Trend-xistentialism. Ooh~

This is just navel-gazing, but indulge me anyway…

Deebot: So i was reading up on being a Hipster in the context of contemporary subculture, and found out that the original hipsters have a lot of disdain for the Modern Hipster because they’re not driven by any philosophy. They just appropriate various cultures.

Parsons Boy: That’s called postmodernism.

Well, duh!

Placed in this context, are Hipsters just another bunch of Postmodernists? Do hipsters have a claim on being alternative/indie/countercultural/subversive after all?

Well, like Parsons Boy said, “everything’s pomo these days anyway”.

(I told you this was navel-gazing.)

But that’s the funny thing about cultures (or countercultures, for that matter) that try to rebel against conformity. Isn’t it a bit self-defeating when non-conformity itself is a culture, and by extension, a cultural standard?

That’s why all the talk these days about “individuality” and “individual expression” in fashion is sometimes pretty laughable. 

I mean, if we were so individual to begin with, then why do trends exist?

While we’re not here to dissect how trends take off, we’re here to investigate the basic premises of trends existing.

Since fashion allows individuals to communicate visually within their societies, then in order for communication to be effective, we have to use benchmarks of understanding- a language, if you will.

In simple terms, this means we need to speak a common visual language through our clothes to be comprehensible to others. That common language, in terms of fashion, is trends.

Trends are culturally accepted phenomena. Taking part in trends means you don’t have to explain why you’re wearing that high-waisted skirt or that pair of ankle boots. You are immediately comprehensible, understood by others.

Trends make you “one of us”, or “one of them”. You meet with so much less resistance from the masses when you’re “one of us”. Trends minimize “crowd resistance” in that the masses are less likely to question you.

Trends offer Identity Insurance– that is, insurance against a sort of Public Inquisition of The Self.

Therein lies the irony of fashion. Fashion espouses individuality, yet magazines, designers, and mass-market retailers work in a concerted effort to condense our choices into a list of “what’s hot this season”.

Fashion promotes individual expression, but only as Identity Insurance (i.e., trends) permits.

Fashion is at odds with itself.

This entry was published on May 25, 2009 at 5:19 pm. It’s filed under Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Trend-xistentialism. Ooh~

  1. Miss. C on said:

    Yes you can be a trend follower, but still be an individual, should you be aware of your identity. How should you express it then? How aware are you of your identity? Such is the problem of trying to communicate through fashion… like words, no matter how precise, it cannot fully express the original thought, what more visually, there are certainly more permutations. Take a horse for example. If we remove parts of the horse from the mane to the tail till there is just 1 part left, how much of the horsiness is left? Hence it is easier to generalize that these looks fall into certain stereotypes – trends and subcultures. It is also a hasty generalization because we do not have sufficient evidence to explain why they look that way, other than our own perceptions which are largely superficial. (So what can we rely on? Maybe one of you could interview them :P)

    So why do these trends exist then? They come about because the clothes are available. How? From designers. How? Through a thought/concept of how people or themselves might like to dress? Because the resources were available and they made do with it? We could ask a tonne of questions but never come to an answer, because we are stuck in a fashion paradigm, and our questions are axioms, sets of assumptions limited within the paradigm. Nowadays fashion is easily accessible, and there are so many trends and movements. But how did they come about? Again it is a chicken and egg question. Whatever it is, they exist, either in our minds, in the minds of people from previous eras, or are yet to be uncovered.

    The only way we can break through this cycle of questions is to attack trends from a third person perspective external of fashion, because it can reach beyond the parameters of words, concepts and visuals in this area. P.B has noted in a previous post how decontextualization has failed. The reason why in that case is because they have failed to replace it with something else, and are left with a very skinny concept of anti-fashion. So again, why do people dress that way? It’s also possible they may actually need not want to communicate something individual about themselves, they probably think it looks nice (aesthetic perspective), fits them/is comfortable to wear (practical perspective), looks cool and helps them get accepted (social perspective), is red and blue (political perspective), or just be going with the flow (intuition).

  2. deebot on said:

    Thank you Miss C. !! x) I felt this entry veered on being radical and cynical, so your comments definitely helped firm this issue on the ground x)

    There are so many answers that there are no answers…and perhaps that is why the fascination with fashion never ends.

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