Fashion & Blasphemy

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I like clothes. It’s a weakness, I suppose; I know I should be perfectly capable of living in the desert and wearing a loincloth… but as long as I’m in society and clothes seem to be pretty much the necessity of a functioning member, I occasionally indulge in a window shopping trip. This year (back in the USA after a long absence) I found a lot of great stores that had my kinds of clothing. In other words, blasphemous.

I’m fascinated by religion, by religious art and iconography, and these motifs are what designers have been working with recently. My new favorite store is metro park. They sell clothes with brand names like Affliction, Rock Revival, Roar, Rebel spirit, Sinful Clothing, Religion, Primevil, Kill City, Crash & Burn, Doctrine and….Hello Kitty. The names reflect the dark, deviant styles coupled with ancient symbolism and clever design, showcasing the modern repulsion and infatuation with traditional religion. OK, they aren’t so different from the styles already popular in Asia; I’ve already bought half a dozen Jesus Christ T-shirts, but I was surprised to find them, not in some dark kitchy novelty store in NE Portland, but in the Washington Square mall.

And at around $100 a shirt or $200 for a pair of jeans, they aren’t selling to the rebels, the rejects, the outcasts. No, only the plugged in, working hard, rich parent teenagers and young professionals can afford to look so brilliantly like they’re anti-establishment. What’s this all about?

Has the rebellious instinct, the marginalized, the sub-altern, become so embraced by modern culture that now only the rich can afford it?