Seeing as I am tackling a lot of the big issues in the fashion industry lately I thought I would get off my chest one such issue that has lurking at the back of my mind for some time. Namely the effect of success – that most great brands or artists start out personally producing amazing work, that gets popular beyond an individuals capacity, that then necessitates business involvement, that then means that suddenly there are an awful lot of salaries to be paid, PR to be hired and campaigns to be organised and finally a deluge of celebrity tie-ins, gifts and product placements. Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a problem for me, I wish success on most people, however the uncomfortable reality is that this success usually has a detrimental effect on the original product. In order to pay the salaries of the huge amount of people involved, the products price point needs to be raised (still no problems yet), but in certain cases the quality of the product is also reduced in the materials and labour to save some cash.
Key examples of this would be designer bags that are not even made of leather, cheap costume jewelery sold at a higher price than when it was made of silver (Vivienne Westwood, I am looking at you!) and awful plating – seriously, brass effect plating instead of brass, you have lost your mind!
All of this makes me retreat to my happy place, my formative years of fashion – my inspirations.
One of the many great things about being English is having been exposed to the biker, rocker and punk movements from a young age, which has gone on to influence my style – especially in the context of Japan where these movements are still flourishing, in an aesthetic sense at any rate. The sentiment and ideology may have long gone, but both styles have now entered into a very exclusive category for me of “Things that are going to be cool forever”. Personally I have always identified with the biker aesthetic – fitted but masculine, hard-wearing but already falling apart.
Now, the reason that this is my refuge from a bill-board of Jennifer Lopez cltuching a PVC Louis Vuitton handbag is that you literally cannot buy this look. OK you can in Vintage shops and at terrifying prices, but what you ought to do and what the original bikers did, is make the look for yourself. Whether it is clumsily repairing your ripped trousers for the 5th time or sitting down with 500 studs, a dart and a hammer and knowing that you are going to need more studs by the end of the day, this is all easy stuff that anyone can do. The crucial point is that while anyone could do it, it is time consuming, occasionally painful and requires actual physical strength without the industrial level equipment.
But what you are doing is making something that can’t be brought. The jacket you are studding may be impossible to personally make from scratch, but you can be sure that if the brand had had it studded themselves then it would be into the price bracket I tend to regard as “a cure for melancholy”.
So we all know that studs are in this winter, so why not stud, rip-up, destroy and repair something old and make it new – for yourself. Out of respect for the origins of this fashion, this is one look you should never hand over to retail.