With all things Elmer Fudd-ish being so fashionable these days, whenever I sport one of my plaid flannel shirts I’m quite aware how I never would’ve worn something so lumberjack-y three years ago and wonder if I would do so three years from now. Out of this arises then a more urgent question: Do I have any business even wearing such a shirt right now?
As Jake Davis recently touched on in issue 9 of h(y)r collective, the concept of all us GQ-ties slipping on our Red Wings and Carhartts in the name of this hunting & workwear trend can easily ring a bit false. Is grit something any of us really finds under his fingernails after a hard day’s work? Maybe Freeman’s Sporting Club could offer up a 14 oz. tub of the gunk in recycled amber glass and we could just purchase it on-line to help maintain our fronts as manly, manual labor-ers instead.
Is it absurd for the likes of me to be Fudd-ing it up on my way to an uptown Thai fusion restaurant while lipping to Lykke Li on my iPod Touch? Absurd to some, perhaps.
But the way I choose to see it is: Dressing strictly and solely for the precise life one is presently living isn’t to dress without absurdity, but rather to dress literally without fashion.
Fashion, the very word itself, isn’t only a noun. Used as a verb it announces the making, the forming, the molding of something. Something that wasn’t, but that will eventually be. We already are who we are. Snore! Through our use of fashion we have the ability to make and mold (or at least tweak) the shape of who we will be next.
By appropriating into our outfits the snappiness of a Wall Street power-player, say, or the slouch of a Harlem hip-hopper, or the nit ‘n grit of a Nebraskan coal-miner, we are looking, often, not only to redesign our aesthetic selves but to absorb as well the traits, truths or thrills we fear our inner selves currently lack. Adopting an iconographic trend in fashion is an outward signal that something inside ourselves, on a deeper and more lasting level, is wanting to be made, formed, and fashioned also.
So if these ever-changing trends are truly more than just superficial fads but also crystal balls into our future selves…then here, now, in the early moments of 2009, witnessing the uniforms of duck boots and dungarees born out of the hunter-worker trend, one could anticipate that the American man, collectively, is forming a future version of himself where he will be earthier, sturdier, and most of all stronger. Stronger in himself and in his connection to his work, to nature, to integrity, to history. This admirable man he will be molding himself into over time, and if the evidence of it may fade from his appearance in the wake of a newer fashion trend, it will remain vital to his character and his virtues long after.
Sorta sappy, I admit, but the sappiest thing is, now that I just blurted it all out, I actually sorta mean and believe most of it. (For myself at least, I can’t speak for anyone else).