Identity Crisis: Solved, How Fashion Helps us Define Who We Are

Fashion means something different for everyone. In exploring everything from counterfeit culture to cultural appropriation, fashion has some sensitive topics.

Still, it persists as a powerful cultural phenomenon across the world.

For most, style is more than any one thing. It usually draws upon elements that have some ethnic or cultural basis. It may be influenced by music you listen to, or the art you consume. Even the makers of TV shows create merchandise fashioned for the sole purpose of satisfying their fan base. The idea that fashion is a means of expressing culture, and/or identity, is not a new one. However, it is constantly evolving.

Consider, for example, drag culture—the adoption of hyper-feminine, diva-inspired makeup, and possessing the ability to claim your identity. Drag has long been both a culture and a fashion statement; one that stands in the face of societal norms, to reclaim a space for its participants. It is perhaps one of the clearest expressions of gender as performance and identity.

In Japan, genderless fashion is booming. The androgynous style was popularized most notably in the Western world by pop culture idols like David Bowie. But the weight of these fashion statements in Japan, a country still woefully behind in some of its social policies, is even more significant given the context of it its otherwise conservative society.

The fascinating piece here is that fashion can be as much about one’s culture as it is about one’s sense of self. This is not a new concept, but looking at how modern iterations of identity and culture in fashion have become realized, it does call to mind the power of fashion as a mouthpiece for who we are at this moment in time. Streetwear has evolved to a point where even the most exclusive high fashion design houses have included urban-minded pieces in their collections.

Fashion is about what you want to say; the message you choose to convey. We at Matthew Rose believe that message is central to who we are. While some fashion may be uncontroversial and easily transmutable, it often is not. Fashion pushes buttons that spark conversation and even debates about what it means to draw inspiration from different cultural spheres.

Fashion is no doubt one of the most effective means of celebrating one’s culture and expressing one’s identity. Fashion trends of the 1980s depicted a moment where women donned thick shoulder pads, embracing a bold and unapologetic entrance into the male-dominated workforce. Both then, and now, fashion has remained a means of sending a message. In the modern age, fashion has become genderless, and if done right; timeless.

So now the question is yours to answer. How do you use fashion to express your identity, and what is it you have to say?