The Limitation of Imitation in Fashion
What are some of the more problematic aspects of fashion? I've struggled with fashion's consumerist nature, and with the cycle of want and waste that fashion can promote. I've also grappled with the fact that fashion concerns outward appearance, but what of the character underneath? Here's a third: fashion's imitative nature, discussed at length in Philosophical Perspectives on Fashion (Matteucci & Marino). Here's a (very) brief excerpt.
"...On the occasions that past philosophers did speak to the un-sublime subject of fashion, what stands out in their condemnations is not that fashion changes, not even that it pertains to one's body...but that it arises out of the spirit of imitation (see Pappas 2008). Fashion means no more than this for Rousseau, Thoreau, and Santayana, that everyone who observes its rules is copying someone else (copying someone who is also observing those rules as well as reinforcing them). Herd mentality gives you fashion, understood as everyone's attempt to resemble everyone else."
- Nickolas Pappas, in Philosophical Perspectives on Fashion
This isn't the author's conclusion, but an argument he makes as part of a broader discussion. What do you think? Is imitation a challenge when it comes to fostering a healthy relationship with fashion? Is it inevitable given human nature? What about the spirit behind our desire to imitate each other? Is it a case of trying to fit in? Of wanting to look like those we admire? Or, are we shortcutting our explorations of what makes us individual and unique?
Source: Pappas, Nickolas. Chapter 3: Anti-Fashion: If Not Fashion, Then What? p. 78 in Matteucci, Giovanni, and Stefano Marino, eds. Philosophical Perspectives on Fashion. London: Bloomsbury Academic, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2016.
Feature image by Peter Lindbergh for Vogue US, Aug 1988