I have a lot to say about this, but my first reaction is to be dumbfounded that we are even having this conversation in 2014 when several respected institutions give M.A. degrees on the study of clothing (as material culture, generally), and clothing-related industries have formed the center of regional economies repeatedly throughout human history.
My second reaction is, “do you really need the illusion of world-wide consensus to argue this point?” Because that’s what the authors of this book have essentially done: They’ve crowdsourced their clothing-related memoirs as if having testimonials from around the world would make it somehow more valid to argue the social importance of our clothing.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m sold on the importance of clothing as a social marker, as personal expression, as an indicator of world industries, and so on. None more so. In a real sense, since I work at FIT and I research clothing as used at royal courts to express power, clothing is my life. So why do we still have to argue this case? Is it purely because since the 18th century, “fashion” is gendered “female business” and, therefore, “trivial”? Still? Is it because fashion week presents garments so outlandish that they can only really exist as theatre? Is it because NYC, so integrated into the fashion system, is only vaguely an American city in the eyes of many Americans residing west of the Delaware?
I cannot answer these questions, but this question bears further discussion… Of which much presents itself…