I don’t know where to start. I am probably still shocked with what happened last week Friday, November 13, 2015. It was a typical Friday, I was invited by a friend to hang out, have late lunch and some apero in a brasserie around the corner. We were sitting outside on the terrace having our wine when she asked me, “Do you know it’s Friday the 13th?” I answered “Yes, But did you know that it’s statistically safer to be on the streets because more people are careful of accidents.” Little did I know I will have to swallow the words that came out of my mouth a few hours after.
I was watching the friendly football match between France and Germany when it was cut right away to some breaking news where 18 people have died. I wasn’t paying much attention and decided to sleep. I was awaken by a call and never-ending messages from friends and family. The incidents have gone worse, more than 100 people have died because of several attacks. I cannot believe I woke up to this. I then tried my best to reply and call back. After reading some news, I cannot help but tell myself, “It could have been me.” The suicide bombings took place just outside the stadium where we watch football or rugby match, and even concerts. The series of shootings happened a few blocks from where we just celebrated a friend’s birthday just last week. The massacre was in a concert hall was were I watched for the first time my favourite artist .
The more I think about it, the more I realize how much better we have it here. We live freely, have entertainment, dine at restaurants or simply spend time with our friends and loved ones. A lot people do not have this luxury and have been living in fear their whole lives.
So in solidarity with Paris, France, my adoptive city, I changed my profile photo with a French flag filter. It was my way of saying I am against the atrocities that happened. I continue to read and watch news and a few days ago I saw that France had launched airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. The first thing that I thought of was that they will definitely fight back and more terrorist attacks will happen. But on second thought, there are civilians who are definitely affected by these airstrikes and have been killed not because they were the target but merely casualties of this retaliation. Innocent lives were lost so how then are these attacks any different? Is it to protect the country? Or to show power?
Violence breeds more violence as much as hate breeds more hate. I don’t think this cycle will never stop as long as we let ourselves get sucked down into this pit of quicksand. For this reason, I changed back my profile photo. I could have changed it to another flag but I do not think I can represent all countries in turmoil. Just take this change as a representation my resistance to more violence and my hope for a better and peaceful world.
Time. I have a lot of that right now. I’m writing emails to companies here and there looking for opportunities and waiting. As much as I try to make each day productive, it gets hard when you ran out of things to do . The thing is this abundance that I have is a luxury that most people do not have, ironically from the people who work in the luxury fashion industry.
What I’ve been seeing is a fatigue of this fashion system which they say has been moving too fast. Too fast that they do not have time to rethink the collections which in turn suppresses the creativity for the sake of turnover. I assume that this might be the reason for the recent exits of designers from big houses. Come to think of it, the whole fashion industry has been democratised which has lead to a bigger market demand. Larger demand means more products and more products mean you need more seasons.
I do not blame these companies or brands for aspiring for growth because for me it is just organic for one entity to aspire for development. The question is where should this stop? When do you know to slow down and rethink how far you have gone. What does the brand actually represent?
The funny thing is, I had an interview a year ago for a brand which I was applying for a Merchandising Position. It was for a well-renowned company that has iconic products, has all kinds of point of sales and social media and of course has a wide selection of brands that segments their market: a younger brand, a mid-range brand, and a fashion-forward brand. So when they asked me, what do you think we need to improve on. I was stunned and thought to myself, there’s nothing I could answer to this question. They have done everything by the book. But for some reason, mostly on gut-feel, I said, “Focus. Your brand/company needs focus.” I continued by saying that “You have done everything right, I just think that it would be better if you have that one thing that you put all your efforts to.” Looking back, I guess I said that because they have done so much on their e-business, the internet, their stores and their brands, that I lost touch of what it was really all about: the history and the brand. The people who interviewed me said that I had a very interesting point of view on things. (Note: I didn’t get the position due to administrative issues. I have a Philippine passport which is basically is a set of papers showing my nationality without much advantages) Fast forward to today, a year later, I just read news articles saying that they are actually unifying the brands into one. I know this move may be far or completely unrelated to my interview but I guess somehow this strategy just makes sense.
It’s not just this one brand. There are numerous brands out there trying to stretch themselves as much as they can. They put so much pressure on themselves to just push and push and push. In the end there’s no more time for creativity or even the time to reflect and understand the raison d’etre.
All of these makes me ask myself: what has the fashion industry turned into? Can you still consider it “an accessible form of art” (debatable) when the vital creative process has been slowly being neglected? Or have we actually reached a point where these clothes are mere commodity?