Thursday, June 21, 2012

Styles and definitions of Fashion

Market in Amsterdam, photo: Marcel L├╝cht
Today, strolling on the market, I was wondering what the definition of Fashion actually is. If I had to make a guess, it was something like "A way of dressing and using accessories that expresses who you are."
Judging by that definition, whe blandness on the streets was surely indicating that there was not a lot of expression going on. Surely, there were statements of all kinds, a black woman with short milimetered hair painted signal blue, and another woman with the type of red that was screaming "Not Naturally obtained".  But when leaving hairstyles out of the equasion (just for the sake of this blog, because it surely is a fashion statement), there was just an awfull lot of "nothing".
So, I decided to seek advise of the always trusty Internet on the definition of Fashion. And it came up with: "a popular or the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration, or behaviour." (source Oxford Dictionaries).
OK, so by that definition, fashion is more of a reflection of what the mass public decides is "Bon ton". Enter marketing budgets.

So fashion can be made, fashion is the biggest common denominator. Throw a huge budget on add campains in leading magazines lige Vogue or Elle, and there is a fair chance that the general public will, after the fashion pundits have decided its worth putting on the front cover, a new Fashion will be born.
Ok, so far the gloomy, negative, marketing-dollar driven definition. 

But I think there is more to fashion than the definition above is covering. Because everywhere in the world sub-cultures are being created, that keep on influencing eachother. Some on big scales, some on smaller ones.

Take the schoolgirl, Rococo inspired Lolita style that for a few years already is booming in a niche of Japan's fashion styles. Steadily it has found its way to all corners of the world and has grown there to sub-culture fashion statements, that now and then even make headlines in national and international media.
Members of the Lolita Paradise Club in Monterrey, Mexico
Photo Daniel Becerrill / Reuters
The British Daily Mail recently featured an article on this particular sub-culture in Mexico's cities, and sent a reporter to Monterrey for covering of the story. According to the Lolita's Paradise Club, its a statement against the forceful "Grow Up Quickly"- statement of moderns society, trying to stay a kid by dressing accordingly. If that is the whole story is up for debate, but maybe more on that in a later blog. At least we can agree that it is a fashion statement, a way of expressing yourself through clothing and accessories. It does not seem at all a common denominator, a mass inspired thing, pushed by large corporations. Instead its a niche that, on its own, and aided by the openness of the internet and assisted by media coverage, finds its way into different corners of the world. Is everyone thinking its "beautiful", "Cute" or something alike? I don't think so. And is it popular? Walking on the streets of Amsterdam today, I did not see anybody dressed even remotely Lolita-style. Therefor it does not really match the definition by Oxford Dictionary. But is it fashion? Yes it is! Fashion in my belief is more than the "Middle-of-the-road" that brands like PME, Esprit and G-star are pushing. Fashion is an expression of an individual!

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