A Pox on the Patriarchy
OK, yes, yes, I know: what’s a ‘feminist’ magazine doing with a ‘Fashion’ page featured so prominently on its site? Surely here at WW HQ we all cover ourselves up head-to-ankle with cheese/sackcloth, and finish off the look with shoes that we have fashioned for ourselves out of papier-mâché?
Well, firstly, one of the reasons that it’s so high up is that we’re currently mainly writers not techies and we have no idea how to re-order the damn toolbar – perhaps some nice reader should like to help us with this? And secondly, while I’ll personally admit that I’m not averse to the odd bit of time to myself with the glue and the newspaper and…[stop that - Ed.], er, yes. Right. Anyway, a Chick Doing Shit (I modestly count myself of their exalted number – is that wrong?) has still generally got to buy her sackcloth from somewhere – too busy saving / changing the world and whatnot to be sewing for herself.
Unless of course, you’re saving / changing the world through fashion. Yes. That’s right. I stand by that.
And here’s why.
So, currently a lot of the fashion world – both Bond Street and high street, catwalk and sidewalk (we’re pretty international around here) – have got their priorities all wrong. They are not designing for women – as in the pluralised section of society that the plural ending suggests.
Only the other day on Woman’s Hour one of my heroines, Jenni Murray, said, as if there were no argument about it, that obviously designers use ‘long, thin girls, who often look more like boys, because clothes hang much better on them.’ [my italics]. And my italics are there because, I’m sorry Jenni, but WTF? This is totally wrong-headed.Surely, surely, if the clothes hang better on young adolescent girls who, as Murray says, ‘often look more like boys’, it’s not the models that we should be looking at, IT’S THE CLOTHES. If clothes look better on a girl who hasn’t even developed properly yet, then the problem is with the designers: they are designing for the wrong audience. After all, how many adolescent girls have the money to buy top-end designers? And as we all know, where the designers lead, the high street follows.
As Carole White, founder of Premier Models so charmingly says, she is running a business, and she needs to supply a demand. Fair enough I suppose – mainly because, if she doesn’t supply the girls, someone else will. What we need to do is to change the demand, not the supply. Carole White is essentially irrelevant to this debate. Woman’s Hour should have had the designers who are creating the clothes than ‘hang better’ on GIRLS rather than WOMEN in as guests. And then torn them apart.
‘How do we convince girls that it doesn’t matter if they’re not long and thin?’, asks Jenni.
Here’s a thought: design clothes than don’t cater for only one type of body. Create clothes that flatter women’s actual bodies, rather than clothes than punish them for not looking like they’re sixteen, when actually they’re thirty-five and have had two children and, shock horror, enjoy a slice of cake every now and then. And if designers don’t react much to an appeal to their moral sense, how about an appeal to their business sense? How well do you think clothes that serve the purpose of making women look good, rather than making them feel uncomfortable and guilty, would sell?
After all, this type of fashion has been available for men for years – it’s called ‘tailoring’ and I believe it’s available all year round at Saville Row, if you’ve got the bucks, and M&S if you haven’t.
So to the point of this rant: here at WW we are calling out (for the love of God!) for designers who understand that women deserve clothes than flatter rather than punish them. That women want clothes that act like your own personal yes-(wo)man. And, as an added bonus, that women occasionally want clothes that serve practical purposes as well – for example: WHEN will whoever it is that makes jeans realise that women would like pockets that they can fit more than a very small pet spider into? If male skinny jeans have them why don’t ours? And day-dresses without any pockets at all – might I ask just WHAT is the point of them? It’s enough to drive a girl to sack-cloth.
So to save the WW team from this terrible sartorial fate, this is a call to arms. Get in touch, tell us about great designers / shops you know who already understand this. Name and Shame the ones who don’t. And if you’re a designer yourself, get in touch too – we’d love to showcase your talent and general Chick-Doing-Shit-ness.