Shoes, fashion and self realization
“Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world's view of us.”
Virginia Woolf, Orlando
I sell shoes in my store. Well, that’s not correct, I sell shoes and happiness.
The happiness of small things, of momentary fulfillment, gratification and pleasure. And not to forget, the joy of beauty.
99% of my customers leave the store with a bag in their hands and a smile on their face. That’s satisfaction.
Is this a satisfaction only related to a purchase? Related only to a momentary and ethereal need inoculated by a consumistic society in which we live? Why, maybe yes.
But, questions aside, people are satisfied and smile, and emotions never lie. It is not possible to feel false sensations. We can have a feeling for the wrong reason, but as we perceive them we cannot deny them. Emotions can only be real and true.
I look at the lady who came into the store, she spots a pair of sandals, she falls in love with them, she tries them, looks in the mirror, buys them and smiles happily. This can only be genuine happiness.
Can we be happy for little big things? Sure.
Is this a little lasting happiness? Of course, the very essence of happiness is made up of moments, otherwise it would slip into joy, contentment, serenity. We can be happy only for moments or brief istants or a split second.
Is that I am talking about a contemptible consumerist happiness? Yes sure, I do, and I am aware of it.
Let's talk about it, why not?
But first let’s take a small step back.
We live in an individualistic society, that is, a society composed of individuals, who have single rights and duties. The path of life is nowadays seen from an individualistic perspective.
The process of shelling out of a compact social block belonging to a category was indicated by Bauman as the future of a liquid society: we no longer live in compact blocks like castes, classes, traditions, cultures, but we live singularly like grains of sand.
This means that the directions in which we move our lives are unpredictable.
As a matter of fact we can no longer speak of macroscopic social mass phenomena, but only of multiple currents, and each of us is absolutely free to move, indeed to maneuver in a multitude of possibilities.
Living in an individualistic society means that we have to take care of our personal fulfillment.
It is the pivot on which revolves all the advertising in general, which sells happiness / self-fulfillment.
Until a few centuries ago we were barely aware that we are individuals, so people massed up in frames of traditions and secular institutions.
It is only with the advent of modern era that individuality has emerged, and with this comes the drive to self-fulfillment, together with the burden (sic!) of happiness, which is naturally tailored to a single individual and it is different for each one of us. There is no single ready recipe for happines.
It is for this reason that today there are so many kind of fashions, many cultures and subcultures, so many trends. Our personal task as individuals is to choose which to follow or not to follow from time to time, as we try to build our personal and unique lifestyle.
In the field of fashion we find, for example, many currents such as the ecological one, the big luxury brands current, that of the department stores, that of the TV, that of the tribal subcultures, etc.
With this plural exhibition, fashion thus offers a compromise between individualism and conformism: it leaves the possibility to the individual of choosing in an offer that is vast, and it helps him to conform in some way, given that what fashion offers is still followed by many other people and it's a trend in itself.
Fashion exists as an expression of identity and at the same time helps conforming to a rule.
That’s because there is no possibility of expressing oneself in a completely free way: we are social beings and our every thought and drive are still immersed and also socially constructed.
Our drive will always be twofold between the individual ego and the social ego.
The lady who comes in my store has individually chosen my shop, the type of shoe, the color, the genre, the shape and the style. On the conformistic side she relies on the certainty that I offer a shoe of fashion,up to date, valuable, which speaks of self-care, of contemporaneity, of quality, of a certain lifestyle. Because I am Valentina shoe store in Florence since 1984.
My customer chooses the shoe to try, she wears it, she looks at herself in the mirror, smiles. When she looks in the mirror, though, it is not only to evaluate herself in her own eyes, but also in the eyes of others, of society. “How do I look with these shoes on?” My customer often seeks the consent of a friend / companion, or sends a photo with a phone. How many customers of ours make a decision only after a Whatsapp session! Which color do I choose? What model do I pick? Which one am I better off with?
The shoe must slender the leg, because fashion wants us all to be tall and slim; the shoe must be in line with the style of the person: everyone has a style, because style represents our own self, being the only thing that distinguishes us in this sea of massed stimuli.
The shoe must give away an idea. To do so it must speak of something it represents, and representation comes from fashion, which is massified, and from which we can escape only with ideas. And so on, in an endless circle.
Mote. Et filosofisk essay. - Lars F. H. Svendsen
Liquid Modernity. - Zygmunt Bauman