THE MEANING OF POWER DRESSING
W/ FREDDY CARRASCO
Photography: Freddy Carrasco
Meet Toronto-bred, Tokyo-based artist Freddy Carrasco. The Japanese magazine Sabakaru said that Carrasco’s latest release, graphic novel ‘Gleem’, “is the epitome of when art meets ‘cool’. A word so simple and forbidden from the galleries and elaborated art circles around the world, they would never dream to use it and instead they always lose us all with their word-heavy descriptions when talking about art. A word so important, so full of power and relevance for our generation that the old, white, art establishment will most likely never come close to knowing or understanding what being cool truly means.”
Freddy Carrasco’s work often focuses on mental health and the importance of self-acceptance but also the future of the youth and fashion. Set in an Afro-futuristic world, the characters are wearing space-themed athleisure wear, where inspo could be traced to contemporary eccentric high-end fashion. This spurs the questions – what does it mean to be powerful today and how does that reflect in the way we dress? And what does the future of power dressing hold?
Fashion is one of the few safe spaces to explore identity and the concept of ’power dressing’ referring to a particular style, commanding respect, conservatism, and boldness – might ultimately have lost its power. Now we tend to choose style before gender, wearing loose-cut suiting to parties, and a-going-out top to work. A new kind of tenue de ville is taking form, and are shaping a new vision for a gender-fluid future.
And if the old, white, art establishment doesn’t know the first thing about our generation's definition of the word ‘cool’, what’s the verdict of the old, white, fashion establishment’s use of the word ‘power dressing’ and how does it differ from that word's definition in our generation?
What does power dressing mean to you?
It’s making a statement. And whatever gives you that confidence. Like, poke your chest out. Being seen, noticeable. As far as clothing goes – suits, for sure. Classic and snug. It should almost have the same fit as a superman-suit, you know, like really tight on your skin.
Clothes that have some form of cultural significance is a big one. Like Nigerian or Ghanaian headscarves, they’re so powerful to me. There’s something about the patterns and the shape. And jewelry can be very powerful. I met a Jewish man and he had this ball-necklace with the Star of David around his neck that opened up and turned into/disguised as a cross and he was like ‘this is what we had to wear to survive’. Jewelry is very interesting, especially with masonic symbols, they’re like clues.
“The youth are and will always be fearless. I feel like when people get older they start to live in the Matrix, they put themselves in these boxes and young people are not really thinking about that, they’re just going by how they feel and that’s the rawest form of expression. It’s not manufactured, it's just ‘this is the way I feel and I need to express it’.”
The youth are and will always be fearless. I feel like when people get older they start to live in the Matrix, they put themselves in these boxes and young people are not really thinking about that, they’re just going by how they feel and that’s the rawest form of expression. It’s not manufactured, it's just ‘this is the way I feel and I need to express it’. And I’m not saying that it’s not possible to do that when you’re older but it just comes more naturally when you’re young.
What garments or traits in a person give them/their authority according to you?
A long jacket in wool or moleskin. It’s like a big black refrigerator coming at you.
“That said – the way the Bloods dress is way more powerful to me than any suit could ever be. ‘This is who I am. Take it or leave it.’”
Do you dress to fit a certain situation or is it up to the given situation to fit the way you dress?
I’m trying to reach a place where I have a uniform and I feel like I’m very close to it. At least in terms of the silhouette. A pair of denim with a belt, a vintage t-shirt and whatever shoes make sense.
How does one look and/or appear to be perceived as respectful and give a sense of trust according to you?
Most of the time it’s all about energy – if I like someone's energy it doesn’t matter how they look or dress.
But I would be lying if I said that some clothing doesn’t have an effect on my perception of people. When Kanye West was wearing a suit everywhere he looked way more powerful and trustworthy than when he was wearing his chains and t-shirts. That’s just something about a suit that makes you look like you know what you’re doing. If you look well put together, it kind of tells me you manage your time well, like you’re a responsible person. Imagine if the Bloods and Crips wore suits, the whole perception of them would change. And that’s also the scary part since it’s the people wearing the suits that are the worst criminals.
That said – the way the Bloods dress is way more powerful to me than any suit could ever be. ‘This is who I am. Take it or leave it.’
At the end of the day I think power dressing and also fashion as a whole is about pushing boundaries. Wherever your line is, go a little bit further. Where you are just a little bit uncomfortable. Because comfort is boring, comfort stifles progress.
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