Fashion has forever been regarded as a field involving high levels of glitz and glamour.
Ramp walks, models, high heels, dresses bigger than our imagination, red carpets, faux pas are all terms we see and hear synonymously with the Fashion world. We talk of big brands and luxury labels and their flagship stores in the fashion hotspots of the globe.
Somehow, what has caught the eye and stuck on as the perception for a lot of people, is not what I have known to observe about the industry.
Let me sketch out a path or journey- a metaphorically drawn timeline- for the word, “Fashion”, the way I have discerned it to be, over time.
The allure of watching a model walk down the ramp in sensational clothing or the desirability of gazing at seemingly perfect pieces of apparel through a display window, falls somewhere around the middle of this timeline. It creates a dot almost hesitant to reveal itself, in a grander scheme of things.
I see a whole lot of glam involved, around and apart from the obvious perceptions of it.
The story begins right at the cultivation of the fibre for the desired output. The output in this case is far closer to imagination and reality, than the red carpet assembly. We talk about forecasting trends a couple of months prior to production but somehow tend to overlook the innate intuition of the cultivators, who hold the highest responsibility in the quality of the output.
What for me, is undoubtedly the most glamorous and inspiring part of this story, is the amount of human touch and human breath that has been invested in every strand of the cloth that we wear. This investment of touch and breath carries no baggage or bother, of debate, negotiation, strategy or even finance. It is an unblemished expression of human intelligence that no logic or intellect can ever comprehend. Weavers and artisans come with no shade card as reference but manage to put together the most outstanding colours. They come with no fancy geometric equipment, but just seem to have knowledge of space and proportion in their hands and eyes. If this is not glamour, I don’t know what is.
Somewhere after many many more people and a galaxy of wisdom is spun, woven and stitched into the garment, it looks ready to be donned by models and mannequins under the lights to the cheer of an audience. But the disconnect lies in the fact that this spectacle ends up being a figment of our memory as just a viewing experience. But, the cloth we, as common people touch and wear, has hopefully had the same amount of care and nourishment given at every stage. And so, fashion is about the clothes WE wear. Simply because it is the most tangible transaction of ingrained human wisdom.
By wisdom, I don’t mean the brain’s capability to perform tasks or it’s potential to advance technology. Wisdom here is the craft, culture, heritage, knowledge, emotion and skill viscerally drenched in hands and hearts of all the people involved.
But fashion doesn’t end here for me.
The most important part of fashion, on the face of it, is the numbers we churn out of the system. While I do not deny its necessity on the story we are mapping, fashion is bigger than its sales and numbers. What takes precedence is what happens to the cloth after its use and how it goes back to the Earth so that this entire timeline can be drawn again with the same amount of glamour. This is where the topic of “sustainability” comes into the picture. Big words like these can often lead to conclusions, therefore, I choose to replace it with “sensibility”. Any sensible human or brand would choose to draw the line so that it can lead to many many more beautiful lines for the future generations to experience. Designing with that very sensibility is fashion. Designing with that very responsibility is fashion.
Fashion for me is glamorous. It is the story that starts with the soil and goes back to it.