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¡Basta!


With the backlash against Susan Menkes, the recent acclaim for minimalism trending, and the new slew of surprisingly practical footwear for Spring/Summer 2013, I can't help but wonder: how's the economy doing?

Irrelevant? Not at all.

According to the Bata Shoe Museum curator and author of Heights of Fashion: A History of the Elevated Shoe Elizabeth Semmelhack,there is strong evidence that shows the increase in women's heel heights as a cause of economic difficulties. She speculates that this phenomenon "could be a sort of a greater need for escapism." So the next question that arises is, to put it simply, why? While there is no concrete answer to this question, let's go back to when European culture hit Enlightenment. Because of this mode of thought, that men were inherently mentally and emotionally stronger, Semmelhack posits in an interview for Collectors Weekly that
Men began to wear more dour clothing. They gave up makeup and highly ornamented clothing and heels. Those accoutrements became signifiers of femininity—especially the high heel, since it’s an irrational form of footwear, unless you are on a horse. So it became associated with femininity, and then was eventually linked to female desirability.
High heels, like corsets, began to be worn for no other reason than to assert status among other women, and to please the men who most likely had monthly subscriptions to erotic fantasy literature featuring unrealistic projections of women. And so it follows that the harder the times, the more likely women are to strive to prove that they still retain their femininity and status. And with the rise of the gifted fashion blogger, it began to represent a means of reaching a new stratus of society in a time of measured hardship. So everything goes according to plan, right? 

Apparently not. In an article for ABC News' Consumer Report written in late 2011, Dr. Trevor Davis cites IBM statistics, and comes to this conclusion:
“This time something different is happening,” [he] says about the current economic problems many shoppers face. “Perhaps a mood of long term austerity is evolving among consumers sparking a desire to reduce ostentation in everyday settings.”
But anything in the fashion world is surely obsolete after 16 months, you think. This can't be relevant anymore. I mean, look at McQ's 12 inch heels and the advent of 6-inch platform sneakers that replace the traditionally uncomfortable heel. So, we're right back on track. Possibly. In terms of clothing, we seem to experience quite the opposite. In hard times, it isn't fair for someone to have more expensive fabrics and more stylish clothes. It's not logical to be able to spend more when you have less. And if it appears that you do, then you'll probably be scorned for "taking away from hardworking people", either by being really really rich, or really, really poor. 
The advent of "street style" at the beginning of what is now the Great Recession seemed to brighten up the fashion world. Photographers flocked to bloggers, not just celebrities. People with computers and some threads were shot to instant digital popularity. Perks were being handed out like goody bags at a 6 year old's birthday party. But one day, it seemed, the fashion world cried, "enough!"  Suzy Menkes wrote her incendiary critique of "fashion week peacocks", a heated debate was had,  and suddenly, minimalism was in. As a result of public outcry, tight funds, and the weather, shoes for Spring/Summer 2013 seem to be reasonable, with smaller platforms, shorter heels, average wedges, flats, etc. I imagine that 6 inch heels aren't very practical for frolicking through a damp dirtbed, or picnicking in 3 foot high grass.

In addition to going back to the drawing board in terms of this season's big look, New York City has cancelled Fashion's Night Out 2013. According to a Refinery29 piece on the matter, it seems to no longer achieve the original purpose (stimulating the economy through high-end retail) it was created for in 2009 perhaps because we no longer need it, or that the American people's faith in the economy is fast declining. In fact, it has become more of a networking extravaganza, and retailers are losing big, at least for now.

Does the rise of minimalism, financial awareness, and questioning of fashion phenomena (bloggers and FNO) indicate a possible shift we haven't picked up on in the state of an economy that has been stagnant for a few months, a shift in mindset, or could it just be a bunch of coincidences that needs no closer observation?

Edited on 29.3.13: I couldn't find this video when originally writing this post, but I stumbled upon it again serendipitously. This video was the inspiration for this post. 


P.S. I apologize for the lack of posts for the past week. I became very sick very suddenly which required very temporary hospitalization, during which time I got mildly saddening news. While I promised a new post two nights ago on Twitter, I somehow contracted another (probably related) illness that night that I still have. It's not contagious, but it sucks. A lot.
That being said, here's a sneak peek of the next outfit post!