Welcome to the September Issue, even though I’m horribly late and probably should have written about this a month ago, but you know what they say, “better late than never.” It’s a long one too, so get a snack, go to the bathroom, do what you gotta do before settling in.
So, September is here and last Monday (9/23) was the Fall Equinox marking the first day of Autumn. It’s time to move away from our crop tops and bandeaus and into turtlenecks and wool coats.
Well, I would if I lived anywhere other than California where the temperature today is meant to reach a high of 103 F. Yeah…no, I think I’ll be sticking to my summer clothes for a little while yet.
However, the trend that I can take part in is the infamous September Issue out out by Vogue and other magazines that the fashion world eagerly awaits. For sports fans, it’s like Superbowl Sunday, for film aficionados its Oscar Season, for regular old adults its…tax season? Well, maybe not quite tax season, but you see my point. There’s a lot of anticipation and it also sets the precedent for what the tends will be for the upcoming Spring/Summer and might even give hints as to what to expect for the next Fall/Winter.
Yes, they really do plan that far in advanced.
As a matter of fact, most designers are already planning next year’s show as the last model saunters her way back from the runway.
There’s a lot of time, research, and manpower that goes into producing a single look, let alone the 25+ that you see on a runway during a show, all of which lasts on average only five minutes.
Let me say that again.
FIVE MINUTES is all you get to showcase your work that took literally MONTHS to create and possibly a year or more to bring to fruition. C’est la Vie, I guess.
But why does it take so long? Does it really matter to me, or you, or anyone? Sure, there are a lot of outfits that make their way down the runway, but I will never be able to afford any of them, so why does it matter? Why should or would I care about anything that Papa Karl (may he rest in designer peace), Donatella Versace, or Alessandro Michele creates?
Well there are a couple of reasons.
I always think about the pivotal scene in The Devil Wears Prada in which Meryl Streep stares with her steely blue eyes directly into Anne Hathaway’s mortal soul as she delivers her monologue about “this…stuff”, and while this may seem like something to easily pass off as merely an iconic movie quote and nothing more, it represents how the fashion industry as a whole works. You might be thinking, “Well, it’s not real, it’s scripted”, but some of the best movie quotes, the ones that are so irresistibly quotable, are this way because they are relevant to our everyday lives. In this sense, the reason why this quote is so memorable is because most people can identify themselves with Anne Hathaway’s character of Andy. They also don’t understand what the big deal is with the run-throughs, mock-ups and, most importantly, the approval of the epitome of a Boss Ass Bitch, Miranda Priestly. *cough* Anna Wintour *cough*
In this respect, I feel like Andy’s interaction with her Runway mentor Nigel (Stanley Tucci) readily explains why I care about fashion: “It’s art that people live their lives in”.
Fashion is an over 2 Trillion-dollar industry, (Yes, you read that you read that correctly. That’s Trillion, with a “T”) and doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There are many aspects of this industry that blend into other industries and ultimately affect us more directly than one might think.
Fashion encompasses everything that you wear, regardless of where you bought it from. Whether you’re someone who only wears designer items, or a thrifting queen, a bargain shopper, or someone who just doesn’t give a shit, the items that you have were, at some point in their creation, influenced by the powers that be in the fashion industry.
That color that you’re in love with? It was more than likely chosen by the team at Pantone who have come out with their color choices of the season and you can already see the runways splattered with Chive, Saffron and Classic Blue. (Think about it, do you really like these colors or do you like these colors because the fashion industry told you to? It’s the bloody chicken vs egg all over again) These colors also translate to makeup trends (an industry that is worth upwards of $500 Billion all on its own), which I can almost guarantee will compliment these colors with all new pallets that you will feel compelled to buy, use five or six times, and then never pick up again because you’ll be onto the latest trend that is completely different from the 10+ pallets you already have. I need this one, I need it. Trust.
Fashion also has the ability to be a political statement. Do you want your clothes to speak to certain issues? Do you want your dress, coat, shoes to be a giant finger to the man? Do you want to indicate that you stand in solidarity with any given movement? Fashion has the ability to do this in ways that other mediums can’t.
Don’t believe me? Allow me to come up with a couple examples to prove my point:
Vivienne Westwood is a designer who has for decades created punk and counterculture looks. In 2005 Westwood collaborated with the British civil rights group Liberty and created a limited run of T-shirts that read “I am not a Terrorist please don’t arrest me” which were also available in baby onesies. As the political and social climate continued to become more hostile to people of color, particularly in regard to the migrant crisis, celebrities were seen wearing this tee to send a message.
