January 23, 2005

Berkeley: Back Again!

I've been driving in circles scoping what's changed since being gone for these past months. (I'm an avid people watcher, and I think driving around the block seven times looking for parking is OK because I get to check out what all the people crossing the streets are wearing.)

Fashion's gone a long way since my freshman year (2000), and much to the better. Maybe it's because I'm a proponent of the most recent trends, or that mainstream urban fashion really reached a sort of mini-paradigm shift, a gladly accepted re-infusion: more diversity in cuts, fabrics, and colors in combination; unusual juxtapositions; more emphasis on male fashion. I can't say this is necessarily indicative of a shift in youth philosophy, but culture, as a tangle of ideas and individuals and ethos and Kiersey temperaments, shows up in fashion faster than anything else. (Except maybe the Internet.) (I hope) this is a shift from label-dependency and mimicry towards genuine interest in material culture without the materialism.

And fashion, more than any component of material culture, is allusive at the very surface level--our uppermost layer of signage. Most importantly, I feel there's a greater understanding among the general population of the linguistics of fashion as it's developed into a communication medium for and by each individual -- a language that speaks simultaneously for the self and for the crowd. The state of fashion (and all design for that matter) improves when it's being recognized as something meaningful rather than frivolous. Particularly when people begin putting together their personal brand of aesthetic -- and resourcefully, without heavily relying on anyone else's judgment.

I'd like to start a magazine a la Tune and Fruits: solely made up of photographs of who's on the street. (This'll take some time!) No "do's and don'ts" sections. Only "yes ... this is what is here in front of your eyes. These are your fellow citizens who mark the city." Fashion here can't proceed to be solely documented in glossily edited magazines with expensive advertisements or in private label lookbooks. Perhaps it's the most neglected art, because it's the most pervasive and seemingly mundane, but what's the most direct, public visual art in our urban lives than fashion?

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