Fashion Obscura: Playing By Your Own Rules

A couple of months ago, I read an article by Leandra Medine on Man Repeller, about brand loyalty, which described clothing brands and certain designers as being akin to sports teams and celebrated athletes. Definitely head over there and give it a read because the more more I think about it, the idea does make sense; both sports and fashion brands can induce utter mania and become huge parts of one’s ’s identity. However, after reading the article, I was struck by another thought that the author didn’t really touch on. Sure, people love to toss around phrases like “I’m obsessed with (insert clothing brand),” but I wondered what that really meant. Do people really love the clothes, the name, or the fact that all of their friends shop at the same place? If so, is that really a problem?

First off, it should first be acknowledged that we aren’t talking about very high fashion brands here, like Dolce & Gabbana or Alexander McQueen. Those designers have true visions and are most likely producing one-of-a-kind, extraordinary pieces. However, most of us can’t afford a shopping bag from these designers, nor is it socially acceptable in most social circles to walk around in couture whenever you feel like it. For most of us, we walk around in clothing or shoes that are (at the very least) in the under-$100 range, so it must be acknowledged that this is rather limiting.

Naturally, as humans, we tend to conform rather than take risks. For example, if I were to randomly ask people at my school and ask if they own Adidas sneakers, I’d probably be overwhelmed by the results. A better question would be, who doesn’t own them? And the next question I would ask is: Why do you own these? Beyond answers like “They’re cute” or “They’re comfy,” the real reason is probably because their friends or someone they look up to bought them first, and those friends probably got the idea from other friends who got the idea from other friends. Eventually, a small number of fans turns into a band of followers, and a brand becomes a cult.

Initially, one of the biggest things that concerned me was when I realized I wasn’t all that bothered by a certain level of conformity in others or even myself. Liking the same shoes as your best friend or older sister or even Kendall Jenner isn’t really all that bad. You see something that other person does, and you like it so much that you adapt it for yourself. I am prone to this just as much as the next person. At the end of the day, even all those teenagers who own the same sneakers will put their own spin on them, no matter how minor that may be. The fashion world and those in it often spend so much time trying to stand out that they actually end up achieving the opposite. Sometimes fashion isn’t about making the biggest splash, and there’s nothing wrong that. Luckily, someone out there is making a splash. Even though I might be too tired, late, or uninspired in the morning to come up with a creative look or to dig for a new designer, someone else out there isn’t. A designer has woken up that day and is working on something amazing, or an up-and-coming blogger has perfected the art of accessorizing for a day. The next day that same designer may not be able to come up with anything or that blogger misses the mark with another outfit, and that’s okay too.

Growing up, I always assumed that the most outrageous and different girl in the room should be deemed the most stylish. Once I reached middle school and then high school, people slowly became more interested in fitting in with their friends and looking uniform. Recently, I’ve struggled with understanding these two ends of the spectrum: can you only be one or the other, or is there a place somewhere in the middle? Eventually, I returned back to what I love most about fashion: everyone gets to play their own role on the spectrum, in whatever way they choose. Though books and websites may tell you otherwise, at the end of the day, fashion has no rulebook, and that’s the beauty of it.

Photo courtesy of: The Royal Twins