Thus far I am yet to find any anthropological research or theory in the field of sustainable fashion, and very little pertaining to ideas of current fashion, or the fashion industry in general, as it is conceived now, particularly in the ‘western’ world. Making and presenting my symbolic camera helped me understand that I did not have to have a firm plan in front of me immediately, but that I had a journey to uncover what my film might be and that the process was a malleable one. Using that and working through exercises from Rabiger’s Directing the Documentary, (particularly the finding your creative identity chapter) brought me to realise that although I know I am too self conscious and uncomfortable to present myself in the film, I needed to include aspects of myself and use the knowledge I already have – I couldn’t make a film about something I knew nothing about or didn’t have a connection to - how could I expect to engage my audience if I myself was not engaged? My symbolic camera asks for a certain amount of reflection, opening oneself up, past the outer layers, a deep investigation and collaborative effort for those engaging with it.
When I started making the symbolic camera I had no real idea what I was going to make my film about or even where to start. I have always been deeply interested in fashion, and the world it encapsulates. The frivolity combined with the genuine self expression clothing allows. In some way or another the way we dress is the first point of contact we have with other people, whether we want it to or not, it is through clothing that we are perceived by those we do not know. Some consider clothing to be superficial, but really it is a huge signifier of who you are - of where you are from, to which culture you 'belong' and even of your religious beliefs in some cases. It is one of the few things that with very few exceptions all people have in common - we all wear clothes. Whether you buy your own clothes, somebody else buys them, you are given them or make them, the chances are high that you do wear them.
I used this idea as the starting point of my symbolic camera. What was I interested in? The way we use our outer layer, our clothes, as a way of presenting ourselves to the outside world. There are four layers in total - the outside which is what is presented outwardly, the black box which represents fears and insecurities, the comfortable fluffy inner layer protecting the centre point - the inner self, the point of reflection. With my symbolic camera I realised the point for me was to get under the layers and open up to being able to confront oneself.
I have always loved fashion, but more and more have been questioning the industry in which the thing I love so much - clothing - is being made. In this project I have asked myself, and others to truly think and reflect on what is considered normal and acceptable in regards to the way we choose our clothing.