Fashion

The commercialisation of queer identity

Marc Jacobs recently launched the collection “Heaven”, a self-professed “ode to otherness” which is a representation and celebration of polysexuality through fashion. Polysexuality meaning encompassing many different kinds of sexuality. 

Speaking of the collection in question, Marc Jacobs states: “Heaven draws upon the origins of the Marc Jacobs impulse: subversion, teenage daydreams, alienation nation, queer youth, toxic shock valley girls, candy ravers, apocalypse sugar, psychedelic fantasia, girls who are boys and boys who are girls, those who are neither, negative space” and more.  

He goes on to say: “Heaven centers the D.I.Y. spirit that connects subcultures around the world and recontextualizes them for a new generation”. 

My immediate response to the collection’s intention is mixed. Recent years have seen scores of pop stars drop the odd gender neutral pronoun in a song, or dabble in cross-dressing, knowing their album sales will immediately go up, and at times this appears just plain disingenuous. 

Marc Jacobs’ attempt at commercialisation of the “D.I.Y spirit”, which is embedded in queer fashion’s history, seems ironic considering he’s marketing pre-made designer clothes. Queer fashion has become highly commercial, with its capacity to embody the alternative. Marc Jacobs’ likening queerness with “otherness” is nothing new, and in some ways actually works to uphold the very heteronormate worldview that it’s trying to distance from. 

These signifiers of “gay” and “queer” originate from notions of strangeness and immorality. Historically, this has been artistic dynamite for scores of queer creatives that have gone on to make powerful impacts in modern art and pop culture. But whether this is true of Marc Jacobs’ latest venture is another question.

I understand the value in Marc Jacobs continuing the work of re-claiming these words and re-envisioning the queer experience, and applaud it. Marc Jacobs is a fashion icon and himself identifies as a gay man, so there’s no doubt this collection is stemming from an authentic place. 

This being said, there are also scores of smaller queer-owned brands that are worth considering supporting. Here’s a list of just a few of them: Saul Nash (instagram: @saul.nash) is a menswear brand with a remit of bridging the gap between luxury and sportswear, and notable queer fashion designers include: Ella Boucht (@ellaboucht), Daniel Fletcher (@danielwfletcher) and Jawara Alleyne (@jawaraalleyne). 

13/10/2020

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Jake Walker-Charles


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