24 November 2009

The 'Dilettante Rugged' Style & Inauthentic Authenticity

An Affordable Wardrobe | Giuseppe | The Pop Up Flea: Voice of Dissent

Pop Up Flea just wasn't 'all that' ( as the kids were saying when I was still a kid). I didn't snap a single photo, because, frankly, we've seen everything they had on offer over and over ad nauseam for at least a year now. You know the scene by now: overpriced boutique-issue 'heritage Americana'...read, replications of poor people's clothes at rich peoples prices.

I get it, but I don't. Sure, there's beauty to be found in a well made piece of hard wearing, rugged clothing, but something about 'designers' trying to sell me a wool flannel shirt for hundreds of dollars in a 'trim cut' just rubs me the wrong way. How can you call this 'design'? These things have existed for a century. Perfect replication at a high ticket is not design...its a marketing and p.r. game.
Preach on!

I told Special Lady Friend as we were browsing at the mall last weekend that I will pay plenty of money for something that demands plenty of money but I won't pay big bucks to look like a lumberjack. There's something perverse about spending lots of dough on something like a flannel shirt. Flannel shirts are all about simplicity and ruggedness and function-over-form. A $200 flannel shirt is the sartorial equivalent of the Hameau de la reine. At that price point you're no longer wearing a flannel shirt, you're pretending to be the kind of person who wears a flannel shirt. It becomes a game of dress-up for coddled urbanites.

Don't get me started on the selvage denim people. Like Giuseppe said, how can you brag about perfectly replicating designs from 100 years ago? That's not design, it's recycling. It's indistinguishable from trying to perfect an authentic Renn Faire costume. If that's what floats your boat, cool, but don't expect me to get all tingly about the prospects of spending many orders of magnitude more than necessary for what amounts to a historical costume.

Just like jokes, clothes should not need to be explained to people. If you need to say that the design for your trousers are 105 years old and they're made on a pre-WWII loom in order for them to impress people then your trousers fail.

Clothes should be judged solely by how you feel wearing them, not on the quality of their backstory. And if you need a good backstory in order to feel good in your clothes then you are not just dressing yourself, you are reaching out for an identity or authenticity you lack.

1 comment:

  1. In all fairness to the "Selvedge denim people," their obsession is, as far as I can see, no more ridiculous than any other material fixation, such as cars, watches, etc. ad nauseum. Seems to me, people just need something to obsess about, whether it ends up being football, selvedge denim or whatever else.

    That said, I'm also quite annoyed by the selvedge crowd, not because of the obsession itself, which I can honestly understand, but because of their assumption that selvedge=highest quality. Speaking as one who sews quite a bit, that assumption is like asserting that a car with hubcaps will be a better car and last 100,000 miles more. Any car can have hubcaps, whether or not they're there is just a design decision. Same with selvedges. All fabrics have them, even my 3.99/yard corduroy junk from JoAnns has a woven selvedge. Like Guiseppe said -- it's mostly just P.R. If the advertising says something enough, it becomes true, right?

    Oh, and I can't stand the "lumberjack hipsters" either.