If you are interested in fashion then you may well get sick and tired of people asking this question. The fashion industry often faces a barrage of criticism, some of it more than justified. But to say that fashion week is somehow pointless, frivolous or boring is an insult. It is insulting to the many thousands of people who work in the industry, from the artists and designers who come up with the concepts to the hard workers who turn those conceptual dreams into reality. What is more, it points yet again to the fundamental gender imbalance in our society.
We often hear that fashion is somehow flighty, needless frippery that does not deserve space on the TV schedule or column space in the press. How often do we hear how pointless football is, or other popular sports? Fashion is an art form and fundamentally, is about how we dress, our tribal affinities and freedom of expression. It is not strictly necessary for our survival, but lets face it, very little is. Certainly football is no more fundamental to our existence than fashion. So why is football treated so differently by such a large swathe of society? It has been argued that fashion comes in for so much more derision because it is perceived as a ‘women’s thing’ while football is often perceived as a very masculine arena.
The fashion industry is of course dominated by big names, both male and female. But it is predominantly women who, in the general population, show an interest in fashion. That is not to say that there are no men interested in fashion week of course, but the general perception is that it is women who have an interest in clothes and like to analyse the way they look. Is that why fashion is so often dismissed in the way it is? Conversely, is football somehow viewed as more ‘important’ because it is historically and culturally much more of a male preserve?
Sometimes this sort of gender bias is not even conscious. Subconsciously we are all conditioned by the society in which we grow up and unfortunately, in the west, we are indoctrinated with the idea of ‘frivolous female interests’. Fashion is creative, skilled, employs millions – yes, it is an industry that is responsible for many wrongs – but in fact for this reason alone, it is far from frivolous. Fashion, good and bad, is a very serious business.
So the next time that someone dismisses an interest in fashion – consider what might lie behind their doing so. Hold your own. Defend your interest. After all, if they are not interested, they do not have to watch or read about it.