Jejemon Series 1: Jejemon Fashion
Eclecticism and syncretism have long been used to explain fashion. Alfred Kroeber, for example, writes that changes in fashion are not the product of a single mind, but that the end result of a fashionable trend is the result of the contributions of human beings through a multitude of perspectives. If fashion were a catalog or a magazine of different cultural affects, we are contributors as much as we are subscribers to it.
Fashion is almost always the accretion of different cultural facts, coming together to clothe a particular taste. Yet taste never exists solely on the level of the personal: tastes, like many other things in society, are social facts. They are defined by us, as much as they are also defined for us. Fashion constrains us as much as it enables us.
Jejemon fashion is typical of this accretion of social facts and cultural artifacts, yet what makes it a particular subset of different fashions is that it is unique, and it is shared. Yet more than the mere mish-mash of different, normally irreconcilable aspects of popular culture, the fashion sense of the Jejemon can also be understood in terms of amalgamation.
The way Jejemon fashion combines different currents in popular fashion validates both Durkheim and Giddens: that while social facts have the ability to constrain (Durkheim), they also have the ability to enable (Giddens). The average Jejemon, for example, combines aspects of hip-hop, rock, emo-core, metal, and original Pilipino music in one ensemble. The fashion statement, as with many others, exists within one coherent syntagm:
Example 1: Imitation Havaianas, hip-hop shorts, Saosin shirt, eyeliner/mascara, trucker cap.
Example 2: Imitation Converse, skinny jeans, Three-Stars-and-a-Sun shirt, bandanna, sunglasses, trucker cap.
Example 3: Imitation Crocs, striped knit stockings, fishnet stockings, denim cut-offs, tube top, eyeliner/mascara, Fly shades/Shutter shades, dyed hair in cornrows.
The colored trucker-cap, however, manifests a desire for uniqueness, even at the expense of inconvenience. It speaks of “imba,” a gaming term which refers to “imbalanced” characters, which can also refer to the kind of walking required to both show off and keep the cap in position. It therefore necessitates a certain gait while walking, similar to hip-hop recording artists. It also hearkens back to other inconveniences of generations: earrings, brassieres, corsets, spurs, and so on and so forth.
Based on the examples above, however, Jejemon fashion is not strictly or completely the imitation of foreign culture or popular trends. Instead, it attempts to make the wearer stand out even in situations that are already fashionable. It is the same pecuniary canons of taste that Veblen has pointed out before:
- The upper-class wear it to set themselves apart from what is conservatively fashionable, following the trends of the lower class who are more attuned to the popular.
- The lower-class wear it to manifest the presence of disposable income, and be perceived as more than capable of following the latest trends.
Yet in terms of age brackets – where all of this should exist – the trend is mostly towards the development of identity. The 1990s had grunge, the 2000s had pop and hip-hop, yet a new generation fails to connect with things that are already established. The effect, therefore, is syncretism and eclecticism: the bricolage and mix-and-match that occurs with snipping something here and there, creating something that is akin to a Frankenstein monster.
The reality remains that Jejemon fashion is not established by personal choice, no matter how intense or revolutionary it is. Jejemon fashion shows that the forces that define fashion are social and not individual, that the consequences themselves accrete and combine to form fashion trends that are revolutionary or otherwise revolting. When it comes to Jejemon fashion, the effect is not the sole consequence of individual choice, but rather the choices collectively made over time create the possibility for the result.
(Next entry: Jejemon language. Postscript: just to defeat the purpose of everything, “The Jejemon Series” is a satirical overintellectualization of “Jejemon” culture and everything within and outside it, written as tributes to the anthropologists of yore.)