Fashion, repair, and mending kits.
Clothes, repair, and do-it-yourself (DIY) culture, has always been overlapping. People have been making clothes themselves or mending old hand-me-downs. DIY has been a track through all subcultures and fashions-to-be. But throughout modernism the promising arrival of new has been shining all the brighter, and this fashionable “new” should not have been touched by the hands of mortals. Just like spring, fashion is the work of forces surpassing us humans, to approach the truly divine. Or in our secular times, mechanisms at least as mystical as “the market”. Unforeseeable, unpredictable; only accessible through prophets and people with the sixth sense of clairvoyance.
Fashion, the new, the latest distinction, is a celebration of becoming, of the possibility of moving on, of the celebration of youth and a cloudless tomorrow. In relation to fashion, it has been seen as “poor” to mend old clothes. In our time of “life-long-learning” loyalty is not rewarded, and repair is not encouraged. You are meant to constantly become someone new, so no wonder you need a new social skin for every new role you are supposed to have.
The old is regarded as an issue of conservation, residing in museums and the inheritance of dusty antiquities. Culture is regarded as an authentic and unchangeable phenomenon, as if such a thing as a “pure” and unchanged culture existed. This is freeze dried culture. It is immobile, mute and dusty. Thus it might “inspire”, but cannot be fashionable.
The lifestyles of today promise the continuous arrival of the new and we are not supposed to cherish the old. The old promises nothing. The avant-garde, the new trend, the technical progress, it is all part of the liberal society, of the promise of social mobility and meritocracy. If we work hard, look forward, and earn our living, we can become somebody. Anybody. And we all want that extra “something”, as we believe that things can change to the better, and this extra “something” can help us get there. We believe people from poor backgrounds can get an education, we hope criminals will become better citizens with therapy, we are told of people who got rich, we are promised a cure to cancer. With some education we trust we will get a new job after the old one. We dress for our new role. We desire love, social success, and a lot of freedom and money. We desire things to change.
Fashion is a vehicle for the new, the becoming, the desire for the future. With fashion, we can have it now, we can wear desire as a social skin.
text published in Some Magazine Issue #0, autumn 2010