Infographic created using Canva
Infographic created using Canva
Just in case you were of the opinion that Grahamstown’s geographical positioning as a small town situated somewhere in the middle of nowhere on the southern continent of South Africa, rendered it immune from the influence of this global trend, I’m about to burst your bubble of ignorant bliss. Grahamstown is not immune to the cultural phenomenon called thrifting.
“I wear your granddad’s clothes, damn right
I look incredible, now come on, man
I’m in this big ass coat
From that thrift shop down the road. Let’s go” – Macklemore, Thrift shop, 2013.
Macklemore sings about it, and the evolution of fashion and counterculture trends continue to keep the lyrics alive, ensuring that thrifting remains a cultural phenomenon.
The carefully-constructed materials we use to cover our bodies are not just commodities. This is evident in the fact that after months, years or decades of wears, the possibility remains to still get something out of the well-served item of clothing, and I’m not talking about more wears (or perhaps you’ll get that too if you’re lucky).
Fashion is never just fashion. What we wear tells the story of who we are, where we come from and how we feel. Take a look at African beadwork for example: Admired for its intricate designs, patterns and colour combinations, the jewellery has fast become a huge part of contemporary Western Fashion. However, the cultural and historical significance belonging to the beads and the hands that weave them contain a far deeper story and message.
(And by F word, I’m referring to Fashion, just in case you were wondering.)
In High School, I was the most interested in fashion, out of all my friends. We would make plans to meet up over the weekend, going to parties, movies or shopping dates and a few hours before, I would phone them up and ask them “what are you wearing tonight?” To which they would casually reply, “Aah probably just jeans and a tee-shirt or something, I haven’t decided yet.”
I could never relate because there I was, at 2 pm, with the aftermath of hurricane ‘I-have-nothing-to-wear’ clearly visible in my ransacked closet.
After the ball was over, all the wannabes and fashionistas who were unfortunate enough to not be invited to one of the most prestigious fashion events of the year, swarmed onto social media to ooh and aah over the glorious gowns worn by only the best in the West.
We have already established that clothes are never just clothes. They’re threaded with meaning and reflect our identities. We all have a relationship with the clothes we wear, whether we like it or realise it or not.
At a basic level, we need them to serve the primary function of covering our bodies, but the choice of materials and styles we choose to fulfill this purpose goes far deeper. The decision to wear what we wear is embedded in our psyche.
I am fascinated with this latter reason for dressing and so I decided to take advantage of the diversity of styles that inhabits Rhodes University’s campus and go find out what students wear and why they wear it.
I asked eight students to describe their personal style and explain why they wear the clothes they wear, and here’s what they said:
Photos: Jade le Roux