Cool hunting and the fetish object: performance and untranscended materiality


From Sartor Resartus to The Sartorialist, there is a search for the understanding of what constitutes cool and its connections to the materiality of fashion. This might simply be referred to as style, a refinement of taste, as Bourdieu might define it. The reality of cool however is closer to what Bourdieu might frame within a more exceptional exercise of practice, an embodied suave performance of the everyday. The idea of cool, something that is the superlative of the everyday, the banal enabled beyond expectation. Cool becomes something recognised by others, although located within the self, to say that one is ‘cool’ is uncool. Its placement is in the process of ‘cool hunting’, the predatory nature of pattern recognition, something that belies our sense of anticipation. The location of the body in the performative arena of the material world situates the self first and foremost as an embodied encounter. Cool then situates itself in our bodies and as an extension of our bodies. Just as shame is to guilt, so cool might be to aplomb.  Through the material locations of the body and performance, the fetish operates as a means of framing the power of material agency as an extension of self and an enabler of the performance of cool. The fetish coalesces otherwise heterogeneous elements into a unique untranscended materiality, a materiality that acts as both an inscriptive surface for the projection of value and acts as a controlling organ of the material self.