Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fashion - What's It All About Then?

I'm a caring sort of chap, as you may know. I'm continually aware of those around me, those who are less fortunate than myself, who are perhaps less privileged and less well off. Sometimes I see these people as they walk around a shop or a city. They sometimes appear quite normal but I can sense their unhappiness and their gloom. It lurks beneath the smiles, behind the mask.

And frankly they usually need a mask.

Yes, you've got it. I'm talking about people with no sense of fashion.

I see them everywhere. Not just old people either. I see young people wearing things that might be almost a year old, women wearing colours that are so last month, styles that shouldn't be called a style and jewellery that BA Baraccus would reject for being a bit too loud and jangly.

Fashion's a funny thing though isn't it?

Why do we decide that something looks good? What makes us think that Naz Sansoni a random person, no one specific of course, has got style and sexiness oozing out of all her pores but that someone else hasn't?

It's Converse Allstars that got me thinking about this. As I took delivery of my latest pair I began to think about why they're the in thing at the moment, at least over here they are. Actually they seem to be pretty in all over the world right now. How? Why?

They've always been around, since as long as I can remember at least, which is a damn sight longer than most of you can remember, except Java. But in the last year or so they've become the thing to wear in trendy circles. If I was Nalin Converse or Ajith Allstar, one of the founders of the great shoe company, I'd be rubbing my hands together with glee right now. This is not to be mistaken for ghee, a different thing altogether.

If you walk into a shoe shop in London the display of Converse Allstars is invariably one of the biggest in the shop. They come at you in all colours and sizes. The boots and the cut offs, not to mention the other types of Converse shoes, the ones that aren't even Allstars. I think the name "Converse Allstar" has a more resounding ring to it than that of "Nalin Ajith" but I understand it was merely a toss of a coin that was the deciding factor.

Odel is chucking them out by the bucket load and many other companies are now making and selling what I can only describe as copycat Converses. They're okay but they're not the real thing. The real thing is a shoe that crosses age barriers and everyone from schoolkids to old people is wearing them. I can sit on a settee with K, my twelve year old bundle of cruelty and evilness, and she won't mock my footwear for a second if they're Allstars. That, in my world, is a big result.

As I unboxed pair number five I tried them on and smiled in that knowing way. Knowing that I looked good despite the very basic raw materials I started with. I wondered why I thought that the shoes looked good when they've been around for so long and yet two years' ago they didn't look good, yet they looked exactly the same.

It's fashion, that weird and wonderful phenomenon. Some people can exist in a remarkable bubble of style without being a slave to the latest trends. They look good and cut a stylish dash without looking like they've just copied page fifteen of Womens' Fashion Monthly and worn it. There are women and men who can do this, who have a decent stylometer and know how to use it.

Or is it because we're so influenced by what's in vogue, from reading the mags and seeing footage of Brangelina at the latest birth/adoption/awards ceremony that we don't actually have an innate sense of what looks good.

Am I so shallow that I think pair number five, the brown sunfaded ones, look good just because they're in fashion?

Does my latest trendy shirt actually look good or does it look good because of what I've been conditioned to think? Will it still look good next month?

What about you, are you a fashion slave or a style icon?

Or do you just wear what you like and get on with life?


sach said...

haha my 17 year old brother bought a brown/beige sunfaded pair the other day. does that say anything about you? (just wondering out aloud :p)

i'm definitely not a style icon but i'm somewhat of a fashion slave. as in, i keep track of what is 'in' and wear it if it suits me. but usually it's all about comfort and i can wear things i bought years ago without feeling conscious about it.

Sapphira said...

A couple of years ago I wouldn't have been caught dead in skinny jeans; now they're practically the only kind of jeans I wear.

They've always looked exactly the same, what was it that made me want to wear them now and not back then?

Fashion is a weird phenomenon indeed.

gutterflower said...

Don't really stick to trends because it starts getting a bit too homogeneous for my liking when everyone starts following 'em.

Usually design and wear my own stuff whenever I can.

I wear whatever is comfortable and occasionally when I feel like it, I step off my high horse, join the herd and wear whatever is 'in'.


T said...

i dress for comfort, always. but, dare i say, living in new york has made me a tad more style conscious.
my shoes are always last season, because i buy them as they go on sale. i dont wear labels but my jeans MUST be Levis, and i love Converse.
in short, im a stylish mess.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Sach - I think it says more about your bro's good taste and stylishness!

Sapphira - That's exactly what I mean, that we get conditioned into thinking something looks nice.

Gutterflower - I wonder if anyone would actually say that they are a slave to fashion.

T - Levis! - My God, so yesterday!!

Java Jones said...

Java thinks that one needn't be 'fashionable' to look good. Thank heavens!

Soixante Neuf said...

Hear Hear Java!!!

I agree. I think confidence has a massive amount to do with whether a person looks good or not. I think REAL fashion is purely confidence that you look good in what you're wearing.

After all, a person could wear the most 'in' clothes and still look like shit if they can't pull it off.

I like wearing whatever I feel I look good in. That could be anything from cute PJs to a fabulously slinky little party dress.

That being said, I think it's kind of adorable you're all fashion conscious and all. Do the shoes work for Frenchy? ;)


Soixante Neuf said...


2 days and no new post.


You can't do this to your stalkers, R. It's not fair! At least give us some warning. *swallows* Can't. Breathe.

Where ARE you???


Java Jones said...

Soix - thanks! Hey, speaking of 'new posts', what's up?

RD, I believe, said he was off to some other tropical locale, so that may explain the lack of posts for two days. I think he has all he can handle at the moment!!

Ahamed Nizar said...

i agree with sapphira.
another issue was i never used to wear stripes before but as soon as i saw a tommy hilfiger shirt that had stripes on it and its name printed on the label i bought it and i wear it!
but recently ive been dressing just to wear clothes. not anything but decent clothing that may or may not be in fashion but is clothes none the less. but if iam to go out i have the tendency to watch what i wear. people with the same clothes/shoes as me really tick me off...

what to do? sigh