Friday, December 26, 2014

Links: Photographer Spends 20 Years Documenting How We All Dress Exactly Alike

"For the last 20 years, unassuming Dutch photographer Hans Eijkelboom has traversed the world, picking a spot, be it in Shanghai, New York, or Paris, and meticulously photographed what he saw.

"The 'anti-sartorial' photographs of everyday people capture specific visual themes – people in red jackets, men with bare chests on roller blades – that are grouped together with the date, city and time range they were taken. And this combination and repetition is what makes the photographs so powerful. Viewed separately, they would hardly even catch our eye."

So writes one article, titled "Photographer Spends 20 Years Documenting How We All Dress Exactly Alike," about the project, which the photographer has turned into a book.
Dutch photographer Hans Eijkelboom captures the universal anti-style of pedestrians around the world," explaining the "anti-sartorial" quip of the previous link more clearly.

Still another piece declares, "The book represents two decades of these fascinating studies. It’s hard to look at these images and not chuckle at the idea of individualism. The work is definitely funny but also sort of profoundly sad."

I'm thrilled to see this, because it validates something I've believed for a long time. I always shake my head whenever someone talks about how clothing standards of the past were "conformist," implying that they no longer are -- because, you know, people today totally don't all dress alike. Human nature doesn't change; most people want to blend in -- not to stand out, not to draw attention to themselves for being different than the herd. 

Clothing styles have changed significantly over the past 50 years, and standards have become much lower and far less formal. But the basic impulse that most people have to conform and fit in hasn't changed. 

The book actually shows this to be even more true than I previously thought; what astounds me most is how so many people are not only wearing the same style of clothing, but the same color. 

This reminds me of the time maybe a year ago when I walked into a Target and, within about two minutes, saw about a dozen age 20-ish girls -- not all of whom were together -- wearing black fleece North Face jackets. Not just all wearing fleece jackets of different colors and brands, or all wearing North Face fleece jackets in different colors, or even all wearing black fleece jackets of different brands, but all wearing identical (or nearly identical) jackets, all fleece, all black, and all with visible North Face logos in the same spot. 

It also reminds me of a story that attorney Ken C. Pollock told in a 2008 interview with the Ivy Style blog:

"A couple months ago I went to a party right from work, wearing my suit, and all the other men were wearing jeans. The owner’s wife came over and asked 'Ken, why are you dressed in such a conformist manner?' I said, 'You think I ought to wear jeans and a plaid flannel shirt?' And she said, 'Yeah, that’d be a good idea.' Be a non-conformist — just like everybody else."

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