Why dress up when there is literally nowhere else to go? Then again, does clothing have to be tethered to a place, to an activity or to any other reason than the egotistical “to feel good”?
Who Wears What and Why is a series that asks this question as well as “what’s so bad about wearing sweatpants at home like everybody else?” (Nothing!) For one, for people whose relationships with clothes go beyond the basic human need for warmth and protection from basic elements, a change from sweats to jeans can spell the difference between cabin fever and a familiar sense of order.
In this episode, we hopped on a call with freelance creative writer and copy editor Zea Asis, who writes frequently about identity through fashion. Who knew that this extremely well-versed and well-dressed young woman was once upon a time a probinsyana coming to Manila for college and who once (and still do) believed in the subversive power of customizing ubiquitous items as a denim jacket? (“When I was in La Salle, [all the girls were wearing denim jackets and Stan Smiths], so I wanted to still be on-trend but have my own spin to it to let my individuality shine.”)
Her independently-produced chapbook “Strange Intimacies” released last year, is about her relationship with clothes, a kind of self-realization through them, and our collective fraught relationship with e-commerce and the ephemeral high it’s bundled with. “I think consumption or buying something, in general, is really just like daydreaming. It’s the promise of a better self, the promise of a better life,” she says.
Asis, who admits that prior to the pandemic she was on the verge of becoming a Rebecca Bloomwood (minus the credit card issue!), have become an A+ online reseller—not the kind that networks and scams you into a pyramiding scheme, but a “Carousell bitch” in her words (for those who know the app). She let go of articles of clothing and accessories on the Internet to finance her post-grad studies, sticking to ones that value comfort over frivolous aesthetics.
But she still buys both new and vintage clothes but not as often, because she is just human. One of her last purchases was a floral maxi dress shipped all the way from Australia, one she couldn’t wait to wear outside once this is all under control. “Although I’m not dressing up these days, I still buy because for me, the act is still very therapeutic,” she says. “It kind of satisfies a creative itch. Even if I can’t wear it, just having it there, just having it on display is also very satisfying.”