Film can change the fashion industry, because its powerful aesthetic and storytelling qualities are able to emotionally engage with our pre-programmed mindsets. In a modern world in which the measurement of progress is always reducible to terms of money, the fast and cheap production and consumption of fashion has become the norm – together with all of its disastrous and “inevitable” social and environmental issues. And no one is necessarily to blame for that. It is simply a logical consequence of the operating system we have adopted over the years. But we are at a turning point.
More and more people are starting to realize that even though capitalism is built to expand infinitely – our earth has very defined limits. Many of these limits have already been crossed, and despite upcoming measures like “sustainable” and “ethical” fashion, this isn’t enough to stop the abuse of one of the world’s biggest and most profitable global industries. But you are probably already aware of this. And even though you may desire to consume more consciously, the current fashion market supply is making this damn hard. Why?
Because even though we are seeing the flaws of the system, there’s no easy way to manipulate its principles. In order for the system to change (that is, not only that of the fashion industry, but of every industry eventually), a fundamental change in mindset needs to take place. Instead of knowing that change is needed with regards to the future, to other people, or to make ourselves feel less “guilty”, we need to feel that change is fundamental for the wellbeing of above all ourselves, here and now. Yes – admit it or not – we are all egocentric beings in the sense that we have the natural tendency to see the world from one physical point of view. Only spiritual growth can teach one that the wellbeing of ourselves is completely entangled with and thus dependent upon everyone and everything around us.
Film has the ability to provide the spectator with a different view on the world through emotional engagement by both the film’s narrative and aesthetics. It can bring that which is, or seems, far away right in front of our eyes, entering in a dialogue with our own worlds. The rise of the fashion film in its many different forms is therefore an indicator of change in the fashion industry. Even though still at its infancy, the potential is there to let the fashion-loving spectator delve into a universe in which dress acquires a more emotional and tactile value – over maybe a more superficially aesthetic one.
In order to get make my point more concrete I would like to take as an example this trailer of Weaving Shibusa.
Shibusa (渋さ) is a Japanese word that refers to a particular aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty. And this is exactly the philosophy of the famous Osaka 5 companies. Founded in Osaka, Studio D’Artisan (since 1979), Denime (since 1988), Evisu (since 1991), Full Count (since 1992), and Warehouse (since 1995), have established a (vintage) jeans movement that has influenced the industry worldwide. As a reaction to the diminished quality of Japanese jeans due to mass-production, The Osaka 5 decided to change the ties and focus on high quality techniques and craftsmanship (read more).
Besides the philosophy behind the clothing of The Osaka 5, what is so outstanding about the film is the up-close encounter with the people behind the object. With a beautiful attention to detail we get to catch the glim in their eyes, the lines in their faces and the paint on their hands, delicately stroking the freshly weaved and dyed fabrics. The rhythmic movement of the machines may seem automated, but have to be operated with close care by people with knowledge of the craft. In this light, a pair of jeans looses its self-evidence.
Instead, it gains a different kind of emotional appreciation through the visibility and sensibility of all that was needed in order to create the reality of a pair of jeans. As one of the creators says, “we are not competitors,” a mainly commercial value is overshadowed by a sentimental value of creating something from the heart, from the people, for the people. It are both the creator(s) and the wearer(s) that make up the unique value of the piece: “if I see the colors of a pair of vintage denim, I can tell the type of person who wore them.” The jeans then becomes deeply embedded into our person – rather than adding another (disposable) layer to it. Film here is able to reenforce this connection between creator, object, and wearer.