The fashion industry dictates the lives of the youth; look around you, in our school itself, I don’t see many kids not caring about the brand of their clothes, the price of their shoes, and the legitimacy of their gear.
We keep moving forward with fashion because the industry is seducing us with a very effective weapon: a sense of belonging to a “superior” group of people. Popular rapper, Benjamin Haggerty, “Macklemore,” dives deep into the world of “hypebeast,” trending, fashion with his song “Wing$.”
Macklemore starts the song reminiscing about the past, the time when he was addicted to getting new pairs of basketball shoes. He had a determination: to improve his basketball skills. He believed that the new shoes would make him stronger, saying “it’s gonna make me fly.”
This is often the case with new equipment. We get it, we try it on, play with it, or do something with it, and it feels great. We feel thrilled. We feel like we are better than our usual selves, more superhuman. This ecstasy eventually enabled the young Macklemore to “touch the net,” a feat he wasn’t able to accomplish before he had gotten the shoes.
Suddenly, he thought that he was better than everybody else because of his new shoes: his “friends couldn’t afford them. Four stripes on their Adidas.”
This exaggerated sense of self-worth is something that he openly admits: saying that, “on the court, I wasn’t the best, but my kicks were like the pros.” It didn’t matter how good he actually was in basketball because he had a strong affiliation with superstars of the sport.
Fast forward, Macklemore dives deep into the life and brain of his younger self, eventually realizing that these people who sold these shoes wanted to “start a cult” that would dominate the lives of the youth for their personal lucrative motives.
But to the young Macklemore, all he saw were the superpowers from the shoes. How he so desperately wanted to be someone else, “like Mike.” He got so obsessed with being someone else that he lost all sense of reason, saying that he “was trying to fly, without leaving the ground.”
Eventually, these fantasies became engraved in his heart. It became the sole thing that he was striving for. He drowned himself in self-proclaimed legacy and purpose that he could no longer see. This led to him becoming more submissive to these “cult” dealers: he needed them to tell him who he was and what dreams he had.
Fast forward again and Macklemore is now seen lecturing a bunch of children on his past; he desperately tries to convey to them the evil behind fashion, how it is symbolic of envy and superficiality.
He says, “We want what we can’t have, commodity makes us want it. So expensive, damn, I just got to flaunt it.”
Then, he takes the kids back to his life; how he believed that by buying all these things he would become something bigger than himself, how he was a “cool kid” who was part of a bigger “movement.”
In the end, Macklemore overcomes this mode of thought, gaining an epiphany of a harsh reality amongst the consumer industry; they trick young children, telling them to be “a consumer” and how all these kids listened to “what that swoosh [Nike] said.”
He then elaborates on what this “swoosh” did to his life; it consumed him. Dragged him down to the depths of an identity crisis. Without those shoes, he couldn’t be himself anymore, and he wholeheartedly admitted to it, saying, “That’s my air bubble and I’m lost, if it pops.”
Macklemore warns the children to never buy the shoes, for they will destroy their lives as they did to his. In the end, after hopelessly believing all the empty promises that the shoes gave him, he realized that this was a “dream sold,” by those same companies.
In the end of the day, nothing was extraordinary: the shoes only became special because he had believed in full honesty of their power to transform himself.
The task of discovering identity isn’t something that you rely on a company that only cares about profit to do. The key to finding yourself is by actually struggling by yourself for yourself.
I first heard this song back in 2013; listening to it now, I notice so many basic truths that Macklemore reveals about our modern generation: how most people have become slaves to trends dictated by the fast fashion industry.
This wasn’t an immediate realization. Over the years, I’ve seen countless of my own friends convert themselves into this cult, where they constantly have to buy the latest, most expensive shoes and clothes.
It’s gotten so bad that it becomes the only thing that occupies their minds. Instead of thinking about school, they stockpile their e-carts on different clothing retail websites, waiting for the perfect opportunity to ask their parents to buy stuff for them.
Perhaps, in the near future, people will no longer wear the clothes. Instead, the clothes wear them.