Fuck Fashion & The London Style Tribe

By Deborah Hodge

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Walking into Diane Goldie’s “fuck fashion” event on the 18th September was like opening my eyes to a new world. Standing there overwhelmed, I realised that the internet did not do Diane’s work justice. I just stood there, looking around for many minutes, taking it all in.  I felt…emotional.

I met Diane in January. Quite by chance I knew of her work and instantly realised who she was from her signature style. The bond was immediate and following her posts avidly, I felt part of her journey which got her to this point. As an artist myself, the creative process is the thing that cannot be copied by anyone else.

As you go on a journey inside, I could see Diane’s immense force coming out hard and strong in the colours. Having my own Diane Goldie full length jacket, I was very familiar with her incredible style in textiles. To stand in a large space that was filled with her colour and vibe was like having my brain enriched back from its depleted state of being a single mother.  I was revived.

Even more wonderful was the fact I took my middle daughter with me. I love all my children equally but she is the one who is closest to my own outlook and hungry for style and individuality.

I felt extremely proud at being able to introduce her to the amazing artists, fashion designers, musicians and colourful people. We almost burst with happiness at being able to model together; It was like Diane knew what would suit us and we had an amazing time appearing on stage.

For me, this intensity of the evening and how the work had progressed and developed burrowed really deep.  Much more so than simply going to a private view. In Izzy’s own words, Diane’s work touched her, she felt at home. I couldn’t think of any greater compliment than my child feeling at home surrounded by such positivity.

We all know Diane’s work was ripped off. I wanted to really explore and probe Diane and I think the first few sentences about where Alessandro Michele got his idea from say it all. Diane, you are a legend. I don’t have a favourite piece in your artwork as you keep raising the bar. One day I would love to be able to only wear ‘Goldie,’ because I know the clothing will be well made.  And timeless.

IN your own words:

1) We know why you did the ‘fuck fashion’ response to Gucci They clearly used your style, motif and flair in their work. If you sat down to dinner with Gucci, what would you say?

“Haha, the idea of my sitting down to dinner with Alessandro Michele is quite funny! Once I’d gained my composure I’d ask him just what part of London did he find these ‘style tribes’ that he said he got his inspiration from and was it Camden, perchance? (groups of VIP’s were  flown in to Camden for a tour around the centre of ‘cool’ before the first showing of S16, Alessandro’s first show for Gucci that was held in Westminster Abbey of all places).

To those of us actually living in London and knowing the underground of the creative scene, we laugh at the notion that cool is found in Camden. Maybe if they got in a time machine and went back to 1980 maybe? If he’d said Shoreditch/Bethnal Green/Deptford/Brixton  maybe I’d have believed him. I’m more inclined to think he may have found his London Style Tribe influence via the good old Internet, or rather his interns may have. On a more serious note I would invite them to come and see my series of portraits of my real friends wearing my creations made two years before his show and see what he had to say about that. When I  first discovered ‘Guccigate’ as we affectionately called it, I was first angry, then sad, then I got angry again and then I thought well , what can I do , that they can’t? What do I have to my advantage that isn’t status and wealth?

I realised I had my creativity, the fact that I am an artist and they are designers (different kettle of fish) I was free  from constraints plus I had authenticity and real friends on my side. So the event came out of that thought process. I decided to paint my friends ( the real Style Tribe )  wearing my clothes and host a protest art event highlighting just how corrupt the fashion industry really is. So coming back to your original question: I’d probably say you got the money but we (the wonderful bunch of London creative people) have the integrity and that is priceless.”

2) Do you see an end to big fashion labels ripping off the younger generations?

“When you say younger generations, do you really mean that? I’m older than Alessandro Michele! May I reinterpret the question as can you see an end to big fashion labels ripping off up and coming ( mostly female, interestingly) designers and artists? My answer, depressingly, is no. Not while we have this awful, corrupt, NeoLiberal system. This shit is political. You can’t get away from it. It fits the model of the 1% looking to the poorest and most vulnerable in the system (benefit claimants) to firstly take the burden of the collapsed economy but also sponsor it. We seem to have plenty of money for war and nuclear programs and banking systems but none for education or healthcare or looking after the vulnerable in our society. It’s clearly not as serious as that, after all clothes are just clothes. We don’t NEED fashion, but it generates lots of revenue.  Making people feel insecure is clearly a big money spinner. So the top of the (fashion) pyramid will always plunder the masses at the bottom for new ideas. It’s just the way this system works.

Those at the bottom have absolutely no support to fight this either. It costs over £2K just to send a cease and desist letter. Who has that sort of money when you’re trying to grow a business?”

