Looking at archetypes through the lens of fashion allows for less rigidity and a more authentic representation of the human reality. Read more…
Often depicted as symbolic and mythical, traditional character archetypes have a habit of forcing individuals into rigid boxes or softening their edges until they embody stereotypical qualities and take on fixed roles. Through fashion, archetypes can be explored in a freer and more empowering way.
Archetypes can often be seen as inflexible moulds. Though this approach to archetypes is relevant in the world of literature, as well as for brands utilising archetypal understanding in their marketing, this isn’t necessarily the case for the real world from which the initial archetype was inspired. In fact, as the modern world evolves, the narrow definitions often associated with archetypes can feel smothering; reconsidering these archetypes from a modern, feminine perspective, Awakening Archetypes presents some exciting new ways of thinking about style.
To the disinterested, fashion is about both the appearance of an item and judging the effect of the wearer’s overall appearance. To those that understand fashion at a deeper level, it isn’t only about look and functionality, but the emotion and meaning behind the garments. Styles are deeply rooted in social and political histories and are influenced by movements within other artistic industries in subtle, yet noticeable, ways. Trends are not only relevant to that specific place and time, but definitive of those who created and wore them; the emotional worlds, dreams, and experiences of wearers are frozen within each style. Our emotional and social realities change so often within modern society that what’s emblematic of a mood for one generation will likely be irrelevant to the one that follows, only perhaps to be readopted by future generations who imprint new meaning and experiences onto it. The turnover is fascinating and dizzyingly fast, like many processes in our globalised, increasingly instant world.
Crafting Meaningful Styles
Despite the continuous evolution of trends and the changes to our lives that inspire them, the feelings underpinning them are timeless, and we can touch on this by zooming out of individual characteristics of certain styles and taking a broader look at the attitudes we bring to, and take from, our clothes. At the core of many trends and identifiable looks are moods and emotions that fit into relatable, yet fantastical, understandings of archetypal human roles, qualities, and behaviours. Fast fashion and mindless ‘one-click’ online shopping encourages us to develop shallow relationships with our wardrobes, but Awakening Archetypes looks to re-mystify clothing; this empowers not only the items themselves, but also you, the wearer. This series focuses on five compelling archetypes: the warrior; explorer; magician; lover; and sage. By considering the ways we may already be instinctively channelling these archetypes, these character profiles help us unlock the power and wisdom within each archetype. By becoming more self-aware self-stylists, we can better channel the energy of each, using it to our advantage at work and beyond.
Identifying with archetypes can be a topic of contention, usually when a person’s embodiment of an archetype is branded inauthentic, forced, or inconsistent. When trying to appear a certain way, we often fear being perceived as even further from our desired goal; by reaching for something we inevitably admit that we don’t have it. This attitude has far too much potential to kill our ambition and confidence to be tolerated. Ultimately, we aren’t trying to appear a certain way, we are trying to be and fulfil it. In fact, we already are it, or have the potential to become it – after all, human archetypes are written into the very fabric of our DNA. The pools of qualities categorised as archetypes are anchored in timeless and deeply human experience. They’re rooted in our very nature, and our ancestors have moved through and embodied them as long as we have been human. People don’t primarily model themselves around archetypes, archetypes are inherently human, and based on some of our most intrinsic qualities. What came first, the human or the archetype? The human, in all ways, and always, the human. This separates them from stereotypes, which are prone to the ebbs and flows of fickle trends and changes in collective opinion.
Archetypes – such as the warrior, the explorer, the magician, the lover, and the sage – are expressions of the roles and dynamics which are integral to the way we live and interact with one another. Though there’s great power in allowing ourselves to be inspired by them, we also shouldn’t feel pressure to conform to them; don’t be afraid to be fluid. By revealing the wisdom each of these unique archetypes has to share with us, Awakening Archetypes seeks to carve out meaningful new ways to think about styling – feminising the timeless and breathing new life into the relationship between clothes and wearer. Our upcoming piece, ‘Channelling the Warrior’, introduces the wonderful femme ‘warrior’ archetype in all her majestic glory. Particularly relevant to the style-conscious and career-driven among us, this article considers how we perceive our own power, and how this may affect our attitude towards work.