I don’t know about you but I hate the way the fashion world congratulates itself on its creativity. Creativity is defined as the ability to create. A writer is creative when he takes a blank sheet of paper and fills it with words. This is distinct from editing, that is taking existing words and sentences and improving them. Editing is sort of creative but it is nothing like putting pen to paper in order to express an original thought. Fashion designers imagine themselves to be creative in the first sense. Their blank piece of paper are rolls of cloth and their act of creativity is to design clothes from them that are pleasing to the eye. But is this what they really do?
If you look at the history of fashion, you see remarkably few new ideas. A lot of current fashion is merely past fashion that has been brought back. And when you do see completely new fashion designs, they rarely originate from the fashion studios of Paris and Milan (or wherever fashion studios are located). Usually they come from some subculture. The fashion world’s only real act of creativity is to pick out the pre-existing fashion and market it to the mainstream. For instance, the fashions of the 1990’s and early 2000’s were inspired by the rap subculture (which in turn originated from the black gang subculture); the fashions of the 80’s came largely from the punk and new wave movements; the fashions of the late 60’s and early 70’s started out with hippies; cargo pants and camo patterns have been taken from the military; and tight-fitting spandex workout-wear came from bicyclists.
Most of the rest of our fashions are recycled from the past. Miniskirts were in style in the 60’s and early 70’s. They came back in the 90’s but were out in-between. The styles of today are becoming more and more influenced by the 1970’s (as the baggy 90’s style clothes fade away). I used to think that bringing back old styles was done merely to channel nostalgia, but the more I think about it, another important reason for it is the lack of creativity among clothes designers.
Take men’s suits. These haven’t changed much for a century. It is interesting to note that where men’s dress suit styles have changed significantly, it has been to get rid of stuff that used to be acceptable. No more spats, tails, walking sticks or top hats. All that today’s men’s fashion designers have to do is to decide whether blazers should have 2 or 3 buttons this year and whether vests are in or out. (Of course, a side benefit of this creativity drought is that a good quality suit in a conservative style can be worn successfully for decades.)
The only fashion trend I can think of that was created ex nihilo by a fashion designer was the bikini, which is still going strong after 60 years.
The uncreativeness of clothing designers first really struck me a few years ago when I chanced upon an article about a designer who had brought back tight-fitting t-shirts for women. He was a nobody who happened to notice a previously unremarked-upon trend, that young women were buying t-shirts in boy’s sizes because they felt that the baggy t-shirts that the fashion world was then selling to them were ugly (which I agree). In response, he created a line of t-shirts for women that were tight fitting. Basically, he took existing boy’s t-shirts and sold them to women (after making a few rudimentary adjustments for fit). For this conceptual breakthrough, he made a fortune and was hailed a genius. When I read this, I though, that’s it? That’s all you have to do to be considered a genius in the fashion world (and make a gazillion)? Sure is easier being a genius in the fashion than in physics.
All of which justifies my belief that the fashion world is among the most useless and frivolous aspect of modern society.