Monday, March 5, 2007

Italians conform to the clichés of cool

an article from the

"This unofficial uniform of T-shirt and jeans, with colorful athletic shoes thrown in for good measure, and perhaps an It bag too, can be spotted on streets from Milan to Palermo. The look is spruced up with loud accessories by Italian name brands — Fendi, Gucci, D&G, Prada and Armani — whose logos often appear conspicuously on leather tennis shoes, belt buckles or the frames of oversized sunglasses.

"Everyone is wearing the same thing," Crivelli said. "They all want to be alla moda." Wearing trendy clothes to fit in — rather than risking an unconventional outfit — is a common goal reiterated among Italians.

"Wearing expensive jeans gives you a sense of belonging," said Giovanni Gastel, a young designer about to start a brand of graphic T-shirts. "Wearing labels provides a sense of belonging to a group. It's a way of identifying yourself, showing off and how others perceive you." In this way, fashion becomes aspirational, with the ordinary Tom, Dick or Giovanni scoring points among friends by wearing a recognizable label.

But in a country so full of creative fashion powerhouses, why is the desire to fit the fashion mold so prevalent?

"It's not even the specific trend that is the important part," said Cristina Marasti, 32, who monitors the image of Italian society abroad for a communications agency in Milan. "It's following the trend that's important. Perhaps in cities like Berlin, with no big fashion brands, people are more free and inspired to create an individual style."

One explanation might be the cultural obsession with the bella figura — what you wear, how you wear it and the impression you make, which everyone keenly observes. The possibility of being ridiculed outweighs the desire to take a risk. "You know that if you wear Gucci or D&G, you will be fine," Marasti said.

Fast-fashion chains like Zara and H&M are extremely popular for their affordable versions of runway looks, which arrive frequently on the shelves at their stores on the busy shopping street Corso Vittorio Emanuele. "Teenagers shop every weekend," Crivelli said. "And a month later, they don't want to wear the same thing."

"Personally, i think this phenomena is happening all around the world, especially in Hong Kong and Singapore"

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