Ever-present Fashion: Are We Its Victims?

Where does the style that surrounds us come from? From prominent designers? Or what we wear is influenced only by what material is the cheapest? Czech designer Barbora Severin on sore spots.

It is too expensive to create new designs so the ones that were fashionable five years ago can be used and only the legs shortened, at least something is also saved on the material. All this saved money goes to the marketing departments of big fashion corporations for worldwide promotional campaigns.

So, the marketing departments will then make certain that you see famous people in their clothes in all possible and impossible settings, and in all digital and print media. They will work hard to convince us that if we buy their clothes we will be as successful, beautiful, and sought-after as the actors, models, and international celebrities depicted in their promotional material. Sometimes it can go so far that some people have a feeling that they cannot succeed unless they are dressed in the outfit of a well-known fashion house.

Yet there are still a few people in the world who create fashion with real love and taste. Some designers really think about the functionality and appearance of their clothes and their practicality. For example Jana Minaříková, one of the young Czech designers who won the title ArFashion Designer last year, takes incredible pride in the fact that all the materials she uses come from Europe. Her designs are imaginative and usually allow several ways of wearing them, such as sweaters and t-shirts that can be worn with the neckline in the front or in the back. She focuses mainly on prêt-à-porter fashion, therefore clothes that are wearable for everyday life.

Pavla Gerschonová, another designer from the Czech fashion scene, could be her opposite. For example she shocked viewers recently with her sound collection from metal and artificial leather called Disonance.Clothes, not wearable in everyday life, and designed actually to make a variety of sounds thanks to the shapes and design applications of aluminum. Garment makers often create such collections because their purpose is not wearability but rather to demonstrate how to work with exceptional materials, they are looking for innovative solutions, they extend the frontiers of what can be considered as clothing. Ordinary people despise this and often make mocking comments. But experts in this field know that this is an important part of fashion. Only this way can fashion move forward and develop.

Even though it may seem strange, clothing is an integral part of society and is totally reflective of the time in which it is designed. Just like art, which has evolved from its beginnings with the Altamira cave paintings to contemporary modern art that doesn´t make sense for many people, fashion needs to develop its artistic side. And that is the process that fashion designers must move forward. Their extravagant collections often fall into the category of so called Haute Couture or high-fashion. There is an emphasis on the quality of the material and the processing, which is mostly manual. Owning such a piece is the same as owning a piece of art; and just as you don´t go to work or for a walk dressed in a painting or a sculpture, you don´t routinely go out in a Haute Couture outfit.

Unlike t-shirts from major fashion chains these designs do not decline in value but on the contrary, they may appreciate. Also because they are conceived as art they often introduce new design concepts or decorative solutions to the marketplace that serve as a basis for designers all over the world when creating their wearable prêt-à-porter collections. This way fashion moves forward all the time. Although in today´s flood of retro waves and returns to different decades of the 20th century you may not see it at first glance.

Besides designers, the appearance of clothes is also determined by issues of functionality, especially for sportswear, but many elements are associated with classic fashion, and advanced technologies are used even for classic street wear. Although many elements from sportswear can be used in classic fashion, sportswear with its function remains irreplaceable. That´s why many people choose for this time of year winter jackets that are designed for winter sports such as skiing or snowboarding. But we all know how it looks when you go to the theater and wear a function jacket over a suit. It is tasteless, and even casual observers immediately get the feeling that this person does not often attend suit-and-tie events, otherwise he would have bought an appropriate coat.

A recent case that perhaps all Czech media wrote about made us think about the importance of clothing. Film director Robert Sedláček received a decoration from the president of the Czech Republic dressed in a cotton t-shirt and a fleece sweatshirt. Many people were shocked. All participants received an invitation with the dress code clearly written on it. Why didn´t the director stick to it? Was he wearing sportswear because he would be cold in a jacket and a shirt? Or is he uneducated and uninformed as to what is appropriate dress or just has no respect for national honors? Or simply doesn´t have appropriate clothing? It can be borrowed. The organizers could have offered him a jacket before entering the ceremony, certainly someone would have happily lent one to him. According to his own words he doesn´t like ceremonies of this kind and therefore he wanted to disregard the stipulated dress code. As we can see from this event there are people who don´t care what clothes they are wearing. All they care about is comfort and maybe also the functionality of the clothes. Sometimes we meet the other extreme, people who are willing to wear anything if it has for example the right brand on the tag.

Photos: Barbora Severin

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