In order to transcend shame and to take action in the realm of sustainability, we need support and a collective vision. We know from other domains of shame, for example that of the recovering alcoholic, that the sharing of experiences of shame plays an important part in moving on. Yet shame is often lonely in fashion, as the industry is constituted of strong individuals instead of a cohesive collective. The culture of fashion is not always one that promotes an easy sharing of doubt, fear or inadequacy. Without easily negotiable paths to address them, environmental degradation, child labour and over-consumption risk remaining uncomfortable areas to venture into.
Emerging from fashion photography and styling that was intended as more realistic portrayal of fashion, the androgynous waif was a subversive take on mainstream fashion. But the look had broader implications, evolving from its original incarnation as documentary-style fashion photography into the minimalist grunge style adopted by designers in the latter years of the decade, such as Jil Sander, Helmut Lang and Josephus Thimister.
Fashion and photography share certain characteristics. Each claims the status of art, yet remains at its margins. The claims of photography have achieved recognition to some extent, yet photography-as-art constitutes only a small part of all photography. Fashion’s claim to artistic status remains contentious.