An Open Letter to Fashion Outsiders

June 8th, 2017 at 2:00am
An Open Letter to Fashion Outsiders

Does the fashion industry have more issues than Vogue? It’s an enigma to outsiders. Some common stereotypes classify the industry as shallow, self-absorbed, and superficial, but industry insiders know that at the heart of fashion is art, self-expression, and empowerment. Let’s face it, the fashion industry has a tremendous impact on society. Consumers have an emotional connection to fashion. Fashion can be poetic, political, radical; it is never unimportant. However, society criticizes fashion for its vanity while simultaneously valuing the importance of appearance. What you wear says a lot about who you are. Caring about fashion doesn’t mean you are shallow. People are able to express themselves through their style.

I’ve gone through various style phases in the process of finding my identity and gaining self-confidence. However, sometimes this industry that I love creates unrealistic ideas about beauty and also struggles with diverse representation. Those in the fashion industry need to be especially critical of these issues, but times are changing and brands are stepping up to combat these issues. Consider the positive body image campaign launched by Aerie that features models of various sizes and skin colors with no digital retouching. The fashion industry is constantly evolving, and with the industry’s great power comes great responsibility.

Working in fashion requires discipline, passion, intelligence, and perseverance. Fashion projects an image and a feeling, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the industry has no depth. Fashion is hard work and creative energy—it’s not all fashion week or The Devil Wears Prada. Another common stereotype is that fashion is unattainable for those without substantial financial means, and everyone only wears expensive designers from head to toe. But if anyone can appreciate the thrill of a finding a good piece at Forever 21, Zara, or the thrift store, it’s fashion people. 

The fashion industry and those that work in it deserve a better reputation. An interest in fashion is no more shallow than any other interests that people have, so why is only fashion labeled as “shallow” while other interests are considered valid? Parts of fashion are glamorous, but we must not overlook the dark side of the industry as well. I encourage outsiders to no longer look down on the fashion industry. Instead, celebrate it for its ability to make people happy and confident while simultaneously inspiring art, beauty, and identity.

What does fashion mean to you? Let us know in the comments below!