“...The truth is old and boring. Lies are new and exciting...”
(Zen Master Genpo Merzel Roshi)
What is fashion? I’m not asking what the latest designs by the big fashion labels are. But I am asking: “What is fashion in essence?” Why do people quickly get bored with the appearance of the clothes they are wearing? And what does their new wardrobe really mean?
A fundamental characteristic of reality is that it is ordinary. It has always been ordinary and it will always be ordinary. Reality is very old and ordinary and therefore, in the eyes of many, quite boring. That’s why a lot of people are looking for distraction. They don’t want boring old reality. They want something new and exciting, like a new look with fashionable clothes.
But as soon as the new wardrobe becomes a bit older (and boring), they have to change their clothes and find something new to wear again. It’s a bit like an addiction. And it is common knowledge that addictions exist because people want to escape reality.
What is the meaning of fashionable clothes? If you wear leopard skin, does that mean that you are a strong and fast hunter? If you wear shoulder filling, does that mean you have broad shoulders? If you wear fur, does that mean you live in nature? No, it does not. Fashion always superficially borrows from reality, but it never IS reality. Because as soon as it IS reality, it becomes ordinary and boring.
Fashion can only imitate but never embody. It pretends to be something through using symbols and signals, but it never really is what those symbols stand for; it never is authentic. Because true authenticity would be too real and too boring. Maybe that’s why people who are really looking for the truth, like monks and scientists, generally don’t care about fashion.
In a sense, fashion is quite neurotic, because in the enthusiasm for a new wardrobe there is a sense that now one has found their beautiful new identity. But that enthusiasm wears off rather quickly. So then you have to run to the store and find something new again, until you get bored again. Sounds like a junkie who doesn’t want to get sober and visits the dealer a lot.