Sitting in front of me, on line 3 of the Métro, I watch a Jacquemus man and a Marni woman. Two large gold chains around their necks and wrists, natural hair for a stop in the 2nd arrondissement. They sit side by side, they touch each other without speaking, bent over, their eyes riveted on their iPhones. They leave the wagon when the doors open at Réaumur-Sébastopol. They will soon be replaced by a girl and her Chanel bag. Luxury is no longer luxury and rubs up against the faded benches of public transport. A pale copy of the eminent Parisian in the silk dress (Jeanne Damas) joins her. They ignore each other. They frantically watch go past each of the ten minutes that unify them on messageless telephones.
Instagram post from the artist Yuyi John, 2019/05/18
I recognize these people. I recognize the sound of their vibrate mode, their best profile on Instagram, the sweet sound of their Nike wedge soles, the warmth of their credit card after a sale on Matches and their eyes tired by the blue light. They are my age but do not seem to come from the same era. They are in the future, the past, or a mix of the two; Parisians but inspired by their last trip abroad by camel or motorcycle, that is sometimes impossible to locate. They live amongst each other without hostility, too busy gazing at their navel. Often without expression, sometimes without makeup, they are afraid of plastic bottles, ignorance of others, the planet that is burning and the uncertainty of their Deliveroo tomorrow.
there are too many things and this excess divides us into a multitude of clans: ‘gangs’, ‘armies’, ‘girls’. War is declared, but we don’t really know why we are fighting
So, to forget that they think too much for nothing, young adults and old children consume until overdrawn at the bank. They consume like never before, buy glass bottles with their names engraved for fear of being overtaken by a reality that floods them. They are drowned in 7 billion glasses of water and clicks per minute mostly spent extinguishing their brains on Instagram, TikTok or YouTube. And in order not to lose their jobs, they must continue to sell more to consumers who are more and more expensive to acquire, as their desire exceeds their understanding2.
Image of the film Enter the Void from Gaspar Noé
Like an infinity of possibilities and references, clothing (or more often the idea of clothing), is one of the crystallizations of this double phenomenon between communities and individualities. Clothing is also the object of desire for more and more creative people. Between fast fashion’s anonymous designers, the winners of Hyères, Andam or the LVMH prizes, not to mention the renowned artistic directors gathered in the shadow of the big groups, the ADs creating collections without creative pause, without sponsorship or sick leave. They display moodboards, prints and colours on kilometres of canvas worn by kilometres of legs over kilometres of runway for kilometres of feeds. The shows are growing and so are their audience. This year, for the departure of the artistic directors of Kenzo3, 3,000 people were invited to a goodbye at mass time under the arches of the AccorHotels Arena4.
we buy too much, we love it too fast and we only wear it once
Brands are working at exploding Instagram and everyone wants to create his own. Always more posts, likes, stories, Chiquitos5. Torn in all directions by an evergrowing supply, and because everyone is someone, the consumer in Gucci sneakers and full look Uniqlo x Lemaire is too paralyzed on his MacBook Pro keyboard to wonder who he really is. Still, sales, outlets, gram-tailers (Instagram retailers), drops, fakes, re-sales, vintages, collabs, or Rihanna who launches Fenty6. Tempted between streetwear or a full black intellectual look. He collects anxieties in his closet from which his own necessities are removed and orders 15 outfits for one evening without knowing why, multiplying his identities and his face in his own pictures like Jared Leto at the Met Gala, Antoinette Love7 or John Yuyi on Insta8.
So to take it easy, this little distressed consumer has a new refuge. Shiny under-eye patches, Thai massages or long weekends in Bali, what marketing calls ‘experiences’ and what reality calls ‘escape’. You make sure to show off your latest two-piece swimsuit bought in a meeting on an Emrata9 impulse and whose life expectancy does not exceed 3 seconds on social networks. 2,390 people have seen it, the desire is instantaneous and the swimsuit lost at the bottom of a drawer or on an online resale site: next.
Through acceleration, the idea of luxury has become cheap by becoming what was expected of it. A power of ostentation able to immortalize an image, to crystallize a desire and to arouse desire in others. In 2019, luxury is a commodity acquired with money, and no longer by taste, and loses its status as a piece made and carried by its time. It is content to be inaccessible, not by its products but by what rules the world today, the law of the dollar, the yen, the euro, and sells sneakers that you can’t run in for €725. The more expensive it is, the more luxurious it is, and the more you boost with pricetags a social legitimacy constructed by appearances. Then luxury is mixed with streetwear 10 as the only option for reinvention, and streetwear loses its street cred.
there is so much clothing that the vintage and second-hand markets are booming, estimated at 42 billion dollars for 2022, and this, just for the United States
There is so much clothing that the vintage and second-hand markets are booming, estimated at 42 billion dollars for 2022, and this, just for the United States 11. There is so much clothing that a French legal directive forbids the burning of unsold items in a legal paragraph that opens the way to the circular economy. It will be voted at the end of the year 12. That means we buy too much, we love it too fast and we only wear it once. It also means that we could dress the world forever by stopping producing now. So, to stop sending stock to the pyre, production must slow down, reduce, be rethought. Our values too.
Instagram post of Jacquemus, Chiquito bag
When everyone believes in his own theory, in the look that is his own, he vehemently defends it to the point of feeling copied, watched, adulated, as a physical impossibility to initiate coherence. So everyone forces themselves to set their own challenge, to be unique, to be funny, and we end up wearing a pair of pants only once in the hope of being recognized and loved one story at a time. There are too many things to be able to be united, and this excess divides us into a multitude of clans: ‘gangs’ 13, ‘armies’ 14, ‘girls’ 15. War is declared, but we don’t really know why we are fighting. Attitudes and groups of lonely people who rise up for a battle of clones without purpose or precedent. A representation of the human being where Instagram is a show that influences all audiences.
Our youth must relearn to love fashion passionately but consciously, without saying that we are unique, haughty or different. We must take the time to promise ourselves this everyday courtesy, lost in the jostling of the human ranks at the station platforms and queues at counters. It is time to say, when we leave the house, that we dress up of course for ourselves, but also for you, and the other person behind that you don’t know. You’re not alone, just look and maybe think before you buy. Your clothes, you must love them and wear them for a long time. Tell yourself that you can lend them, give them away, make a gift of them. Because they are too beautiful. So beautiful that you would wear them all at the same time every day forever, and probably beautiful enough for many more lives after. Tell yourself, when you’re squashed in the bus, that you’d like to find the colours beautiful and that in return people find your jacket soft enough to, for the duration of a smile, raise their heads from their phones.