Exactly three years ago, I posted a blog about male identity. It alluded to the importance of uniform in the working lives of many men. Even something like a suit can give self-confidence to the wearer and may instill authority and status in a business context.
All the more so when the uniform – like those of the emergency services – is also associated with an ‘important’ role, particular skills and expertise, and makes the wearer instantly recognisable in public places. As such uniforms may genuinely be described as life-savers in emergency situations.
Even work-wear such as a high-viz jacket says something about the wearer; I certainly tend to associate them with someone I assume knows more than me about the particular situation in which I find myself – whether it’s on a building site, in a traffic jam, or taking part in parkrun (at which I’m sometimes the high-viz wearer).
When I posted that blog in March 2015 we were about to get fleeces and polo shirts for the Shedders at The Repair Shed in Hemel Hempstead. Soon after the arrival of the bright red garments I realised that I should have brought them in much sooner. They’re practical – keeping Shed members warm, and their own clothes clean – but equally important I think, is the sense of ‘shared identity’ it gives the group. I’ve never asked, but I’d like to think that it gives wearers a sense of pride to be associated with others and, hopefully, a great commitment to the team effort.
Fast forward three years and this week I was talking about uniforms with a young person planning to ‘create a fashion brand’. We had an interesting discussion about the importance of labels – the literal brand. We established that designer labels, and people being seen wearing them, is about the wearer wanting to make a statement about themselves and to project an image (that may or may not be accurate).
We also concluded that fashion is a bit contradictory – while it unites people under certain style banners, those same people hope they’ll stand out in a crowd – so they want personal and group identity at the same time! We ended the conversation by noting that when a brand or style become too popular and the clothes become ubiquitous, there’s a natural (or is it orchestrated by the fashion industry?) search for something different. Note I say ‘different‘; fashion developments are not always new – as shown by the current trend for tears in jeans.
When the young entrepreneur works out what he means by ‘creating a fashion brand’ I think and hope he’ll go far. For a 20-year old who realised college was not for him he deserves to go far.
Men’s Sheds and male identity https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/mens-sheds-and-male-identity/
The Repair Shed www.facebook.com/TheRepairShed