Fashion Matters: To each of us personally

Fashion is often dismissed as frivolous, ephemeral and superficial. I believe fashion is important, and matters to the economy, to society and to each of us personally. Over the coming weeks I hope to open up a series of discussions around some of the key themes in my book ‘Why Fashion Matters.’

Today we hosted a tweet chat around why fashion matters to us as individuals, and some of the topics discussed were fascinating. Many questions arose around this topic, ranging from age, disability, and uniformity, to ecology, and identity.

There aren’t many definitive answers to these questions but just thinking and talking about these things, I think is the start of something quite exciting.

It’s the start of realising how what we wear says something about us, about our identity, and how we feel about ourselves. It’s the start of realising the power and influence of fashion in our own lives.

Often we are not always conscious of how we communicate. Albert Mehrabian found “that the verbal component of a face-to-face conversation is less than 35% and that over 65% of communication is done non-verbally.” A large part of this non-verbal communication is body language. Are not our clothes then part of a kind of visual language?

Items of clothing can have significance to us not only because they act as a mediator between us and the world, a medium of self expression, but they can also be deeply personal, evoking memories of people, places and experiences, and sometimes even exposing our vulnerabilities.

Fashion helps us express our tribal allegiances, and as E. O. Wilson argues in his book ‘The Social Conquest of Earth’ the human instinct to form groups or tribes and to defend them at all costs has been key to our development. I’m looking forward to exploring this and looking forward to continuing the conversation in next week’s tweet chat. where we will be talking about why fashion matters to society.

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