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Kayito Nwokedi: Is Fashion Ultimately about Label Validation?

Kayito Nwokedi

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‘Who are you wearing?’ is the most asked (and the most important) question during awards season. It is probably more important than why the attendee asked is present at the show. I mean, he/she probably spent thousands of Dollars or Naira on a stylist to look good, so why shouldn’t the said attendee be asked the question?
To me, if a person looks very well put together, do I really care to know who made the garment the person is putting on? Not really. I guess your perception of a person changes when you hear the following words from his/her mouth: ‘I’m wearing *insert high-end designer here*’

A very good friend of mine who happens to be the fashion editor at a top Nigerian magazine told me a very interesting story about what happened to her at a recent outing. The event was the launch of the new Carolina Herrera fragrances. She, dressed like the true editor that she is, donned a crisp white shirt tucked into slim well-cut black pants with a cummerbund-like detail and styled the look with black pumps. A couple of attendees complimented her dressing and asked who made the pants. The moment she mentioned the word ‘Céline’, they became more drawn to and found her more interesting, simply because she said the name of the Phoebe Philo-helmed label. That’s ironic, seeing as the whole point of Philo’s Céline is anonymity. Wasn’t she smart-looking enough or interesting enough initially? Why did the label on her back make her more endearing?

More often than not, people who end up on worst dressed lists actually wear these high-end labels, so why do people still care anyway? Isn’t the whole point of fashion to look chic no matter who made it?

We live in a world where branding has to be visible to be validated. The double G sign on a croc Gucci handbag receives more stares of approval than a minimal intrecciato tote from Bottega Veneta, even if the latter costs more. Why does that happen? What is it that we are trying to prove? Fashion is supposed to be an expression of self, not an expression of worth.

When designers are asked why they make clothes, their answers are often around the fact that they want people to look and feel good. Some designers make clothes that have a purpose.

Christian Dior’s ‘new look’ for instance, is constructed to give women waists. Chanel’s tweed jackets transcend time and seasons. Donna Karan’s ‘7 easy pieces’ is a basic wardrobe women can build on. These are examples of clothes that make a point. But in today’s world, it is less about the actual clothes and more about the selected brands, which isn’t even the point the designers are trying to make.

So when did we let it get like this? By doing this we give skeptics the ammunition to render fashion as shallow, which it clearly isn’t.

A little mystery is chic, no?

Photo Credit: Fashionstock .com | Dreamstime.com

Kayito Nwokedi is a Fashion stylist and Editor based in Lagos. He studied Electrical Engineering in Covenant University. He's worked at Mania Magazine, Pride Magazine, and Y!naija. Follow him on Instagram: @kayito_n

2 Comments

  1. olanna&odenigbo

    February 17, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    Two quick picks from your article…

    1.) “…Fashion is supposed to be an expression of self, not an expression of worth….”
    – Sorry to burst our bubble—Right or wrong, fashion has always been an expression of both- go ask Louis XIV et al. What do you think gives meaning to the term ‘aspirational’ in fashion. People don’t aspire to anonymity/whatever dream a designer comes up with. People aspire to belonging in a certain circle that LOOKS and OPERATES a certain way, LIVES a certain lifestyle…Designers know this, Design based conglomerates and families know this, and build entire brands around encouraging this lust. its a cycle to be blamed on everyone…and yes, please even Phoebe’s anonymity is a marketing tool. accept that fact and you will suffer less disappointment. Maybe mention Muccia/Ferragamo etc for encouraging some form of depth/originality/meaning, in this whole thing- and at that, even so called ‘fashion insiders’ like -Judas- crucified Prada for embracing archaic sales approaches when they lagged in embracing the ‘tech revolution’ (to drive sales- which Prada wasn’t really driven by before….but hello!!!)- so who’s really fooling who?. Lets also not pretend that designers are not driving the hype of their own labels for sales and to avoid being cut (I.e. for those that have been bought by awon egbon PPR and co.) They even have well masterminded museums (Check Gucci) to create this illusion of a dream for us to buy into and we buy it hook, line and sinker…
    The clothes you talk about- 3/4 are hardly profitable by themselves- to the designers or companies who buy them…it is all the ‘extras’- Branding/Diversification/Extensions etc… they do that pull in the big bucks. so please as long as designers and design enthusiasts enjoy the palatial lifestyle, they should suck it up and quit trying to belittle people for being ‘shallow’…cos they are the real spinners of the trick.

    2) “…But in today’s world, it is less about the actual clothes and more about the selected brands, which isn’t even the point the designers are trying to make…. Refer to 1st answer

    Fashion is deep and shallow…and everyone- including you/me/the ignorant bloggers/editor/designers/consumers etc, is responsible for all parts of what fashion is today. So really the joke is on the snobbish ‘fashion’ crowd. Just get over it and enjoy fashion as fun; as art; as an avenue for education; as a representation of the times; and as covering for the body. Leave unnecessary Panadol. I don tire…bye.

  2. Tosin

    February 18, 2017 at 11:42 am

    “Fashion is supposed to be an expression of self, not an expression of worth.”
    Nobel Prize abeg. 🙂

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