During the Time’s Up Movement that was started largely by the wave of accusations against Harvey Weinstein involving a slew of women, many celebrities on the red carpet purposefully chose to avoid dressing in Marchesa gowns as this is the design house owned and operated by Georgina Chapman, then wife of Weinstein and the brand of choice (apparently with unspoken coercion by Weinstein) for many actresses starring in a Weinstein production. Similarly, there were a handful of actresses that chose to wear Marchesa pieces to show solidarity with Chapman, while still explicitly stating that they were doing so to support Chapman and Chapman only.
During the 2018 US Open, Serena Williams wore iconic black and lavender tutus as a “fuck you” to the previous official after her catsuit that was deemed as unacceptable by the dress code. The cat suit being questioned was specially designed for Williams to assist with the blood clots in her legs that she suffered from after her pregnancy. She donned the new regulation compliant Virgil Abloh tutus as her way of saying, “You want skits? I’ll give you some damn skirts”. Hell yeah she did!
Then there was Melania Trump and the infamous Zara, “I Don’t Really Care, Do You?” coat that she wore as she went to go and visit the ICE detention centers in Texas. A White House spokesperson said, “there was no hidden message”. Like, really? You mean to tell me that the former super model Melania fucking Trump didn’t mean to send a message? The same Melania Trump who has a closet that is more curated that the Louvre? That Melania? No, I don’t buy it for a second, do you?
And then there is the protest that happen within the Fashion industry itself, like the runway protest that took place at the Gucci show during Milan Fashion Week. During the show the model Ayesha Tan-Jones silently raised her hands displaying the message “Mental health is not fashion” in protest of the clothing that was designed to look like straightjackets.
These things are happening, and they are affecting us, whether we realize it or not. We are a part of this industry one way or another.
Still don’t believe me? Well, this will bring me to my last point regarding perhaps the single most important aspect of the fashion industry: Fast Fashion.
So what exactly is “Fast Fashion”? Fast Fashion is defined as “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends” and it has taken the world by storm. Brands like H&M, Zara, Forever 21, and The Gap are all examples of Fast Fashion and odds are that you reading this have at least one article of clothing from these retailers. Their turnarounds are so quick that instead of the traditional fall/winter, spring/summer model for designs, these powerhouses have essentially turned only two fashion seasons into fifty-two seasons. Every week newer styles are cycled through and make what was available the previous week seem obsolete. Out with the old and in with the new! And repeat, and repeat, and repeat…
But this model is incredibly damaging, not only to your wallet, but also to pretty much everything that these companies come in contact with. The fact that trends and clothing are in one minute and out the next makes it so that in the US alone we throw away approximately 81lbs of clothes per person and about 13 million tons of clothing as a country. The majority of this clothing will end up in landfills and is not biodegradable, meaning that it will outlast you and everyone you and your entire family will ever know.
And at the rate we’re going it will outlast how long we’re going to be on this planet, too.
The fashion industry, and more specifically the fast fashion industry is the largest polluting industry in the world, second only to Big Oil. It poisons the water with the toxic chemicals that are used to produce the cotton and other raw materials as well as the dies that are dumped into local rivers and streams that all lead out to the ocean and will eventually make their way into your drinking water. You’re also wearing these clothes meaning that it is possible that your skin, the largest organ you have, is in direct contact with all the nastiness. Additionally, the production of all of these low-cost clothes is only made possible by slave labor that largely targets women and children in developing countries. Every time you go to the mall and see a deal that is so dirt cheap that it almost feels like they can’t possibly be making a profit it’s because these companies are paying some woman or child less than a penny to make. There are ecological, financial, and social implications for every garment that you own and what I’ve mentioned here is not even the tip of the iceberg.
You probably bought the shirt you’re wearing because you thought it looked nice, not knowing that the very moment you purchased it, everything that I mentioned above went into its creation. Everything. The politics, the social implications, the exploitations of people and resources, all of it. All for the low, low price of $10.99!
So that’s the issue with the September Issue, and while I can and will still appreciate the looks that are produced and the magazines that showcase some of the work that went into making the art that we live our lives in, I hope that you remember how impacted we all are by what makes up our outer shells.