Opinion Articles

Grey Socks & Slip-On Brogues – Confessions of A Fashion Misfit

OI HAUTE COUTURE I”M TALKING TO YOU!?! DON’T IGNORE ME VINTAGE FASHION. PLEASE LOVE ME SPINDLE MAGAZINE….

This is sometimes how I feel. I feel I’ve been overlooked by Fashion. It’s 8am on a Sunday morning and I’m awake with clammy hands again. Was I woken by the family upstairs with the young baby? Did I have a nightmare about periods again? No, I was worried about how I look (in bed I usually go for casual briefs or a pair of British Airways Business Class pyjamas by the way)!

Excessive much? I know! I sometimes worry I’m alone here but I don’t think that’s the case. I think Fashion has got us hooked like some kind of bearded deity writing a book about his son and his many exploits as burning shrubbery. I think Fashion has got us worshipping it, and goodness me what a splendid looking church it is!

Fashion invades (in a good way like when Britain or America do it but not Othercountries, “No Othercountries, you bad Othercountries”) every aspect of our lives & it does so in a way which is somehow more visceral than other art forms. It’s a discipline where excess is not just expected but loved and unlike other artistic counterparts the ‘popular’ side of fashion can be exciting and of good quality.

Very unlike music then Meerkuts? I hear you say. Oh fuck yes. If we look at the difference between the catwalks around the globe & gigs, it’s not hard to see that one stands miles ahead of the other in terms of ‘accepted creativity’. I’m not an idiot. I know there’s an abundance of creative, experimental, groundbreaking music around at the moment but the industry itself has held music back ever since the counterculture of the 60’s fell apart. Ok in the last 4 decades we’ve had amazing growth in music and thanks to pioneering musicians, producers, inventors & little cornish engineers who like to fiddle with boxes, music has flourished and carved it’s own convoluted paths through history. It’s been a struggle at times and only thanks to independent labels and dedication has originality in music prevailed, but not so with fashion. Fashion made it’s own rules.

Fashion defines the 20th Century. In a way which the other arts can only dream of Fashion is visible, exciting and mysterious. When a new art movement comes on the scene or a bold new director makes their debut, it’s usually treated with “Oh I know the boundaries of that art form” or “It’s just a re-hash of Hitchcock/Dali/Hemingway/I.Am (Will)”. Fashion has managed to still retain it’s tall, dark stranger mystique to this day. The boundaries of Fashion allow for it to be treated like logos or brands in that they permeate our culture completely. I see Fashion everyday sometimes without even realising it’s Fashion. If I’ve had my fifteen minutes of fame (I was in an episode of SuperNan) well now I want my fifteen minutes of Fashion!
Hey Meerkuts, what’s your point? My point is that… I want to be looked over by Fashion but not overlooked.

Do I understand Fashion? I’m not sure. I know what I like & what I think looks good on other people & I can admire the beauty of things that I’d never wear. But do I understand it? No.

Five years ago I was the fashion equivalent of that guy at gigs who always wears a Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead or Chilli Peppers t-shirt no matter what band he’s seeing. He’s not going to get picked on for being a dick but you know he’s just playing it safe. All good bands & nice t-shirts but all very safe. I was wearing jeans, quirky t-shirts with Converse or skate shoes. It’s like middle class white boy fashion. It doesn’t really make a statement but it’s not bland enough to be boring. It’s middle of the road but with the illusion of being geek-chic. Like Keanu fucking Reeves! So this is the part where you think I’m going to say five years on, writing for Spindle now I dress better than Jesus. I conquered fashion. I “get” fashion. No joy. I still wear jeans & quirky t-shirts but with the occasional shirt or tank-top & it’s K-Swiss not Converse these days. I’ve matured. No more Criminal Damage jeans or River Island polo shirts for me but I still haven’t been confirmed at the altar of fashion. I’m less Keanu Reeves but more the other guy from Bill & Ted. I’m not even part of things now, at least with the half arsed geek-chic I belonged to a fashion. I fear I’m venturing into the abyss of clothes as function not as funky. I fear I’m becoming Sam Neill! I NEED TO BLEED FOR FASHION. I NEED TO MAKE A SACRIFICE TO FASHION.

I was comparing Fashion with Music earlier and I think this is why I feel so strange about fashion. As a youth I sacrificed myself to music, films & comic books. I may not be Uatu yet but I’m at least a Jonny Storm. I’m within the pantheon of these art forms. I put myself through the queues at comic signings, I spent most of my weekends as a twenty-something trawling through record shops & I sat through Lord of The Rings (the directors cuts – it’s like 16 hours long, ruins the individual films & makes you want to rape Elijah Wood – don’t bother!) So you see I have passion for these art forms but what about Fashion, I need some guidelines to stop being overlooked by Fashion. I’m going to use myself as a sacrifice to Fashion for you, me & Spindle. So how can I bleed for fashion….

