Monday, August 25, 2008

Trends, Money and Social Issues

I'm back - I've missed yous! Even with my week-long hiatus, I can see that you all have been making steady visits here anyway - you're so good to me, thank you! Of course, I've been keeping my eyes and ears open for things that I can tell you about.

I've decided to change my M.O. a little bit - instead of posting every day, I'm going to aim to post 2-3 times a week. That way, I can focus on quality instead of quantity; I find that when I try to write every day, the quality of my work isn't consistent, which doesn't sit well with me. I want to really be saying something in every post, you know? Besides that, school is coming up soon as well.

I've also received a question, which as you know, totally floats my boat. My girl Sabrina writes:

I was reading this story on Jezebel - Now, I know that you are all about having quality pieces when it comes to fashion, and staying away from lame knock-offs. But, should someone who can't afford designer trendiness steer clear of trends altogether then?

What is your "stance" on dressing in a very classic way vs. trying to keep up with trends?

AND, how does one stay fashionable while remaining socially aware of the environment and the plight of people in poorer countries?

Really good questions and SO relevant to me right now because I'm finding my closet stocked with a lot of great-quality basics right now - but it's also getting a little boring.

In answer to the first question, I think that we need to define knockoffs first. Many might think that it's straightforward, but really, everyone has a slightly different opinion.

To me, knockoffs are products that try to pass off as someone else's work. The stuff sold on Canal Street that can almost be mistaken for the real thing are knockoffs. Fendi monogram lookalikes that read FL are knockoffs. Chanel monogram lookalikes made of double G's are knockoffs. Surprisingly enough, at my very superficial school, someone even once spotted a "Channel" bag - that's also a knockoff. I think that knockoffs are copies of someone's design, products that are meant to look like someone's work, that are meant to pass off as the original.

But I think that products that are inspired by someone else's work are okay. In other words, homages are okay. Like, my boy Ramir and I once came across a textile artist at the One of A Kind Toronto Christmas show, who designed prints on fabrics and put artistically cut swatches of them onto greeting cards - I wish I can remember the name of the artist and her business. Anyway, a look at the shapes and use of colour of her designs shows that she is obviously inspired by Emilio Pucci - but she does not, of course, tell people they are Pucci greeting cards. What she sells is her work, which was artistically inspired by another artist. That's totally cool and a huge compliment to Pucci, in my opinion.

By the same token, clothes and accessories that are inspired by the bigwig designers are everywhere out there and don't cost a ton. Just look in any mall. For example, tartans and plaids are pretty popular this season - they were seen at such runway shows as Dolce & Gabbana, Requiem, Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen.

The left is from Dolce & Gabbana's Fall 2008 collection. That shirt probably costs hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. The shirt on the right is from Forever21 and it costs $19.80, which allows you to partake in the trend without breaking the bank. It's the same idea as the Dolce & Gabbana shirt, but it's not exactly the same and it's not trying to be. And is it so eccentric that you'd never wear it again? I don't think so.

Which brings me to Question #2 - There are people who choose to almost never follow trends, who wear only classics - but that can get a little boring, as I'm discovering in my rut right now. When I choose trends to follow, I try to pick things that I wouldn't mind wearing even after it's no longer considerered to be in the first stare of fashion - in other words, styles that I really, really like and that aren't super eccentric or eclectic. That's my personal preference. It's also a lot easier on the wallet and decreases the chances that you'll hate yourself later when you see how you're dressed in pictures. ;P (Incidentally, that's why I ended up buying my faux-croc laptop bag in black instead of pink - more on that later!) Another option is to stick to classic clothes, but to keep up with trends via accessories, because they are cheaper, so you can buy more stuff to play with.

The last question is a huge toughie. I stay fashionable and remain conscious of the environment simply by only buying pieces that I love (and am borderline-obsessed with). If I want something, I usually wait at least a week or so before I go out to purchase it to make sure that my hankering for it doesn't wane, because sometimes, I just itch to spend money and this helps to curb impulse purchases. This creates less junk in my wardrobe and I save money.

