Ask the average person to define the word “fashion” and they’ll immediately start talking about clothes, shoes and airhead supermodels. That’s because people have forgotten that the word “fashion” is also a verb. Fashion means “to mold, change or configure”. The fashion industry is one of the most important elements in culture because it functions as a kind of machine that shapes society. Next time you hear the phrase, “clothes make the man”, think about it. That phrase is more revealing than you think.

It’s amazing that more people haven’t figured out the scam. The relentlessly fickle nature of the industry should be a big red flag. Last season, they gave us a detailed laundry list of wardrobe dos and don’ts… a list we were expected to memorize and conform to… that is if we truly expected to fit in with the rest of normal society. But that was last season already, way last year ago. This season, there’s a whole new list. And even though it’s drastically different from the previous list in every way, we had better memorize it and most importantly… conform to it.

Along with shaping and re-shaping society, I sometimes think the fashion industry is in the business of mocking society. Case in point… “sagging”. Sagging refers to the wearing of pants as low as possible, as if they’re about to drop down to the knees. It’s an integral part of hiphop culture, perhaps the most visual part. Sagging is to hip hop what the cowboy hat is to country/western culture. It virtually defines the culture. Most male hip hoppers pride themselves as being the epitome of macho masculinity. Yet there’s nothing particularly macho about sagging. Sagging is a fashion statement alright, one that comes straight out of the prison system. And what a statement it is. Because in the joint, sagging is a form of advertising. It’s advertising that one’s ass is available for action. There’s something ludicrously ironic about self proclaimed “bad asses” adopting such a fashion statement.

Like most major industries, the fashion industry is controlled by men. The face of the industry may be female, but that’s just a mask that hides reality. Men truly run the fashion industry. Is it any wonder that women are so systematically singled out for victimization? The fashion industry forces women to conform to ever changing, unnatural, virtually unattainable standards. The sad result is that many women end up confused, neurotic and self loathing. Not to mention broke. The fashion industry keeps everybody broke. It is an industry after all. There’s something fiendishly brilliant about making people pay… and pay dearly…. for the privelege of being duped. Never underestimate the power of the fashion industry, particularly when assisted by mass media. Because mass media reinforces our beliefs in all of society’s illusions.

The phrase “slave to fashion” conjures up an image of someone impeccably dressed… yet draped in chains. Perhaps the chains are the real garments and the clothing is the illusion.