A funny little thing happened in the couple of years leading up to the recent US presidential election. One could liken it to an inner-democratic alarm clock going off of sorts in the psyche of some Americans. Well, the funny little occurrence was what I began to notice from people with moderate to high positions of power to local teen angst-filled revelers trying to be heard before adulthood pulled into the station. What I began to notice was that people were becoming emboldened. Now while you can query "haven't there always been bold individuals?", my response would be that "yes there has, but the emboldened behaviors now seem to be not out of an inspiration to be different or a visionary. Rather, for better or worse, many today seem to be emboldened by exhaustion."
Exhaustion as in being tired or fatigued you ask? Yes, in a sense. It seems that people are realizing that they are exhausted mentally. American society has a way of making unbelievable strides to keep their version of democracy in its pretty little red, white and blue packaging. However, to borrow a phrase from my dear friend Robert's auntie, "what doesn't come out in the wash, comes out in the rinse". It seems as though America is in its rinse cycle despite many refusing to accept that the washing machine has even been running.
Just what does that rinse cycle mean in regards to exhaustion mentally? Well, many Americans are tired. Tired of having to keep on a good face, keep up appearances, tired of having their democratic safety threatened. Ironically there are other conglomerates of Americans who feel the exact same way for the exact opposite reasons. For example, you may ask a random white American their view of race relations in America and that can very well vastly differ from the answer of the same question posed to a random black American. I feel like the people who are tired of having the proverbial 'pink elephants in the room' of racism, equality, poverty, crime and gentrification consistently and blatantly side-stepped are just as tired as the people who are being accused of injustice, apathy, racism, objectification and privilege. However, who's right in feeling tired and who's wrong? The answer may be as clear or as murky as trying to understand the various cultural takes on American history through empathetic objective eyes rather than through opinionated subjective eyes, but who is going to listen, who is going to give ear first? That in itself, in my opinion is the exhaustion some Americans are going through. Society and its hasty pace has made it so hard to listen to and understand each other before the next popular culture phenomenon comes along and distracts us over towards an escapist dessert before we've even tasted our national meat and potatoes.
So whenever I see love & acceptance championed, people rally for the meek underdogs and people unify in positive ways to see change, it gives me a hopeful set of eyes towards the ill-feelings I can have towards blatant racism, subconscious objectification, unapologetic privilege and the blind eye many have to situations where the victim or victims don't look like them, worship like they do, live like they do or speak the language they speak.
So I round this out to what I see going on in the world and since my area of expertise is mens fashion, I relate menswear's connectivity to what I have aforementioned and this exhaustion. Modern men are getting exhausted of the same repackaged narrative and perspective over and over again and they are not falling for it as they once were. So what you have now are men waking up the the restorative powers of color & print, their dismantling of the outdated rules of dressing and infusing individuality into their choices rather than blindy or nervously subscribing to gender norms and tradition. Those who wished to keep you in line determined the status quo before, but as annoying as it can be at times, the public's voice speaks louder than any merchandiser's or buyer's declaration. Just ask Michele at Gucci and his gender-bending emperor's new verve and Gvasalia at Vetements & Balenciaga and his cult status wears that are reshaping the machismo male silhouette and challenging the outdated runway-to-rack cycle. Look at Raf Simons, JW Anderson, Virgil Abloh and Heron Preston whose championing of the underdog combined with an unpredictable youthful zeitgeist seem to move at the unprecedented coveted pace of the next Instagram challenge.
My thinking is that if we can elect an unapologetic president like Donald Trump that claims to want to unite yet causes so much division and if the British government can turn a blind eye to the horrific incident with the inhabitants of the Grenfell Tower then voices need to be raised, minds need to be changed. If courts and certain Americans think nothing is really wrong with police reactions to people of color and situations like the death of Philando Castile and if box-office numbers seem more important than the US decision to back out of the Paris Climate Pact then rules and those behind it need to be challenged. If the higher ups believe that taking away the choices of minorities is democracy then perspectives and attitudes involving heritage, tradition and visual signifiers, such as hairstyle, clothing and adornment also need to broaden. Change, not just for something different to do, but because those exhausted voices and fists raised will need to be heard & seen and not further cajoled into believing that those who can't even handle their own imposed systems know what's best for them. Welcoming and embracing a newer or often overlooked, downplayed, chastised or neglected perspective can be the first step to welcoming necessary change in society, race relations, justice, equality and yes, the often-considered affectatious personal power of fashion.