Autre Choix

Status Symbols, The Pursuit of Uniqueness and How To Be Your Own Icon

Status symbols. Aka, the real-life proof of the possibility to aim for something more than what we are and -since the birth of modern fashion – the crucial element which helps validating and establishing a certain socio-economic position within society.
Once upon a time, sumptuary laws determined which fixed symbols were characteristic of a specific social environment, while today those symbols progressively ceased to be fixed and became movable, obtaining the role of expressing an aspirational status rather than mirroring an actual one.

So what does it mean to own a 2.55 Chanel bag, an Hermes’ Birkin or a Burberry trench in the modern fashion world?
These items, along with the stories behind them, have somehow made it to the Olympus of iconic fashion pieces. So iconic that they contribute to portray a certain status, therefor represent the ultimate desire of every trendsetter.
With the evolution and differentiation of fashion in many shapes and forms, it’s become fragmented into tribes, whose fundaments lay in the sharing of common likes and beliefs, but also creating their own cults.
This is why certain symbols today do acquire value only in a specific environment – for example, it’s highly unlikely for someone from an underground cult, following brands such as Supreme to be, at the same time, in the waiting list for a Birkin bag chez Hermès.

But has belonging to a particular cult has the tendency to limit personal expression as it grounds us within the aesthetic identity of the tribe we pick, how can you pursue your own uniqueness with all these icons and unwritten rules?
To say it à la Pablo Picasso – simply by breaking those same rules.
Because we shall never forget that fashion is also fluid and malleable, and the trick is just to customize your style to your likes and needs, as much as possible.

The hunt for luxury status symbol pieces is today more difficult than ever and with the expansion of fast fashion, the perception of luxury has changed as fashion has suddenly become more accessible. As Spanish and Swedish giants such as Zara and H&M gave everyone the possibility to follow the trends borrowed right from the runway and re-interpreted, they contributed to distance the masses from the actual fashion and luxury even more.
Inditex Group and its competitors have created an empire on our naïve desire for glamour, which both contributed to democratise fashion, but also created a huge divide from their clientele and the one of luxury.

Leaving aside those brands whose reasonable prices do not compromise their quality, how to fight the spreading tendency to embrace fast fashion in the pursue of the desire of being different from the mass?
The answer is actually simpler than you might think: vintage.

Runways are often inspired by long gone decades of style – therefor, fast fashion items too, as they imitate runway pieces – but the subtle allure of vintage garments, which holds the charisma of a past golden age, is not to be found in any brand-new item, inspired by the same period’s aesthetic.
The pursuit of uniqueness is the focal point around which the whole world of fashion revolves, so what is more unique than a piece that no one else owns?

Vintage has the power of inspire and gather all of the tribes: from collectors, to fast fashionistas, to actual afecionados.
Designers and cool hunters do look at vintage for inspiration, relying on the retro vibe which inspires them to develop a new perspective about fashion, and a particular aesthetic.

In a present where almost all of the fashion barriers have been broken, we should be able to finally build and choose our status symbols, them belonging to a tribe or – even better – just because they are relevant for us.
Aspirational dreams are great and their pursuit should make us comfortable with anywhere, anytime and with anybody.




Illustration by Malika Favre via Handsome Frank.

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