Schrodinger’s Catwalk: The Paradox of Empowerment in Fashion
A trans-person concluded the fashion show? Fine, that does empower the movement fighting intolerance towards trans-people. But no beating around the bush:
The attributions to empowerment in fashion has been one sided so far.
Not many brands acknowledge how they’re empowered in return by the genuine appeal for the marginalised people. Don’t want to point out any one particular designer brand name but their media buddies are all writing tales about how those who once sold you misogyny, objectification, sexism and body ideals are apparently disgusted with selves and are the new saviours of this society. Fuck y’all. The same fashion folks are the ones who created these problems in the first place. They’re the same ones who did the damage. They’re the same ones who sold toxic ideas of beauty and NO, they don’t deserve a medal for the damage correction happening right now.
Ethics are reduced to a marketing tool to make people buy more.
In recent times well known corporations have taken a mighty fall. Well known fashion personalities have reported losses and in an attempt to figure out new ways to make profits – the fashion industry equated elitist wealthy splurges with social responsibility thereby shadowing actual values and reducing the marginalised sections to under-credited marketing tool.
Ethical lifestyle is now an accessory to make an elitist statement.
You only carry Vegan bags & if that made you feel like some saviour of this planet or entitled, remember… you’re just well-off, not wealthy enough to fill your BMW with vegan petrol. A petrochemical industry tycoon who shops 20 different trends for one season, is making a socially ethical statement by wearing that 100% organic cotton kurta as opposed to the poor kid whose only occasion wear was that red kurta, more likely a sweatshop knockoff. The same elites who built this capitalist system are ethically concerned about how the lower middle class buy cheap goods manufactured at sweatshops. Elites at PETA are cribbing about that poor farmer using an ox to transport his goods whereas only house sparrows were wiped away when the urban elite drove cars. The upper caste doesn’t eat meat & it’s socially established that lower caste’s traditional diet made of beef is unethical. Regular folks cannot afford nutrition rich vegan diet or turmeric dyed organic Kurta. Capitalism surpasses its own unethical standards when it commercialised ethics by targeting collective conscience, planting ideas of what’s ethical and setting a price tag so high to establish that being socially ethical is a luxury not everyone can afford. Amusing how cynical elitist egos are disguised as socially concerned personas! Reality check: The vegan bag you could afford is your privilege, not favour to this mankind. You’re intellectually wealthy the day you can consume less & think about equitable distribution of resources.
REDUCE/REUSE/RECYCLE is the key, and when you’re really helping your environment, what you’re taking away from earth shouldn’t be more than what you’re giving back… Else, the MEDIA-HYPED organically grown hand spun blah blah blah follows last, and has almost negligible influence in saving this planet as opposed to the extent it’s required to exploit this planet in order to buy those pricey ethical clothes of yours. They’ll tell you how ethical denims can save up to 1000 litres of water as opposed to regular ones. But consumers also deserve to know the 100000000 litres of water consumed by the company in everyday operations & productions. The damage correction figures are rather deceiving.
Vivienne Westwood genuinely promoted DIY culture by making it a global trend. Most Punk in that era went on to create their unique accessories. That’s a social agenda! Vivienne didn’t do – “BUY SOCIALLY ETHICAL DIY FASHION AT 30% OFF & GET 2ND PURCHASE FREE!” Hope as an industry we reignite dialogues & reforms as to how one can seriously save this planet & not have it as a mere CSR project/PR exercise. As of now, Indian fashion industry is handing out ethical fashion like some janeu/poonool to the elite section of the society and they shall be marked *sacred* for their contribution towards ethical fashion. In the name of ethical fashion, global fashion industry is selling you a superficial sense of self & wrapping it with stories of environmental well-being too!! *WINK*
Glamorizing violence in the name of ACTIVISM is more SHOCK THAN CHIC.
Fashion celebrates creativity and the thrill of the imagery. But dressing up a brutal and horrifying crime scene with lights, expensive designer clothes and cosmetics comes across as a fetish rather than an artistic form of expression that’s intended to create awareness. Fashion, even as a form of art is a medium to advertise or promote a commodity – be it a brand name or product or the artist himself. Glamour is a medium to celebrate something that we look up to and it probably takes 20% sexual perversion, 30% insensitivity and 50% infantile attention seeking desperation to glamorize violence in the name of activism. Glamorizing violence is not raising awareness against a social issue but it is the cheapest and most insensitive way to cash in on the social construct that sex sells and controversy give you easy fame. Yes, we are assured that your products are high end and you don’t have to advertise it by recreating a rape scene to show that her lipstick or mascara does not necessarily smudge even in the course of violence.
In an awfully late introduction, the urge to write this topic arose when I was recently complimented of doing a favour by designing gender neutral clothes. I am doing no a favour to anyone. I seek inspiration from reformers of past: Those who dealt hate with art. When fuel runs out and you’re drained of purpose, even the desire for progress may seem indifferent. That’s where art can add value to lives. Even when every door shuts, art continues to heed its omnipresent companionship. Art may or may not give you reason for existence but existence gets better with art. Like it or not, but art rules your fate directly or indirectly. On the most difficult days, art was the strongest force that helped me welcome another sunrise. Art helped me dissipate hate. I have a mission, a selfish vision of an equilibrium where there’s more love than hate. And, I don’t need a feeling of entitlement to have that vision. We don’t need badges of honour decorating our sleeves for not make the mistakes of past. Fashion industry is guilty of a dirty past, and even the genuine intentions of fashion’s empowerment economy is only repairing what was damaged by the industry.