Clothes always gave us power. Since the beginning of times and until today, having the proper “outfit” is a synonym of wealth, stability and success. No wonder business men and women keep wearing suits, clothes help us say who we are and who we want to become. But what happens when garments don’t fulfil the expectations others have about us? Bye-bye power and hello shame?
“Clothes aren’t just clothes (they never were) – they’re therapy, they feel like lap, they’re an armour”, said fashion journalist Patrícia Domingues in an article for Vogue Portugal (November 2018) where she analysed the role clothes have on protecting us and keep us safe against the world.
Going back to basics, no one knows when we first started to wear clothes (anthologists guess it was somewhere between 100,00 and 500,000 years ago), but we know their primary purpose: protection against whatever was out there. Time flied and hats were made to protect our hair from the rain, boots were made with the promise our feet wouldn’t get soaked during the day and jackets were made to keep us warm and safe. But, as methods of textile production evolved and our sense of style and its role in society became sharper, so did our art of hiding behind clothes.
Basic protection gave room to covering. Besides its obvious functional side, our sartorial choices now essentially manifest as an extension of ourselves and a reflection of our personalities – but also others’ expectations. Which means: that hat no longer is made to just protect our hair from the rain, those boots are not just made to keep our feet dry and that jacket wasn’t just made to keep us warm. They all have the power to send a message and they all should correspond to the notion of hat/boots/jacket that is trending right now in this specific time and context.
As Judith Achumba-Wöllenstein says on this article from Hajinsky magazine, “clothes are here to stay, not just for their practical function, but even more so, because they serve to meet one of the most basic human needs: the need to be accepted and to belong”. Did you ever wondered why we feel the need to buy new clothes every time we have a special event, a first day at school or even an important meeting at the office? Clothes are here to keep us safe, not only from heat, cold or rain, but also from our emotions when trying to follow society’s rules and on trying to present ourselves to the world. Achumba-Wöllenstein continues: “if clothes cover us from the shame and discomfort of being exposed physically to environmental influences, then perhaps fashion covers us emotionally in relationship to others”. Bingo.
Bottom line, fashion is a symbol of status and clothes always helped us divide the richest and the poorest, the strongest and the weakest, the coolest and the dorkiest. But you know what? At Springkode, we believe fashion is also (and above all) an attitude. And if you wear it that way, we bet the world is yours.
Angelina Bergewall for ELLE Sweden with Agnes Akerlund