With my friend’s enthusiasm for new clothes ringing in my head, I did a little research on what fashion trends the new year has in store. According to style blogs, 80s nostalgia, political tees, brightly colored stripes and a rebellious attitude are among the trends for 2017.
While these broader style trends are intriguing, my interest lies especially with the local scene. This week, I traveled to downtown Bangor to Mexicali Blues to get a feel for local trends for the new year (as we all know, Maine fashion statements can sometimes be very different from those expressed in the rest of the country). Plus, while broad fashion trends can be interesting to watch, the local scene is a much more relatable place, where real people wear real clothes in their real lives.
I had to chuckle when Julie, the incredibly helpful store manager, said that a big trend in the store’s accessory department consisted of scrunchies and headbands. In some capacity, it looks like Maine is welcoming the 80s back, too.
Another big fashion statement in the store are fingerless gloves. One pair the store carries is fleece-lined from Nepal, perfect for keeping your hands warm while remaining functional for the quick text while walking down the street. This nod to technology is certainly a more modern trend than the scrunchies.
Despite the similarity in trends, Mexicali Blues offers a unique style perspective. Kim and Pete Erskine, the store’s owners and founders, travel all around the world to buy their inventory. With a focus in Indonesia, Bali, Thailand and India, they are committed to purchasing clothing, crafts and accessories from local artisans. By acting as the store’s sole buyers, they have created and maintained meaningful and personal relationships with these artisans and have ensured that the goods in Mexicali Blues have come from fair working conditions that are both socially and environmentally conscious. This business model is another nod to modern times and what can be expected in 2017; the ability to work locally while embracing an increasingly globalized and connected world.
And substance matters too. Fashion can come off as a shallow topic, but it also has the capacity to represent something much more significant, especially when there is a meaningful backstory. There is a deeper connection when buyers can know who made their clothes and goods and where they came from.
Recently, the Bangor Police Department echoed this sentiment and further proved that exchanging clothes can express something that is more meaningful than merely what is “in.” A story published on the Department’s Facebook page retold an event where a woman noticed a man walking in the cold with worn-out shoes. After she phoned the police expressing concern for the man, officers eventually found him and brought him to the station to get him warm and give him adequate boots.
What is always in style is kindness.
Both Mexicali Blues and the Bangor Police – and so many others - prove that this kindness can be shown through the exchange of clothing. Hopefully, this New Year will be a reminder that kindness can bridge the gap between old and new trends and can keep us in the present, where we can enjoy and embrace the current moment.