I had an interesting discussion yesterday with my business law professor and I wanted to share it because it got me all riled up.
Yesterday, my class had to give presentations dealing with our majors and law. My group made a PowerPoint about fashion, law, copyright infringement and all the the juicy stuff that comes with knock-offs.
At the end of the presentation my professor looks at me and asks “Why does this matter? Why should I care”
The question is valid. I get it. I did my best to explain to him that when retailers copy designers it causes a whole mess of problems for everyone involved. Fashion affects many people beyond the scope of the industry itself. If you’re wearing clothing, you should care. But he didn’t really get that response.
Instead he pointed out how every tee-shirt is the same, and that fashion doesn’t matter. A jacket is a jacket, why should he care about the fashion industry?
I went off.
So besides the fact that the fashion industry employs millions of people, regardless of the fact that there are humane and ethical issues with knock offs and fast fashion, regardless if he thinks he’s excluded from fashion- he isn’t. I felt like Miranda Priestly going off at Andy about cerulean blue. Just because YOU may not like something, doesn’t mean it’s not important to someone else.
Even though my professor may not know who Rei Kawakubo or Rick Owens is, even though he may not think that there are pieces of clothing that are “different” or unique, it didn’t matter. I know people think fashion is frivolous. Everyone in the class who was laughing proved that. At this point, I felt like it wasn’t about fashion, it wasn’t about the fact that these people wanted to know what made interesting silhouettes or collections. It wasn’t a genuine curiosity.
It felt like because I was a woman, talking about fashion, I didn’t deserve to be taken seriously.
The presentation before me was about a sports team and a university fighting about who owns who. The presentation after me was about someone suing ESPN for filming him while he was sleeping at a game. My professor didn’t ask either group why what they were doing was important. He didn’t ask why he should care.
I didn’t just feel like he thought what I was talking about what dumb. For the FIRST TIME I felt like a women talking about what she loves, only for it to be automatically dismissed as unimportant and frivolous. Dumb. Silly. I’m a woman, so my interest in fashion is cute. It’s not important. It’s stupid.
Although I don’t think my professor meant it aggressively or rudely, it didn’t feel good. It felt like sh**! And even though I did my best to stand up and show him- which may be why people were laughing- it still felt wrong.
He hadn’t seen The Devil Wears Prada and asked that I email him to cerulean blue clip after I mentioned that the conversation we were having was pretty much the same as Miranda schooling Andy. He emailed me thanking me for my rigorous defense of my position and asked to see the video. So I sent it.