By Dan Burkitt
SCAB – It’s called fashion, look it up
In this SCAB you will be granted entry to the mind of Dan Burkitt, fashion icon. I hope you’re wearing your best outfit. I’ll be discussing what I wear every day and what that says about me. Buckle up, things are about to get sassy. But, first, some history…
I’ve recently read a book called The Golden Thread, it’s a history of fabric written by Kassia St Clair. That’s fabric, as in woven cloth, not the nightclub. It’s an interesting study, detailing the profound importance fabric has had across cultures, throughout human history. From the woollen sails of Viking ships, to the spacesuits that let Neil Armstrong take his first steps on the moon, to modern synthetic fibres we all wear every day, fabric has been central to human lives for millennia.
But nowadays, we take it for granted. Fast fashion is a disaster for the environment. And with that in mind, there is only one place I like to go when I’m in need of some retail therapy – a charity shop. There is nothing more satisfying than finding a some recently deceased OAP’s jumper on the rack for three quid. Of course, there is also the added bonus of feeling nice and self-righteous knowing that said jumper won’t end up in landfill. And, even better, no Bangladeshi children were working through the night in order to make it (assuming it’s not second-hand from primark).
On a typical day, I wake up and I’m naked and I don’t know where I am. And then I remember that I’m in Balham, at my mum’s house, and I’m naked because because I fell asleep like that, and bloody hell I need to get up and go to SCA, don’t I. At this point, I get up and open my wardrobe.
What do I do confronted with all this choice? Well, my friend, the bottom half is easy. It’s always jeans – usually black but blue if I’m feeling fruity. Like Steve jobs with his completely uniform wardrobe, my simple, binary trouser choice is made very deliberately in order to conserve valuable mental energy.
Mental energy I can then expend deciding what to put on my top half. This is a slightly trickier question. I have a number of corduroy shirts, all slightly different colours, and some t-shirts and some jumpers. This is getting exciting isn’t it? I tend to trust my gut at this point and reach for whatever takes my fancy. Then it’s socks on, shoes on, helmet on, on my bike and I’m off.
But what does the fact I wear the classic young-bearded-male-student uniform say about me? Does it mean that I’m a boring twat? Possibly. Does it mean that, like most people, I enjoy the comforting embrace of conformity? More possible still. Our fashion choices are central to the identity we present. Maybe one day, I’ll have blue hair and an extensive collection of outrageous trousers. But until then, as far as fashion goes, I’m content being an unremarkable extra in everyone else’s film.