I am always late to the party. Known for seeing the most popular YouTube clip only after it’s hit the billion views mark or recommending a “new” song to a friend as it nears its summer-long peak at #1.
This is important because the benefit of such a tardy classmate is that there is an opportunity to decide without any influence what you genuinely appreciate, apart from the pop culture force feed.
I feel that there is so much creative talent in the world that is unknowingly told that their creativity is not needed. We do this by attempting to define their art through our lens. That’s not a very valuable use of our lens. Our opinion is much more impactful by pursuing what we appreciate and doing our part to let what we don’t appreciate still given the chance to exist
To bring this erratic flow of thought home; I was designing custom vintage wear for a year before I heard the terms “upcycle” or “sustainable fashion”. I truly believed I was on to something and technically I was, but that would soon be dismissed by some.
The idea of sustainable fashion is a worthy one and I’m glad that there is an element of global concern associated with my brand. However, that is not the idea on which I base anything that I create. I believe that there are some designers simply more comfortable with not creating patterns or negotiating the nap but instead, take fascinating ideas to simple canvases.
There are a lot of great designers that utilize the sustainable fashion concept as their way to translate their brand, however that sort of communication can also blurry their more genuine mission.
Recently I’ve been meeting with boutiques and sharing my collections as it relates to their specific identity. There’s this “how-do-I-not-be-pretentious” moment that happens whenever discussing my brand. They’ll make a comment that I’m upcycling clothing and I’ll disagree, then they’ll point out to me that it is considered sustainable fashion and I’ll sort of dead pan them. Now I understand that these are all technically true, but I am a semantically challenged, uber-literal headache of an individual.
I feel that what I implement is too drastic or even too technical (at times) to be considered upcycled in a diy sort of way. (I accept your eye roll here). Further, my fashion happens to be sustainable, which is great, but isn’t the backbone of my brand.
Beyond this context is a wonderful message that I feel every artist, designer, creator needs to be reminded of at times.
You are a creative. When a term is established to define your work, realize that non-creatives need some sort of structure to accept you and at times appreciate you. However, you do not have to bend your vision to be one that is more socially understood. Doing that conflicts with the very idea of what creativity is: to open the minds and push the perspective to those that can’t yet see how much more there is in life. Your brand doesn’t need to be anything other than what it is.
Support your local artists whenever you can by doing the smallest of things: offering to take some business cards to your usual coffee spot, or posting a pic of their work, crediting them on social media, or just telling them that you appreciate what they do.
Please consider sharing this article with anyone that you feel can relate.