Wednesday, July 30, 2008

NYC Street - A Ritual Walk Around Union Square

Drop crotch shorts and pants seem to be synonymous these past seasons with certain NYC boutiques and designer names both big and small. When the above gentleman was asked where he found his, he simply replied “Indonesia.” No designer label. No boutique. Now, granted, today you are just as likely to find designer brands in Indonesia as you are at New York fashion week, but this does bring us back to reality when we consider where our fashion inspirations really come from. It’s important to remember that throughout history design has borrowed heavily from whatever cultures appear “exotic” during its era. We can easily see this with the Rococo, Victorian, and 1990s obsession with anything Chinese-inspired. When we look back on these eras, these infatuations look silly or, even sometimes, culturally ignorant. As we browse today’s avant-garde shops filled with eastern-inspired shapes and African-based textiles and patterns, we’re excited to see new and innovative garments within reach but at the same time do these pieces display ourselves as an era with little cultural understanding or is it alright to enjoy the fun and novelty inspired by a far away place? Do these pieces promote understanding of other nations, or do they reduce their culture down to a simple motif? If we wear drop-crotch pants this season, do we need to know their history from the Indian dhoti all the way up to MC Hammer, or can we just focus on our individual perception of the piece and today’s trend?

It’s unusual to see these same cultural issues still existing during an era of globalization and digital information, but at the same time it’s nice and humbling to know that we do still live in a place where there can exist a certain mystery and wonder within our world.

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