Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Crocadellic Stride

Everyone has their own ideology of what looks good and bad. Each party takes it upon themselves to critique and ridicule the other. Fashion policies need constant review. Authoritarianism i.e. wearing the same hair and make- up you wore 20 years ago will be challenged by international bodies such as Pringle, Chanel and Burberry. Military action is deemed necessary against all parties wearing pink lipstick and blue eyeshadow in 2011. No to fake Louis Vuittons, bedazzled or saggy jeans, fanny packs, backward caps, crop tops, crack and panty lines. Yes to vintage, patterns, bold colours, textures, tailored jackets, crisp white shirts and street swag. If you don't know, now you know!

Five out of seven days of the week I’m wearing something from my mothers cupboard. She is my thrift shop and I often get the comment: “you manage to pull it off”. What they really mean is that they wouldn’t be caught dead wearing some of my much-loved threads. Anyways, I love that each morning brings with it the opportunity to mix linens with silks, denim with wool, sequins with feathers. If this weren’t a social commentary blog, it would be a visual diary of looks that I adore. Which probably explains why I’m following more fashion blogs than any other genre. Face Hunter, We Are AwesomeSkattie What Are You Wearing , Paul Smith , Previously-Owned , Pessimiss and All Things Tshitshi add glee and envy to my day.

Back to more important things. I was in Zimbabwe a few months ago and the image of a young man wearing formal trousers and golf- shirt with blue Croc’s is yet to escape me. I was tempted to ask him if I could take a picture but my manners told me otherwise. I imagine he was on his way to somewhere important. He might even have a wife and kids who let him leave the house in those Croc’s (cringe). I was taken aback by the confidence in each crocadellic stride. It might be the very same reaction I get from people when I wear my burnt orange, winter, pencil skirt. It has a matching jacket with gold buttons but I've yet to wear it as a two- piece suite.

The politics of fashion is such that every stitch, button, zip and plette give away your thoughts and ideologies (without your permission). Those blue croc's told me that this was a practical man who would raise his middle finger to a make- over. His dress policy is based on comfort and  I have no leg to stand on because just a few years ago (1999) I was wearing grey camouflage military pants. I would have given you the middle finger if you told me that they are a future fashion faux pas. They were a must have and the Waterfront Flea Market  (Jhb) had them in abundance. Myself and bff Tumi Maraba looked boyishly cool but we would wear it with a tank top to reveal our feminine side. Little did we know we were wearing Chinese and Iraq soldier uniform. We were too busy chasing the cool factor to acknowledge that in the same year: the U.S had accused China of stealing nuclear secrets, NATO launched air strikes on Serbia to end attacks against Albanians in Kosovo and two students went on a shooting spree in Columbine High School, killing 15 students including themselves. Tumi and I could have been making a political fashion statement... we weren't and so it continued.

In 2000, we wore halter neck tops with not- so- see- through bra straps and thanked the gods of Y2K for having spared us another year.  In 2001, George W. Bush was inaugurated as the 43rd president of the United States, he likened Iraq to an 'axis in evil' and we were too hot to touch in cowboy hats. In 2002, the peasant top was trending, we were  jamming to Alicia Keyes (Falling) and Bostwana became the first African country to provide antiretroviral treatment through the public sector. In 2003 we shaved our hair off and it was liberating but meant nothing to Liberian's who were in the midst of a second civil war. In 2004, happy to be done with high-school we stepped into the rest of our lives with ballerina flats whilst the earth rumbled an unleashed a Tsunami. Our idea of fashion was a very selfish one, it was about a right to express ourselves outside of blue convent girl tunics.

As Beverly Lemire says "Political economies and cultural discourses of fashion present equally fertile dynamics, having shaped industries, defined communities and sparked conflicts". Here's to giving fashion the credit it deserves, regular reforms that have meaning and the right to freedom of fabric.

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