X IS FOR XENOMANIA
BY: TRINITY HOENIG
COVER ART: JULIANNA LUKACS
X is for…. Xenomania. My earliest memories of fashion are of my sister and I sitting cross-legged on the floor, cutting up fashion magazines and gluing them to bright poster paper. Whether haphazardly picking the most colorful outfits, or attentively selecting bits and pieces of outfits we found ourselves drawn to, these makeshift scrapbooks were our original inspiration boards. This pastime with my sister still stands today but in a new form. The cutting and gluing has turned to screenshotting, saving, and dm-ing. We often find ourselves sharing strangers’ posts from Instagram or Pinterest, “glueing” them to our now virtual inspiration boards. While the format may have changed, the sentiment remains: fashion has created a space for my sister and I, and so many others, to be inspired by strangers.
Though we may not have known it while we were admiring the “cool girls in the magazines,” this is known as xenomania. Xenomania is described as the pleasure of meeting strangers or having a great love of foreign things, customs, and manners. This notion has been propagated by social media, as our exposure and access to foreign things are instantaneous. The concept of foreign, however, can mean many different things. Foreignness may simply be a new trend or brand you hadn’t yet known of, or a far-off country. The beauty of it, though, is that with exposure, it no longer is foreign to you, but something you have attended to and appreciated. This transformation from foreign to familiar, therefore, may be what makes xenomania so compelling. Rather than having a great love of foreign things, one could have a great love of the feeling you get when you find or learn something new. The subjectivity of foreignness explains why xenomania might be a universal fashion experience.
With the rise and fall of fashion trends, what has remained constant is their origin in influence. As we saw with the recent take off of western inspired looks—cowboy boots, leather, and wide-brim-hats—fashion can be traced back to an original inspiration. Though metallic green Jeffrey Campbell Dagget boots may not scream practicality, these western articles of fashion point to early Spanish settlers and their influence in the 1500s. By participating in this trend, whether by sharing images of others donning the western look, or buying your very own cowboy attire, you demonstrate xenomania for an early Spanish custom, and a culture that still exists in many parts of the world.
As we know, connectedness is what shapes experience. Much like how a certain song or smell can bring you back to a special moment in time, thinking about certain fashion trends or memories can bring you back to your moment of xenomania. Whether it was scrapbooking with your sister on the floor or being influenced by a stranger on the internet, we should all relish these moments of newfound admiration and connectivity.