1889 – In his major work, ‘The Theory of the Leisure Class’, the American economist and sociologist, Thorstein Bunde Veblen, suggests that wealth isn’t only accumulated, but also reveals society through its display of luxury goods, bringing about a taste for things that was especially bound up with an aesthetic value. In the beginning, fashion was a sign of ostentation, easy living and freedom from need. Dressing up was synonymous with belonging. And so history changed.
If you talk about grunge chic, you think Seattle, Pearl Jam, Nirvana and a certain kind of socially engaged music that rebelled against society in the nineties. A style that is a fusion between the ‘scruffy’ side of grunge with what is today considered ‘radical chic.’ Slightly crumpled looking clothes, torn shorts or jeans, oversized jumpers, tartan shirts or basic white T-shirts, All Stars or closed shoes with knee length socks. Take a look at the Olsen sisters and you’ll get the picture. It might seem a jarring mismatch, but that’s the intention: it is a style that well represents the mantra of contemporary fashion: let’s not abandon the past, but listen to it and keep it with us, fitting it in with the present, sweetly not violently.
1990 – the present day. These years are all about Globalisation. The economic system of production upon which Italian fashion had built its reputation changes. In the nineties anything created by the great French couturier and Italian stylists is fashion, and anything purchased in the boutiques or department stores is also fashion. The combinations are endless: sporty-chic clothes, luxury poor outfits and ‘scruffy-chic’ garments. Italian companies adapt their strategies, and fashion appears to be in a continuous flux as past and present rub shoulders. Among the few companies in good health are those that have a history of manufacturing, and they are able to maintain competitiveness abroad. These years are all about revival and going back to the past: women have understood that style is all about individuality and personality, so rather than ‘following one fashion’ in particular, they need to understand what their real essence is – and wear it.