There’s a new book or a film out, so how do you know if it’s any good? Simple, you check out the reviews. The same applies to pretty much anything: you can easily find unbiased reviews of games, phones, TV programs and household appliances, even children’s toys and pureed tomatoes! So what is it that makes clothes exempt from scrutiny? Google clothes reviews and all you can find is other people’s personal experiences on shopping websites. Buy a fashion magazine and there is no mention of the quality of the myriad of clothes on display. Why, oh why, is that?
When pictures say less than a thousand words
The trend section of Vogue is bursting with colourful images of upcoming fashions with a quick caption, such as “Calvin Klein Collection January dressing: palette-cleansing – elegant and classic pieces that stand alone in their style credentials are fail-safe options.” There’s no mention of where these clothes are made and by whom, what the materials are, let alone what happens if you give them a couple of washes or wear them beyond the immediate spring season. The Elle website is no different. “Because the focus shouldn’t only be on the clothing, here are our favorite shoes, bags, and baubles from the fall 2015 runways of New York fashion week,” Ruthie Friedlander writes, and goes on to showcase 27 photos of must-have accessories.
Fashion magazines that stitch us up
Print magazines tend to give us even less information. As Rinna writes in her Feel Good Wardrobe book,
“Fashion journalism is one of the forces that uphold our warped fashion culture… There is no information about the actual qualities of the clothes, as if the only thing that mattered were how an item of clothing looks like in a 15 centimetre image on the page. This means that a top quality, expertly sewn dress made of premium fabric appears identical to a cheap fast fashion rag haphazardly stitched together. The only things you can really see from the small fashion photographs of a typical women’s (or men’s) magazine are the silhouette and the colour.”
Fashion journalism, in fact, seems to be focused on an idea and an illusion, rather than facts – even if we’re told where and for how much we can buy that mini dress worn by a jaded looking teenage model.
True reviews coming up!
Tired of the lack of critical information about clothes, me and Rinna decided to find out for ourselves. In this category we’ll be mercilessly assessing different types of clothing and telling you whether they merit a place in our wardrobes – as well as yours, of course. First of all, we’re targeting the staple item of each wardrobe: black cotton tights. Stay tuned for some true reviews: our five pairs of carefully selected cotton tights are currently being washed, rubbed and scrubbed to the max. We’ll shortly be back with what happened to them.