Alas, capitalism took over art. Walter Benjamin declares that capitalism should be examined as a ‘purely cultic religion’, and, truth be told, especially in the last two decades a new way of blind faith in the latest version of capitalism, neoliberalism, has unveiled. This proves that fashion has become a matter of morals and value, or lack there-of. A systemic and radical change in the economy alone is not going to fix the problem of consumptionism, blindness towards the cost of human capital and the environmental, social and economic injustice, when a 20$ pair of jeans is seen as disposable. What is defeated by the system is first and foremost our set of values – and to that a crushed down minimal version of it. Whether we are talking about functional, exchange, symbolic or sign value making processes Baudrillard persists that value is created through difference, and that consumption, rather than production is the thorn that drives the capitalistic system, for the simple reason that the need for consumption is what ignites production.
The shift in our values is what is going to help us reclaim the art, and everything that matters to us from the system, and it is a process that will have to happen in a transitory manner with perseverance, unity and honesty. This transition of values is not limited to moral ones; it is deeply based on how things are valued and how value is created from us. Futuristic as that may be, once value determines price – and not the other way around – and value is no longer solely a financial indicator, a safe space is created for other types of value to have meaning, purpose and worth in our everyday life, such as social value, humanitarian, environmental, etc.
Looking into that capitalistic society is hurtful, especially knowing that there is so much one can do to shift the notions of superficiality away from a claimed consumerism product such as fashion. Thankfully, the core of fashion – i.e. the how it is created in its first, pure form, is not money, but art. I understand that the system of capitalism has devoured, used and now starts to spit out fashion, disguising it into a business of fashion, but I am positive that a collective step back to our values and the way we set them will weaken the power that money holds over various art forms. This is why I still love fashion in spite of what it has become. I still view clothing as a visual representation of self that never fails to depict even a small fracture of one’s identity. I refuse to be this or that, a fashion lover or a fashion hater, a systemic naysayer or an haute couture admirer, a fashion person or a conscious proletarian. I am a multi-dimensional character, and if I want, I can be everything, anything, all or nothing at all.