New York Fashion Week has been a success not just because it generated a lot of money for the city or because it presented a strong case for the vitality of American fashion, but also because with all the press devoted to the shows, almost none of it (certainly, none that I've seen) wasted any time questioning the very legitimacy of the event. Even though the fashion industry has long had its critics, it seems like most of them have been converted into half-apathetic curiousity seekers. Once, a good fraction of the attention paid to Fashion Week was devoted to attacking the institution's ostensible glorification of materialism and superficiality; now, those kinds of arguments seem predictable and boring, not unlike a dated trend.
But still, while I wandered around Lincoln Center this week or watched the tidal wave of fashion Tweets stream across my phone, I couldn't imagine why NYFW, which attracts such intense attention, enthusiasm, and—most importantly—money didn't seem to have any visible dissenters.
As it happens, the Occupy movement is rallying their forces, planning to march against New York Fashion Week today. The group will meet at Liberty Plaza (née Zuccotti Park) today and head over to the Calvin Klein shows on West 39th. Gawker reports that OWS hopes to convince 99 of the attendees for the 2:00 show to paint their eyes with red makeup, in symbolic protest of police brutality. If that action doesn't get much traction, the protesters intend to shut down the 3:00 show.
Everything about this plan seems ineffective: 1) Calvin Klein is showing offsite, so the action will directly affect fewer numbers of people. 2) Police presence is always a factor in OWS actions, but since Bloomberg has expressed so much support for NYFW and since the city has always gone out of its way to accommodate the shows, the NYPD will likely turn out in fuller than full force. 3) Occupy's been criticized for its messaging for as long as it's existed, but this latest plan is beyond sloppy and off-key. Police brutality is so irrelevant to the real problems one might have with the fashion industry that talking about it is practically an argument for the virtues of the fashion industry. One could say that fashion promotes an unrealistic standard of beauty or a culture of excessive consumption, that it reinforces income inequality and cements class divisions—but if there's one thing fashion definitively opposes, one thing that's completely at odds with the entire spirit of the industry, it's physical violence. Violence is crude; fashion people prefer subtlety. Also, physical violence is messy: engaging in it can tear your clothes and give you unattractive bruises and cuts and maybe even break your iPhone.
Image via FashionBombDaily