This post elaborates on the fifth of ten elements of my fashion philosophy, which is if I were caught on security camera, there’d be no trouble describing me.
Symbolism is the non-literal equivalent of language by which we communicate. Good thing, too, cause I’d hate to design a lot of things with handwriting or printing on it! In all seriousness, though, while often not as flexible as language, symbolism is often more powerful. If a picture were worth a thousand words, symbolism is worth at least a thousand pictures. That doesn’t necessarily mean a symbol is worth a million words, though. No. The meaning some symbols carry for some people, there are no words, or number of words, that could describe what it means to them.
With regards to my fashion philosophy, I’m not thinking about plastering my designs with logos and icons for a symbolic component. I’m thinking of more subtle symbols of the symbols, if you will. A less literal translation of symbols that evokes a feeling, thought, idea or association of something the viewer can relate to, strongly or in the faintest of ways. An example might be a black raincoat similar to the duster (at right) seen in the Matrix movie. I have made one, but do not have a decent picture of it. Of course, many symbols I choose will not be known to many, or even most people. Universally recognized symbols are few, often overused, and almost as often bearing opposing feelings. Think of a Christian cross as an example on one extreme, with a football team logo at a much smaller scale. However, having a symbolic component gives me a chance to connect with some viewers, and gives the garment a little more meaning, not only to me, but also to them.
Sometimes, I will also just take elements of a symbol to incorporate into my fashion. Maybe a rare colour scheme. Maybe a cut like a shape. Maybe a portion of something signature to a symbol, like part of a flag. Maybe an animal skin print. Maybe an image of something to evoke a feeling, like the cows in the pasture pillowcases to evoke the relaxing pastoral feel I’m looking for when laying down to sleep. That’s more how I will incorporate symbolism into my fashion.
All that said, so far, other garments into which I’ve incorporated symbolism tended to be more explicit: the New Orleans Saints fleece jacket, Nightwing running body suit, Spider-man beach towel bath robe, etc. You can see, I think, how prevalent symbolism is to be in my fashion design. I design with purpose beyond practicality, and will try to convey that purpose in the design.