verbal croquis

black friday blogging: fashion and consumerism

Posted in opinions by verbalcroquis on November 26, 2005

Almost Girl has rallied fellow fashion bloggers to write posts on our views on fashion and consumerism for Black Friday. I’m an hour late (it’s 1am PST as I post), but below you will find my humble offering. I hope this will springboard some discussion because I would like to know your views as well.

Fashion is all about extremes. Take one major element of the current style and it will swing to the very opposite the next season. In the past ten years, grunge, layers of loose fitting flannels and stripes segued into a clean, sleek minimalism, which then moved to “artful” deconstruction. The experimental silhouettes disappeared, making room for easier to wear silhouettes that depended on piles of embellishment to achieve the look of the year. The bohemian look is now moving into the “new” minimalism, easy, ladylike, pure looks.

Moving away from trends in styles, let’s take a look at trends in buying. A few years ago, everything had a logo emblazoned across it. The first of the wave was the CK Calvin Klein t-shirts that gained popularity with teens about 15 years ago. You were paying money to the company so you could advertise them. Just when you couldn’t stand to see one more reincarnation of the logoed bag, it all came to a crashing halt. People didn’t want to wear something and have everyone know who it was. Personal style became more important, the clothes that didn’t make it to the runway became more popular, more relevant, and ultimately more salable. Working in a leather house, I know how hard luxuries got hit after 9/11.

These things tie directly with the political zeitgeist of the times. Fashion has always been a social and economic barometer of the political climate and now is no different. The current trends now are to basically H&M or LVMH; the middle ground has lost any sort of prominence.

The privileged are snapping up handbags that have 4 or 5 digit price tags with fervor; the rest of us clamor for the diluted versions for $29.99 at Wal-Mart. The fashion world has stopped, for the most part, encouraging the smaller design houses that carry neither the high-end or the knock-off but the different, special looks at middling-ground prices. Less than 10 years ago, the big news was how every major design house was lauching a bridge label. Under a Democratic president, we had a thriving middle class; we had money to spend, we demanded clothes and quality and the subsequent prices to fit our needs. Now the big news is the Stella McCartney designs for H&M.

As for trends in the actual clothes themselves, Bush’s first term had us rebelling in boho looks, unstructured, wildly printed and feminine in almost a caricature fashion. Now we are no longer rebelling–we are wearing the political climate on our bodies. The style is more somber–less colorful, more tailored, more subdued, less overtly sexy.

In America, right now, we have a president who is helping the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The middle class is being split to join either side of the divide and not by their own accord. The parallel can be seen in the appeal of the cheap offerings of the warehouse giants like Target and the thriving luxuries industries, while the independent designers and contemporary/bridge price-point labels are shutting down left and right.

I’m both worried and not worried. Because the trends in fashion and consumerism are so cyclical, it’s only a matter of time before we gain a more democratic equilibrium again. At the same time, because these trends tie so closely with the political climate, this will only happen when the times change. When we feel safe in our homes and optimistic about our government’s abilities is when people will feel free to spend more than $10 on a shirt.


10 Responses to 'black friday blogging: fashion and consumerism'

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  1. Almost Girl said,

    Some interesting insights, glad to have you on boaqrd! Better late than never!

  2. […] Thousands of hits and new readers later Black Friday Blogging is now officially over! Except that it isn’t! The dialogue continues! New Fashion Blog Verbal Croquis gets in on the action with a discussion of fashion’s reflection of our political climate and new trends in buying. And Satire is Dead who is sad to be late to the party but wants to join in with snide remarks and some depressing insights is here to take advantage of the possible traffic it will generate! Whatever the motivation I am still glad to have the posts up! […]

  3. Hemlines aside, what I’ve always enjoyed about fashion & lifestyle is that when you analyze the trends, you get an eyeopening snapshot of the zeitgeist. I agree with you about our current climate of extremes – from H&M to LV to plastic surgery to the incredible epidemic of obesity in the US, we’ve moved away from moderation in almost every facet of life.

    In a recent interview with W magazine, Tom Ford – the man who pretty much created the sex-drenched fashion of the 90s – actually compares our current beauty ideals to a Lara Croft’ish cartoon moment. He is of the mind that everything is exaggerated, artificial & way less sexy than the more natural, less extreme, ideal that was the norm in the 70s.

  4. Almost Girl: Thanks for stopping by and posting a shoutout on your blog.

    Lesley: Thanks for you comment. I’ve been reading Fashiontribes for a while now and I’m thrilled you stopped by.

    As for Tom Ford, I think he speaks as many fashion designers do: you create this look and almost as soon as it’s manufactured and presented, you’re ready to move on to the next new thing. The pace of fashion is often set by the impatient, almost over-creative fashion designers who are perpetually ready to offer the new. Reversely, the masses demand everything fresh (in every industry) practically yesterday and designers go into overdrive to appease them. The vicious cycle continues, making designers sound continuously self-contradictory.

    Not that I’m defending him; I’ve never been much of a fan. I also think it’s easy for him to sit on his roost and talk now that he’s pulled away from the scene for the most part.

  5. healum said,

    I love this site. Good work…

  6. […] Black Friday Blogging Picks Up (wherin we meet our beloved blogging fashion designer Verbal Croquis for the first time.) […]

  7. toothpick_tp said,

    Well, rather interesting!!! I’m glad that there are blogs that can help people to learn much about fashion. They can learn what clothes will be fashionable in this or that season. That’s great!

  8. After Thanksgiving Sale…

    I always say shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist. -Tammy Faye Bakker :o) Happy Holidays!…

  9. Howdy I found your post by chance, I was searching the worldwide web for classic fashion when I found your webpage, I must say your site is very interesting I truely think the layout, its astounding!. I’m in a bit of a rush at the moment to fully browse your site but I have bookmarked it and also signed up for your RSS feeds. I will be back when I free up some time. Thank you for a great website.

  10. kkai said,

    History of Black Friday Shopping

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