The fashion and cosmetics industry is all too often criticized for its implicit, and sometimes explicit, consumerism. But is the industry really just about getting us to buy things, or can it be an agent for social change? This is the question asked by Regina A. Root in her article published in the International Journal of Fashion Studies. Her article got me thinking. I feel like the fashion and cosmetics industries are going through a change similar to the food industry. Although many see foodies as pretentious hipsters that have no pallet, and sadly a lot are, many more are activists that care about the ethical conditions of their food, consider the environmental impact of their food, and strive to stimulate the local economy when purchasing food. The same trend can be seen in fashion and cosmetics. Sites like Etsy, or Shoptiques help consumers to find independent producers so that purchasing items can support an artisan market. And more beauty companies are placing an emphasis on affordable products made in their country (e.g. Makeup Geek) and environmentally responsible products (e.g. Live Clean).
Granted, this isn’t a perfect system. For example, we have seen Etsy move more towards mass produced products. But this is a starting place, and I think an important one. Maybe soon there will be a strong fashion trend similar to farm to plate. Instead of celebrating the in season fruits and vegetables, we will celebrate the local cultural fashions and designs. I would like to see the global fashion trends and authorities replaced by local negotiations that do not appropriate the surrounding cultures, but rather, embrace and begin to embody them.
We hold the future of fashion in our hands. It is not magazines or designers that decide the future, it is us that intentional or unintentionally shape the future of fashion everyday when we get dressed. This is just the beginning of the discussion.
“So what kinds of stories do your clothes tell? How do we use the master’s tools to dismantle concepts that have rendered others invisible even when their culture is on display? How can creative professionals reimagine new styles and a truly inclusive design process? In other words, what will you be wearing to the fashion revolution?” (Root 2014, pp. 126)
Root, R. A. (2014). Powerful tools: Towards a fashion manifesto.International Journal of Fashion Studies, 1(1), 119-126.