-what we choose to wear is symbolic, no? arguably, we have intentions behind what we choose to wear, and we seek to express and say different things with our clothing and other complimentary accoutrements (i touched upon this a great deal in my why do we wear what we wear? post).
sometimes, though, we may think we’re expressing and intend to express something with our clothing, but what we wear can and is, at times, interpreted quite differently by the world at large, or by small subsets of the world at large, depending upon their beliefs or perspective. such is the case with a scarf donned by food network and pop culture star rachael ray in a recent dunkin donuts commercial. said scarf was allegedly merely adorned with a black and white paisley pattern, but some folks of a more reactionary bent felt the scarf in question looked a little too much like the black and white woven keffiyeh scarves favored by arab men, which (according to/quoting conservative commentator michelle malkin and others like her): “[have] come to symbolize murderous palestinian jihad.”
caving to pressure from conservative camps who share malkin’s viewpoint, dunkin donuts pulled the ad in question, fearing a backlash or boycott of their products. (via the huffington post)
in conjunction with this keffiyeh kerfuffle, malkin was quoted as saying the following on her blog:
“fashion statements may seem insignificant, but when they lead to the mainstreaming of violence — unintentionally or not — they matter. ignorance is no longer an excuse.”
upon hearing about said kerfuffle, i started thinking about all those hipster kids who wear actual keffiyeh scarves these days (or at least they did in recently past days…are they still popular?). do all of those hipster kids know what such scarves might represent or symbolize, to palestinians, or to other opposing camps? are they even aware of their country of origin? has the symbolism of the scarves to palestinians (whether intended to be incendiary or mererly culturally referential and benign) been lost on said hipster kids because they are ignorant of their deeper meaning or provenance, as they may just be focusing on the wearing of such to follow a trend or because they merely like the colors or the pattern on said scarves? or do those hipster kids just see them purely as a fashion item?
i’d venture to say that the same goes for a lot of items when they make the transition from one culture or country to another…many times, the original meaning or symbolism or source of a textile or garment is forgotten, ignored, or destroyed when such pieces make a transition from one culture to another. something is lost in the translation.
in reference to malkin’s statement about fashion statements, is ignorance no longer an excuse when it comes to fashion and what we wear? are we, as a wearer of whatever, responsible for knowing the potential meanings or sources of all the things we choose to wear? is it even possible to track the meaning of everything we don?
do we have to take a stance when we wear something, or know the stances of others on said items, or at least be aware of their stances? or is it okay to just wear something “because you like it”, or because it “looks good to you” (aka, appeals to your sense of aesthetics), even though it’s significance might be different in the context of another culture? are we especially responsible for knowing the meaning of something if it’s questionable or political in it’s meaning?
-what do you think of the notion of “trying too hard” when it comes to getting dressed? is such a statement simply subjective, a potentially pejorative judgement made by a critical outside observer? do some people actually factually “try too hard”?
but…is trying too hard a bad thing? can it be a REALLY GOOD THING when it comes to self-expression via dress? can the idea “trying too hard” perhaps imply a feeling of and love for the experimental?
is “trying too hard” hard for some to stomach because the idea trying implies risk, which some more conservative folks are loathe to toy with, out of fear of public ridicule (for starters)?
some of such is the subject of a recent post by disney roller girl…which was also expounded upon and linked to by the imitible susie of style bubble.
also, relatedly, what’s so wrong with the ugly? do you embrace the ugly, and find the declasse worthy of championing? can ‘ugly’ actually be ‘beautiful’? (via kingdom of style) to reiterate the line of questioning queen michelle employs, when is ugly truly ugly? are there limits and strict definitions of beauty, of ugliness?
or consider this: is there any other statement that so clearly expresses the idea that the notion of beauty and style and aesthetics is exceedingly subjective and extremely personal?
-what say you on the subject of bodysnarking? does the internet facilitate and perhaps make it “okay” culturally to comment negatively on the bodies of others, famous folks, or otherwise? what about the internet perpetuates this behavior? is it the inherent anonymity of the web?
are we all a little too concerned with what we look like, or what others look like? is this only getting more acute?
the last few months or year has seen what seems to me to be to be an explosive proliferation of street style/personal style/fashion blogs.
and, just in the past year or even past few months, there has also been a launch of a myriad of fashion-sharing sites. many of the fashion/style sharing sites have an element of rating (or rating systems)…i.e., users are encouraged not to simply celebrate, but to criticize.
snark is in…and the people seem to love it. reading it, participating in it. but is this good? does it ever go too far?
if we post a picture of ourselves on the internet, should we be prepared for and expect the comments that might ensue, both positive or negative in nature? do those comments matter in scheme of things? are they ‘real’? do they hurt less or mean more because they are sourced via the internet?
and the (sometimes not so) quick and dirty!
–heads up san francisco/bay area people: modern printmaking maven lotta jansdotter is putting on a free print party this coming saturday, june 7th from 5-8 pm at the craft gym, here in san francisco, to promote her new printmaking book, lotta prints, which was recently published by chronicle. lotta will be demo-ing some of the techniques she illustrates in the book, like rubber and potato stamping, and observers will be able to join in the fun and take said techniques for a spin themselves. the craft gym is at 1452 bush street (between van ness & polk). i heard there shall be drinks and snacks there as well. i’m going to try and make to this event if i can! why don’t you, too?
–also for the san franciscans, particularly those into hats and millinery: local milliner de anna gibbons of brimming over millinery is offering hat-making classes/workshops through the summer and fall. see her site for more details on these classes.
–and one more for you SF’ers!: built by wendy san francisco is having a spring sample sale this coming weekend (june 6th and 7th) here in SF. more details here.
-the new issue of NEET magazine (june 2008) is out, on zee web. apparently there’s an article in this new issue which has quotes from wardrobe_remix(ers) on the topic of ethics and fashion, culled at least partially from this discussion here in the wardrobe_remix discussion forums.
-in the month of may, sewing blog sew mama sew had a big old series of posts and projects that addressed important/useful sewing techniques, in honor of women’s clothing month. check out the archive of said posts here.
-via fine little day, i stumbled upon a cool online design mag called blanket magazine. said mag (in their own words) “is a free PDF online magazine that is aimed at uncovering (excuse the pun!) art + design + photography from the talented people who create it”. the most recent available issue is the ‘recycled’ issue. neat!
–decor8 has a round-up of indie textile designers that can be found on etsy. why not use the handiwork of one of them for your next sewing project?