The last few days I have been contemplating the idea of style and fashion as a result of watching the True Cost Movie.
Let us start with The True Cost movie review.
The movie provides the viewer with a transparent look at the clothing we wear, who makes them and the impact that this consumption of clothing is having on the world we share. It is filmed in an unapologetically honest way and really shows the industry for what it is. There are no catwalks or catalogues to hide behind, just the honest truth about the way many of our garments are made. While the film focuses on some of the worst fashion manufacturing disasters in recent times it does so in a very matter of fact manner. There is no emotive Michael Moore style narrative attempts to make feel on edge and despite being graphic in certain scenes the graphic images are done to tell the story not to shock or repulse you into an emotive response (this was my big gripe with the doco ‘Earthlings’). Overall for a feature length documentary presenting quite melancholy content it did well in leaving the viewer feeling empowered and ready to take action.
The focus on the future of fashion was a really positive angle for the documentary to take as it left you, the educated consumer, aware that you have the power to be a catalyst for change in the future of the fashion industry. I highly recommend watching it in order to find out the truth behind your garment buys. Be warned… you will never again look at a $10 pair of K-Mart jeans and think ‘What a Bargain’.
It wasn’t until I spent a year shopping my closet that I started to actively distinguish between this global marketing industry we call ‘fashion’ and what it truly takes to be a stylish person. Fashion is a global phenomenon started by marketing gurus that had us once-upon-a-time purchasing new items every season. Back then a season corresponded with natures seasons. You would get the new winter collection at the start of winter and that might mean you went out and purchased a new set of winter boots to ‘update your look’. When I was studying fashion back in (dare I say it) 2003 my teacher started to tell us about the changing face of global fashion and how retailers in Europe like Zara were pushing the boundaries of manufacturing turn around time and introducing new items in store every couple of weeks.
Fast forward to 2015 and this speedy fashion service has been openly adopted. When I spent a year in several fast fashion casual retail positions in 2012 (thank you Cambell Newman for not providing any funds to keep me in a science job) I would often buy a dress to wear for work for a three hour shift only to come back a few days later with hopes of wearing it again to find out it had sold out or been moved to the sale rack (staff are not supposed to wear sale item as they want you to inspire customers to buy the full priced stuff). There were some items that would arrive and spend one day at full price before being moved to sale stock. The speed at which fashion is now produced is so lightning fast that it can be difficult for sales staff to keep up let alone customers. With fashion evolving so quickly it is easy to see how so many are left with closets full of clothing that means nothing to them, that was purchased at a bargain price off the blood, sweat and tears of another, and results in a serious case of ‘I have nothing to wear’ because fashion does not equal style no matter what the advertisers try to tell us.
So what is this idea of ‘Style’. This has been a fascinating concept for me over many years now and I quite like this little look at defining style posted at Kinowear. Despite blogging under the guise of ‘style’ through Sustainability in Style I wouldn’t call myself stylish. My work in the fashion industry saw me spending much the vast majority of my fashion years wearing a ‘uniform’ either in a literal work requirement sense or a self imposed uniform as many of the stores I had worked in were boutiques so this was possible as the turn around wasn’t so fast. It wasn’t until my year off from science in casual retail that I had to really get stuck into fast fashion and wearing the trends. That year of fast fashion left me incredibly style confused. Through my year long shopping ban I was able to ‘weed out’ what I really enjoy wearing and start to eliminate the things I don’t enjoy. I earned a little over 20k dollars that year and around half that was spent on buying clothing to meet the requirements of being dressed in items that are ‘on the shop floor and full price’.
My favourite resources from my personal style discovery journey are INTO MIND for closet clearing tips that are aimed at discovering what is the right wardrobe for you and your lifestyle (not your body shape or hair colour) and StylelikeU a site committed to celebrating personal style of unique individuals and showing that style is more than just your clothing. Despite all my closet culling using these resources I still feel that my style journey is ongoing despite knowing that most of my outfits are based around my jewellery 🙂
I found this interview from the 2014 Vogue Festival on Personal Style to be quite an interesting watch (when you get past the very pushy and buttinsky interviewer and take into account that this is a Vogue event so there is a bit of brand snobbery and love of high street cheap fashion). The fact that all three women interviewed consider style to be something that is evolving as you evolve and that comfort is part of being a stylish person. This is something that is really evident in the people that are interviewed for the StylelikeU ‘What’s Underneath‘ project. The stories that these people share as they shed their layers of clothing show that they have evolved as people to embrace the style that they are been interviewed for. That their style is something they feel comfortable in even if the way they choose to express themselves isn’t considered fashionable or desirable for all. It is nice to know that style really isn’t something money can buy at that the truly stylish are those who are comfortable in themselves and can pick and mix what suits their current closet from the onslaught of fashion trends.
Would love to hear more about your thoughts on Fashion and Style.
How has your style evolved?
Do you find yourself swayed by fashion?
Share any thoughts you have with us below!