Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Fashion Communication

Fashion is undoubtedly one of the biggest communicators in our world. It reaches many different audiences from conformists to non-conformists, as well as rich aristocracy to street culture.
Fashion should be respected as the beautifully creative, expressive industry that it is. However, spanning out on a global scale, it doesn't really hold much significance. At times it is frustrating to hear about cuffs or collars. It can seem fantastically futile. Luxurious designs and specific styling that convey a message are easy to appreciate, but it simply isn't the be all and end all. There are many more developments happening around us which effect our lives and the world that we live in.
The captivating aspect of fashion is the variation of audience to which it appeals. A thirty page fashion editorial ran alongside an article about Isreali and Palestinian conflict in this months Dazed and Confused. There is something refreshing about the contrast of these subjects and the mixture of people who will be consuming them, possibly in the same sitting.
Designers such as Hussein Chalayan, admired for his strong morals imparted through individual designs, are a perfect example of mass communication through fashion.
The most important way of approaching fashion, to me, is by using (or abusing), it as a megaphone to reach even the most hard hearing of us all.

Friday, 9 January 2009

The Price of Being Fashionable

"Workers in India, China and Bangladesh get paid enough money for the society that they live in."
This is our defence for our addiction to cheap clothes, even though the monthly wage in Bangladesh is around £7, and living costs for a month are estimated at £30.
Overseas workers who manufacture clothing for companies like Primark, Bay, DKNY, Jigsaw, Tierack and Matalan are being exploited and denied their basic labour rights. Workers are crammed into stifling hot sweatshops and forced to work gruelling hours for next to nothing. Last year, two young girls even stuffed a note into the back pocket of a pair of jeans in a desperate attempt to be rescued from their sorry situation. But, as consumers we still buy from Primark, choosing to have five cheap pairs of shoes rather than one ethically made pair.
Suprisingly YSL, Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Armani are even more companies that are listed as having no code of conduct. There are currently very few retailers that have moved implementations of basic workers/human rights in factories and operate on sustainable development principles. Although it has become clear that actually having a code of conduct and an ethical spokesperson is no insurance against it being breached, repeatedly. There is no doubt that this is a complex issue, but its complexity should not make it immune from the constant scrutiny it should be under.
Admittedly, there are offenders on every scale of the market. However, by weaning ourselves off of ridiculously cheap clothing and campaigning for informative labels on what we wear is the first step of a very long marathon. By focusing on fair trade clothing we can incorporate traditional skills into products and promote peoples livelihoods, fair treatment and help communities to develop. Regardless of our views on foreign working conditions we can’t deny that wearing a unique and exclusive garment made with respect to the person who helped create it is right.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

"He can even make a pair of wellies look fantastic"

A pair of ‘Manolos’ is the fashion byword for exquisite footwear. Designers fight to have them glide across their runway, editors make them a ‘must have’, quite frankly they are coveted by us all. This one man has the ability to make us spend a weeks wages on a pair of shoes, and makes our feet come alive in the shadows of this dark winter, because after all the excessive wining and dining over the holidays a pair of Manolos still fit. Shades of fuchsia, emerald and tangerine put a spring in our step. Beautiful embellishment adorns delicate ankle straps and we can honestly say we feel sexy.
Blahnik’s transforming powers have become legendary, he is renowned for elongating the leg from the hip right down to the toe cleavage. He wasn’t the first man to appear on the cover of Vogue for nothing.

Image: Manolo Blahnik for Christopher Kane

IVF Tourism

A shortage of surrogate mothers in Britain is forcing couples abroad to as far as Asia in pursuit of a family. Evidence shows that this is a trend which is increasing amongst our society.
Gujarat in India, with a population of 150,000, is producing more surrogate babies than any other country worldwide; these figures are expected to rise by 40% this year.
The development of ‘reproductive tourism’ in Asia is due to the fact it costs substantially less, and involves no litigation.
Indian women receive the equivalent of ten years salary, but that is less than what a surrogate mother in America or Europe would receive.
The services offered by these women don’t differ, so neither should the rewards. Foreign women are not na├»ve, but simply susceptible to a dangerous cycle of playing God. Living in less economically developed countries, lacking opportunities to flourish in high flying careers, these women are being exploited as baby makers.
The risk of confusing our children of the future, as well as the manipulation of women is frightening. This and the amalgamation of classes and cultures is causing great dispute. When does this trend stop and should it be regulated?

