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May 11, 2009 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Fashion in a Disintegrating World, pt. 1

I’ll be the first to admit, I enjoy a good media-induced moral panic from time to time. The kind that everyone makes lame references to on their Facebook statuses in an attempt to gain a bit of cultural capital.

My favourite are the friends who want you to know they’re in tune with the panic-ridden times yet are still too cool to actually be concerned. You’ll read their swine flu-related status and cringe. And probably want to punch a small defenceless animal.

This isn’t a recent media trend. If we look back we might remember the ‘video games make kids kill’ stories. It penetrated the concerned mind of every mother with a Playstation-loving, pasty-white pubescent boy. My personal favourite was the call against ‘youth music’, or more specifically, ‘Marilyn Manson and his devil music makes kids kill’. Interestingly, Manson is incredibly eloquent in disarming this call.

The current state of the world has undeniably supplied the media with an abundance of subjects to create panic around, then inject into our lives. The co-existence and coverage of moral panic topics in the media is uncommon, in my opinion. We were all deadly frightened of the wrath of a vengeful environment until Obama came along and we realised Wall Street was looking much scarier.

Now, suddenly, the pigs are the enemies of the world and we’re more than happy to spend a significant amount of our precious dollars on a vaccine that might not even cut it, and cut a forest down on the way if we need to.

The fashion world is not exempt from the affairs of a disillusioned world. What it does have is a slight immunity, or more accurately, an ability to defend itself against the world’s ills. There is no one-shot cure, rather a constant and dynamic relationship between the fashion world and current affairs, in efforts to keep clothes moving off store racks and into our wardrobes.

What we have seen (in the world of high fashion anyway) is customers who buy designer clothes will generally continue to buy designer clothes. The quantity and frequency is the variable factor.

As a result, the fashion industry is forced to adapt—using organic cotton and eco-friendly manufacturing processes in environmentally dire times, or creating a wider range of timeless looks on the runway to make customers feel secure about spending on clothes. And in the midst of a deadly virus, there are even printed face masks in case you’re worried you look like crap in your attempts to stay alive.

Designers, manufacturers, store owners, buyers—they all have the tricky task of keeping us buying by creating reasons why we should. One example is in current seasons, where we’re seeing fewer indulgently embellished garments, and more rich, irresistible colours and textures. Josh Partner of explains that what these clothes aim for is a fierce beauty meant to capture the turbulent mood of the times. Boldness, the thinking goes, wards off uncertainty”.

Creating certainty in the hesitant customer is the present challenge of the fashion world and it’s one which permeates the entire industry—right down to retail assistants and even us plebs trying to sell our crap on TradeMe. It is this changing relationship between the buyer and the garment which has birthed the tenets of this two part article. I had a customer spend close to 2.5k in store (ironically her husband is an economist), which makes me think; how is the recession really effecting the fashion market? Is the stress and anxiety worrying about jobs, mortgage and retirement causing people splurge out, or, as mentioned earlier, are our spending habits becoming more conservative? And finally, how is the fashion industry combating this, from designers to shop assistants?

And so to end part one on a coherent note, I’ll employ the tactics of our beloved media to keep you coming back for more, maybe creating a little moral panic of my own:

Fashion in a Disintegrating World…could our spending be making kids kill? Tune in next time to find out.


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  1. Mavalover says:

    Mava I love you

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