Fashion is not known to have much maternal instinct. This may come as a surprise to some – knowing that most of our fashion beginnings started with mom. Peering into her closet, clomping around in shoes too big for our tiny feet, playing with jewelry she would yell at us for getting tangled, this was the love that started it all for so many.
But the industry isn’t like that.
It often tells us we are not good enough, not skinny enough, not pretty enough, not rich enough to deserve its love and attention. It says, “Sit up straighter!” “That’s too short, go change!” and never really says “I love you.” If fashion was a mom, she wouldn’t be very loving at all.
This was the status quo for a very long time. It was the 2000’s, the divas, the workaholics, the pre-influencer influencers that repeated the narrative that fashion is mean, fashion is cutthroat, fashion isn’t polite. I made my skin thicker, my will stronger and my love run deeper for an industry I knew would try to chew me up and spit me out. Its exclusivity is why so many people want in on the high-fashion scene. Once you’re in, you’re in. This is how fashion thrived, made money, gained followings. And of course, it portrayed a toxic relationship between self-worth and attention.
However, all relationships have arcs. Last season, the turmoil of New York Fashion Week and the fashion system as we know it came to a head. it was Rodarte and Proenza Schouler leaving home in spite of the system that raised them. They fought for their independence, their reputation outside of sometimes-abusive “American fashion,” and once they established themselves, they came back home like an older sibling returning from college. Throughout fashion week and beyond, this buckle in the system swirled in conversations, weaved its way into think pieces, and changed the relationship between fashion and its children.
It reminded me of a big family blowout fight that would potentially change the dynamic of our home, NYC. As the Spring/Summer 2019 shows came closer, the anticipation grew. What were we to expect? Apparently, tea parties. And gardens. And caftans, and punches of colors, and 80’s silhouettes, and reams and reams of voluminous fabrics.
All of this reimagined extravagance, delicious food, and brilliant background stories to the shows this past week finally reminded me again of a young self, rummaging through clothes in my mother’s closet. Each piece paired with a story. Beads of jewelry intertwined with itself. Food and drink with great company that made me feel like New York Fashion Week was a loving mom that wanted to see her kids prosper under her love.
This is the beginning of a change in the system. This is the reconciliation.
I’ve had this running theory for a long time that fashion is getting more and more honest. The Millennial and Gen Z entry into the workforce, and fashion’s changing demographic, has created a shift to fit modern woman: She wants to wear clothes that make her feel good. She wants to support brands that do good. She is not wearing clothing to heighten her status, rather, for the purpose of self-expression.
Not only is our relationship with fashion changing, but a relationship with ourselves, and others, and the world that make you feel like anything is possible. It’s the feeling of being a kid again. So call your mom, tell her you love her. Put on your favorite outfit and go for tea. Relish the feeling of change.