15 Apr

Men's fashion: Free Expression - in pictures


I know it’s almost cruelly easy to make fun of fashion “journalists” [sic] and the weird, twisted, silent contract they have with their readers, i.e. they pretend expensive clothes are really important and worth talking about on a weekly or even a daily basis, while their readers pretend not to notice that media coverage of fashion bears little relationship to reality. Or rather, its relationship is abusive and codependent, like Carrie’s mother in the Stephen King horror story.

Sometimes cruelty is fun, though, especially when it’s easy. Thanks to (non-bearded and lacking an £820 Dries Van Noten coat) artist Emily Speed drawing attention to it, we can all point and laugh at what I suspect the perpetrator might call a “fashion story” about taking “inspiration from the distinctive layered-up uniform of the artist, one that is splashed with paint splatters, and is an eclectic mix of well-worn, textured fabrics and bohemian prints to make your summer wardrobe a work of art.

According to recent research by a-n, 72% of British artists who were surveyed made between zero and £10,000 PA from their practice. 71% of artists were paid nothing when their work was exhibited. Of the 29% who were paid for exhibitions, 11% received up to £200, 10% received £201-£1000 and only 8% received more than £1001. Taking a median view that a theoretical artist is earning £5000 PA from their practice, let’s go shopping for clothes Guardianista style! Technically it’s The Observer, but they’re essentially the same thing.

The tattered old work shirt that the model is wearing in the top photo is actually hand painted to look as if somebody has been painting in it, and it costs £120. I’ll just let the blithe Marie Antoinettesque decadence of that concept sink in for a moment. Cette chemise est perfect for pottering dans the petit hameau, non?

Now let’s throw in a £65 linen t-shirt and a pair of silk trousers at £575, for a total of £760. The second image has the model wearing a staggering £1485 worth of clobber, including £470 Prada trousers that of course you’d go to your dirty, paint-spattered studio in. Next he chillaxes– still not having done any painting, sculpture or owt else resembling the work of an artist– in an outfit worth £855.99. The sweatpants are £45.99 from Zara. You can get some great bargains on the high street if you’re prepared to slum it a bit, darling.

Men's fashion: Free Expression - in picturesClassic “did I switch the oven off before I left the house?” model version of a thoughtful pose here. Clothes come to £702. £675, £375, £995 pass by in a blur before we even think to question why this fellow is changing his clothes so often even though he hasn’t done anything all day apart from stand around gazing blankly at nothing.

Men's fashion: Free Expression - in picturesAh! Finally he gets down to some work and– that’s it, time’s up, we’re all going home now. Putting together this £1014 ensemble was for naught. Better luck next time, Maximiliano. Maybe someday you’ll get the paintbrush onto the canvas.

All the clothes he wore during the photoshoot cost a total of £6891.99, nearly £2000 more than our hypothetical working median British artist’s annual earnings from commissions or sales. If this hypothetical artist were at the upper end of the pay band for the 72% of British artists who earn £10K PA or less for their work, she or he would be left with about 31% of their £10,000 PA income (i.e about £3100) for frivolities such as rent, council tax, utility bills, transport and food. Likewise, if we assume for the sake of simplicity a median exhibition payment of £500 for that 29% of artists who actually get one at all, to pay for all these clothes the artist would need to have at least thirteen exhibitions in a year and get paid for every one of them. A nominal £100 or £200 is much more common, in my experience, in which case the artist would need to get paid a sum of £200 for about thirty-five exhibitions over the course of  a year.

What do real artists look like? They look like people who can’t afford to spend a lot of money on clothes, which has obviously been noted for future assimilation by the fashion industry. What artists don’t look like is somebody who can afford to spend a lot of money on clothes pretending they can’t afford to spend a lot of money on clothes.

“The affluent artist may make a gesture of class solidarity by dressing poorly. She is advised to keep in mind that, at an art opening, the best way to spot an heiress is to look for a destitute schizophrenic.”

3 Responses to ““SILK TROUSERS £575””

  1. anitachowdry 15/04/2014 at 3:38 PM #

    I think I am going to start designing clothes as an art form,

  2. Alistair 16/04/2014 at 11:38 AM #

    Reblogged this on Alistair Gentry.



    […] Silk trousers £575. […]

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