W27 Newspaper-The Tech Issue

Page 14, Tumblr Generation, Technologically Speaking

http://issuu.com/w27newspaper/docs/w27-nov2011_final-spreads/3

Social Media has altered the face of the Fashion industry. Rich Tong, the (recently resigned) Fashion Director at Tumblr partially paved the way for how we see and spread trends. We’re in an age where most teens we know have blogs (for the most part, in one way or another). With his resignation as the Fashion Director at Tumblr, how can we expect to see a change, if there is one at all? How is social media developing our own tastes by letting us explore them?

Physiognomy

It’s amazing how many ways fashion is connected to our innermost instincts. This weeks’ readings had me thinking a lot about the skin. I think The first few sentences of The Dressed Body puts it restating Umberto Ecco puts fourth: “Dress, then, forms a part of our epidermis-it lies in the boundary between self and other.” You know how girls refer the rituals of putting on makeup as “putting on my face”? Clothes do the same exact thing, only you are putting on your body, you are dressing yourself in a layer that can morph your true physique and send a message to the world what other colors you are. Now, later on in the readings, I started to think about shopping. I started to think about stepping into a store and perusing the floors with full-marked prices and new product. I see shirts with the perfect weight and drape to them, I see textiles being used that are absolutely perfect and appropriate for the season outside the stoer, I can look at a jacket or pant’s tailoring and know that it creates the best silhouette to date. Then I move to the clearance/sale section and notice, things look different. Yes, the colors are out of season and the textiles are even less appropriate for the weather outside, but more than anything, I notice that the shapes and silhouettes I’m seeing are totally unflattering and misshapen. I’m sure a lot of you have thought that whilst perusing a sale section at least once. So now I’m thinking, in fashion, we do not only cast aside unseasonal garments, we deem one silhouette as better than another on a monthly basis when product rotates. As fashion moves forward, so do bodies. The person who is able to buy garments just as they hit the market has a different “body” than the person who can just now buy last-season’s leftovers. This is a weird thing to me. There’s a lot to be said about social classes here, I think.

In response to Edmonds’ piece on the vanities in Brazil, I think we can say there is another economy in Fashion aside from the Cultural Economy, and that’s the Beauty Economy, the currency of physical beauty. Is beauty really a necessity, just like money is? It could be argued that, well, maybe. Physiognomy is the act of “judging by the cover”. It is embedded in all of us and has been since the dawn of time when humans had to immediately make snap judgements about character and social cues in order to survive. its funny how these senses, over time, become less about survival in the mortal sense and more about  survival in the cultural sense, like how Sex is or (arguably) exercise. I would love to discuss this notion further in class! Beauty has power, and it is inseparable from fashion because it thrives as main inspiration for many designs and works in the industry. It is not essential in fashion design, but its always present in one form or another.

Fashion Geography

I was interested to learn through Goffman’s piece that Front includes much, much more than the performer. To know that geography and those participating and accepting the performance are included in the Front as well. It think back to last week’s readings about NYC and how the artist population contributes to the fashion industry by engaging in weekly celebration. Fashion culture, for the most part, completely depends on setting in order to create characters that fit the ideas encompassed in garments. I can’t help but think about Fashion Month and the weekly rotation of shows between New York, London, Milan and Paris (can’t forget the emerging cities of Stockholm, Sydney, Hong Kong and Tokyo either!). Each city has a totally different aesthetic and culture, and we see the fashion cultures reflected accordingly. In my own experience going to Fashion Week here in NYC, I’ve noticed that a lot of what the industry demands is social marketing. Everyone parties after every show in order to better understand the brand’s audience and simultaneously show that to certain people in the press. These parties (which normally insist upon copious amounts of alcohol to liven things up) force people into their performed identities while everyone compliments each other on what one can arguably see as their Personal front whether it’s their style or a piece that they donned just to express who they are and tell a story. I’m rambling, but I can definitely say that Goffman is telling nothing but the truth about the performances we can’t really help but put on for the world. In fashion, I believe these performances are necessary and define not only who we are as individual participants in the industry, but the niche cultures that make up Fashion as a whole.

NYC for the Aughties

I recently read an article by Noreen Malone in New York Magazine entitled “The Kids Are Sort of Alright” in which the writer delved into what it means to be a part of the aughties generation (Generations X and Y). This definition described a group of freshly-out-of-college-or-current-college kids who are confused and still attempting to define who they are creatively . They are practically voiceless and living in the shadow of their Baby Boomer parents, who created this world of art and protest, a world where one rebelled through creative means because they absolutely had to. The Baby Boomers told their kids they could grow up to be whatever they wanted and follow their dreams, something that isn’t flying now that the kids have grown up and entered an America in a recession. This reflection of myself and my fellow X-ies came to mind as I was reading Elizabeth Currid’s piece describing The NYC art scene in The Warhol Economy. Currid is attempting to paint a picture of NYC’s Cultural Economy, which opposes material economics in that it thriveswhen there is little economic prosperity.

As a current student at The New School, I couldn’t help but read Currid’s reports on NYC’s history and feel even more, well, scared, especially after reading Noreen Malone’s piece. Of course NYC is still the best place (in my opinion) for artists of any sort, but now, it’s just harder to make art for the sake of art, fashion included. Artists can barely live because tehy learn a craft that only makes bank if they’re in the limelight. Malone conjured a portrait of artists in my generation that are experiencing the aftermath of Currid’s retellings. It is still true that cultural capital for artists sometimes comes in the form of going out to parties and meeting the right people, but it’s not the same as Warhol’s time. Manhattan is barely even a borough for artists anymore, now it’s Brooklyn and, dare I say it, where I grew up, Queens, which is all well and good, but it shows that times have changed.

So the solution, Currid suggests, is public policy and tax incentives. Yes! Agreed! Back upstate in Buffalo, where my family lives, is a huge apartment complex full of large, modern apartments with all the latest fixings. It is called Artspace. Basically, it’s low-rent apartments for working artists, complete with in-house gallery space, gyms and laundry. Every apartment was designed with ample amounts of sunlight for visual artists who paint or illustrate and enough sound-blocked walls for musicians. I have friends whose families live there, and it’s an amazing space for creative people. Artwork lines the walls of ever floor with every corner and elevator housing some sort of installation piece. Now, I’m wondering if this sort of idea would fly or die in NYC considering the IMMENSE real estate prices and limited space in conjunction with thousands upon thousands of artists. Would the art world be effected positively by artists who are able to pay rent when Currid shows us that NYC art needs economic downturn? What do you guys think?

Artspace: http://www.artspace.org/properties/buffalo/

Malone: http://nymag.com/news/features/my-generation-2011-10/