This picture could be from an Occupy blog, but it’s actually from a fashion site I ran across while looking up Fred Perry jackets. It always pays to be well dressed when you’re up to no good/revolution.
I’m not willing to go as far as to call the Black Bloc a fashion subculture, but I’m sure its monochromatic aesthetic will work its way onto the runway eventually. Black looks good on everyone and marketers are always looking for new ways to appeal to the Millenials; even when they’re smashing out bank windows.
Masked fashion has a bit of a precedent in the post-modern age. Stylish mobs associated with soccer violence in the 1990s (Casuals) would frequently use Burberry scarves to obfuscate their identities and popular Stone Island jackets were made with built in masks. The purpose of wearing these fashionable concealers was to avoid the ever present gaze of CCTV while engaging in a bit of hooliganism. It is ultimately a combative image.
This intent to remain unidentified while functioning as a disruptive person seems to be entirely different than the concealment you find in the tradition of Hijab.
Let’s be clear here. I’m extremely uninformed when it comes to why women in the Muslim world dress the way they do. I’m not even sure what kind of options they have, but I do find the pairing of Western fashions with traditional head scarves to be very interesting to look at.
There’s something about the act of concealment that is potentially beautiful, perhaps because it communicates an ethic. Hijab is supposed to communicate modesty, privacy and morality.
I’m sure there are freight loads of criticism that can be mobilized against this tradition, but for now, I’m only looking at the fashion. It takes less than a second of surveying Pinterest to find Hijab that’s very appealing, like something you’d find on a runway.
Can concealment be mainstreamed as a marketable fashion commodity? And if it can, what will it communicate?