Are We What We Wear?

UCC Journalism Society’s Maeve Connolly questions the growth of the fashion industry, and the asks if what we wear truly reflects who we are.

With the growth of the fashion industry we have been given many new mediums through which we can showcase “who we are”. This of course is in many ways a fantastic feat, and is a representation of how far we as a world have come. However, I also believe that though fashion allows us to express ourselves and present the version of ourselves we want the world to see, it also in a way stifles us. If we allow our clothes to speak for us, we may eventually lose the ability to express who we are through more antiquated mediums; i.e. Through our words, thoughts and actions.

The world of fashion has become so evolved it has become a replacement for all those things that once set us apart. Of course I am speaking in the expressly general sense and this is, of course just one humble persons opinion, but think about it for a minute; these days, taking a stroll through campus is like being on a safari, only instead of studying lions and zebras frolicking in their natural environment, we get a glimpse of every different cultural sub group of people, most of whom use their clothes to create their packs and identify possible neighbouring herds. Of course, like in the wild, very often individuals may emerge, some seeking a new pack to latch on to, others content to remain distinctive and solitary.

But coming back to the issue of fashion defining “who we are”, let us take a look at the revolutionary social group popularly known as the “hipsters” species (if you are as yet unfamiliar with this social group (have you been living in a cave?)) in essence, they are young individuals who decidedly reject “mainstream” culture and instead adopt their individual culture and lifestyle. The modern image of a ’Hipster’ has been proliferated through internet, magazines and basically all media mediums. The basic understanding of this modern sub culture is that they are free thinking men and women who reject all widely thought or accepted social etiquettes (simply put, they are a modern cross-application from the 1930’s ‘Beatniks’). Nowadays apparent hipsters are ten a penny. Anywhere you go you will find a group of people who don the garments most commonly associated with this new race. However, the “hipster” look has been commercialised, and now their most distinctive attribute ie. Their uniform of non-uniformity, is one donned by many sub groups whom I like to call “whipsters”- wannabe hipster…see what I did there? So really, though many use the cover of a hipster as a mean to define who they are to the general public, it is really all a façade.

And so, if I on a whim decide to purchase a pair of thick rimmed glasses (without need of a prescription; these glasses are purely decorative and therefore, useless), am I then dubbed a true ‘Hipster’? If I go a step further and purchase a checkered shirt from my local ‘thrift shop’ then have I too joined the ranks as a self-proclaimed social pariah? If I decide to don an all-black ensemble, am I then a Goth? No, because the clothes we wear, while a reflection of personal taste, do not, or should not define us. We should not be confined to one particular social category by the clothes that we choose to wear. We are made up of so many things, and what we have on the inside is much more important than what we choose to wear on the outside.

We are defined as who we are by the choices that we make, and I do not mean those of the couture variety.


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