Fashion as a language


Column - Fashion
Fashion as a language
fashion that speaks


Yuusuke Koishi
Yuusuke Koishi / CEO of Kleinstein. Founded Kleinstein in 2014 with his partner Koishimiki. Disgusted with Japanese society, where katakana is prevalent, he proposes a translation word for fashion, 'yoso'. Operates the Kleinstein gallery and showroom “STEIN BOX”.

turbulent times,
and lost baggage

The big news that former Prime Minister Abe was assassinated on the street flowed. Even so, no one ostensibly swayed, and if you glance at another news, forget about it five seconds later and move on to the next news, which is the timeline of culture consumption. It's proof that much of the fashion industry is largely liberal and non-political, but with the world changed so much since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th, it's a big risk to ignore macropolitical dynamics indifferently. became. Price inflation is accelerating, and before you know it, 1 dollar is equivalent to 1 euro, and the dollar-yen exchange rate is 139 yen (as of July 14, 2022). There is a level of situation where if you do business with imported brands without thinking about anything, you will be driven out of business. As a result of the war, international brands and suppliers doing business with companies in Russia were denounced for doing business on an ethical basis, and messages of support for Ukraine became a moral imperative. I think many people felt the effects of the war for the first time when Russia became a no-fly zone. The flight time to Paris for fashion week has increased by more than 1.5 times, and flight tickets have skyrocketed due to the high oil prices and inflation caused by the war, and the probability of lost baggage on connecting flights has increased dramatically. I'm sure there will be people who lost their sample bags somewhere in the world at Fashion Week this June and are at a loss.

Politics that creates images, fashion that manipulates images

So much for the economics, let's talk about the relationship between "politics" and "image." Politics is an integral part of fashion. The most obvious example is LVMH Chairman Bernard Arnault. The richest man in France, his company is staffed by former officials. He has expressed his support for President Macron, and the president himself appeared at the opening of the Samaritaine department store in 2021. During the Trump administration, he established a factory in Texas in the United States and held talks with President Trump in order to lobby in response to tariffs on the EU. is.

Fashion is a highly political business. This is because while politics is accompanied by “images,” fashion is an area that manipulates “images” and creates wealth in a capitalist society. The timeline has calmed down a lot now, but some people remember that until 2020, President Trump was still in office in the United States, and his large body was broadcast on TV screens around the world and the Internet every day. I think there are many. Every time the image of Trump with an anti-liberal stance circulates day after day, liberal themes that are considered to be far from Trump-like, especially the SDGs, the environment and diversity, have become more popular around the world. Trump has become a punching bag that can be hit as much as you want, and the power of hitting it amplifies the wave of creation, just like the rhythm of the drums of a jazz trio. A similar phenomenon can be seen in the past. During the Vietnam War, beatnik and hippie culture rose, and anti-establishment culture rose. Historically, pop culture is born from "anti-authority positions." As "social good" became avant-garde and political turmoil continued, a new culture was born.

Let's go back to the Russo-Ukrainian War. Many people may remember the pop culture boom of the former Soviet Union, which started with the boom of Gosha Rubchinskiy to Vetements. The more unliberal America became, the more barbaric the seemingly wild world of the former Soviet Union became, on the contrary, the source of alternative culture for dissidents, and the Cyrillic alphabet used in Russian became a fashionable symbol. However, the situation changed completely on February 24th. After the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the Russian culture, which had already been on the wane, became a “symbol” that could be misread as a symbol of evil, and almost died out. Russian culture as an anti-hero, President Putin used as a villainous fashion icon, and Internet MEME will also become taboos that can no longer be revealed. As an aside, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was originally a comedian and actor with a racy trick of playing the piano between his groins. It is strange and unfunny black humor that a person who once made fun of with vulgar jokes is now a respected politician all over the world and confronts former KGB spy President Putin.

Fashion history as class struggle

The anti-authority fashion icon Karl Marx, who is sometimes printed on the body of T-shirts, wrote in The Communist Manifesto (1848), "The history of all society up to now is the history of class struggle." Political history is a series of class struggles, but modern fashion is also a history of class struggles. In a sense, it may be a black humor of fate that the city of Paris, where the monarchy was overthrown by the popular French Revolution, has become a mecca for fashion weeks. New creations were born as an attack on the established interests that exist in the hierarchy of society and industry, and fashion has evolved. Once an orphan, Chanel sold (or would rather sell) her imitation pearl necklaces to the bourgeoisie and aristocrats of more prosperous origins than she did, making them more cutting-edge than expensive pearl necklaces. And touted as a style. The style of working women made of cheap materials is more progressive and 'tasteful' than the dresses of the idle aristocrats who have tea from noon, and the upper classes are wearing it. It irritated people and set them on fire.

The new fashion is a message of struggle against hierarchy. Like Comme des Garcons, Martin Margiela, and the aforementioned Vetements, provoking, obsolete, and hacking the structure of the upper values ​​of the fashion hierarchy are seen as strong creations. It is modern black humor and creative irony that Louis Vuitton will show in July at the Louvre Museum, which was strongly influenced by street culture and was once the palace of the French royal family.

fashion creates language

Recently, keywords such as NFT, Metaverse, and WEB3.0 have become popular. Numerous media outlets have written the overtly self-evident and boring tone that “fashion has expanded into cyberspace beyond the framework of clothing.” This story is nothing new either, if you think about what we talk about when we talk about fashion. When we talk about fashion, we are unconsciously talking about various changes in the world, including not only clothes and styles, but also music, movies, and books, and the atmosphere of society. Fashion movements should be discussed as a “social phenomenon” rather than as a collection runway report. In modern society, a person's identity is represented by who they follow on social media such as Instagram and Twitter, who they follow, who they are following, what they are sending out, and whether they are making political statements. . These have the same meaning as wearing clothes, bags, jewelry and brands, and intertwine with clothing and style to create identity. The 'image' that represents an individual's identity is a 'fashion item', whether it is an individual item such as a printed T-shirt or fake pearls, or an account or statement that one follows. In the modern society expanded by the Internet, "everything can be fashion" and "language".

For us, the new fashion born in the process of creation is a “new language” that connects and divides people at the same time. In today's turbulent times, I think there is an increasing demand for political creations of a very high level that are sensitive to political and social movements and actively incorporate them. The era of keeping a cool distance from the movements of the hot world and sticking to non-political attitudes is over, and the wild era of omnivores creating a "new language" that incorporates all social movements seems to be the present age. .

Published: almanacs Vol.03 (2023SS)


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