Last month Alexander Wang invited hundreds of his New York fans to an “undisclosed one-time only event.” It turned out to be a huge giveaway of pieces from his T by Alexander Wang line: “stuff for girls, stuff for guys, old stuff, new stuff”, although I can’t find details anywhere about shoes or bags being given away (that would have been a complete bloodbath). Fashionista published a firsthand account of the event, and since then Alexander Wang and Co. have also released a video of the mayhem on their Youtube channel. From what I have seen and read, this is either a very clever publicity stunt or another indictment of today’s luxury market. Or both. Have clothes–even very basic designs with Wang’s trendy name affixed to the collar–reached such a status that they can reduce seemingly normal people to animals acting on instinct?
I have always been wary of what fashion can do to people’s minds. H&M was one of the first retailers to understand that a designer name holds a lot of leverage with consumers, and each year the designer collaboration sells out at lightning speed. Sometimes the clothes will end up on eBay at ridiculously inflated prices. A designer name can completely transform an item of clothing by imbuing it with a different spirit: “boring” turns into “minimal”, a “simple black dress” can become “elegant and timeless”, and so on. With a designer name like Alexander Wang, any average t-shirt or sweater we’d normally overlook can suddenly seem so much more interesting. And there is nothing more appealing to fashion-hungry fans than something that is free.
I don’t blame any of the lunatics in the video for going to this event. Some people thought they were being treated to an intimate Die Antwoord performance, others thought they were viewing a fashion film. Everyone seemed innocently unaware of what was going on; everyone, that is, except for Alexander Wang’s PR people. I hear that Wang’s employees, including the security guards, were actually laughing as the fans yanked clothes off the racks and crawled across the floor, blindly grabbing whatever they could. If that’s true, it makes me sick to my stomach to think about the incredible manpower that went into producing these clothes, only to have them used as bait in some sick voyeuristic fashion game. Is this the future of fashion? Is this what’s going to happen every time Alexander Wang has excess stock? We may as well ask fans to bring their bikinis next time and dump t-shirts into fashionista-infested waters. That would make a great video, too.
It’s times like these that I weep for the future of fashion. I weep because very few people–consumers, designers, PR people, etc.–seem to have any integrity when dealing with clothes. Instead of treating people like idiots and undermining the value of resources (which, by the way, are NOT limitless) we should be encouraging a more conscientious system of trade. The thing that depresses me most, however, is that Alexander Wang is now the creative director of my favourite fashion house. I just hope he doesn’t pull something like this at Balenciaga because that would be incredibly insulting.
Note: I suspect that the second half of the video has been staged, although it’s probably very similar to the real thing. That raises another question: does Alexander Wang really think this is amusing enough to be dramatised?