Saturday, 7 March 2020

The Dharma of Fashion by Otto von Busch


The Dharma of Fashion: A Buddhist Approach to Our Life with Clothes by Otto von Busch
Published by Schiffer Publishing on the 28th February 2020.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Our desires for fashion, our addiction to cheap clothes, our fixation on surface looks... can we find ways to make what we wear more positive? Here's a quirky, irreverent way to consider what's a more sustainable way to be with--and still enjoy--fashion. This little book shows that fashion isn't shallow, but connects us to the depths of existence. Especially today, fashion can tell us something about life, and this series of meditations and conversations between fashion ""hacktivist"" von Busch and Buddhist teacher Josh Korda shows how a Buddhist perspective on fashion can help us engage with clothes in wiser ways. It may seem a Buddhist approach to fashion would be about denying fashion and living an ascetic life in dull robes. However, Buddhism can teach us to be more present and take more pleasure in fashion. With practice and reflection, we can live a wiser life with the consumption of clothes. Includes ""action exercises"" to help put ideas into practice in your life and closet.

I was intrigued by the premise of this short philosophical work, especially as I have completely rethought my own attitudes towards clothing and possessions over the past few years. The Dharma of Fashion is, I think, intended as a wake-up call for people who habitually use retail therapy to cheer themselves up or as a reward - and end up being ultimately no happier plus then find themselves dealing with the added stresses of an overstuffed wardrobe and empty bank account as well. In the days when I had a fairly smart office job, this was often me. Otto von Busch discusses how Buddhist thinking can help individuals to overcome such an empty addiction to clothes shopping. I was particularly interested in his descriptions of what is actually happening in our brain chemistry as we search out the perfect slimming dress, for example, and why that life-changing outfit loses its magic so quickly - sometimes even before we've carried it home.

As with a lot of sound psychological thinking, In common with Alain De Botton's work, Status Anxiety, The Dharma Of Fashion's guidance encourages readers to look inwardly for solutions to unhappiness rather than hanging our dreams on the acquisition of yet more pieces of fabric. Von Busch demonstrates the destructive pointlessness of our current overconsumption - both to ourselves and our planet - and I appreciated the inclusion of Buddhist practices that can help change our mindsets. I liked that the advice here reinforced my pride in my own minimalist wardrobe because I often find myself feeling I should have more clothing - not because I have any need for more, but just because being different creates unease. Now I can rationalise those nagging doubts. I wonder if von Busch's lessons will also work for book hoarding?


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