Seinfeld-Puffy-ShirtThe grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.  Well, that is until you get go over there. This is one of the most famous idioms and still we can’t stop our heads from pivoting ever so slightly to see what the next guy/girl/family is doing, driving, wearing.

And it’s this bit of human nature that helps facilitate new fashion trends. Give a pretty girl or a famous guy a new shirt and hope that others will associate the fame or beauty with that shirt and run out to buy it. Same with basketball sneakers and high flying athletes.  Of course, not to be too cynical, sometimes the new fashion article is simply pleasing to the eye.

But how do you start a trend when you can’t get that first person to wear it. How do you spin a new look when you can’t find a patient zero, aka a willing guinea pig? Well, you lie. Even with TV, movies and the Internet it’s still hard to know on a weekly or daily basis what people on the other side of the world are doing.

This came into focus for me while I was in Norway. Somehow the conversation switched to fashion. Men shouldn’t harp on fashion but I think men who must cultivate some type of image and then stand in front of people every night get a very short reprieve. In my case this reprieve led to enlightenment. A Norwegian comic glibly referred to skinny jeans as “The style the guys in New York wear.”  European says what?!  I told him that in the states we thought the tight jeans thing kind of came from Europe. Then my Norwegian counterpart really blew my mind. He told me in Norway they associate tight jeans with New York just like men wearing those little purses.  EUROPEAN SAYS WHAT?!?!  I told him that in the states we call those murses (man Purse) “European Carry Alls.”  Our entire argument for wearing men purses, other than the incredible convenience, was that it was considered a standard thing in Europe. Our “European carry all” is their “New York Bag.” In that moment we realized that we had both been duped.

Apparently fashion people can tell people in the US that something is hot in Europe while simultaneously telling the people in Europe that folks in the US are “eating this up.”  Something from nothing. I’m sure fashion, like many things, is sort of a living organism that just naturally changes over time. I’m also sure that people with money are doing their best to rig the game. Luckily, no fashion conscious person on any continent can be tricked into thinking a Fanny pack is acceptable.