When viewed from a distance, you can see a group. Like a herd, a big mass of people who we can quickly classify. This would be on the basis of external features, of course, as we tend to lock onto skin colour, clothing and hairstyle. We like to pigeon-hole people,
which can partially be justified. We do not randomly choose our style of clothing, it is a way of shaping our identity, in order to show who we are (or aspire to be) and what group we (want to) belong to. The point is that our identity consists of two parts: we have a social and a personal identity. We are not aware of this as such, but we need them both in order to become complete persons.
Faces, not statistics
You can discover a great variety of personalities within a group which, at first sight, appears to be homogeneous. You will only recognise these personalities when you start zooming into the individual. Suddenly, you will see differences, diversities and unexpected contrasts.
And within this pool of diversity, we have one thing in common: we are all people. No person wants to be treated as just another statistic. Everyone has his or her own story, often with special details. You need to have an eye for unravelling these stories.
It’s all in the details
Look carefully – what strikes you? What deviates from the standard? Can you see that collar, those eyes, the unusual combination of jewellery? Can you see how his hair has been cut or how she tied her waistband? Dozens of messages are hidden in the way we present ourselves to the outside world: messages about culture and origin, social status and lifestyle, self-image and aspiration.
We use small details to show our personality and identity, preferably within the safety of a group. Vegan bodybuilders. Romantic punk rockers. Hip hijabis (hijabistas). Homosexual hill billies. Goth horse-crazy girls.
From pigeon-holing to watching and seeing
The way we dress is a way of communicating: this is me and this is how I want the world to see me. It works the same way for fashion brands, but the other way around: this is me, I understand your dreams and concerns, your ambitions and motives. I can see you.