January 24, 2010

Crimes of fashion

I was pleased when I opened my blog reader this morning and saw that Tavi had posted her eloquent thoughts on Tanya Gold's Guardian editorial about hating fashion, because she made me reconsider the argument that Gold was making (or not making, as the case may be) and my own kneejerk reaction to it.

I read the intro to Gold's article in yesterday's Age newspaper with interest, expecting to find much to nod my head to - after all, Gold and I are the same age and I certainly share her distaste with the 'I shop, therefore I am' theme that pervades so much fashion and related media. But when I got to Gold's reason for deciding to write her piece she lost me.

Gold says she was compelled to share her hatred of fashion after reading about the death of a teenage girl who fell between two train carriages as she was running to catch the train on a snowy night. The girl was wearing high heels. Thus, Gold contends, high heels - ergo: fashion - killed her. What rot.

I agree that many crimes are committed in fashion's name (harem pants, hotpants and gladiator sandals are on my current Fashion Crimestoppers alert), but to say that this tragic death was the fault of the fact that high heels exist is, to me, ridiculous. Yes, the accident may well have not happened if the girl had been wearing sensible shoes, but, it is not "fashion's" fault that she a) chose to wear then, or b) chose to run in them. Or that she was running late for her train in the first place. It was at this point in my reading that Ms Gold lost me and I turned the page.

I must admit I didn't return to the article to read it in full until Tavi's response piqued my curiosity to get the full picture. Having now read the rest of it, I can see that Gold's own relationship with fashion has not been a happy one. That's fine - my relationship with driving is similarly irredeemable and if I want to rely on public transport for the rest of my life and Ms Gold wants to wear the same clothes every day for the rest of hers, then those are our choices to make - but I think she should acknowledge that she's brought a set of matching luggage to her argument, which makes it, as Tavi points out, is 'essentially pointless'.

Yes, there are big problems with the fashion 'industry' (the sexualisation of young girls, the effect on people's body image, the media's compulsion to spendspendspend, and garment manufacturing sweatshops, to name just a few), but the clothes - even the ugly, uncomfortable and ridiculous ones - are innocent

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