2010-10-21 / Sam Bari

Understanding fashion

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand
By Sam Bari

To get off on the right foot, understand that this column has nothing to do with telling anyone how to dress. I wrote this column with the hope that someone would write back and explain in simple terms, what makes the fashion industry work.

I do not understand anything about fashion. For some unknown reason, I have made it this far in life with a fashion sense deficit.

If the purpose of the fashion industry is to dress people so they look attractive, why do they design clothes for the smallest percentage of the population? That doesn’t make sense.

According to several different surveys that are unrelated, nearly 75 percent of the U.S. population is overweight. If we are to believe the statistics, 34 percent of people over 20 years old are obese and the other 41 percent are just fat.

This means that the multibillion dollar fashion industry caters to 25 percent of the available market. I have yet to see a fat model wearing the latest designer clothing line that is going to look good on the majority of the population.

In November – just a month away, Victoria’s Secret is staging its big fall fashion show. At this gala extravaganza, we will see the worlds’ highest paid models strutting down the runway in their underwear with giant size angel wings attached to their backs.

If the show is anything like last year’s, the girls will look like 6-foot tall Tinkerbelles, only skinnier.

Now let’s be honest — how many women can really wear those high-end, dainty little skivvies, and feel comfortable about the way they look? Even the angel wings won’t help.

That’s why they call it underwear. Wear it under other stuff so you don’t look ridiculous. However, this rule does not apply to Victoria’s Secret models. They can wear their underwear in public and get paid big bucks for doing so.

Besides, what would they do with the angel wings? I can’t imagine that wearing them would be comfortable, I don’t care how kinky you are.

The question is: what are normal people supposed to wear? Men can be grateful that the industry does not subject us to such dilemmas. Our undies are easy - briefs for the skinny guys, and boxers for the fat guys.

Getting away from the underwear, let’s take a look at some other oddities in the garment industry.

Every year, there is a big Hoopla about wearing fur. If a designer doesn’t identify clothing that appears to be made of fur as “faux fur,” they are all but sent to the gallows by the fashion police.

Nonetheless, this year, the big “must have” in both men and women’s wardrobes are jackets — leather jackets.

The last time I checked, leather is animal skin with the fur shaved off. I believe they call the process “tanning.” Leather has always been an important element in the wardrobes of certain elements of our society, and nobody seems to criticize the wearers.

I can’t help but wonder why donning animal skin minus the hair is okay, but if it has fur on it, the wearer is subjected to unspeakable ridicule and humiliation.

We certainly cannot discuss fashion without addressing the biggest budget breaker in the business — footwear. Men have it easy. Professionals wear wingtips, skilled labor wears work boots, and the rest of us wear loafers and sneakers.

Not so easy for women. Every year, the height of the boot and shape of the toe changes. The height of the heel and the color of the shoes is the difference between fashionable and Ugly Betty.

It’s just cruel the way the industry can fleece women of their hard earned dollars by dramatically changing the “look” of their feet every year. Women’s footwear is big bucks.

I don’t believe it is fair to single out the Victoria’s Secret fashion show without looking at other major events like the Mercedes Benz fashion week in New York.

Major designers show their new lines at this weeklong affair. The guests walking the red carpet sit at the foot of the runways and represent a Hollywood Who’s Who. They come to see and be seen.

The one thing I do not understand, however, is that I never see any of the clothing on the street that is on display in those shows. Who buys that stuff?

Unfortunately, fashion will probably always be a large part of living in a system that we can’t understand.

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