We do not know yet how powerful and permanent the consequences of the pandemic will be. Can we simply go back to how it was before this all happened? Will we hug, kiss and touch each other like before? We can only hope so. What we can be sure of is that Covid has already left a mark on the fashion industry. The breathtaking frequency in which brands release products onto the market seems to have fully become the modus operandi. What is more or less completely lacking is a relevant position. An idea that drives the collection, a message, a truth about us as humans. Revealing subconscious urges and transforming them into clothes, collections, dreams and trends is at the heart of what the fashion industry always was to me: an early signifier of change, a first look into society’s future, a laboratory of ideas for humanity.
But, of course, it is understandable that in times like these, where the screen commands all of our attention, it is not easy to communicate. Add to that the political sensitivity that has taken over our culture and it is all the more understandable that big brands would want to avoid anything that could cause controversy and focus only on the core business: selling clothes. Although, in fact, of course it isn’t. High fashion and luxury has always been valued for the relevance of the brands and its leading designers. Because cultural impact means power, and that eventually translates into profit.
The problem is: Since Corona has yoked us to our screens, the level of aggression in online debates has been rising, which therefore paralyzes us. Not only are brands and labels concerned more than ever with not making mistakes, we as individuals have also become cautious of what we write and say online. Because we are afraid to say something wrong, potentially ruining not only our reputation, but also our livelihoods. The rules and algorithms of the Silicon Valley giants have taken over culture. What we can only hope for is that we are able to resist them. That, after the pandemic, we can place real life at the center. Because we are unlearning the ease and lightheartedness of interactions. The fun, the freedom. Experiencing life to the fullest. To kiss and have sex just because it feels good, to simply enjoy. We desperately miss the spontaneity and creativity of live interaction. Dates, a night out dancing with friends, falling in love unexpectedly in some random bar you just stumbled into. Meeting new friends, having unexpected life-changing conversations, broadening our worlds through other people, physically.
That is why we made SEX the topic of this issue. Not only because we all love sex, but also because it is a metaphor for the drive that we all need to get back. A drive that was always a motor of the fashion industry. To become desirable to others is its promise. Sex is the basis of everything, in a way. But free-spirited conversations about sex are often only possible among close friends; sex is a cultural discourse first and rarely something that is simply fun. There are many reasons for this. Very good reasons. What we, for example, noticed is how much freer men are when it comes to their bodies. Pubic hair is something that most still don’t want to see when it comes to women. With men, nobody seems to care. Women are still taught to be likeable and desirable first, instead of cultivating their individual identity. #metoo was a good start. But the work is far from done.
We have to realize that beauty is multifaceted and in the eye of the beholder. There is not one ideal to strive for, but as many as there are humans on earth. Most important is to feel good in our bodies – that is also what makes us truly sexy and attractive. Modern beauty is built on diversity, variety and individuality. There is nothing wrong with you. You should explore and express yourself. We need tolerance, empathy and respect for one another. Because then, we can enjoy most, without any fear. Let’s not lose a sense for the pleasure sex and life brings. That is why we celebrate those women and men who are celebrating their sexuality. Or those who care about it and want to help us enjoy it more.
I always remember my grandmother talking to me about sex. What she said still rings absolutely true to me. “Do not let others tell you what is right and wrong. If you want to have sex with women or with men – do whatever feels right to you. The only rule you always have to follow is that you are having sex consensually.” Some truths are so fundamental, they’re not up for debate. So let’s follow that truth and enjoy the fuck out of life. It can only mean progress.
Words by Götz Offergeld
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