Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tanya Gold

This is an interesting article by Tanya Gold. You get the impression that she's attempting to write an anti-fashion article but are left with a sense that she doesn't understand that fashion and clothes are synonymous with each other. Most people wear clothes that have been fashionable or are fashionable that they chose because they liked them (well most people of my acquaintance). They don't go to the shop and choose something because it's in, they choose it because they want to wear it and the trend element is coincidental. Gold doesn't seem to be connected to that idea, she talks about Harvey Nichols and other clothing shops as if she was somehow compelled to buy and that indicates someone who had an addiction to shopping rather than someone who chose clothes to wear. In light of this central theme the other anti-fashion argument seems out of step with what she's expressing about herself. How is the addiction of consumerism linked with a girl dying in an accident on a train or a model describing her dislike of her job? The article doesn't make it clear, I suppose that's the point of something so anecdotal. In a sense it could be argued that the heels led to a train death or that the fashion industry results in bad circumstances for workers but no one writes about the atrocious pay of administrators in London offices and their working hours. Gold doesn't tackle in the context of normality and the norm is an expectation that young women (and men) are the dogsbody in all working environments. Nor does Gold seem to be calling for 6" heels to be banned because they're a health and safety risk so she's invoking the example of the train only for its dramatic effect. In her mind the fashion industry kills people, it is worse than all other industries.

I too dislike 6" heels and it's annoying when the shoe shops only seem to sell shoes that I wouldn't want to walk in but the compulsion to buy those shoes when you already have many pairs is the real focus of this article and that's not the fault of fashion. Sometimes it's necessary to resist things we like (or don't like) to do because we live in a culture that allows us access to many unhealthy things.

Gold says that "You can get so fat they don't actually want you in their clothes." The question is who she's referring to because it's true that a lot of designer clothing is made in small sizes but mythologising this to the extent that you can't name the job title of the people who are restricting the size of clothing isn't a critique that I can engage with. That's not the quote that makes me sad though because when Gold states "I can look at the clothes on the catwalk now and laugh at their imbecility. They are not for me" it is sad. Tanya Gold is writing off a design industry, not simply the consumerism that accompanies it but the hard graft of craftspeople and designers that conceived original work that is displayed on catwalks. Sure not every designer does this, some are extremely derivative but again that's not a reason to tar an entire industry with the same brush. This is a sad, unexamined article and it's a shame because it contains snippets of truth that should be discussed more.

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