The world is a fucking serious place, there’s little point denying it. Murder, hatred, rage and suffering on an unimaginable scale suggest we should all walk around with serious faces all day long and take no pleasure in anything. That seems foolish, which is why when someone explains to me that they don’t think the time is right to complain about life’s irritating trivia on this site because of ‘what’s happening in Gaza’, I feel the urge to shake into them that it doesn’t seem to stop them watching facile comedy on TV and moaning in the pub about their boss like he’s one step down from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Life has to go on, like always.
Like always, however, there’s an exception. There’s a particular aspect of culture that merely needs to be mentioned in passing for me to scream at the top of my lungs that we need to re-evaluate everything we hold dear, to realign humanity so that passing aliens won’t simply wipe our planet with a huge tissue to get rid of us like a shit-stain.
Here’s Charles McKenna, ‘buying director at menswear chain Slaters’, to explain more.
“Generally, men are wearing colour again. Last year, various shades of grey became very popular. This year, the cloth mills introduced blue in various shades, royal blue being extremely popular. The key point is these suits have to be in a modern shape: slimmer fit, shorter jacket, narrower trousers and teamed with tan shoes.”
Anyone who has met me knows I’m unlikely to be the target audience for the next Dolce & Gabbana double-page spread featuring some slicked-back tit with an implausibly big nose and no fucking socks. My fashion sense is nil. I’ve spent nearly 20 years dressed in jeans, black trainers, a logo-free sweatshirt in a dull colour, and a black hoodie. My wardrobe is neither varied nor extensive. Beyond a vague attempt to prevent derision I do not give, and have not ever given, a fuck about how I look. And I fucking hate people who do.
Therefore, Charles McKenna, ‘buying director at menswear chain Slaters’, epitomises everything I hate about the unspeakable vanity of humanity: clothes, shoes, bags, hats, jewellery, watches, glasses, ‘accessories’ (what?) and everything else people drape over themselves in a woeful attempt to stand out. Their inability to use words and gestures to make themselves unique is matched only by the stunning arrogance that they believe their unparalleled creativity in choosing an outfit will easily be enough to wow the crowds of people vomiting in Yates’s on Reading high street at way past midnight.
This has spawned an extraordinary industry of ‘luxury’ fashion, of which Mr McKenna is just one of many princes. Even when you think you’ve come up with a particular concoction of clothing that might somehow make you feel better about your tattered life, you’ll be told that your clean black suit needs to have a ‘slimmer fit, shorter jacket, narrower trousers’, and if you dare not to ‘team’ it with a pair of tan Paul Smith’s, £229.49 (was £254.99) from Jules B, well God fucking help you because you’re one step from trampdom.
It’s not aimed at everyone, I know that. Most people just try to get by looking normal, and doll themselves up from time to time so they don’t look too daft when others do the same. Just don’t stand out, that’s our motto.
But that doesn’t stop me being sickened by what it represents: too much money than some people know what to do with. Rightly or wrongly I view people in that category as a great part of the reason the world’s so fucking wrecked at the moment. And not just that, it also does bad things to good people. I once knew a girl who spent £600 on a coat, only to complain the following month she barely had enough money to feed the dog.
Here is a passage from the news story that quoted Charles McKenna:
Tony Glenville, creative director at the London College of Fashion, said that even if men were not always aware of fashion, they were taking in peripherally what other men were wearing on the red carpet and at weddings. “Black is still important in fashion terms,” he said, “but instead of being the only colour, it’s taking its place in the colour group.”
With the maximum disrespect to Tony – the type of disrespect I’d ordinarily reserve for a man I’ve just met in the pub with a white, thinly striped, open-necked shirt and beige jacket, talking about rugby – I wonder if he’s ever caught himself mid-sentence and started to weep uncontrollably at the emptiness of his life. If he hasn’t, a couple more fashion units (‘years’) are all he can expect before his picture is seen on the news while Clive Myrie grimly relays the words “before turning the gun on himself”.
Because filling your life with vacuousness like this is like swallowing air instead of food: you might not feel like eating for a while but you’re no less empty. Life doesn’t have to be serious all the time, and most days if you don’t laugh you’ll cry. But the braindead superficiality of this aspect of our lives makes us look like people who laugh delightedly at the wrapping paper of the presents around the tree without comprehending that the gifts inside are the reason we have to spend another fucking Christmas at Grandma’s in the first place.