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Fashion or Clothing?

[Original German Blog Post]

In the age of the growing powerlessness of subjective spirit vis-à-vis social objectivity, fashion registers the alien excess of objectivity in subjective spirit, which is painful yet all the same a corrective of the illusion that subjective spirit exists purely within itself. Against its detractors, fashion’s most powerful response is that it participates in the individual impulse, which is saturated with did so paradigmatically in Art Noveau [Jugendstil], in the paradoxical universality of loneliness as style. … If art, as semblance, is the clothing of an invisible body, fashion is clothing as the absolute.”

(Adorno, Ästhetische Theorie)

Why have we named this blog Slow Fashion and not Slow Clothing? Well, a fashion is by definition something that is by many (most) people within a culture regarded á la mode actuelle, fashionable, modern. Even if this does not necessarily imply that some fashion will become unfashionable after a few weeks, the modern is always in opposition to the timeless, the classic, the indémodable.

Clothing is a functional term. Regarding communication and culture, wearing clothes is the opposite of being naked. By fashion however we express ourselves, show our relation to our kind while differentiating from others. Clothing is to fashion what nurture is to cuisine. and taste are both not only expressed in style – and good style includes to respect origin and ethics of course – but also by fashion by which we vary our style and place it in a contemporary setting.

My grandmother used to sew her dresses herself, like many women of her generation. Often a dress would be tailored only for a single occasion or feastivity. And thus of course in the latest fashion. The special dress was – like the special set menu – index of high esteem and respect for the occasion and its guests. The patterns were brought by the fashion magazines, that in this case were not at all just presenting a dream world of models, dressed in cat-walk collections, but were serving as concrete source of inspiration for the own creativity. The tailored or knitted was unstiched and remade after a very short period of time. Between this tension of carefulness and ephemerity Slow Fashion unfolds.

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[Original German Blog Post]

Le beau est fait d’un element eternel, invariable, dont la quantite est excessivement difficile a determine, et d’un element relatif, circomstancial, que sera si l’on veut, tour a tour ou tout ensemble, l’epoque, la mode, la moral, la passion. Sans ce second element, que est comme l’enveloppe amusante, titillant, aperitive, du divin gateau, le premier element serait indigestible, inappreciable, non adapte et non approprie a la nature humaine. Je defie qu’on decouvre un echantillon quelconque de beaute que ne contienne pas ces deux elements.
(Baudelaire, Le Peintre de La Vie Moderne)

The word ‘culture’ descends from the latin: to care for, to dwell, to cultivate. The first shape of human culture might have been to cook. We humans have been living by cooked food for more then one and a half million years – long enough for our body to get adopted to in the course of evolution.

At what point in time we humans have started to cloth ourselves is not clear. The earliest findings of sewing needles reaches farther into the past then the earliest cave paintings. And while cooking became an extended part of our metabolism, clothes became a second skin, enabling us to survive in nearly any climate – but when we lack of it, we get cold – and we feel naked.

“You are what you eat” is a saying. “First comes chow, then morals.” counters however Bert Brecht. No sooner then the end of the wave of gluttony that followed WWII, and after the ‘Green Revolution’ of the seventies, increasing agricultural production fourtyfold, in the eighties and nineties the reaction to take place and could finally begin to question the food of junk-food and advocate concentration on local producers and production of premium craftsmanship.

Clothing has – similar to food – in our society become a cheep commodity. As the fact that happily hardly anybody in Germany has to famish anymore, it is at first a high good to have clothes in acceptable quality for everyone. But to an even greater extend as with cheep food, we dearly buy our cheep clothing – the price however we do not pay on our own, but burden it to those who manufacture the clothes for us in slave labour; even the growing of the raw material like cotton is far from sustainable; and last the textiles get chemically fit with dispersants and impregnations that make up to thirty percent of the weight! Also the dye is often irritant or even toxic. Our second skin should protect and warm us, but should not make us sick!

Like our face, the mimic and gestures, our clothes belong inseparably to our looks by which we appear to others. Clothing should embellish us, to extend us in a positive way, like body care and cosmetics or like our haircut – also in this aspect clothing is an extension of our body: clothing is communication.

Thus we want beautiful clothes. Clothes that correspond to what we want to express about our personality. By that clothes become at last fashion. Fashion therefor has not only to get produced in an ecological and social way, but has also to be beautiful!

“Clothes are inevitable. They are nothing less than the furniture of the mind made visible.”
(James Laver)

If we follow this thread of “artificial shells”, wrapping us, from the inside out, the next shell after food and clothing would be living and finally travel – and for all these fields it would be worthwhile to ask for the good.

With Slow Fashion we attempt to recognise these two important aspects of fashion and clothing. We are looking for good clothes, for clothes that are long-living – materially and ideally, with a (hi)story, manufactured artfully, that by being worn, ad something special to us. Fashion as the sugar icing of the divine cake – like in the introductory quote by Baudelaire – or as visualisation of our furniture of the mind – We are looking for valuable fashion.

Here you find our seven points: What is Slow Fashion?

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