An Industry on the Verge

by readitandstyle


The fashion industry is the neglected middle child; a somewhat spoiled, constantly picked on child yet privileged through age, by being one if the longest most consistent industries, and young and clever in innovation. November’s Elle magazine cover, featuring Melissa McCarthy, has caused quite a bit of controversy on the internet, and has implied that the industry is anything but neglected. The cause of controversy was the clothing styled on cover girl Melissa McCarthy, which many argue was not flattering enough.

The activists of the controversy assume that Elle magazine is favoring the ultra skinny and slim actresses by dressing them in ultra-fitted, revealing clothing. Activists also believe cover girl Melissa McCarthy is being discriminated against, and suggest that by outfitting her in an oversized menswear style wool coat, they intend to hide her body shape. This opinion is about as absurd as trying to get through mid-town without seeing any tourists.

This is not the first accusation thrown at fashion magazines. The fashion industry constantly has fingers pointed towards it for various reasons: from being too exclusive and serious to being too broad and leaking into other industries. From embracing unfitted clothing, like boyfriend jeans and oversized wool coats, to advocating ultra-revealing clothing that caters “to only one body type”.  This begs one question: What exactly is the problem that people have with the fashion industry?

Every year designers like Tom Ford, Alexander McQueen, Versace, Comme Des Garcons and many other fashion houses are scrutinized for creating clothing that are “impractical”, “un-wearable”, “useless” — critics wait for the next fray in the fabric to pull on and unravel.

Last year’s controversy over Jil Sander’s “Vasari” paper bag which retailed for $290 was under international ridicule. Publications all around the world covered it, mocked it, and finally condemned it along with the fashion industry. Some remarked that the industry “was begging for it”.

The six-inch heels are always the victims of public scrutiny, the clothing as well and even bags. But the one  thing that really doesn’t make sense about these controversies; is that fact that these people are advocates of the very exact thing they are condemning in fashion industry, in other aspects of social media and culture.

Public scrutiny of the fashion industry, has in some way, had more and less of an impact in the past decade. In some ways the fashion industry has become a little softer and less intense than previous decades  in terms of design style and model requirements. A lot of this reform is due to social media, which has allowed many outsiders, and the general public, a glimpse into the world of high fashion and, in essence to, form an opinion about it. In that way, the public has forced the industry to adapt and become a part of everyday life.

But public opinion has encouraged the fashion industry to, or attempt to, establish itself as an industry of its own, advocating that it isn’t the fashion industry’s job to fix the nation’s self esteem issue, although the industry has nodded in that direction in some aspects.

One of the reasons the nation is particularly in favor of pointing a finger at the fashion industry is the fact that, to most of the general public, the industry seems somewhat frivolous. To many people, the industry is full of anorexic, six foot, snobby daddy’s girls running around New York blabbing about hemlines and last night’s Project Runway and their size zero Balmain leather pants and Loubs.

Whilst the industry isn’t quite that simple; to a point, the industry is somewhat frivolous when you look at it in comparison to something as monumental as curing cancer, but so does the cell phone industry.

But what is ironic is that people condemn the fashion industry for its $290 paper bag- bags and it’s oversized and ultra tight trends but advocate for these trends on celebrities, intellectuals and other people in the public eye. Everyone expects celebrities, and even government officials like the First Lady, to be fitted in the tightest, on-trend clothing on the red carpet, and other public events, maybe because they see the clothing is necessary to supplement these people’s talents, and that it’s necessary to emphasis the person’s talent or fame.

Some people believe that the fashion industry judges people by what they are wearing rather than who they are. And quite frankly, if you didn’t already know, that’s their job. The industry is not focused on people, its focus on clothing duh.  The common misconception about the Melissa McCarthy controversy is that the industry and the magazine intends to hide some of Melissa’s features rather than emphasizing or embracing them as beautiful.  In reality, the goal of the industry and the magazine is to make a women feel as confident as possible by using clothing, and in doing so, the designers place emphasis on the clothing and style that makes women, and even Melissa McCarthy, to look and feel beautiful.

Melissa McCarthy feels comfortable in the coat she was wearing.  If she did not feel comfortable or beautiful, she would not have allowed Elle to use the picture, nor would Elle  have chosen her as their cover girl if they did not believe she was portraying the “Elle look”, which includes looking beautiful and being confident in what you’re wearing (yes, you can have it all).  While it was a more conservative look, it is in fact much more of fashionable look, seeing as oversized wool coats are a huge trend and it being a much more “slept in” styling

This whole debacle proves that the issue is not the coat, or the actress, or the magazine, it is society. For all we know. If this picture was shown on a PSA telling people to stay warm during the winter months, it wouldn’t not have gotten the attention it has.  In today’s society, we have a particular complex for favoring the underdog or the minority, when we feel like it. We defend the overweight but prosecute the obese. We scrutinize the frivolous but neglect the significant.

Society neglects the middle child that is the fashion industry, but expects it to behave and come along on family outings.