Fashion is fun, no doubt, but what's just as interesting is the less-visible part that emanates from the murky depths of our subconscious. Like these four ensembles. Yes, they're juiced up a bit for the purposes of being entertaining on the runway, but look again. Each outfit communicates a different mood, a different outlook on life, a different feeling. Just the way your clothing choices do; what you wear may not use the same words you do, but it communicates volumes. We "speak" this language everyday and have two conversations:
1) WITH OURSELVES As we monitor the Zeitgeist, one of the ways we make sense of the crazy times in which we live is by what we decide to wear. Our outfits are rife with meaning - whether intentional or not- and the reason why writer Roland Barthes considered fashion a collection of symbols. The symbols, collectively, make up a language. “Our clothing is a reflection of what we are thinking and what we are feeling,” confirms Jennifer Baumgartner, Psy.D, author of You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal About You (Da Capo, 2012).
2) WITH OTHERS Once we distill the day’s worldview into an outfit and leave the house, we signal to those we come in contact with how we see life right now. "We tell the world the who, the what, the where and the when of our lives by what we wear on our backs," continues Baumgartner. "Clothing is an extension of who we are." As others see our outfit choices, they "listen" to our non-verbal sartorial statements, which influence how they feel about themselves. In turn, "hearing" what others are saying outfit-wise influences how we feel about ourselves. Our clothing selections interact with each others’ self identities. This two-way self-image assessment was identified by sociologist Gregory Stone who pointed out that the way others look, their appearance, feeds into how we feel about who we are - our identity.
Identity is the raison d’etre of fashion. "At it’s heart, it’s about two of the most fundamental states that we have for all that we experience as human beings, which are: Who am I? How might I be loved and love?" observes fashion designer and professor of Fashion Science Helen Storey, MBE. "Although those elements aren’t often spoken of, they lie at the heart of identity - and therefore fashion."
Based on people's outlook on the zeitgeist, in particular if they think we can avert climate change disaster and not blow ourselves into oblivion, the way they channel their views into their fashion tells you how they identify themselves. In which tribe they think they belong. Obviously people don't tend to walk down the street in ensembles as extreme as the runway looks above, but ignore the details and focus instead on what the fashion is actually saying. Used as a lens, these tribes are extremely useful for gauging which current trends will fade away into Fad-land and which will matter for the long-haul, aka The Future.
APOCALYTICAL The most pessimistic of the tribes, almost to the point of hands-in-the-air dispair. Fear of war plus a fear of climate change gone awry makes for some pretty badass fashion choices. However, the -alytical ending is good news for it comes from "analytical", as in, being thoughtful rather than just balls-out brash.
SUPREMIUM Slightly less pessimistic overall than the Apocalyticals, mostly on the issue of whether we'll blow ourselves up in another world war. Less upbeat on the climate change issue and are diligently attempting to ignore the bad news by shopping their way through the Apocalypse. The wealthier Supremiums are spending on private planes and spendy vacations; the poorer ones use and abuse credit to get their shopping on.
FOLKSPUN This tribe believes we can do something about climate change and they hand-make a lot of art and fashion to express this hope. They are front and center about protesting mass-produced disposables, fast fashion and McTaste - and doing their best to promote the unique, the artisanal and the handcrafted.
FUTURENETIC Off all the tribes, this group is staking a claim in the far future. Their experiments with various scenarios that incorporate biology and technology with fashion will take time to come to fruition, underscoring their belief that humans will still be around to reap the rewards. (image)
- Lesley Scott