Seattle is the anti-fashion capital of the world

September 22, Squire published a story that made this bold and puzzling claim: “It’s time to admit Seattle is a style capital.” Ancient Seattle Times writer Andrew Matson wrote this article, which describes the evolution of our local look, from grunge to what The cup called “gorpcore” in 2017. The impact of this trend on the fashion world is, according to Matson, considerable.

He writes:

And that’s how we see grunge today on wealthy NBA players and hip TikTok kids, with their worn-out jeans and plaid flannels. And we see gorp in the circles of cool people all over the United States, including on style icons like Frank Ocean and Drake, who choose to wear performance shells and down jackets when they could literally have any what jacket in the world. (And fun fact: Drake’s Scorpion product was designed by Seattle artist Andrew Durgin-Barnes.)

But Seattle was, still is, and probably always will be the anti-fashion capital of the world. In this regard, it surpasses Portland, OR and Vancouver, BC.

Ours is a city whose mode of presentation has no style. It is true that not having a style is a style, as America’s most famous cultural critic, the late Susan Sontag, pointed out in a literary essay. But in another famous essay, “Notes sur le camp”, Sontag, inspired by Charles Baudelaire”Praise of cosmetics“, correctly identified the essence of style as artificiality. The closer a person’s appearance is to the real, natural, useful, the further it is from the true meaning and fashion of fashion . (“[T]the essence of [style] is his love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration…”)

But that’s what the Seattle look is all about: fashion that doesn’t break with its natural environment but is, indeed, one with it. Now think of Henri Bergson’s élan vital theory. The key point of this theory has been missed by brilliant and straightforward commentators. They identified it with the determination, belied by the famous experiments of the 19th century microbiologist Louis Pasteur, that what differentiates dead matter from living matter is a special force specific to the latter. This was not Bergon’s meaning. What he had in mind was rather drawn from another science, that of thermodynamics, in particular from its second law, the one that directs, as far as we know, the arrow of time.

life, according to this view, “is characterized not as a spiritualistic ‘life force’ but as a tendency of organization opposed to the tendency of entropic degradation.” By using free energy, in our case the energy provided by the sun, life is able to reverse the natural movement of matter into greater and greater disorder, into a state of rest, a state of strong probability. (Life is highly ordered, and therefore improbable.)

Now if you were to ever arrive on a strange planet and saw a river running down a hill you would know right away that it is living. A dead river is, of course, dragged down by its forced search for a resting place. The nature of the universe is laziness. Seattle’s fashion scene is much more like a river on our planet than a river we might find in a fantasy world.

Seattle fashion offers little resistance to nature; it’s too practical to be stylish, it’s always super-artificial, always against the forces of nature. We give up and put on the best for the rain and all those very short days.

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