So the CSF blog theme for April is interdependence, I’ve been thinking about this word, mulling it over in my head and pondering both the positive and the negative connotations it conjures in me; I’ve actually reached the point where I’m not entirely sure I know what the word means, or more to the point whether the meaning of the word represents the concept it has come to embody in today’s society. People talk about living in an interdependent world but what they mean is living in a globalised world. A true state of interdependency only exists when all the component parts in a system interact and the significance of each part is recognised and respected; then if one part fails the structure is strong enough to withstand the blow. The depth and severity of the recent global economic crisis is an example of how far we are away from living in a state of interdependency; let’s face it our economic wellbeing was entirely dependent on a flawed financial services system and when it failed there was no safety net.
To achieve the balance implied in the true meaning of interdependency, I guess we have to run the gauntlet of dependence, independence, co-dependence and then finally we might reach interdependence, or at least that’s my thought process. We start our lives dependent, needing everything done for us; we are protected, fed and clothed. Through childhood and in to adolescence we give independence a trial run, kicking against the dependency that has kept us safe and fighting to establish our individual identity. Often as young adults flung out into the world, we establish co-dependencies with other people and things, loosing ourselves in these intense but often short lived relationships. Finally if we’re very lucky we reach a state, where we are able to function and express ourselves as individuals, take responsibility for our own decisions and achieve a balance in our lives that recognises both our own needs and those of the people and planet around us. Problem is most of us never reach this elevated state; often we get stuck at the independent/selfish stage, rejecting commitment or responsibility, or at the co-dependent stage relying on external stuff to make us happy, like money, property, cars, and of course clothes; forgive the awful clunky bridge but I really felt I had to move this on, it’s a blog post after all!
Fashion is an example of an industry that has become dependent on co-dependency, relying on people’s need for external validation, usually achieved by purchasing a copy of the dress they saw on Cheryl Cole in Grazia; surely fashion can be more than this, contributing to a balanced and connected community. Fashion can play a role that recognises and respects the need of individuals to express themselves through what they wear and how they wear it but also celebrating the creative and practical process of making clothes. Surely fashion shouldn’t flow from an egotistical need to control and direct but rather reflect a collaborative process that involves developing an idea/concept, the realisation of that idea and the resulting pleasure and joy that realisation brings to the people who experience it. Surely designers should be encouraged to innovate whilst recognising that their creativity only comes to life when supported by the skills and knowledge of others. No man is an island as they say and if we think about fashion as an interdependent system, we can put in place a whole new set of values. I don’t really want to be dependent on an outdated introverted ego driven industry but I am very happy, in fact thrilled, to be part of an interdependent, informed relevant industry that uses its cultural influence to achieve beauty and fulfilment.