Believe it or not, the idea of minimalist fashion is a pretty old concept. Minimalism got its start in Japanese culture. Its roots are deeply connected to Zen Buddhism, which preaches the idea of only using what you need.
Buddhism teaches control over your surroundings, your actions, and your thoughts. Minimalism is similar. It asks you to consider whether or not you actually need the things you want, and then forces you to make a decision based on that.
This, obviously, flies in the face of the modern American approach to fashion, which can sometimes lean into the “more is more” category. In the United States especially, we’re constantly inundated with messages about things we need and the trends of the moment.
Every day, we’re plugged into a system that tells us that if we don’t buy this electronic or piece of clothing, we’re going to be unhappy. Minimalism, on the other hand, asks you to take a step back and say to yourself: “Do I actually need another pair of black boots?”
But while minimalism seems to be a reaction to modern consumerism, it actually came over to the US and Europe the way many things do — through art. In the 1960s, the minimalist art movement came to New York as a reaction to abstract expressionism.
These artists felt that art shouldn’t reference anything but itself, unlike the expressionists who thought that art should be all about their feelings. Minimalist artists sought to simplify things. (Sensing a pattern here?) And since life tends to imitate art, this idea eventually bled into fashion, first kicking off with the whole “mod” trend.
Today, we have The Minimalists — a duo of friends who embraced minimalism as a way to find contentment in their lives. Their documentary, Minimalism, helped spread the modern version of the trend. And of course, you can’t talk minimalism without discussing Marie Kondo — a woman who made an industry out of sparking joy from decluttering.