Purposeful Fashion: Brands and the Public Brought Together by Human Values

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The industry where “fleeting” has always been the key word is starting to show signs of wear — fashion as we know it has come to an end

by Rony Rodrigues book preface Moda com propósito ("Purposeful Fashion") by André Carvalhal cover Chryssa translated by Pronoia Tradutória

Of all the changes that we go through in life, the most important are marked by paradoxes, when the unknown reveals itself and invites us to leave our comfort zone. Some are more radical than others, but every change introduces the next chapter of our life story.

On the one hand, it takes courage to move to another city, quit your job, or declare your love for someone. On the other hand, it is so easy to simply settle. Paradoxical changes are dangerous precisely because they are irresistible. Moreover, if every choice were to result in a loss, who would be able to spend an entire life trapped in dusty ideals?

Anish Kapoor
Anish Kapoor

Paradoxes are essential for the evolution of humanity. Amid mistrust and discomfort, these phenomena offer new angles for murky scenarios and open the door to self-knowledge.

Every paradox opposes the guiding principles of human thinking: they defy the opinion shared by the majority. When we come across this opposition to common sense, we usually experience a sense of meaninglessness, an apparent lack of logic.

That feeling is quite understandable. One of the deepest truths about life is also a paradox, maybe the greatest of them all: the eternal impermanence. Have you ever thought about this? Change is the only constant in life, so do as David Bowie would say: turn and face the strange, ch-ch-ch-changes.

Today, the future seems ever closer to the present and many of us feel that at any moment we might drown in these changes, which happen so fast! Diving in is a matter of choice, but sailing through them is necessary.

“All that is new is the direction of the current which carries commonplaces along.” — Raoul Vaneigem

When the philosopher Raoul Vaneigem said this, he was not talking specifically about fashion, but he could be. After all, ephemerality has always been the backbone of this system. In recent decades, however, we have noticed that keeping up with the great factory of trends that the fashion industry has become is humanly impossible, for both consumers and producers.

And what happens when the appetite for novelty becomes unsustainable? We reach a paradox. But the industry, where “fleeting” has always been the key word, is starting to show signs of wear. Fashion as we know it has come to an end. However, this does not mean that it will cease to exist.

Livro "Moda com propósito" de André Carvalhal
Moda com propósito (“Purposeful Fashion”), a book by André Carvalhal

Andre Carvalhal delves into this new moment in his book, full of detailed examples, explanations, and inspiration. The author describes how changes in fashion go beyond clothing, affecting all areas of human life: our relationships, our psychological shadows, our food choices, physical exercise, music, spirituality, environmental causes… Everything is culture, everything is life, and everything is changing.

The planet is going through a self-destructive process that can only be reined in through a deep awakening of consciousness. Clothes and other consumer goods will no longer be mere objects; they will be transformed into subjects to develop a more emotional relationship with people.

Everyone is responsible for this new relationship: the government, the industry, the market, and consumers. Instead of looking for a guilty party, we should perceive ourselves as agents of this reality. The old alienation of “buying to buy”, “buying to accumulate”, “buying to stay trendy” has been replaced by empathy and collaboration. These characteristics are stronger than any trend, and will define the human experience for years to come.

The impact for fashion is serious — and that is a good thing; change is optimistic.

For producers, it implies a review of all concepts: from the choice of raw materials to the models who wear the outfits; from the themes that inspire collections to the symbols they communicate. As Carvalhal argues in his book, “by reshaping processes, every choice has a chance of working in life’s favor.” We must rescue the human values of companies: purpose is the main connector between brands and the public.

Julien Boissou
Julien Boissou

More than ever, fashion must look to the people. Today, people are less predictable and more difficult to label, with a wide variety of habits, desires, and interests. Their individual motivations speak louder than any standardized lifestyle. It is the end of massification and classifications. Expressing human complexity has never been so plausible.

We are transitioning to a new age. For some it has already started, and for others it is yet to begin. Meanwhile, people and brands are divided between the old and the new world. Nobody knows the answers, but everyone is free to search for them. After all, questioning and doubting are part of this moment. But one thing is for sure: no business survives detached from contemporary aspirations. Innovation will never exist if it is misaligned with the ideals of an era.

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