Over the last couple of years, I have noticed an odd trend appearing in high-street clothing stores. Not necessarily distressing, or anger-inducing, but definitely… odd. It affects men and women alike, and children too – but kids can seem to use it to their advantage. I am referring to garments with pictures of animals on them.
Now, I don’t mind animal-print items (although I prefer them in home furnishings than on my clothes, where I’m not a fan of any kind of pattern to be honest). But I fail to understand why anyone would want to wear a jumper with a picture of a penguin on it, or a necklace with an owl for a pendant. What kind of statement are we trying to make here?
If the statement is “I like penguins” or “I’m a big fan of owls”, then that’s cool. I would even accept if someone were alluding to the wisdom of an owl (I am not sure what qualities a penguin exemplifies, other than hip-hop dancing à la Happy Feet) – but I am sure that for 95% of people wearing owl-emblazoned clothing or jewellery, this thought hasn’t crossed their minds. I presume (please correct me if I’m wrong) that the thought process in one’s head upon purchasing such an item is “oh, this has a penguin / giraffe / wolf / llama on it. That’s kinda cool.” Is it? Why?
I am evidently missing something, as the Guardian’s July spotlight on men’s fashion tells me that luxury brands such as Givenchy and Dries van Noten are utilising animals on their latest pieces.
Givenchy’s shark, again I can half-credit because a shark is FEROCIOUS and DANGEROUS. But let’s be real, it’s also quite ugly. I don’t believe anyone ever watched Jaws and thought “now that’s a fashion icon! I must put that shark’s face on my jumper / cardigan / bracelet right away!”
I am certainly not saying that fashion can only be pretty. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all; what one may find beautiful, another may find off-putting and so on. But like other kinds of art, the best fashion makes a statement – whether it is breathtakingly beautiful, rebellious, edgy, practical and so on, it evokes a response. While I am equally averse to wearing t-shirts with slogans written across them (the statement is too obvious and it makes me feel like the people who choose to express themselves through crass t-shirt messages are not creative enough to be a little more subtle and ingenious about displaying their personalities through fashion), at least there is still a statement being made. If the clothes we choose to wear say something about us, then I guess I’m just confused about the statement made my benign animals borne on our chests. What does it all mean? It’s very… odd.