Monday, 5 January 2009

Tourist Boom, Cultural Bang

Many countries across the world are modernising, opening up and developing their economies due to tourism.
By revealing five star beach resorts, lush golf courses and improved infrastructure, lesser developed countries have seen a huge increase in tourism over the last decade.
But what are the costs to the culture of the local people due to the new style of travelling that has evolved?
Replacing traditions with gimmicky attractions and native cuisine with burgers is just tempting the wrong kind of tourists.
Travelling is about involvement with different cultures, tasting, smelling, touching and communicating in situations different from what we are used to. This sort of travelling is disappearing under a new digital age and the much sought after home from home experience.
In the UK, the replacement of books with online maps, pod casts, digital postcards and travelling blogs makes each experience more commercial. We are no longer resorting to our Lonely Planet’s or Rough Guides for cultural experiences.
Tourism in plenty of foreign countries is increasing the gap between the rich and the poor. Changing the way we travel to adapt to different societies means the benefits of tourism could be shared by all.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Dress Up

From the reinvention of bohemian cool to the frightful new interpretation of skinheads, what is it that makes us so nostalgic about historical fashion movements and so adamant to recreate them?

Running your fingers across an original flapper dress invites you into a whirlwind of the Quickstep, glimpses of knees, the smell of cigars and the sounds of jazz. But by wearing the dress you plunge yourself deeper still into the history of it and the women who wore it before you.

Having a personal style reminiscent of a certain decade doesn’t just affect those wearing the clothes. Admittedly to begin with your parents will be horrified to see you dressing like an evacuee, teaming long grey socks with sensible brown shoes and a satchel in tow, but talk to your grandparents and you will be able to unlock the most enchanting vault of memories imagineable.

We all know that in these tough times Blighty needs to ‘make do and mend’ and that is precisely what is happening. Trawling through charity shops, jumble sales or vintage warehouses to find an outfit has now become a norm in society. Meticulously combining these musty smelling finds together, the old with the new or the tweed with the lace, well quite frankly it’s bloody good fun.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Fashion Moment [Headscarves]

Headscarves are an always loved but often neglected garment. To some they represent an image of the working class, practical, post war woman. To others they capture mystery and romance. To the individual, the versatility of the headscarf is its most appealing quality, the only garment designed to let you decide how to wear it.
Seventy years ago the Hermes scarf was born. Today there are over 900 designs that have become some of the most collectible fashion items in existence. Worn by Grace Kelly to Madonna, the Hermes scarf has been loved by many, regardless of age or personal style and remains the most archetypal of headscarves.
It was during the 1940’s, when show business began to capitalise on the scarf trend, creating souvenir scarves used to advertise Broadway hits. This was followed by Hollywood in the 1950’s that really introduced the headscarf into mainstream fashion. Audrey Hepburn was seen in a plethora of headscarves, Edith Head donned a straw hat over hers and Jean Shrimpton appeared on the cover of Vogue in 1963 adorned a scarf hat. Today, Viktor and Rolf capture a feminine mood by using a pink scarf in their sensual campaign for their fragrance, Flowerbomb.
The 1960’s saw psychedelic patterns by Pucci and Peter Max, making way for the headscarf to become a bohemian accessory. Early versions of rich hippies, allowed the headscarf to be worn in original ways, suggesting a secret wild side. The headscarf will always continue to express individual style. From Axl Rose, creating a metal rock look to Thelma and Louise epitomising glamour by teaming headscarves with oversized sunglasses.
The rise of vintage and personal styling today has seen a big return of headscarves as a modern accessory. D&G’s 2008 collection paid homage to the quintessential English woman. Merging headscarves with tartan, tweed and argyle created a very nostalgic look, similar to the work of Yohji Yamamoto, Vera Wang, Chloe, Jean Paul Gaultier and Antoni and Alison.
Whether its tied as a bandeaux, flapper style, a bow tied turban, or the pony tail wrap, headscarves are an accessible way to consume high fashion, symbolising just about anything and that’s where their allure lies.