Fast Fashion and an Annie Hall aesthetic
Do you approach Autumn with an idea of the style you would like to portray to your fellow city dwellers? Does the season make you excited to show off a new you? A tailored you? A more Annie Hall-esque you?
I’m mid-month and noting down things while I stand in H&M pondering the styles for Autumn. I’m so keen to have some new pieces but the ethical/fast fashion ideology is causing the indecisive aspect of me to battle with the fact…I’ve not got money till payday! So it would all be on credit. Not the best time to buy when it adds more to the current debt.
But I like to look well presented. I’ve had the same style for a while as the eternal student/part-time worker. I like the sofistication and bookish intellectualism of the style in Annie Hall, a film now celebrating forty years since release. But is there a shame to buying fast fashion?
Not really I would argue because what is someone’s fast fashion is another’s garment that has a long lasting appeal. It is all up to the person to decide what they wish to purchase. Fast fashion is enticing the latest high street fashion, thinking less on the function of the clothing and it’s sustainability in the wardrobe.
What encapsulated my thoughts on fast fashion was Youtube channel Justine Leconte Official. Justine is a fashion designer living in Berlin. The focus of her videos is 97% female fashion. Tips on how to dress like French women, key pieces for a capsule wardrobe and how French women keep so slim encapsulate Justine’s topics, to think along the parameters of fashion to choose wisely and with middle-income sensibility.
Queering her advice to the male form it would be great if you could afford to buy tailored clothes from a label that you knew had not exploited anyone along the production line. As Justine comments in one of her videos on fast fashion, the garment may be worked on in many countries before the finished item is labelled and transformed into the finished article.The ‘made in…’ label is probably not a full representation of each country of production.
If we do queer her advice to the male form, perhaps men have been much more used to having a few key looks with a couple of pieces, each being able to be worn for different occasions. Then again, I used to buy checked over-shirts circa 1992 and again in 2014 I started buying the same style of flannel shirts but in a slimmer fit. In 1992 I probably wore those over-shirts for a two years but my 2014 checked shirt has lasted longer because I look upon it as an investment to last, one that still sits with some form or hipster/nerd style. I bought it from H&M, a fast fashion hero of the high street, thereby negating any notion that fast fashion is only for a few seasons or less.
H&M compared to GAP has much more coloured and patterned items on display. GAP can take on a classical look for men. I bought a similar flannel shirt (I think I have a thing for the lumberjack look that became popular a few years back, but a style I probably have worn prior to that with an addition of asparse beard to reflect the trend). I did find that the quality of the GAP product and material slightly better. Or maybe that is just me with my cultural capital, believing that because of the company it will last that bit longer, have more threadcount and not be held together by high colours. My key advice for GAP is rarely buy anything on full price because it will have some sort of reduction sooner rather than later. Always try for a discount.
If you do start to think about the ethics of the garment then you can spend a lot or spend a little depending on how you look at it. Because basically I research and agonise over every detail of the company, the product, the cost that you get exhausted with it all and I just buy a pair of underwear or socks from M&S from their Simply Food Stores, in your basket along with your middle-income Granola.
I actually have done this after wondering about buying underwear online from a British company called Kiniki. Their underwear is good and it is made from a factory in Staffordshire, or at least the finished garment is (I have learned from Justine’s channel to question. So it can be nice if you are getting together with a gentleman caller and you have a different style of underwear than the usual Calvin’s or Aussiebum brands. You want to show it off more than the pair of M&S ones you have had for a while. Then again your not at the point of telling them how ethical your underwear is, unless your short of conversation.
I think it is a mind set and how you look at clothes and fashion. I want to be tailored and classic in my fashion style as I get older, but the environment I live in, work in and my income can not always feed into sustainable and ethical fashion choices. My cultural and social capital says that I should take all this advice from Justine into consideration, and to an extent I do when I buy organic cotton t-shirts from H&M. It might still be basic fast-fashion but I know that those t-shirts fit my body shape better than some other stores, and their price is reasonable. I buy one or two at the beginning of summer and then wear them over the winter under shirts and jumpers. Thereby lengthening their intended life.
So if fast fashion is in the mind then why do we fall for it? I think it is to do with our situation, the person we want to portray to the world. That does come from our person but takes form from our appearance, which includes our clothing. Social and cultural capital still make many adhere to the conventions of their spatiality. Those who take fashion to a different level from their environment are marked out as different, as someone who is non-conforming.
Non-conforming could be as simple as wanting to dress more classical when your social situation is much more conformist and relies on fast fashion. Or when your environment should dictate that classical style but you want to be as individual as the mainly women (and occasional man) who appear in the Advanced Style blog.
Fast fashion is in the mind, how you use it and perceive your style. In the end, I always want to be as stylish and New York as Annie Hall.