I started a fashion blog while doing so was en vogue. I was a little late to the party. I guess you could call me a late bloomer. I started blogging about social justice issues when doing so was still innovative. Always the trendsetter, I suppose.
Local fashion weeks are also en vogue. Anyone with an interest in clothing, a significant amount of capital or donations, and the right connections can launch their own small-scale fashion festivities.
My city is hardly New York. I’m one of a handful of fashion bloggers in the area. I use the term blogger very loosely in this sense. We don’t have a large following comparatively.
My city also has a small artistic community. But for the record, the artistic community is growing, and my city followed suit, expanding into the fashion industry as an extension of the arts.
Our fashion week is still in its infancy. It started as a fundraiser for a great charity. For three years, I desperately tried to insert myself into the festivities. My requests for credentials were denied several times, despite the feverish call on social media for local bloggers.
I’m not easily deterred. Maybe they were busy or disorganized, I reasoned. So I signed up the following year as a volunteer. My background is marketing, media, public relations, and event planning. I possess a very specific skill set that involves organizing, managing, and promoting large-scale events. I was willing to donate my time and experience. I should mention that I don’t donate my experience often. My expertise comes at a price.
Two months later, I received a call from the organization. The exchange was awkward. Dozens of friends familiar with the organization admonished me to walk away, but I stubbornly trudged forward. I tend to focus on the good in people. I discovered later that my faith in the goodness of event’s organizers was clearly misplaced.
I have an innate ability to distance myself internally from surrounding events in a moment of observation and reflection. What I saw unfolding on social media didn’t sit well with me at all. I continued to wear blinders and rationalize what I saw.
Classism has always been a prominent part of our city’s culture. The ticket prices, while understandable considering the size of the event, are unattainable for 90 percent of the population. Essentially, a group of good looking Caucasian socialites joined forces and created an event for their friends. It’s all in who you know, after all.
I am neither good looking (by traditional Southern standards) or wealthy. I am the other. Only the belles of the ball are welcomed despite education, skills, or creative merit.
I witnessed a disassociation from the causes of the past. Remember that party you never received an invitation to that celebrated all of the pretty people in their prettiness for prettiness sake? This is the new focus of the organization — an organization that still touts its mission as a champion for local causes.
The academic term for organized bullying is mobbing. In junior high, we called it cliques. But cliques morph into something more sinister, more inhumane as time goes on. The myth of the American dream is a lie we tell ourselves at night to make us feel inclusive. In reality, the haves and the have nots are still firmly entrenched into our city’s culture.
An organization, one with a non-profit designation, needs not only to appeal to the haves with capital. It must sit in the circle with all people. Fashion and art transcends price points. It is the voice of the people, often people who couldn’t afford to belong to such an organization. It belongs to us all in an esoteric communal sort of way.
I’m drafting a book about feminism and the fashion industry. The fashion industry is all-inclusive. It supports gender and race equality. Our fashion week is the brainchild of someone who understands these issues firsthand and yet chooses to institutionalize the same exclusive environment this city has fostered for years.
Our local fashion week does not represent my values. Not as a feminist. Not as a person. Not as a fashion blogger. It wraps gatekeeping into ready-to-wear garb and pushes it down the runway, teetering on the heels that trample equality and inclusivity. Our local fashion week puts only the best faces forward. Those faces are white, blonde, and blue-eyed.
I’m not alone in my observations and rejections. A group of misfits is launching their own movement to promote fashion, art, and social justice. We are a small but growing group. We rebel against the parade of pretty people, who grace the runaways but never look our way.
I am proud to be a part of this movement – a multicultural community that embraces all body types and ethnicities and sees the beauty in each. It’s a movement designed to bring the fashion arts back to the people, where it belongs. We don’t need connections, because we are connected to each other.
I hold out hope that our local fashion week will repent of its sins. I have faith in our increasingly inclusive young generation that embraces diversity and fashion. Until this change of heart occurs, I will not support my local fashion week.