What I Hate About Fashion

I recently saw Brüno. I found it moderately amusing. You probably have seen the Trailer but the post needs a visual so there you go:

In a way it’s quite similar to Borat (duh!). Sure, you can see it as a shallow and incredibly crude comedy. It has lots of almost infantile jokes and exploits all the clichés to be as offensive as it can be. But there is an interesting social commentary beneath it all. The comedy does explore the discomfort that open homosexuality still creates in our society. It’s counter-intuitive but I think movies like this can help a lot to increase acceptance of homosexuality. In a couple of scenes I thought to myself that I probably would have behaved similarly to Brüno’s victims. The movie did a great job at highlighting how ridiculous and irrational our behavior can be.

But contrary to what you see in the Trailer, the movie didn’t comment too much with the topic of Fashion. It reminded me about one particular thing I really hate about Fashion. Sure it’s it mindless and decadent worship of elitist egoism and sickening abundance. But hey – I could just ignore it. However, there is one reason why I never really can. It’s because the people doing this crap are calling themselves “Designers”.

Let me make it clear. No. If you are doing Fashion then you are NOT doing Design. The definition of Design can be fuzzy. Here is a trick I use. Whenever I see the word “Design” I substitute that word with “Strategy” and see if it still works. Let’s try it. “Car Design” would be “Car Strategy”. It fits, Car designers are people who spend a lot of times considering a lot of different aspects in order to create a car that fulfills a very specific set of criteria. Aesthetics are of course a part of it but so is usability, economy, ecology, production, safety, demographics, culture etc. The different aspects are addressed in such a way as to reach a distinct goal which in turn can be evaluated. The process is a tight mixture of analytic thinking and creative craftsmanship.

“Nail Design” on the other hand would be “Nail Strategy”. It doesn’t really fit. Because in a nail studio you don’t develop a new, distinct strategy for your nails. Nails have no strategy, they have been created by evolution and do the their job just fine. Instead, you get your nails cleaned and get pretty patterns painted on it. The only aspect to consider is aesthetics. Each customer wishes to maximize them. But the results cannot be even properly evaluated because aesthetics are highly subjective.

There is another word that is perfectly suitable for what we mean with Nail Design and Fashion Design. And it’s not even a derogatory. It’s “Styling”. It perfectly describes the aesthetic nature of both professions. Semantically, it puts them right next to Hair Styling which is actually a quite related discipline. “Design” puts them next to things like Information Design, Interface Design or Service Design. Not quite so related.

By the way, there are real Clothing Designers but that has often more to do with jackets, working clothes, sports clothes and space suits.

So my only request is to be careful with the word “Design” in context of Fashion and use “Styling” instead. Otherwise you can worship rich morons all you want. Okthanksbye!

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

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The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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