Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Love the Art ; Protect the Artist

Zara, ShopArtTheft, etsy, Small Businesses, Flair, Forever 21, Badges, Accessories, Stolen, Lifestyle, Opinion

No one really knows what "a glamorous revelation" means. I can try my hardest to articulate the tingly, inner feeling that inspired this blog's name, but I never seem to get it quite right conveying instead a more confusing yet aspirational definition. What I can articulate, and with relative ease I might add, is the purpose behind A Glamorous Revelation the blog. AGR has evolved quite a bit since its beginning days, but it has become rooted in the artistry of small business entrepreneurs. For the girl who is redefining glamour by where she shops and the brands she wears, as the tagline says.

Fashion, glamour, and style are not determined by the designer you choose to wear but rather the story and ethos behind the brand they chose to create. Companies like Forever 21, Zara, and H&M would love to convince you that the artistry and creativity behind fashion and beauty (and film and music and literature, for that matter) doesn't matter. Your only concern should be on what you see when you enter their stores or click on their websites. The condition of the workshops oversees don't matter; the "inspirations" for new products don't matter; the environmentally unsound practices of consumerism don't matter. At  least, according to retail conglomerates like Zara, Forever 21, H&M, and every other major fast fashion brand. They provide you with a variety of clothing, beauty, and homeware products that are the result of hundreds of hours of tireless labor... But that labor does not occur in their corporate offices. It happens in the studios of every small business owner/artist whose designs have been ripped off tocreate Zara's extensive collection of pins and patches. It also occurs in French ateliers months before Paris Fashion Week prior to being (very cheaply) duplicated in a matter of days in order to hang from H&M's racks. You can also find that labor at a sweatshop at 5am at a sweatshop in Bangladesh that violates no less than five safety codes so that your $3.99 t-shirt can get to Forever 21 in time. And the list goes on.

This time around, Zara's distasteful and arguably unethical use of dozens of artists's work has been exposed to the harsh light of today's instantaneous social media world. Thanks to @ShopArtTheft and countless other outspoken artists the bright, hot lights have shown consumers who Zara is as a company, as a brand. More importantly, though, they have done the one thing that shifts this narrative from a David-and-Goliath fight (but in this version Goliath wins.) to a phoenix's rise from the ashes. Their efforts have been focused on identifying each design that has been stolen and connected it back to the artist that originally created it. Rather than helplessly watching Zara's products continue to sell, we can now take back some of our power and purchase each of the original designs from the original artists who created them. It's not enough to just love the art. Loving the art is appreciating the work and skill that goes into each piece without any action or initiative. But if we love the art, we have a responsibility as consumers to protect the artists. That requires us to go beyond admiration and into actions -- purchasing power, media platforms, etc -- to ensure artistry and entrepreneurship don't diminish. As a lifestyle writer who chooses to build my personal brand around such entrepreneurship and art, I've seen too many small businesses close their doors because they can't compete with the major players in the market. Love the art, yes. But also make it your duty to protect the artist. If you stay silent in a moment of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor. 

Photo (underlay) by @ShopArtTheft