No, never. Music is not fashion. I think fashion plays too big of a role in music today. I dress how I want to dress and I listen to anything I want. How exhausting would it be if I had to change my ensemble every time I changed a CD or put my iPod on shuffle? If I was a fan of Insane Clown Possie (key word “if”) I would not dress as a Juggalo to show my pride for the group. Besides, that is someone elses fashion expectation for a fan of a particular musical genre. There are many ‘scenes’ that music fans could choose to fit in to today, but there is no rule that states you have to dress the part. Yourscenesucks.com is a fun way of pinpointing the folks that feel differently about this question. If you are not in high school, it’s childish to think you need to dress a certain way to show your musical tastes.
Absolutely not. While it is completely unavoidable for every style of music and its corresponding scene to develop its own look and mannerisms…it definitely has no place within the genres. To me, the more effort that a band puts into it fashion sense, the more of a distraction that the so-called artist is trying to create to take the public’s attention off of their obviously sub-par, cookie cutter, shitty music. For a perfect example, look at Lady Gaga. Her wardrobe and show set pieces get more attention than her music. And for those artists that actually have talent, it completely takes away from the music that the artist is trying to create in the first place. Realistically, music is about SOUND, not looks. Groups like Duran Duran have always been extremely fashion conscientious and stylish, but even so, it admittedly does become distracting; constantly having their visual images shoved down your throat when it’s the music that is supposed to matter. I love the New Wave genre, which had one of the most distinctive fashion styles within the realm of music, and yet it would be just as amazing without the visual aids.
I may be the wrong person to answer this because I don’t dress the part…or at least, I don’t stack neatly into any of the scenester caricatures (praise Allah!). I’ve got some tats and avoid shaving at all costs, but shucks, I contend I was doing it before the hipsters. Yeah, I don’t particularly care. If you wanna dress up like a clown, who am I to judge? Who knows—could be fun. And then you move out of your mom’s garage, begin your career as a “Sandwich Artist,” and finally start making it to those group sessions.
After a colleague of mine turned me onto yourscenesucks.com, I truly realized how we as a social collective actually dress to “rep” our scene. However, and I partially (and almost entirely) blame my generation, the 80’s babies, for taking this notion and running with it. Since we were the ones to first denote labels like skaters, punks, goths, wiggers, etc., as we dressed in collusion with the music we listened to, as if listening to it wasn’t good enough. As if blasting the stereo and driving around windows down with the volume pinned wasn’t enough, we had to wear the skater jeans, or the tight chick pants (PS if you have balls and you wear tight jeans, you should be beaten with a sock full of batteries-you’re not cool, you’re two ovaries shy of being a woman) to show everyone what scene we were into. Gladly as we all grew up, most of us grew out of it, and dressed how we wanted to. I hope, or at least I think, that we realized that it’s about the music not the fashion, and that’s the way it should be. Music should be about the music, not about the image and the clothes you wear.
As much as we wish it wasn’t, the simple fact is that in 1979, with a little help from MTV, Buggles basically hit the nail on the head when they said, “Video killed the radio star.” No longer was music a faceless art-form, the visual void filled only by album liners and theater playbills. As soon as the music biz went visual, all bets were off. Not only did the artists’ looks come heavily into play, as far as sell-ability was concerned, but the icon of the “rock star” was created. You not only had to have the pipes but the packaging as well, from the fashion to the personality and flair. That’s not to say that certain famous people like Meatloaf and Joe Cocker, as well as other famously fugly mugs like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards didn’t bring their own flavor to the looks department. Looks alone didn’t define the artist though…one only needs to look at current fugly demi-Goddess Lady GaGa to see that. (That’s right, I said it, the bitch is HIDEOUS.) The balance that seems to come into question though is when does the spectacle of the fashion and beauty begin to overshadow or completely overtake the credibility of the artist as a musician? You could argue that The Go-Gos or The Bangles weren’t amazing musicians, but that they were groups of hot chicks certainly didn’t hurt their claims to fame. I think it’s when you get into “Juggalo” territory and the likes of Ke$ha that you start to run into the widely spouted “WTF?!” moments. Do I feel this is how it SHOULD be? No. Unfortunately, this is how it is.
I think fashion and music can have a really beautiful and interesting symbiosis when they’re playing off of and inspiring each other, but when fashion becomes a prerequisite to feel like part of a music scene, I think it can be off-putting and overshadow the actual music. In some cases I think stigma attached to a scene’s fashion can turn someone off to the genre altogether.