Wearing: One Teaspoon Jumpsuit (Sold out online- Similar here and here), Vintage Kimono, Roxy Hat, Senso Boots
There are times when I contemplate giving up on fashion altogether.
Sometimes it seems all too exhausting; the endless scrolling and analysing, documenting, battling to conform to each insubstantial trend before it slips from our grasp into the 'uncool' once more. Sometimes it seems so fickle. So competitive and superficial and consumeristic.
Every season we regurgitate a subtly different take on an old, stale trend and proclaim it's brilliance to the masses. We dole out tokens of mass consumerism without thought or justification, hoping that 'just one more hat' or 'that perfect LBD' might finally serve to satiate our ravenous, materialistic greed.
Sometimes I think about the true nature of fashion, the reality to my gratuitous addiction, and I feel intensely, incurably tired. Tired and bored.
And it is true, fashion is all of these things; fickle, consumeristic, superficial. Yet, no matter how deep a state of disregard I find myself in regarding fashion, it always finds a way to renew my faith.
During my most recent descent into fashion-skepticism, it was this kimono that revived my sense of sartorial wonder. I discovered it upon a trip to a flea market whilst in Kyoto, Japan. The market was a treasure-trove of antique curios; vintage teapots, intricate geisha hair accessories belonging to a bygone era and Japanese children's toys, now relics of decades past. All of these things encased within a silken shroud of vintage kimonos, a kaleidoscope of elaborate patterns; claustrophobically clustered on racks and sprawled in mountains on the dusty earth, under the scant shade of tents.
To browse the market felt like a jaunt into the past. In running my fingers over the soft-leather of an antique camera, nestled comfortably in its case, or the well-worn suede atop a 1950's top hat, too wise for vanity after baring witness to decades worth of human error, I was able to feel a genuinely deep connection to Japan and its history. A connection that would have been unachievable through only perfunctory exposure to cliched tourist sights and hastily purchased gift shop souvenirs.
I struggled to decide on a mere few mementos to take with me as keepsakes from the marketplace; limited by a very finite budget, luggage weight limit and a nagging sense of practicality. Each of the antiques held an irresistible sense of enchantment, their battle scars signs of lives that had past and stories that could be learnt from.
But in the end I decided on a kimono as my Japanese souvenir. And in choosing a piece of clothing as my tie to Japan and its culture, I believe I have cemented for myself the greatest possible connection to the Japanese people.
Clothing is, in my opinion, the greatest signifier of the beliefs and context of the society to which it belonged. It is a statement regarding the identity of the individuals within this society and the influences which played a part in moulding this identity. It represents both the personal choices of these individuals and the choices they were forced to make.
In gently extracting each kimono from its spot amongst racks of a myriad more, I saw that each had a unique history inscribed inextricably into the pattern of the fabric. I could imagine the stories of the women who had worn the garments before me and envisage what their lives might have held.
On encountering these kimonos, I was reminded of the power of clothing; as a universal language of personal expression and a documentation of history. Frivolous and shallow as it can be, when done right it can also be a strong tool for capturing stories and allowing these stories to be heard across the abyss of time and hierarchal separation.
And that's something even an occasional chainstore-junkie like me can see is pretty beautiful.
Photo Credit: Deneale Sanders