More than any other industry, fashion has been so oversold, so twisted, pitched, and commercialized, that true designers are few and far between.

I’ve tried to embrace fashion over the years, but there is something that bothers me about the posing that goes on at the fashion shows — and it’s not by the models but by the people involved in the industry, from the make-up-masked designer wannabes to the pretentious fashion reporters who — not surprisingly — are some of the worst writers in the media industry.

At events like L’Oreal Fashion Week, I have to keep reminding myself that arrogance and conceit are signs of insecurity. But there is so much insecurity.

I can’t understand why so many designers seem to have lost touch with the medium they have chosen to work in. Like any craft, the function matters, but the hype around the runways has forced the craft to take back seat to the circus act.

Confidence comes from action. And in a culture where grandparents worked the land, grew their own food, and built cities, sewing material into a blouse and marketing it so you snag complete idiots into paying thousands of dollars for it isn’t exactly honest work. Thus, the industry wobbles around bathed in fake arrogance, fake confidence, and fake significance.

There was a time when a good marriage meant everything to a woman, and although that would seem to have vanished in North American culture, it still remains part of how some women define themselves. And that psychological issue is what the corporate fashion giants have capitalized on.

I shouldn’t be so hard on women who like to dress up just because I find it such a chore. Perhaps I’m just annoyed that they raise the bar so high that I have to really work at it to fit in.

Not all fashion is fake, just the commercial schlock that ends up being mass produced in China or India. There are a few truly great designers who understand that good fashion is a balance of both art and function — they work together. Clothing can create a larger-than-life persona; it can work to communicate status, personality, and character. A good designer is able to create clothing that enhances one’s strength, delicacy, confidence, or assertiveness.

True designers, like Freda Iordanous of Freda’s on Bathurst St. in Toronto, who has built a thriving business on designing and selling clothes that one can actually wear comfortably, are able to identify what fashions will succeed and become stylish and which will fail. Her eye for fashion also helps her match the clothes to the individual. True fashion does exist…but you have to search it out.

I often wonder what future generations will think when they look back at today’s society. Will they think the women were so dim-witted that they actually believed the clothes they wore made them special?

Sarah Thomson can be reached at


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