Meerkuts’ Steps to Fashion Sacrifice (Like The Wicker Man but with a Mongoose-Man Thing)

  1. Attend Catwalk but look at clothes not models
  2. Design item of clothing without velcro or arse flaps
  3. Make fashion statement in public everyday
  4. No trainers
  5. No jeans

So, I worry about not being fashionable or even being able to say I dress in stuff that nobody’s ever heard of (I honestly heard a guy use that as his chat up line the other night! She asked him what music he listened to & he said “I only like music nobody’s ever heard of!” Tit). I’m going to use these 5 steps and experiment with the parameters of Fashion. I want to see why women can wear skirts & trousers but not the other way around. I want to try and break the monotony of 90% of men’s wardrobes. I want to go to a Vintage Boutique and find something for a man!
I’m going into the fashion equivalent of ‘Nam. I may be sometime but I won’t be overlooked.

You know the day destroys the night

Night divides the day

Tried to run

Tried to hide

Break on through to the other side

Break on through to the other side

Break on through to the other side, yeah

(Originally published in Spindle Magazine on Nov 1st 2010)

__________________________________________________________________________________

Creative Turf Wars

(Originally published in Giraffe Magazine on 27th Jan 2013)

OH I do like to live beside the seaside, oh I do like to live beside the sea but London does have better poetry nights!

For aeons tribes have clashed over such important issues as Mastodon hunting grounds, empire-building and Mods vs. Rockers but none so significant as whether a creative should live in Brighton or London?

Both cities hum with cultural movements, kooky pastimes and favourite drug/alcohol combinations (Gin & MDMA in Brighton, Vodka and cocaine in London). Both cities have their preferred creative fields; London is all graphic design, poetry and film-makers whereas Brighton harbours more novelists, live-artists and film extras.

‘The Bohemian War’ (I made that name up, I’m quite good at naming things. Contact me for commissions yeah?) has deserters on both sides with Londoners coming to enjoy the thrift shops and fire poi and visa versa Brighton types all head up town for real gigs and artistic opportunities. The problem is that people from London will admit how much they like Brighton but believe you shouldn’t live there whereas Brightonian’s hatred of the capital city borders on comical. I’ve researched why people here hate London so much and it’s because Chris Eubank and Neil Buchanan don’t live there, sorry London!

Each side has their own argument which usually comprises a list of the quirkiest parts of their respective cities as if they were stakes being raised in a high profile poker game. “I’ll see your North Laine and Pride Festival and raise you Camden Market and the Pigeon Man! I went to a poetry night with Jam Baxter & Inua Ellams in the toilet duct of Tate Modern, FULL HOUSE!” Londoners cry. “Well I saw Dizraeli and Bonobo play live on the nudist beach with a robot made from shipping containers, ROYAL FLUSH!” Brightonians reply.

Nothing splits the two conurbations more than comedy though with London hosting every comedian worth their salt from Tim Allen to Reggie Watts, Jack Whitehall to Daniel Kitson on every single night of the week whereas Brighton has a dedicated, grassroots comedy community but most larger gigs are beset by Hens & Stags screaming at Stewart Lee to “TELL MORE JOKES”. I once went to a comedy night in Camden hosted by Richard Tyrone-Jones which not only had tea and biscuits at the start but you got a free glass of wine afterwards! Brighton, despite not having free wine, does offer a more earthy comedy experience where you see people honing their craft, trying out new material and looking like they’re having a lot of fun doing it. With lots of things but comedy especially Brighton is more organic whereas London is slightly manufactured, Infinity Foods vs. Pret a Manger?

Essentially the thorny Brighton vs. London issue boils down to two factors, firstly people move to Brighton because of it’s cultural heritage but don’t earn enough money and either commute to London or whinge about how all jobs are in London whilst sunning ourselves in cheap luxury with Tuaca mojitos. The other factor is London can be a crass place, sure it’s full of soul and exciting distractions, but the way of life can be tiring which leads to a resentment of the festival vibe of the South Coast. Neither issue matters because the whole argument can be summed up as follows, Brightonians are smug, Londoners are arrogant.

The most important thing to remember is you can be successful anywhere now as long as you engage in local scenes, every town and hamlet in the country has cultural significance and the internet only enhances this. Cities like Liverpool, Bristol, Cardiff and Hull…well the first three anyway, show it’s the people not the city who make somewhere exciting and successful. Brighton and London will forever be locked in a battle of wits but whilst there is some faux animosity they bring a lot to each other. London may harbour some of the best museums and galleries in the world, but only Brighton has the Booth Museum!

In short, you don’t have to move to London but it helps!

 

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