London Fashion Week is upon us and with it, ushering in its plethora of colours, the array of shapes and textures that we will see filtering into magazines and shop windows these upcoming months. According to reports of the highly anticipated show, which ran from the 14th-19th September, ‘floral dresses’, primary colours, ruffles and ‘in-your-face’ slogans are just some of the trends we can expect to see amongst the line-up of AW17’s ‘must-haves’.
Whilst students spend the least on clothing, a survey by Glamour found that fashion purchasing makes up the highest percentage of their annual income versus any other age group. Thus, as another season is settling in and as a student, I wanted to get to the roots of why students will readily offer up whatever remnants have survived of their student loan to satisfy a trend that will soon become yesterday’s news.
To pinpoint the root of this commonplace, yet financially nonsensical compulsion amongst the majority of 18-24 year olds, I thought it would be interesting to examine what fashion really is, as it seems to be inextricably linked to a continuous cycle of purchasing. The common desire to ascribe to 15-minute trends is in continuous conflict with the reality of perpetually being in some form of debt. Why does fashion externally herald as a form of art, self-expression and individuality yet at its core demand a constant stream of purchasing and discarding, at a speed which any other profit-seeking industry would find impossible to rival?
‘Fashion’ is not a particular top, or a certain pair of shoes. It exists as a separate entity from tangible items. Rather, fashion is a social consensus of what looks ‘good’ and what doesn’t. (I have formulated this definition before consulting a dictionary) –The Oxford English Dictionary defines fashion as ‘the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration, or behaviour’. Equally, the underlying implication of ‘fashion’ is also a sentiment of transience.
It is an achievement within the world of style for something to remain fashionable for even a year, so consequently fashion necessitates a state of incessantly purchasing, throwing out in around 4- 6 month intervals, if one hopes to remotely stay within the realms of what is considered ‘fashionable’. There is an irony in the official LFW website currently proffering the show’s desire for ‘a safer and greener future’ as a key narrative for this year’s show, whilst the concept of LFW itself perpetuates an incessant and vast amount of waste as last season’s trends become worthless and abandoned for the latest ‘in’ thing.
Whilst being a student on a tight budget and having a high appreciation for fashion should not be mutually exclusive, it would perhaps be refreshing for a show like LFW to put a greater emphasis on style, rather promote excessive consumerism. Being considered ‘fashionable’ should not have to necessitate continuous purchasing, to keep up with trends that have a shorter shelf life than some of the food in my cupboard. An emphasis on style would encourage those of us passionate about what we wear to trust our own stylistic instincts rather than seeking constant consensus from catwalks or magazines. Especially for the majority who financially cannot afford to throw out a pair of jeans they bought 6 months ago because they are now ‘unfashionable’, fashion should not come with a price tag, but rather be appreciated for the individualism and creativity it was originally designed to embody.