Yes, we know, some of you don’t care for fashion. You don’t care what you wear or how you look, or at least you say you don’t. And you wouldn’t be caught dead spending a month’s rent (or salary for that matter) on clothing. That’s fine. Your preferences and opinions are valid, and you are entitled to them. But hear us out for a second. We don’t think fashion can be dismissed out of hand. Yes we are biased, but we’re pretty sure we’re right. It’s hard to say fashion doesn’t matter when you get dressed every day. That is, unless you’re a nudist.

Even when we say we don’t care, we do. And even if we legitimately don’t, fashion still matters.

Societal norms require us to be dressed.

And so we get dressed in clothes of some kind. Clothes matter because we need them, ergo, fashion matters. We have to care what we’ll clothe ourselves in and why. We have outfits picked out for various occasions throughout the year. We wear certain things because the weather dictates that we do (although this could use some work in certain places around the world). We dress for an occasion, sometimes because it’s required and other times because that’s what’s expected. We dress to respect different cultures and traditions, to adhere to rules and regulations in different places.

Fashion is a form of art, an avenue for expression, and a reflection of culture and society.

Fashion as a form of art is obvious. Some of the things the designers around the world and their ateliers come up with are truly works of art. And they are treated as such. They are beautiful to wear, to touch, and to behold. As an avenue for expression, think of all the protests with people wearing clothing with slogans and messages adorning them. Fashion is a way for people to get messages across and to be heard, as well as to reach a wide audience. It was hard to miss the “Black Lives Matter” apparel around the world after the killing of George Floyd. And then by showing people’s interests, preferences, and attitudes, fashion becomes a reflection of culture and society. The recent trend toward baggier clothing, for example, may suggest a desire for function over form. The gradual normalisation of revealing clothing may imply liberalisation in society’s thinking. The formal dress code at a company may allude to a culture of order, strictness, and adherence to rules.

Then there’s the money. Fashion is very, very, very big business. The current second-richest person in the world has amassed most of his wealth thanks to fashion. Bernard Arnault is chairman of LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy), an empire that controls Louis Vuitton (obviously) and Chrisitan Dior, among others. He’s worth over $150 billion, a small part of the global trillion-dollar fashion industry. And the industry only continues to grow. It suffered some due to recent events, but it’s been bouncing back as the rest of the word bounces back. It’s hard to ignore and not care about all that money. The sheer amount demands attention, and if not that the number of people and facets of life it touches will find a way to pique our interest at some point or other.

Fashion is also a big part of who we are, and a big influence on that too. We like to look good, to feel good, to be admired, and to be appreciated.

Fashion allows us to feel all these things.

We buy clothes that we think we would look good in or that would make us look good. We dress in clothes that reflect our personalities. We wear clothes that show what we value; quality or price, sensibility or style, form or function. We dress to portray a particular image or to send a message. Fashion simultaneously feeds off of and fuels our baser needs, wants, and impulses. It fuels our pride in our appearance by giving us the tools to look good and feeds off the admiration of others. It fuels that want for the Nikes that just dropped and feeds off our wanting to be seen and envied. It fuels the impulse to go shopping for an outfit for a night out and feeds off our not wanting to be seen and judged for being in similar or, God forbid, the same clothes as the previous night out last week.

The Met Gala was held on Monday. If you are unfamiliar with the Met, it’s an annual invite-only gala traditionally held on the first Monday of May (unless the year was 2020 or 2021) for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The gala is for the benefit of the Museum’s Costume Institute. Everybody who is anybody wants to be on the guest list and the famous and powerful make up the attendees. The Met has a specific theme for every year and the guests attending the gala match their attire to the theme. The red carpet of the Met is a fashion show of sorts, with all the celebrities decked out in haute couture, magnificent accessories and jewellery, and bold and alluring makeup. The Met, the attendees, and the apparel they wore become the news for at least the week after the event.

The outfits of the Met are hardly ever safe and demure. They push boundaries and get stares. They spark conversation, whether in admiration, surprise, interest, or disgust. And that’s what fashion does. It gets people to look at things differently. It gets them to think and discuss and debate. It provokes a reaction and therefore action or inaction. It inspires people. It gets them to do things they might not otherwise do and leave their comfort zones. It gets them to dream, create, and build. It unleashes creations of beauty and wonder on the world, and the world is better for them.

Even if you don’t like fashion, you’d probably be curious about Kim Kardashian’s admission that she lost weight to fit into her dress for the Met, a dress Marilyn Monroe famously wore to sing happy birthday to President John F. Kennedy. Maybe you’d wonder what that means for women and their body image, like one Vogue writer did. That dress has so much going on with and around it that it transcends fashion. Because fashion deals mainly with people, it isn’t surprising that it ends up touching many facets of their lives, as is evident with that dress.

Fashion is too big to be ignored. Even when people are apathetic about it its presence is felt. And if it were true that we didn’t care so much about it, why is it such big business? Why is it always a hot topic? Why does it have such reach and influence around the globe?

You don’t have to love fashion, but you ought to have an appreciation for the juggernaut and art form that it is. You have to respect all that it’s done to and for the world, and the people behind it. At the end of the day, remember too that it’s hard to say fashion doesn’t matter when you get dressed every day.