Fashion choices reflect what we know and think about ourselves at a given moment. I emphasize this temporariness because we are constantly learning, maturing. Besides, our lifestyle and needs are changing as well. We prioritize intellectual development, but we are aware that the right clothes are both an expression of the personal status quo and a complement to it. Someone said they start telling our story before we say anything. Therefore, I think it’s better to create this story consciously by working on our own style that will be consistent with who we are and how we want to be perceived.
Getting close to minimalism, we organize our things to adapt what we have to the current needs. Aleksandra Perchla-Włosik and Joanna Wardzała claim that when choosing products, we are often guided not by their function, but by what they symbolize. When deciding on a specific lifestyle and clothes, we try to understand and define ourselves. At the same time, we want to belong to a specific social group and emphasize our uniqueness.1 It seems that one excludes the other, and yet not entirely. It happens, after all, that a person who claims to have their own style „looks like everyone else”.2 Besides, depending on our age, our psychological needs change. According to the research among Polish fashion consumers and managers from fashion industry, twenty-year-old fashion consumers have the aim of “seeking themselves and reducing uncertainty”, while those in their thirties feel “the need for identity consistency”, the consumers who are more than 40 year old treat fashion as a means of relaxation and distance themselves from fashion trends more often.3 Personally, I am very interested in the point of view of the second group, which I belong to. After all, we follow the principle of appropriateness, fashion helps us to consciously create our image.
Coming back to one’s own style – how to stand out? First of all, by looking at ourselves as a whole: after all, we are not a fully clothed mannequin. The first impression is usually a visual one, but then we start to say something and behave in a certain way (how often does the spell then break or, on the contrary, persist indefinitely?). We want to fit into social groups and at the same time we need a differentiator to feel special.
Is vegan fashion a distinguishing feature? After all, you cannot only focus on clothes or diet, as veganism is not really about us, but about the welfare of animals. Ethical considerations, i.e. objection to the use of animals in the food or clothing industry, should be the basis for a consumer decision. However, when choosing vegan food and clothing, we vote with our wallet. We are giving an important consumer signal that these decisions satisfy us. Dr Bob Torres and Dr Jenna Torres are writing about being a vegan in a non-vegan world and everyday decisions and doubts related to that.4 They question the self-centered way of thinking and explain how to look at vegan issues from the practical side. They emphasize the importance of consistency of our actions and conscious choices, through which we set a positive or negative example. We do our best bearing in mind that there are not always vegan alternatives. I would like to add that, in this context, vegan fashion is the result of lifestyle choice. By choosing these and not other clothes, we create an image that speaks about ourselves as much as what we eat or how we behave. One cannot focus only on it, but at the same time one cannot forget about it.
Coming back to the topic of one’s own style, there are many books aiming to help us find it, but it’s a bit like asking others who we are. I prefer endless education, observation of myself and others, as well as looking for inspiration, especially in people whose achievements I value and, paradoxically, who do not deal with fashion professionally. They read fashion in their own way and adapt it to themselves. Their personal style comes quite naturally from who they are and what they do, it makes their image harmonious. Or I am looking for vegan alternatives if it turns out that the person whose style inspires me is not vegan.
In the era of saving money and taking care of the best quality (in contrast to the smallest possible amount), I would like to learn to sew by myself. However, it will be a while before this happens. The sewing machine from my grandma is waiting for its time. And memories of sewing for personal needs persist in my mind. My dad did it, my grandmother did it, even though neither of them worked professionally as a tailor. In addition to sewing and looking into the contents of one’s own wardrobe, there is also second hand clothing. It is not so difficult to find things similar to the ones we like, either new ones or used. In our own wardrobe or in the wardrobe of other women, who probably also read Marie Kondo and her best-selling books “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” or “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Guide to the Japanese Art of Tidying”, and try to sell unnecessary clothes online. Sometimes, I buy new clothes that are vegan, even though they do not have such a label. Sometimes it is enough to ask the seller about their product composition if we have any doubts. It is possible that the seller does not know that he has something suitable for vegans, hence the lack of information. I think that the selection of vegan items with a special label, although much more customer-friendly, is still not enough.
Finally, I try to remember that fashion is supposed to bring joy and aesthetic impressions. As a consequence of interweaving aesthetic and ethical needs, we create a coherent image, in harmony with who we are. In respect of our values. With no exaggeration and no sense of guilt or embarrassment included in the process. Reasonably.
1 Forum Socjologiczne. Wartości, moda, innowacje. Zachowania konsumenckie z perspektywy społecznej i ekonomicznej, edited by Aleksandra Perchla-Włosik and Joanna Wardzała, Wrocław 2018, p. 9.
2 Jacek Kall, Aleksandra Perchla-Włosik, Alicja Raciniewska, Katarzyna Sempruch-Krzemińska, Marka modowa. Jak zrozumieć konsumenta mody i stworzyć markę szytą na miarę?, Warszawa 2018, p. 23.
3 Ibid., P. 45.
4 Bob Torres, Jenna Torres, Vegan freak. Jak być weganinem w niewegańskim świecie, Łódź 2018.