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Fashion: The danger of becoming an expendable generation

By Alexandra Bell
On March 24, 2014

If one were to go strolling about New York City's shopping districts, it would appear as though a schizophrenic fashion monster had puked on the lower-end and mid-range retail stores, hoping to stick to as many customers as possible. There's a hodgepodge of unfortunate trends being revived from decades past. These styles were set aside for good reason. Yet, retail stores have messily attempted to prop up their decomposed corpses with the cheapest materials available. Nearly everything being sold these days is made to be discarded in about a year. Although there are many to choose from, H&M is a prime example, as it is the most obvious and distressing case. Their '70s flop has given way to an even more ridiculous and convoluted mess of basically every decade since the '20s. Trim-riddled and poorly made '20s flapper dresses bounce around in league with puffy quilted '50s poodle skirts, cheap gold-painted '70s miniskirts, gold and black-beaded, oversized and heavily shoulder-padded '80s jackets and the list goes on.
The combination of the most glaringly trendy styles from all the decades of Retroland have been mercilessly smashed together into one big fist with which to punch unwitting shoppers right in their vulnerable closets. However, this compilation of tasteless styles is only the tip of the iceberg. The styles are both gaudy and shoddy. The worthless and flimsy synthetic materials with which they are made are representative of our modern throwaway culture, resulting in pure waste. H&M, alongside many other retail stores, has kindly given us a full display of utter superfluity. They are offering all the loudest styles from all the loudest decades, and yet they have failed to offer any substance what so ever.
We are living in an era of expendability, and nowhere is this more obvious than in our clothing options. No longer is America a place where goods are made to last. We are no longer offered hearty silks and pure cottons which could last for decades. Now, we are usually forced to choose between 100 percent polyester, rayon, or some other synthetic material. Our clothing is made abroad, by starving and ill-treated laborers, usually in China or India. It is virtually impossible to find anything made here in the good ol' U.S. of A. Even Ralph Lauren has sold out for the sake of lower costs. We settle for cheap and flimsy, rather than strong and long-lasting quality.
This is another case where fashion is reflecting a much larger social problem. Most of what this generation is producing, from technology to architecture, is made of materials which are not made to last. Our generation is all about minimalism, and not in a good way. We, as a society, desire to spend as little as possible on as much as possible, which encourages industries, like the fashion industry, to become as cheap as possible. What we lose in the process is virtually every ounce of quality and deep strong beauty. The majority of our clothing is of such poor quality, that years from now, thrift shops will still be selling clothing from basically every other generation besides this one. In fact, if we do not make a concerted effort to amp up the quality of the products with which we surround ourselves, it will be as if most of us never existed at all. At least as far as fashion is concerned, we will indeed have become the expendable generation.
 


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