3) Do you have any positive tips for the fashion industry that might help future generations?

“Yes! It’s a very simple one. If you don’t want to a) be exploited and b) lose your mojo for fashion altogether, don’t go to fashion school. You’ll just be fed through the machine that teaches you to accept the system, teaches you that there is ONE way to be creative. I know so many people who have been through that system and have lost the passion for fashion altogether. Even the few that I do know that are currently in the machine, and are, on the surface doing really well, are actually privately quite miserable, underpaid, overworked and hellishly stressed. This industry is built on exploitation, whether it is unpaid interns having their self esteem dragged out of them all on the promise of ‘connections’ and a dream of making it, or the models , hopelessly objectified and bullied to be thinner/prettier/more perfect which makes for miserable humans. Or is it the sweatshops and the polluting , earth killing manufacture processes? Or the luxury brands at the top stealing intellectual property and calling it their own. What about telling people to buy new each season otherwise they’re out of trend and not ‘good enough’. And we really buy into this and think it’s glamorous? WAKE UP everyone! I’m calling for a revolution, a different way of dressing ourselves  that doesn’t rely on looking to celebrity icons and status driven luxury brands to give us our self esteem. I’m on a #fuckfashion quest.

Bringing down the industry starts in the way people think. I may be crazy but I think it’s absolutely possible.”

4) What would you say to Izzy’s generation who get caught up in “trends” when it is often hard to stand alone in fashion as you may get ridiculed?

“It’s very hard for young humans to find their identity before they have had any real experience of life and form their own personal politics so it is really important for them to have role models: people who they can admire and look up to, to form strong , aesthetic and intellectual alliances with. Unfortunately at the moment these role models are coming from the likes of Kim and Kanye who represent the excesses of the artificial celebrity culture. That shit isn’t real but to most people, ( not even young ones) they don’t realise it isn’t real so they find themselves trying to fit impossible goals. No wonder there is so much social anxiety and self harming among our young generation these days. There’s very little authenticity out there. Ridicule comes from a position of insecurity: those doing the ridiculing are actually projecting outwards their own insecurities so that people don’t look at them. Shared laughter at ridiculing others gives the bully status. It’s a toxic mix. It takes a very strong minded young person to stand out as an individual when the teenage drive is to identify with the group. I’d say to those young people needing support to do their own thing to maybe try and surround themselves with other people like themselves , form your own tribe. Or you can look at trends in an intellectual way and see that all they are is the way the industry turns over profit by making people feel insecure about wearing the clothes they already have. Spread that concept amongst your friends, appeal to their intellect. No one likes to feel like they’re being duped.”

5) How do you think we, as the older generation can help the garment industry which currently runs the majority of its profit because clothes are made in sweatshop?

“There are such mountains of clothes in America for example… How can we stop the mass manufacturing and encourage individual alterations? E.g. Better textiles education?

If I have this talk with people who are still ‘inside the box’ they will use words like upcycling and sustainability of manufacture . These words have become really trendy in themselves and are thrown around with abandon but nothing seems to come from  it. I’m tired of words, I’d like to see action.  I’ve even seen brands using these eco concepts  to market their own product which is kind of counterintuitive , just as certain high profile female entertainers use feminism as a brand. I like to get to the nitty gritty of it all and say while we are all supporting the concept of status via a brand name, we will never change anything by tinkering with concepts of sustainability and recycling. It all just becomes part of the problem. While the industry keeps churning out clothes because of the needs of the market and trend practices, we shall continue to suffer the environmental consequences. Even second hand clothes have become a massive economy in itself, cheaply made discarded European clothes are shipped off to various ports in Africa , creating another sort of industry. Is it really eco friendly? I’m not sure.  I’d like for people to get back to local manufacture, buying fewer, better made  clothes that are not trend driven so they last for a lifetime . There is a false sense of economy in buying cheap trend based clothes. They do not last ( they’re not made to last) and are basically disposable clothes. Pay more initially, keep them forever and save lots of money. Buy second hand and vintage,  have them altered or learn to sew yourself. It’s a skill that lasts a lifetime. Develop your own personal style, that way you will never go out of fashion. Dress for you, not for someone else. The bottom line is we need to start to boycott the mass manufacture retail stores. It’s a bit like a drug withdrawal, we need to start to understand the true cost of that £2 T Shirt from Primark. When you start to engage your brain and wonder if you’re paying £2 for it, what was the person who made it paid for the company to make profit? It all starts in our heads. True revolution starts when people begin to wake up and connect the dots. I think it’s time. Set the alarm someone.”

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