Slow.Down.

Giorgio Armani Encourages Our Search for a “More Human Dimension”

“The decline of the fashion system, as we know it, started when the luxury sector adopted the fast fashion operating mode with the continuous delivery cycle, hoping to sell more…I don’t want to work like this anymore, it’s immoral. It doesn’t make sense that one of my jackets, or one of my suits live in the store for three weeks, become immediately obsolete, and are replaced by new merchandise, which is not too different from the one that preceded it. I don’t work like that. I find it immoral to do so. I’ve always believed in an idea of timeless elegance, in making clothes that suggest only one way to buy them: that they last over time. For the same reason I find it absurd that in the middle of winter, in boutiques, there are linen clothes and in summer, alpaca coats, for the simple reason that the desire to buy must be satisfied immediately. Who buys clothes to put them in a closet waiting for the right season to wear them? No one, or a few, I think. But this system, driven by department stores, has become the dominant mentality. Wrong, we have to change, this has to stop. This crisis is a wonderful opportunity to slow everything down, to realign everything, to draw a more authentic and true horizon. No more spectacularization, no more waste. For three weeks I’ve been working with my teams to ensure that, after the lockdown, the summer collections remain in the boutique at least until the beginning of September, as is natural. And that’s how we’re going to do it from now on. This crisis is also a wonderful opportunity to restore value to authenticity: no more fashion as a communication game, no more fashion shows around the world, just to present bland ideas. No more entertaining with great shows that today reveal themselves for what they are: inappropriate, and I also mean vulgar. No more parades all over the world, made through the journeys that pollute. No more wasting money on shows, they’re just brushstrokes of enamel on top of nowhere. The moment we are going through is turbulent, but it offers us the unique opportunity to fix what is wrong, to remove the superfluous, to find a more human dimension… This is perhaps the most important lesson of this crisis”.

Giorgio Armani wrote this letter to WWD (the fashion “bible”) last week, and it was another verification that the world is ready for a shift in priorities. What he speaks about in regards to fashion losing its soul is absolutely true — all in the name of consumerism. Slowing the production process, eliminating some of the endless fashion weeks, and ceasing the incessant marketing of products that only stay on shelves for three weeks all speak toward an underlying issue that has been plaguing me for a few years.

As a former model and editor of an international fashion magazine, I experienced the hustle and rush of fashion “month” multiple times per year. It was like a whirlwind we all got caught up in, and I usually had to recuperate afterward. Although I wasn’t running a fashion brand like Mr. Armani, I was attending the shows, covering them for social media, launching a simultaneous magazine issue, and throwing an issue launch party every season. Usually we would have an event in both New York City and Milan to cover our international audience and clients. To be honest, as a 20-something New Yorker, it was all very exciting and I had aspired to reach great heights in the industry at the beginning. After a couple seasons, I realized it was actually quite empty and I didn’t feel I fit in with the “scene.” I pulled back to just concentrate on the work, and I stopped caring about the rush of it all. It wasn’t fulfilling what I had hoped it would internally, which began the new phase of my journey to seek meaning in work.

I speak a good bit about getting back to what matters, being conscious, and resetting your life in my content. There is a thread to all of it — minimalism, how I pray society will pull itself out of the coronavirus pandemic and find a new healthier normal, saying goodbye to the “normal” that held us all captive for so long, or branding from the inside-out. The thread is that we have been obsessed with acquiring an external life, which has been sold to us but that we don’t need, in hopes that it may fulfill the internal search for meaning, purpose, validation, and love.

I believe every heart is looking for something the world can’t provide, and in this post I would like to hone in on just how much society has manipulated that search and desire in order to sell cheap and manufactured products and services.

Mr. Armani is right. There is something quite beautiful about an artisan designing something with the skill, craft and talent that they have been blessed with. It is meaningful to watch someone perform their trade with passion and love and with the ultimate reward being the gift that it will bestow upon its recipient. Aren’t we all fulfilled most when we see someone appreciate our work? When somehow what we bring to this world is validated through the eyes of someone else? To me, this indicates that there is nothing frivolous about the work and the effort that goes into a service or a product. It’s the cheapening that has happened as we’ve all been sold a consumeristic mentality and the loss of beauty that comes along with it. Suddenly, that talented craftsman, who took immense pleasure in producing a product with the sweet aroma of a pleased customer as his ultimate goal, turns into a hamster on wheel trying to produce fifty times the quantity on a set rotating schedule without any definitive customer on the receiving end. It would be like asking Monet to stop painting “Water Lillies” and instead scribble hundreds of daisies every day on construction paper to try to supply a demand that is not guaranteed but hoped for through marketing and advertising. This is not practicing a craft, this is being a slave to the fake promise of consumerism.

Just as Mr. Armani said, it’s time to “remove the superfluous, to find a more human dimension”. I believe we can begin with a human dimension that is focused on WHO matters, WHAT matters, and WHY we do what we do. It’s about being conscious and going back to simplicity where advertising and marketing can’t appeal to what we know things can’t provide, where one person provides and another enjoys based on need and a desire for growth, and where we move a little slower with a lot more intention. Obviously, turning “supply and demand” back to a “demand and supply” system requires a lot of shifting in our current economic structure, but that begins with a more conscious and aware population.

It seems this pandemic may be just the push in the right direction that we have needed as a society. It has created uncertainty, discomfort, and the realization that what was “normal” was not necessarily “good”. It opens an opportunity to realize that no “THING” fulfills the internal search of the heart, and allows us to take back ownership of how we use our lives. We should look to consume only what we truly need and to connect with one another — human to human. And maybe, just maybe, we should look hard within ourselves to see what really could fill up that yearning hole that we all were trying to fill with fake goods.

Originally published at https://www.alexismaida.com on April 17, 2020.

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Alexis is an experienced executive with 15+ years of expertise in strategy, communications, branding, marketing and wellness.

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