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Thursday 3 June 2010

Brand Therapy.

Fashion And The Human Condition.

Ever heard that song Pinocchio Story by Kanye West? Here's an excerpt:

"there's no Gucci I could buy, there's no Louis Vuitton I put on, there's no YSL that they could sell, to get my heart out of this jail and my mind out of this hell, there's no clothes that I could buy, that could turn back the time..."

Now take a moment and think about those words. Is it ture? Was he onto something? What's in a brand?
I'm going to attempt to answer that by approaching it from a human psyche point of view.

The human species is a complex enigma. Every living soul walking the earth is in constant want of something. On this quest comes a journey through human existance that begins at birth, to life and ends at death.

Every human being is comprised of the mind, the body and the soul. In order to feed and satisfy all three, we have wants and needs. There are five basic human wants namely: food, shelter, water, oxygen and clothing. However, when it comes to wants, the list is endless, and it is in the pursuit of these wants that brings me to fashion.

Over the ages, the function of clothing has evolved from being a basic neccesity to what we now call fashion. Fashion is a multi-billion industry today mainly because it feeds that unfathomable part of the human psyche.

We do jobs we don't like to buy alot of things we don't really need just to cover what's inside. Self-consciousness, low self-esteem, inferiority complex, peer pressure are some of the physcological conditions that fuel this industry.

Clothing is no-longer used for it's primary function of covering our modesty - rather self-indulgence and glamourous allure. Some are in the school of thought that it is for artistic purposes.

Well for whatever reason, the thing that makes us spend a month's salary on one item of fashion goes to the core of the human psyche. Is it for investment purposes? (as some brands such as Chanel and Christian Dior have produced items that appreciate in value over time.) or rather to attract and give the illusion of success?

Louis Vuitton, Gucci, YSL, Hermès, Christian Dior, Cartier, Tiffanys, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Vertu are some of the most profitable and successful fashion brands today.

There's something about these brands that somehow hypnotises us from a place of rational thinking to a place of irrational thinking so as to purchase their products. And no one is immune. Everybody the world over owns an item from one of these companies, be it clothing, cosmetics, luggage, footwear, eyewear, home products and so on. This is because we all want some glamour in our lives to boost our self-esteem and to project success in the quest for status and recognition.

In conclusion, I leave you with these thoughts; behind every glamourous façade, there's an age of intense preparation that leaves what feels like a bottomless pit of emptiness inside. What we really need cannot be quantified or purchased.


Nadine2point0 said...

Wow - let me first say that I love your post. Got me thinking here before I go to my studio. Let me take another sip of my coffee....
I guess for me, as a follower of fashion and all it's superficiality and pretense since I was 13, brands have inspired me rather than pressure me.
Since I could sew early, I decided to be unique with keeping the current 'looks' in mind. I am almost happy that in my upper-middle class income as a child and now that I never really had the disposable income to go crazy with any of the accessories as you mentioned (the things I could not craft).
It's interesting for me that although I grew up with a solid set of values including the important things - love one another with respect and loyalty and forgiveness, you only have one chance at this life so be kind and happy, appreciate everything (post-war German Mom) better to give than receive.....BUT my brother's and I always looked sharp. My mom dressed in ALL homesewn clothes like she shopped in the favourite stores of Jackie O. However, we did not wear brands. They were all around me growing up and I had small affairs with them: Esprit, Benetton, RL, Nautica, Lacrosse but ultimately I found my own style. My tastes have changed and someday I WILL be in the front row at a Stella McCartney or Elie Saab show...mark my words...but maybe in another capacity instead of consumer!)
I was and am still crazily in to what the superficial side of the world is up to....from afar.
We are raising our family quite groundedly but at the same time I can totally understand my daughter's obsession with what Kristen Stewart was wearing at the MTV awards or what Miley Cyrus's costume was like in her video.
Since we're not evolving as a species physically by leaps and bounds, I guess clothing is in it's rawest form like the head dresses of tribes gone by. It's what people see when they can't see our souls initially. It makes us unique until other people can judge if we are indeed a unique treasure or just another trinket.
For me, certain pieces of clothing evoke memories, certain colours take me out of a funk. A couple of my pieces that I have designed and tailored to ME, make me feel more pride in my artistry than any brand could do.
I know some very unhappy and damaged people, like we all do, both personally and from the pages of magazines, for whom the threads on their backs will never work their magic. Sad really.

What was the question again?? Ha!

Gotta go gotta sew ... for business I am sewing theatre drapery in all it's fantastical-ness. In my spare time, I am designing and sewing oodles of dance costumes for the largest dance school here. Lots of fun.


The Photodiarist said...

Wow! Wow to your post and Nadine's response. Quite a bit to take in. I love fashion and I have since I can remember. I think that Nadine alluded to something interesting. Even before "fashion" as we know it, humans have engaged in some form of "beautifying" process. So, even if it isn't a need for the continued existence and protection of our bodies, the human mind does crave beauty. For many, that form of beauty is music, for others, the visual arts and for others, design and engineering. But we all seek it in some form. There are some who look at fashion as another art form. I am one of those people. A necessity for my body - no. But for the mind - yes, along with all other kinds of visual arts. I love visual images of fashion photography. Will I die without the latest Celine bag and LV shoes? Not I. But when I do purchase, I prefer the well-designed and constructed items that many of the high end brands offer (especially when they go on sale!). And not always because I've been hypnotized by the allure of the "brand" but rather because I love the design and, as my parents always told me, buy well and buy once. Case in point: I've owned a Helmut Lang (the real Helmut Lang) suit since 2003. I bought it at a time when was starting out and I probably should not have done so. But I've worn that suit (and continue to wear it) for 7 years because it is as well designed, beautiful and stylish now as it was then. While no item of clothing is a true "investment" in the same way as owning interests in real estate or equity interests in a company, buying well-made classic pieces with a twist can provide you with a wardrobe that remains current and absolutely wearable for years - something akin to an investment, I guess. I agree with you, however, that it is unfortunate when one buys to cover up sadness or boredom. But who am I to judge it except to say that nothing can disguise sadness and despair in a person's eyes - no matter what they are wearing.

Biana said...

Wow, what a post! Well... I agree with the photodiarist, it's good to own a couple of design pieces that are timeless and worth the investment. Like, a good bag, sunglasses, a suit, a little black dress, a watch, a coat, good and comfortable shoes. Pieces you can combine with other low budget stuff. I really don't feel the need to be buying ONLY branded stuff. I don't see the necessity of it. I love fashion, but fashion is not who I am. I'm more than that, and it's important to stay your true self instead of searching for a mask.It doesn't make you a better person, nor can it cover up your insecureness.

I've got to say, I'm more impressed with someone who's wearing some outragious type of clothing but expresses himself, than somebody who may have spent his month salary on an outfit just to fit in the crowd. Everything we do/wear must be a reflection of ourselves.

So... yeah, some of us spent our money on travel, good food/wine, our dreamhouse, charity, art/culture, hobbies, savings and yes... some on fashion. It's your own choice, if it makes you happy, than who am I to decide? At the end we're all seeking for happiness and a place in this world, an own identity.

Adorngirl said...

What a great thought prOvoking discussion. I have never been able to afford brands, and I don't feel like I have missed out, but fashion is always something that I have a passion for, which a lot of people don't understand. Fashion has played such a great ole in our lives because it is something that comes in to practically every decision we make everyday.

I love the way a seasmstress is able to make a simple piece of fabric, in to an ornate garment. I love the process of the initial design process, and looking in to sketchbooks, and portfolios, to see the amazing drawings. Yes we have basic needs, but sometimes you need more.

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