Thursday, August 5, 2010

Because they're everywhere?

Being held captive today in a waiting room, I was subjected to a talk show in which the guest, some celebrity-beautiful-person-etc-type, was asked about the ridiculously high shoes she wore - the ubiquitous 8" heels with massive platform. Asked why she would wear shoes so high and obviously impractical, she chimed, "because they're "in", this is all I could find!". The host pointed out that she herself was able to find a comfortable alternative, and I felt like facepalming at the idea of anyone purchasing any item "just because it's everywhere". Sigh.

In spite of myriad chain stores, outlets, and the omnipresence of many brands (including luxury brands), it still doesn't take too much to decide on autonomous selection. Rather than just opting for the brands that really put it out there, a little exploration and research goes a long way. Who knows, there may even be - gasp - some brands that don't use sweatshop labour, or maybe have sustainable, ethical practices and materials! Some may contribute to recycling, upcycling, or the local economy. And the cherry on top, one may find something that has some soul, that was made with love and care, and was infused with the creator's passion and vision, which magnifies the same in the wearer. Oh the possibilites.

Yes, I realise it can be a formidable mission to seek out alternatives in a market which is absolutely drenched in trends, on practically every level, especially in a time-poor situation. But really, there are alternatives, and there is the simple fact that choice is an ever-present faculty awaiting our attention. Fair enough, a necessary quick purchase might at times be required, however that (in my opinion) is far more understandable than resigning to a trend simply because that's what they say is good right now. It's a safe bet to say we all have fallen prey to the tastemakers at times, and sometimes still do. Incredible amounts of time, effort, and money are poured into the goal of baiting people on transient trends to feed a bottomless bottom line.

Don't get me wrong - this is not a judgment on anyone, but the system which erodes and strangles freedom of choice and individual expression, especially for the sake of monetary gain. While it does frustrate me that there are many who prefer not to think for themselves, the fact remains that marketing has become a dominant force in our culture, persuading us in increasingly sophisticated, strategic, and overwhelming ways. Have you ever tried going a day without paying attention to a single advert? Let alone attempted to not allow a single advert to reach you? How far out of a metropolitan area would one have to be to succeed at the latter?

Unfortunately, things look like they'll be this way for some time - readily available supplies dictated by a select few, for the benefit of the select few. I'm sure you've heard this rant many times before. But my hope is that in time, the prevailing landscape will be changed, and nobody will feel compelled to follow values and created needs prescribed by those who have little or no interest in others apart from what power may be gained from them - and not just in fashion, but in every human interaction.

I'd like to challenge my readers to either avoid what's "everywhere" like the plague, or use parts of it irreverently and completely on your terms. My guess is that many of you reading this already do, and in that case, I encourage you to take it up a notch, finding new levels of authenticity and originality.

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