Is fashion shallow?

There’s an interesting post over at Gertie’s New Blog For Better Sewing today about her recent trip to see Wicked on Broadway. The costumes really captured her imagination:

What’s most impressive is how the clothing tells a story in such an authentic way. It’s first a product of good writing, I suppose, that Elphaba’s iconic witch costume comes off as real, rather than kitschy. There’s a story behind each piece: the hat was given to her as a cruel joke by classmate Glinda, for example.

You can check out the full post here, it’s a lovely read, as is the rest of her blog.

As Gertie does often, she threw the discussion to her readers, asking:

Are you ever made to feel shallow for being interested in fashion and garment construction? Do you think that fashion is a powerful art form, or is that overstating it?

For me, fashion and sewing have always been two separate things. Sometimes I’ll take inspiration from fashion supplements in newspapers, but more often than not, my sewing habits pay little to no homages to the current trends.

There are certain aspects of fashion which I do find shallow. After all, fashion is all about how you look. When I think fashion, I inevitably think of Cardiff high street (or any city’s high street for that matter) and its plethora of cheap, fast fashion on show.

For those of you who have read/listened to my interview with Zoe, she speaks of the “feeling of dissatisfaction” which seems to drive the industry, and I can’t help but agree. We’re bombarded with advertising which subtly promises something “better” if you upgrade your wardrobe. In the world of the glossy and the airbrushed, you can achieve anything if you have the right dress and shoes.

Yet, as Gertie says, there are often times when fashion truly is an art form in its own right. I’m sure more knowledgable fashionistas could list off many designers who do great things with their seams!

As for me, I don’t necessarily look to haute couture – I’m the kind of person who identifies more with grassroots projects, and it’s this human touch which adds depth to fashion and clothing. Inevitably I look to the online sewing community for that and there are countless examples of people on the street who can pull off statements with an outfit alone.

One particular example deserves a post all its own, but take a look at this video from The Uniform Project. The idea was to wear the same dress every day for a year to raise money for the Akanksha Foundation. I always think of this example when I think of fashion which makes a point and makes a difference.

Uniform Project Picture Book from Uniform Project on Vimeo.

As for sewing, I can honestly say I’ve never been made to feel shallow for making my own clothes. Sewing is a craft and a skill in its own right. It may be growing in popularity, but it’s not as common as it used to be. As a trainee journalist, I’m learning shorthand, and I often think you could draw a lot of parallels between the two skills. People wonder why I’m learning shorthand when I could just buy a dictaphone in the same way as some people wonder why I’m sewing a pencil skirt I could easily buy for under a tenner.

What do you think? Is fashion shallow?

2 thoughts on “Is fashion shallow?

  1. cardiffcouture says:

    Nice post Len! For me, fashion in and of itself isn’t shallow. It’s a means of self-expression and creativity, from someone like you with your sewing to the amazing haute couture people like Hussein Chalayan create [see the floating dress-amazing!] It is as much a cultural and political statement as anything – fashion reflects the socio-economic climate. Just look at the way styles drastically changed between the first and second world wars, after the sexual revolution, during the Thatcher years. It even changed pre and post recession from bright, fast and easily accesible to darker, more durable one-off statement pieces which last for much longer. Of course, fashion becomes shallow when you lose that creativity as with mass produced, indetikit clothing, but even then you can turn those pieces into something v. different with some imagination. Shallow people make fashion shallow.

  2. mia holt says:

    Love the post lovely.
    I think that people always think that if you have an interest in fashion then you are shallow yourself for basing things on what you look like, but personally, I see fashion as a form of self expression and a way of showing people who you really are. Just because you have a love for clothes and spend a lot of time looking, photographing or writing about them doesn’t mean you are shallow, it means you’re a creative person and just like paint is for the artist, clothes are for you a form of art.
    However, I think on a higher level, when it comes to designers, then fashion does become shallow because it limits certain people from being able to wear it. Even though just like art it is obvious hard work and deserves to be put at a price for the amount of effort and time that goes into creating, designer clothes for me are far too over priced and therefore I believe that high end fashion can be perceived as shallow in that sense.

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