“Is racism alive? Absolutely.” And since fashion is, in a way, a mirror of society, there’s a lot we can read from what people are wearing about how they see themselves in relation to others. Historically, fashion has been guarded as a domain reserved for one demographic: rich, thin and white, and those outside of that demographic were judged not to ‘do fashion.’ The whole industry was extremely Eurocentric, and until a certain degree still remains to be so, which is funny considering most of our clothes are produced mainly in Asia.
But since the origin of fashion much has also changed. Georg Simmel, who can be considered the first to write about fashion from a sociological and philosophical point of view, described the higher classes to continually adopt new fashionable styles which the lower classes would then slowly try to imitate in order to “be” like them, on which the high classes would react with a stepping away from that specific style on to another. This was the endless, continually speeding-up cycle of fashion. However, since his theory in 1895, things have become more complicated.
The idea of fashion ‘trickling down’ from the higher classes to the lower classes has become somewhat outdated since modern society is not so much about classes anymore rather than different people from different backgrounds, such as artists, movie-stars, or even self-promoted fashion bloggers and fashionista’s, who have become so-called fashion icons. Therefore, street style has become another major influence in fashion, including what’s appearing on the catwalks of high fashion brands. This is also how hip-hop related clothing brands suck as Akoo have come into existence.
T.I. approached fashion filmmaker John Merizalde with the following request:
Develop a treatment for a short film that is rooted in fashion and is visually stimulating and thought provoking. The back drop and common thread throughout the film should be that of civil unrest and explore the current severity of modern racism, black on black crime within our own communities and police brutality. We want the film to be informative, high energy, gritty but not preachy.
With fashion film, the bottom-up movements of fashion have acquired a new powerful voice that isn’t only heard in the few cinemas of fashion film festivals, but also widely across the internet. Beautifully shot, altering high quality images with camcorder blurry aesthetics for a sense of high realism, 11x Human poses real questions that are going much further than a simple filmic ‘look book.’ Still experimenting with its form, the fashion film is capable of questioning When will we value art and ideas over money and commerce?
After all, all change starts with a question.
Tansy E. Hoskins’ book Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion