Humanity has always adorned and embellished. From earliest times we have painted ourselves and distinguished one tribe from another by our clothes, jewellery and hair – it is an innate part of us. The artistry and celebration attached to adornment and embellishment are natural and confirm the creative capacity of humankind.
Yet as we move further into the 21st century it is clear that the entire planet is out of balance, and nowhere is this demonstrated more comprehensively than in the fashion industry. Whilst some issues are beginning to be addressed, social injustices such as sweatshops and child labour remain unresolved. But what we are only now beginning to register is the acute and profound social, spiritual and psychic damage we humans are suffering from after half a century of unrestrained greed, a daily diet of advertising, and rampant over-consumption.
Our lust for shopping and our sophistry for style have taken us into a critical new arena. Human identity is now defined by what one owns rather than who one is. Our looks have never been so important – celebrity-obsession and self-obsession reveal a new cultural neurosis. The vast majority of the world now spends its leisure time shopping for fashion and considers it an important part of life. But at what cost?