On my first visit to New York, I was part of an ensemble of performers mainly of African or Caribbean heritage. Some of the older men in the troupe were derisive when I told them I wanted to visit the garment district, for window shopping and possibly to buy a few items of apparel. They attributed my interest in such matters to the callowness of youth.
Now that I have reached the age group that they were at that point in time, I can see that they were generalising, because there seem to be quite a few men of my age range who are still interested in clothes. Is this because we belong to what was known as the “style” generation?
As a young man I read magazines such as The Face and ID every month and did what I could to remain in touch with the zeitgeist of the fashion scene. Nowadays, I still look at fashion handles on Instagram on regular basis, even though I don’t have any intention of mimicking the looks that are presented.
Perhaps my interest has a lot to do with presentation as a concept. Fashion is only one way of communicating visual aesthetics. I go to art exhibitions, attend theatre, dance and opera performances to be stimulated in similar ways.
Those older men who dismissed my interest as a lightweight curiosity back in the day are the ones who actually missed a trick. The way we look can make as much of a difference to our communication as what we sound like, or what we do.