Sunday, November 2, 2014

Same old same old: Welcome to the New Mediocrity

While a new world awaits, the old one just vamps 'till ready.

Vanessa Friedman, Mired in Mediocrity, The New York Times:
WELCOME to the “new mediocre.” It’s not quite the New Look, or the New Deal, but it is the new normal.

At least according to Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, who coined the term a few weeks ago.

She was referring to the global economy, of course, which she thought could use a jolt lest it “muddle along with subpar growth,” but her words, uttered during a relatively small-scale speech at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, have had an impact far beyond the school’s borders and the world of economists (though said economists were very het up about it), reaching into the Twitterverse.
The fashionistas?
The answer to the endless debate we in the industry have over why big fashion groups would rather buy an old brand name than back a fresh one? The new mediocre.

Given that the underlying principle of fashion is to identify that ephemeral state of culture and society known as the zeitgeist and reflect it back at the world in sartorial form, this would suggest that what has been happening in fashion, and the explanation for it, actually reflects a broader reality. And indeed, once you start thinking along new mediocre lines, you see it everywhere.
And now for the big question:
"How did we get here?"
To use the terminology of cultural ranks that David Hays and I developed some decades ago, our world is still dominated by rank 3 institutions with their roots in 19th Century (and earlier) Europe and North America. Rank 4 technology, ideas, and even institutions are all over the place, but they live in the shadow of rank 3. It's time for a cultural turn-over, where rankle 3 gives way to rank 4 (and rank 5 emerges into the shadow regions). Such turnovers, such gestalt switches, are delicate and difficult maneuvers.

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