But how to keep fashionable while keeping people in poverty-stricken countries in mind? That's really hard. I mean, if you're practically destitute (or even just plain dirt-poor), you don't have much of a choice, do you? By the way, I'd caution you against discussing this with my Aunt Nancy - she's the CFO of the Asia-Pacific division of Tommy Hilfiger - because she'd engage you in a heated discussion about how they're creating jobs in poor countries, etc.

The best advice I can give on this is, if you're super socially-conscious, to buy fair-trade, make your own clothes or shop at secondhand stores or thrift shops. I wouldn't be able to go with options two and three because I'm hopeless at sewing and because I'm allergic to Used Stuff Cooties (I know, I know, I'm a terrible person). Otherwise, you could do some research to find out which brands don't use sweatshops and only shop at those (no more Victoria's Secret!). At this point in my life I'm not in a position financially to be picky, but if any of you are, I would totally encourage you to be because, after all, socially-conscious shopping is très chic! ;}


Sabrina said...

I think that your aunt gets right to the heart of the problem in saying that it creates jobs. The factories really do support people with few money-making opportunities as more "traditional" ways of surviving are rendered obsolete.

I also know that many people are proud of the productivity of their countries when they manufacture so many products for the rest of the world.

But we are always weighing the lives of some people against others, aren't we? That's what I find most troubling - lives of future generations, or the thousands and millions of destitute and dependent upon those factories for subsistence - I feel utterly conflicted.

Anyway, sorry for going on this political slant, but I wondered about your politics of fashion.

Plus, loved your ideas about my less political questions - agreed on the knock-off definition.

p. s. I think you should come to Timmins and see the fashion disasters here. It would break your heart, but it might also impress you that people still wear fashions of the 80s as though they were current (Not a day goes by that I don't see a mullet, for example, and it isn't that I'm seeing it on the same person)

Ramz B. said...

To quote you:

"But how to keep fashionable while keeping people in poverty-stricken countries in mind? That's really hard. I mean, if you're practically destitute (or even just plain dirt-poor), you don't have much of a choice, do you? By the way, I'd caution you against discussing this with my Aunt Nancy - she's the CFO of the Asia-Pacific division of Tommy Hilfiger - because she'd engage you in a heated discussion about how they're creating jobs in poor countries, etc. "

I have been boycotting the GAP/Banana Republic/Old Navy (that whole company) because I found out about their sweat-shop and child-labour driven industries in Asian countries. I found numerous articles online about it. Is it truth? Twisted/black propaganda? Or a smart way to turn down N. American commercialism? I do not know... but I agree with your Aunt Nancy because she is right about giving "the 'poor' people jobs".

Sadly in this reality, in a world driven by globalization and commercialism, glamour and exploitation come hand-in-hand. It is all about the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. It is also about luck - - - and ignorance.

If you are a filthy rich trust-fund baby like Paris Hilton, you would not wear clothes from wal-mart or k-mart or what not. You'd pick items from Prada, Gucci, and the list goes on...

Is she smart enough to be aware that several people are suffering in 3rd world countries? YES! But she probably chooses to ignore it because ignorance is power... An issue does not exist until you dwell on it or think about it (In P.H.'s case, she is probably thinking about the launch and creation of her 4th or 5th perfume, right now)...

So... is the world going to be fair in the near future? NOPE> Because the rich stays richer and NO, they are not willing to share their $$$ because $$$$= glamour and power -phew-

so... let's talk fashion - - - fashion in itself is torture... although I love to follow trends... am I a fashion victim? definitely yes and proud of it... cuz with fashion also comes power...

Now, who does not want to be powerful? Whoever says they don't want to be powerful is the biggest LIAR in the world or is about to receive the HUMILITY AWARD of the MILLENIUM (if that even exists)