boys from the men and the girls from the women. We do not know what else this year has in store. Whatever unfolds rest assured we will be ready. In the meantime, Work In Fashion will continue to champion freedom of expression and the virtues of a positive outlook.
Welcome to 2017. Welcome to Work In Fashion. Now watch us dress, work and win!
Work In Fashion
© 2017 All Rights Reserved Urban Flow Designs LTD