“Fashion’s Democratic Disease”

It’s not difficult to imagine: a line of cold, hungry people waddling in the middle of the street in the early hours of the morning. Their cheeks have turned rosy and the thin air is momentarily misty from the clouds of exhalation. Some have brought sleeping bags and some have brought lawn chairs, but all have decided to suffer the tumultuous night for tomorrow’s rewards. I could be talking about a line of homeless people outside a Salvation Army soup kitchen, or the bleak crowds outside an employment agency, and in some ways I wish I were. But I’m not. I’m talking about the lines outside H&M, and they’re quickly expanding as more people gather to buy clothes from the latest designer collaboration.

There’s something unsettling about seeing people lining up to buy clothing, which is so utilitarian you would not normally consider having to wait for it. I can understand lining up for tickets to see the Rolling Stones in concert. I can understand lining up to buy the latest Harry Potter book, and I may give you a pass if you want to watch the midnight screening of the latest installment of that awful Twilight series. What I can’t understand is why anybody–stylish or sartorially-challenged, rich or poor, whose natural (and I say this because H&M brings out the fashion crazies) taste slants more to Wu than Wang–would EVER consider lining up overnight in arctic weather conditions for fast fashion. Granted, I don’t have access to any H&M stores in Australia so I can’t say for sure how I would react under different circumstances. But regardless of geographical or retail convenience, I don’t think I could ever do it.

This H&M mania, a particular example of consumer hysteria, is a symptom of a wider disease. It’s a disease characterized by an insatiable hunger for novelty in every way possible, from how we listen to music to how we transmit units of information from Australia to Zimbabwe. We need the latest Apple products. We need the latest phones, computers, and cameras. We need the confirmation that our purchases are in fact our needs and not our wants, and the corporations are picking up on this. Clothing is one of the few democratic symbols of modern life because everyone wears clothes. They may not look the same or be made of the same materials, and the price points are supremely divisive, but everyone does wear clothing of some variety. And when clothing that has traditionally been out of reach for the average consumer (which includes me!) is made attainable and affordable, then that’s a really big deal. Or it’s perceived to be.

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  1. oppulxnce reblogged this from katemess
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  8. faded-lips reblogged this from zolairo and added:
    I agree with this post…but H&M is irrelevant to fashion. How people perceive this hysteria is how they want to be a part...
  9. o-leaozinho said: excellent