Recession brings out the best in us. Working in retail I have seen the changes recession spending has made in the average consumer. Seen it and experienced it myself. I have never thought about what fabrics were used to make my clothes. I would shop and buy what I liked and didn’t know what the difference between fabrics was or cared. Gone are those days.
It began simply by us caring what made our clothes. We didn’t want the sweat shop made cheap fabrics of easy fashion. Primark was ruining our landscapes and at first we shunned our guilt by buying our 8 euro tops. But not for long. Becoming eco aware was the first step in the change in Irish shopping (and shopping the world over) people could no longer enjoy the thrill of spending cheaply and reaping the benefits of a 2 euro bag. We were killing our own kind. And the enviroment.
Once we became eco aware and demanded economically kind and ethically sourced goods we began a little broker by spending in places we could feel good about.
The next big hit was the recession. We worked harder for our money. Held on to the last few pennies in the penny jar and we demanded quality. Suddenly we no longer wanted goods that fell apart after two washes. We wanted things built to last. Shoes that actually were water proof and not just fashionable. I first noticed this change when customers started checking labels to see just what their clothing was built with. And I even started it myself. We needed to know our clothing which we were surprisingly keen to spend a bit more on would last.
Customers dropping €200 on a jacket needed to know it would see them through. And all for the better. Less spending. More saving. I think twice before I buy. And it must be ethical, well made and classically styled.
But there was one more area to gain from the recession. Creativity.
During the recession years of the 1980’s we saw the new romantics, punks and gothic styles emerge tightly clad in black lace, hair rags and wonderful studded jackets. The recession then gave birth to a style culture not afraid to add a button here and a stud there. You weren’t cool unless customised.
And then the club kids happened. Micheal Ali led a group of kids fed up with the grey of cityscapes with no escapes into a world of glitter, dancing and design. Prehapes inspired by gay performance artist Leigh Bowery. These kids built costumes. Constructed outfits more sculpture then cloth. Painted their faces and became famous for escapisim.
It is with interest I have watched the growing interest in the return of the club kid era. Our pennies and pounds streched to the limit we expect them to work harder so we can play harder once more. Imitation nights out styled around the club kids have sprung up. My friends are now customising leather jackets, ripping sleeves off t-shirts and painting doc martins once more.
Our world is falling apart but our costumes are built to last. Well, at least for saturday night. Check out your style resources such as pony club in London or RI RA in Dublin on a friday night. All of which are your new recession friends.
To me. I started my escape a year ago this summer when from my wardrobe ashes sprung a new creation. Miss Penny dreadful. I painted my face, cut and dyed my hair, wore sequins and platforms. Wigs and weaves, tights and teardrops! It was saturday nights are go! Go ! go!
Now as I watch with bemusement at people who laughed at me a year ago pull on their tranny tights and ask ‘does my arse look big in this?” (answer is always yes) and stut their stuff down the same bars I fell around in this time last year. So my question is this, why does it always take a recession to bring out the monster in everyone?