Fashion matters in many ways

The fashion industry is fascinating and diverse. Fashion matters from various economic, social, and aesthetic points of view are the topic of this blog. Join me on a quest to document, analyze, and comment on this industry that touches everyone. This blog will examine matters related to fashion and why fashion matters.

Fashion is about desire and need … or is it?

I need a new pair of sneakers. At least in terms of a middle-class North American professional’s needs.

I bought black mesh sneakers with a thick white sole and my big toe blew out the mesh on three pair. I embroidered over the holes, but that is now looking tired and I am ready for a change. So “need” is kind of true, BUT I would not go barefoot if I didn’t buy a new pair of sneakers. Thus the qualifier in the second sentence.

Probably more correctly I just DESIRE a new pair of sneakers. AND I MOST CERTAINLY desire these: Yohji Yamamato Y-3 X Adidas. Just look at how cool they are. The dripping threads. The designer’s name whom I admire and whom inspires me immensely discretely printed on the side… heaven.

I want them so very much it hurts (!) BUT they cost $330, and “This product is excluded from all promotional discounts and offers.” That’s a LOT in my world to spend on a pair of sneakers. Take the plunge, or go for a less expensive sneaker???? Will I regret off-white? But these look the best. What to do??


The word aesthetic

This morning my students were were synthesizing and presenting about information from a professional fashion trend report. And the topic of aesthetic came up, as a “goth revival aesthetic” for childrenswear. One of the students described aesthetic in this sense as a lifestyle or choices that you make that affect the visual aspects of your environment. Being of a certain age and able to provide perspective, I explained that up until 5 to 7 years ago we would’ve called that a style.

Stop the war in Ukraine – fashion for the greater good.

Sometimes it seems that fashion is insignificant when we consider such horrible life events like the war happening right now in Ukraine. I’m a firm believer that clothing and the fashion industry can influence the world for good, even in times of war. from digital fashion to the power of clothing symbolism, we are seeing fashion for the greater good today.

I just learned that the company Dressx, that I’ve been admiring for a while now in the Digital Fashion space, is based in Ukraine. Here are some digital fashion pieces they recently published to help support Ukraine.

With digital fashion collection, Ukrainian company DressX calls on international industry for local support

This article about the fashion of military leaders impacts the world in time of war is also very interesting.


Do we need a new word for Fashion?

I have been thinking about how the term Fashion has gotten a bad rap, with all the focus on the detrimental aspects of clothing production and consumption. Another aspect of the word I hadn’t thought about was the elitist and segregational aspects of the Fashion concept, reinforced in an essay my nephew recently sent me titled, “The New and Fashion” from “On The New” by Boris Groys.

In this intense time of re-assessment, perhaps we need a new word that describes the making and wearing of clothes?

“The New and Fashion” is a fascinating analysis of fashion in the largest sense of the word, tracing the concept from perspectives ranging from the sociological to historical memory related to theoretical and artistic production. The essay does a great job of discussing individual freedom and homogeneity, inequality, elitism, and values. These concepts really resonate with my thoughts about how we need to get back to the essence of clothing, return to quality and self-expression, rather than mindlessly following the overpriced, cheaply made clothing that the media feeds us.

Let’s seek a culturally significant new in terms of dress and adornment that is more focused on recognizing very special effort, meaning and purpose.

If we get there, what will we call it?

Augmented reality and fashion: Trying on Gucci shoes from the comfort of my couch

Augmented reality is bringing virtual images into your real world through the lens of your phone. There’s a lot of talk right now about digital fashion and ways of enhancing the online buying experience through technology.

I recently discovered the app Wanna Kicks, and had fun trying on shoes from my couch with augmented reality. A new experience… My feet even felt different. Which pair is your favorite?


Artificial intelligence and the future of sustainable fashion event

I’m attending Understanding AI: The Future of Sustainable Fashion. Would you like to attend?

Issey Miyake and a piece of cloth

One of the most interesting fashion designers of all time is Issey Miyake. He is a deep thinker who has carved his place in fashon history through focused research with one guiding principle: a piece of cloth. After rewatching this video from 2006 this morning, feel the need to share some of his statements that ring true still today:

“I want to develop the concept of “a piece of cloth” over as long a period as possible. When I grow weary about where I’m going, or when I stumble, I’ll return to the theme, “a piece of cloth.” I feel happy about that because it gives me another direction to go in.

I feel there is a difference between an individual designer and what we can achieve when we talk to designers or others.

Design work should certainly not be a matter of designing something, turning it into a product and simply introducing changes or modifications. A new approach will be the basis of design in the future, I think. We must think more about society, living, and enjoyment or happiness. Otherwise our work will become boring and extremely different.

In my opinion it’s essential for different kinds of people to get together to work, and for people sharing the same world to think and talk to each other about a variety of things.”


