Imagine walking into a store and falling in love with an item of clothing. You purchase the item and you go home. Ultimately, with this action you have endorsed a fashion label. Once you do, you are not just supporting their clothing whenever you wear it, you are also to a certain extent supporting the beliefs behind the clothes. But how could we wear an item of clothing and publically support a fashion label, if we, as people, have views that do not align with those of the designer?
It is this idea that has led me to believe that falling in love with an item of clothing should be not only because of aesthetics but you should also be ready to live and be comfortable with the public values of the company or designer.
This does not mean that one should not buy a piece of clothing they love solely because they disagree with a certain value of the designer or company, but rather they should take this into consideration when choosing to support something in such a public way.
I first began to question the idea of one’s own morals when endorsing brands when I heard about John Galliano’s multiple anti-Semitic comments in Paris just before the Paris Autumn/Winter 2011-2012 fashion week.Galliano, who was head designer for Christian Dior at the time, was secretly filmed telling a group of women that he loved Hitler and people “like [Jews]” should have been dead.
Needless to say, Galliano was swiftly removed from Dior and was put on trial in Paris for making anti-Semitic comments, which is illegal in France.
What happened to Galliano is something that I believe all designers have to be aware of: Brands and the messages they send are often inseparable, demonstrated by his hasty firing.
Even if you aren’t in the public eye, your fashion choices to a certain extent can send a similar message. While obviously it is irrational to say that what we wear intrinsically makes us promote the designer’s values, one should be aware of what they have chosen to buy and the ideas behind the clothes.
While Galliano is now being given a second chance at Maison Martin Margiela, there is no room for a third. While I understand that he was battling substance abuse when he was filmed making these anti-Semitic comments, his time at Maison Martin Margiela is a defining time for his career.
At the same time, I was overjoyed when, during Chanel’s Spring 2015 show in Paris, Creative Director Karl Lagerfeld decided to make the idea of gender equity the theme of his show. While I recognize Lagerfeld has been no angel in the past, famously dismissing criticism over his use of stick-thin models as criticism from “fat mommies with bags of crisps,” what he has chosen to do this year with his line is certainly commendable.
As models walked down a make-believe street (“Boulevard Chanel”), not only did they wear this season’s newest line, but they also came with a message: That feminism is and should be in style. Models walked down the runway, holding signs featuring slogans such as, “Boys should get pregnant too”, and “Women’s rights are more than alright.”
Simultaneously, Lagerfeld criticized Galliano’s actions when he was fired from Dior after his anti-Semitic comments. Lagerfeld highlighted the importance of being aware of what you’re saying when on a public platform when he said, “The thing is, we are a business world where, especially today, with the internet, one has to be more careful than ever, especially if you are a publicly known person.”
What both Lagerfeld and Galliano have shown is that there is more to a label than its clothes. It is the creative masterminds behind these fashion houses that must be taken into account to a certain extent.
If we do not do so, we are only hurting ourselves by not being true to our own values.