Authenticity is trendy right now. Everywhere you look, people are claiming to be searching for their authentic selves. Business experts, sociologists, and celebrities all write and talk about authenticity as though achieving it is equal to obtaining the legendary holy grail. Even fashion designers talk about being your authentic self. But is that even possible?
The fashion industry goes out of its way to paint an unrealistic picture of human beauty. Designers make it their mission to constantly push the envelope with every new line they introduce. None of this is a bad thing, by the way. In a nation of free enterprise, the fashion industry is doing what it must to succeed. But still, it seems ironic to talk about high fashion and authenticity in the same sentence.
Trying to Be Someone Else
A January, 2021 article posted by College Fashion offered readers tips on how to find their “most authentic” styles. It was perfectly suited to a younger audience unafraid to spend money on new clothes. Perhaps the most interesting point of the post was the first one: who do you admire?
The author’s first tip was more or less a suggestion to step back and think about those people you most admire. She specifically mentioned fashion icons and celebrities. But wait. Isn’t dressing the way celebrities and models dress just trying to be someone else? And if so, how can it be true authenticity?
Therein lies the trap of pursuing fashion. The fashion industry’s best means of selling clothing is to convince consumers to buy things they don’t already have. How do they do that? First, by dressing up models and sending them down the runway. Second, they follow up by convincing celebrities to wear their clothing. They bank on the fact that customers want to imitate their idols.
Staying Away from the Runway
In fairness, there are plenty of people who stray from the runway when making their clothing choices. They couldn’t care less what internationally famous models wear on the street. They do not pay attention to the clothing choices made popular by movie stars, athletes, and musicians. They wear what works for them.
So, can they be authentic with their clothing choices? That depends. The deciding factor is motivation. Why does a person choose the clothing and accessories they typically buy?
Plurawl is a boutique clothing brand based in New York City. It was founded by an entrepreneur who decided he wanted to use clothing to help the LatinX community learn to be authentic in every area of life. None of Plurawl’s LatinX T-shirts, sweatshirts, or hoodies are likely to ever make a runway appearance. Yet the company is thriving. People love the brand.
Plurawl ownership believes that the brand is authentically LatinX. What makes it so? The brand’s messaging. Take away the graphic images and printed words and you are left with plain T-shirts and hoodies. But with the messaging on each and every government, Plurawl’s message of authenticity shines through.
Wearing the brand because you believe in the messaging lends itself to authenticity. Wearing it because it reflects who you are as a person also suggests authenticity. But wearing it just because you want to be like all your friends is not. Copying others instead of being yourself is the very antithesis of authenticity.
Can your fashion choices make you more authentic? It is possible. Unfortunately, the fashion industry operates on a model that discourages authenticity rather than promoting it. Runway fashion is about the show. And more often than not, the show isn’t real.