Fernie Fashion is Function

Fashion is North America’s ever changing variable. People conform annually to the norms set by a select few editors of prestigious style magazines. Hopefully I am not the only one who gets a good laugh from Vogue. Do they actually think that because one beautifully photo shopped woman is wearing a birds nest in her hair I am going to? Does Marc Jacobs really believe that because his models catwalked with hideously thick afros that they will be “spring’s new style”, and hair salons are going to make extra money in perms over the next few months?

Perhaps fashion is an art. I was in Paris a few years ago and when looking through a brochure of museums, I noticed the Museum of Fashion listed along side the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay. Fashion holds much higher esteem in some places than others.

What we wear holds such priority in our culture. ELLE magazine has over 26 websites worldwide, with over 1 million visitors and 26 million page views per month. Each month!
Over 80 percent of these are women ages 18 to 49 with an annual household income of less than $70,000. ELLE reaches almost 5 million readers who spend time every month trying to figure out what is in style.

I believe this confusing cycle is followed by many! Imagine throwing away your favorite shoes every year to make space for the fashionable thin heeled ones ELLE magazine says is a must have this season? It may sound ridiculous, but so many people listen to these nonsensical claims.

This whole idea of a new look every year did not just happen on its own. It is an entire theory that was designed to ramp up the economy post World War 2. Some of its most powerful strategies are planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence.

Planned obsolescence is just a fancy term that means, to quote Annie Leonard, “designed for the dump”. We notice it most often in cheaply made clothes that end up falling apart six months after purchase. Clothing companies hope that because of their popularity, we won’t even question the life of the article of clothing, but rather buy a new one.

Perceived obsolescence may be even worse, and is the entire strategy behind the ever changing fashion trends. It aspires to convince us that whatever we own that is still perfectly functional and usable is “out of fashion”. If we don’t replace it everyone will know that we have not contributed to modern consumerism values and this makes us less valuable.

I hope that that the next time you look through fashion magazine you will see the entire conspiracy for what it is. To be completely honest, though I do find these glossy exposés amusing, attractive, even artistic, I think that they are completely ridiculous. Luckily, I live in a place where fashion sense holds drastically different priorities.

In Fernie being warm, dry and comfortable are the main focus of our attire. How the person feels wearing the coat is more important than the coat itself. Perhaps the Patagonia catalogue does have some influence, but the lifespan of these garments are considerably longer. I know that because my father has had the same Patagonia jacket since before I was born! That’s what I call planned and perceived.... well, whatever the opposite of obsolescence is.