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Fassion 4 Passion Tells the Audience What We Already Know

When people make fun of people from Melbourne, there are a few recurring motifs in the jokes made via Facebook comments or Instagram reels: Oat milk (depending on the age group), Protesters (depending on the suburb), Greyhounds (see both above), And thrifters. The op shoppers. The secondhand fiends.

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When people make fun of people from Melbourne, there are a few recurring motifs in the jokes made via Facebook comments or Instagram reels:

 

  • Oat milk (depending on the age group),
  • Protesters (depending on the suburb),
  • Greyhounds (see both above),
  • And thrifters. The op shoppers. The secondhand fiends. 

 

These inner-city lefties love an op shop. And not to agree with a Sky News watcher commenting on a Facebook news post, but they have a point. Take me as an example—I’d say ⅞ of my clothes are from an op shop, or secondhand of some kind. A big part of this habit is a financial thing, but as a notorious inner-city leftie who attended climate strikes as a child, I am, of course, aware of the environmental devastation, and misogyny, of the fashion industry. Judging by the crowd that attended this smaller MICF show, this audience were of a similar mindset. That beautiful, long, woolen green skirt owned by the person sitting next to me did not come from Zara, I can tell you that much. I asked, it was from the new North Melbourne Salvos. The stunning patched up brown coat of the person behind me had probably come from Preston Savers. My outfit itself had items from the Brotherhood of Saint Laurence’s [blank for gatekeeping] branch and an op shop from my hometown. 

 

This is not to boast about my own morality, or the audience’s. There are certainly a lot of issues to delve into regarding Melbourne’s op-shop culture. Rather, this context is provided to illustrate the MICF show Fashion 4 Passion was preaching to a choir that had been singing this specific arrangement for around a decade. 

 

Fashion 4 Passion consisted of duo Jen and Sam from Brisbane. They are part of Art for Earthlings, an educational production company who self describes as a creator of, “shows roving characters, and workshops, all dedicated to helping look after this big blue ball we live on!” This particular show was a mix between jukebox musical, satire and comedy skit, the show wanted to make sure the audience left that night with one message in mind: please thrift! 

 

Which, sure! Okay!

 

To do this, the pair went through what would have been a personal history of an average young, middle-class millennial’s history with fashion. The format were small snippets, with the story told through little skits that were separate in linearity, but all share the central idea: isn’t it crazy what “we” we were told because of Fashion™️? The first scene was a teen film makeover montage that’s main punchline was ‘isn’t it so crazy we’d be called fat lesbians if we wore the wrong clothes?’ The joke was told a few too many times for girls I can only describe as tiny. 

 

In exact order, the other skits involved a Year 12 drama performance, a home shopping network (the most enjoyable one, I laughed out loud at that), a clubbing scene where the two characters both wore the same outfit (I did giggle sometimes!), a moment where the sound guy turned out to be a young child working in a sweatshop (okay!), the duo as influencers price-gouging sweatshop-made merch, said influencers being cancelled, the ‘killing’ of fast fashion, and then the final scene: the two go thrifting. 

 

It was fun, and a break from the traditional comedy format, which one can always respect. However, there is an art to knowing when to cut it short, both for humours sake but also messaging sake. There is a point when you get it, and to be honest, we heard the joke the first time.

 

Art, even if intentionally apolitical, is still political. And while I don’t subscribe to the idea that you should only enjoy politically perfect art, if your art form is a satire centred around a political message, its political message will be criticised. Fashion 4 Passion’s message is that you, as a consumer, should turn to thrifting. Their final song spelled that out: thrifting is the solution to Fashion™️. And while I am not expecting revolutionary politics from a smaller MICF show, I do think this moral falls short when your audience are all Melbourne-coded young people who regularly frequent the opshop. 

 

It is a shame that a creative smaller show with wonderful production value is so easy to dismiss due to its message. But, if you are going to satirise an issue, my expectations are that the satire should be biting and fresh.

 
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