As clothing design becomes more accessible through affordable chains and style becomes more accessible through internet – fashion is more democratic today than ever before.
But at whose expense?
Isn’t a critical part of the global population more likely to produce that Céline-ripoff dress than wearing it? Items from the chains fashionable branches are made to satisfy an instant urge for expressing and experiencing a certain style that is found attractive at the moment. They aren’t really expected to last because we are used to fast paced fashion in a fast paced high-tech information age.
And the ideology on which our actions spring from is neoliberalism, right? An ideology (we tend to not talk about) where people are seen as consumers and their power lies in the act of buying and selling. When we buy cheap non-sustainable products we maintain an illusion that we are successful. Because consumption is the proof of wealth and ultimately happiness according to neoliberal ideology.
To challenge this system that merits the already wealthy, betrays the poor and exploits our planet – we might need to accept that everyone can’t have everything. And that would include questioning the idea that democratic fashion is to enable a majority of the population to innovate their wardrobe every season.
I personally believe that’s the case however one thing that I believe has sincerely shifted the industry’s power towards the people, is the internet. Style has an undeniable correlation with cultural capital whether its high or low and never before has culture been as accessible as it is today. Let alone have fashion blogs and e-commerce played a big part; geography is much less of a factor today.
Of course acquiring copied versions of high fashion products is a way of manifesting the human capital of style. It would be oppressive almost to take away that right from us, the freedom of expression through style. Nonetheless we need to end consumerism in order to achieve equality and stop global warming.
To express style without consuming any products is easy, especially online, call it styling. Maybe the fact that stylists are more powerful than ever today is a sign that we are on the way to a more sustainable fashion industry. Remixing and recycling, appropriating and collaging what is already there.
So what’s the future of design??