The hands behind the brands

I have had the great honor and pleasure to meet and learn from some of the women who worked in the French Haute Couture ateliers: Mme. Picot, Mme. Ivagnes, Mme. Lenoir. They are talented, driven, and highly skilled. Their criteria and quest for quality is unparalleled. Not being able to travel to the Paris American Academy, where they share their knowledge, has been frustrating! This video brought me back to that world. I highly recommend watching!

#chanel #paris #fashion #craft #fashion design #draping #patternmaking #parisamericanacademy #hands #skill #making

I have been in a pandemic-induced silence, and today I am motivated to speak. Interestingly, what motivated me is the fact that Vogue magazine has commissioned artists for the cover of the September 2020 issue. As I have been preparing to teach the talented fashion design class of 2021, the Art/Design relationship has been in the forefront of my thoughts – and voila! Vogue not only gave credence to my direction, but the sublime and intense result is visually and intellectually stimulating. Enjoy and please comment.

Finding what we need closer to home

The Covid-19 situation has led us to a world where our the provenance of our possessions will be in flux. “Up to 90% of all goods are made in China. We already know that the design processes for fall/winter (fashion) products are not happening as they should be.” – Trend forecaster Li Edelkoort

Quote from https://www.highsnobiety.com/p/corona-virus-fashion-industry/?utm_source=Highsnobiety+Newsletter&utm_campaign=ab54b5b857-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_54b284222a-ab54b5b857-86089193&mc_cid=ab54b5b857&mc_eid=cdf34a1559

People have been talking about “made local” in many ways, for several years now: farm-to-table, slow fashion, eco-friendly, re-shoring, and lowering the carbon footprint are only a few catch phrases describing this idea. Interestingly, for most of my mother’s life, “made local” wasn’t a hip idea, nor did it come from a studied voice of alarm for the planet. Made local was a survival mechanism. My mother grew up in extreme poverty in Southern Illinois, and her focus every day as she raised her family in the mid-20th century was making local. Not an easy task, but it served us well.

Depression-era mindfulness

In 1929 when my mom was five her father died from pneumonia, leaving her mother with three children and no way to provide for them. As a child, for a few years, my mom knew hunger and thirst like no child should. They moved in with my great-grandfather and things got a bit better. Stories of going to the movies for a quarter and long walks to barn dances reveal that she found pleasure in life. My mom was very smart, but she did not have a formal education past 8th grade. She tried going to high school, but she didn’t have money for clothes or books, so she started cleaning houses for 50 cents a week.

She and my father started a life together in 1942, living in the deep country (an hour by Model T Ford to the closest town of 1,000), when she was 17 and he was 20. His father was a farmer, so they lived about half of a mile from them and worked the land together. Along with our parents we all worked hard and prospered. Both of my parents have left this world and the family farm trust they founded helps their children and children’s children even today.

As a family when I was growing up, we ate farm-raised beef and chickens. During the summer, my mother’s enormous garden fed us all (they raised eight children) and she would often say, with pride (and sometimes exhaustion), that everything on the table came from our home.

The habits my parents formed during their childhood and early married life never left them, even when their finances were flourishing. “Waste not, want not” was their slogan. Pop would never let a jelly jar be tossed without adding milk to it, shaking, and drinking the sweet flavor. My mother never threw food away; what wasn’t fit to save as leftovers she tossed to the chickens or cooked into a mush for the dogs and cats. These actions were not for a cause, and they were no longer driven by external forces; they reflected my parent’s values.

Textiles and not wasting

In terms of textiles, mom and her contemporaries sewed clothes for their children and made quilts out of the left over scraps. I would estimate that in her lifetime she participated in the making of over a thousand quilts. She would get so aggravated at people who “went to the store” to buy fabric for a quilt. I sometimes sleep under a quilt made by the hands of my mother and her friends and cousins that was sewn with left-over fabric from one of my favorite sundresses as a teenager.

When my mom came to visit me in Paris, France, where we designed, manufactured, and sold our own line of clothes, what do you think she took home? No snow globe of the Eiffel Tower for her; she gathered the production scraps from our cutting room and took them home to make something else.

Local is worth it

So, I guess my point is, making and consuming locally-made food and clothing is nothing new. It’s more difficult in most cases than just buying a cheap import or processed package of food, but when we look at the overall value proposition, it is time well spent.

As we move forward in this complicated time – an environment of human-accelerated climate change, and now virus-imposed change, I believe we need to revisit our values – to teach ourselves, our contemporaries and the next generations that valuing our possessions and making the effort to buy local will be good for us all in the end.

I will close with a quote from another great person. Almost as great as my mom. LOL. Thanks to my friend Karin Beerten in Antwerp for the Facebook post:

“If you are cheap, nothing helps.” – Karl Lagerfeld


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