BACK TO ANOTHER CHAPTER OF THE PROJECT LAUNCHED BY WAIT! AND SHOPENAUER
#whatisfashion? Fashion through the concepts of philosophers and sociologists. Another episode opens here, among the liquid pages of the web, after these men have spent – luckily – pages of ink in order to give us their point of view on politics, the economy, religions and sciences. Although also on fashion industry. The last episode saw the thought of Émile Durkheim, a French sociologist, as the protagonist. Today’s episode introduces one of his counterparts, but a German: Georg Simmel.
Fashion. It is the title of a true essay that Simmel dedicates to the subject. One thinks that he had to be serious about this world. First of all it must be remembered that the author lived in the second half of the nineteenth century: he was born in Berlin in 1858 and died in Strasbourg in 1918. A short life, but full of intellectual solicitations. The context in which he is born – although Germany was not really a nation, so to speak, glamour – is that of a society struggling with new technologies, the birth of industries and, consequently, of a social class shortly before then known: the bourgeoisie. A type – just to refresh Durkheim – with the need for a practical life. Also with regards to clothing.
SIMMEL AND FASHION: WHEN THE APPROVAL CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT THE NEED TO DISTINGUISH
We are used to keeping in mind either white or black. Good and evil. The massification of tastes from niche ones, for the few. Well, the German sociologist tries to answer the #whatisfashion? question proposing a different way of reading. In fact, he explains that the need for conformity and the need to stand out are essential for fashion to exist. It (fashion) defines the (apparently contradictory) relationship between uniformity and differentiation. In short, the need to be part of a group and at the same time to emerge as one of many.
Brave concepts, but not so distant from our spirit of the time. Certainly the level of taste – style – is similar for many, otherwise we would feel lost; come on, let’s say it, losers. At the same time, the human value of those who represent something different in the eyes of others is emerging. Not a type, but a unique being. And this also thanks to campaigns on social media, in which the maisons choose testimonials far from the canons to which they referred in the 90s, for example.
Will it be that of Georg Simmel, the high road? It seems so yes. Perhaps it is also desirable, since it would be impossible to interpret society at a given moment if everyone acted and presented themselves in completely different ways (and clothes). More than fashion, the history of art explains this process well: the (neo)classic, (neo)Gothic, baroque, Venetian or Florentine tastes; today functional or minimal. These are trends that everyone should adapt to himself, depending on his own life, on the context. And, of course, elegance.
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