It first riled me when a friend in New York posted on Facebook a picture of a bus stop ad: some nondescript model wearing a denim shirt, slouched behind the sans serif, offensively bland text: "Dress like no one's watching. Dress Normal."
Now "Dress Normal" has landed in Hong Kong, as a mas-sive Gap poster in my local MTR station proves.
Where to begin? Putting aside the spurious, media-manufactured fashion trend of normcore - google it, if your monitor wants a smack - can we discuss what a terrible message this is?
At a time when democracy is in peril all over the world - not least in Hong Kong - and individuals' rights are widely under attack (internet censorship on the mainland, the arrest of peaceful protesters in the United States), the fashion industry, the last corporate entity that could be depended on to - however disingenuously and for self-serving motives - crow the virtues of independent thinking and self-expression, is basically saying "keep your head down and join the crowd".
Nothing says, "I surrender," like an earth-toned hoodie.
Dress like no one's watching? So not only are you not going to be heard, no one is even going to look at you. Now the truncheon of the capitalist-fascist police state hangs just above everyone's head, you're going to tell me colours are out?
Have the shiny black boots of my grandfather's generation become the pleated mommy jeans of mine?
Gap, when I am king you will be first against the wall. Well, after queue cutters, the government and, hell, pretty much everyone else.