The Power of Representation in Minimalism

How visibility helped me overcome limiting beliefs and stereotypes about minimalism

Words by Pierre Monnerville

I've always been a minimalist but never felt comfortable to call myself one. It's only been a month since I’ve allowed myself to talk about it so openly. Looking back, I first discovered minimalism at age six. I was a neglected child, so I spent an awful lot of time on my own. Even though my room was full of toys, I realised that toys never brought me happiness. They just prevented me from being too bored.

The reason I didn't dare label myself a minimalist was that most of the YouTubers and bloggers I was aware of were quite extreme minimalists. They were also either white or Southeast Asian, so as a Black man, I thought I just didn't belong there. Especially considering I have more than 4four plates at home and—shock, horror—dozens of novels and design, art, and photography books, which in my opinion are everything but clutter. You see, the thing is they don't just bring me joy and make me feel mildly clever and cultured, I actually go through them regularly when I look for inspiration for artistic projects. I absolutely love reading on my iPad, but to me, there is something very special about looking at art and design in a physical book. But I digress . . .

Stumbling across a blog by fellow Black minimalists a few weeks ago literally changed my life. I still can’t believe how liberating it was. Without even contacting any of them, my sense of isolation instantly vanished. That was just the beginning, though.

I launched a menswear label earlier this year. Yes, I design minimalist clothes. Obviously . . . What else could I do, right? However, I spent most of this year trying to explain to regular menswear aficionados what a capsule wardrobe was, trying to justify how critical—and beneficial—reducing consumption was and all the rest of it. Even worse, I felt obliged to pretend I was interested in fashion trends. Needless to say, I constantly felt a knot in my stomach and resented every single workday since I believed I couldn’t be true to myself. Then I blamed myself for not finding the right arguments and was overcome by shame and a sense of failure.

Now I feel deep in my core that I've finally found my tribe and can stop feeling like a fraud. Minimalism helps me focus on what matters to me, and I've come to terms with the fact that what I’m doing isn’t for everyone, even minimalists. Nevertheless, most of us understand the benefit of good-quality basic clothes with the right balance of discreet details.

Minimalism is no magic pill, however. My life hasn’t turned into a fairy tale just yet, but the fog has definitely lifted. I’m very grateful to be able to freely connect all the dots of my life and allow myself to be authentic.

Pierre Monnerville

Pierre Monnerville grew up between Paris and Martinique, a French island in the Caribbean. Always wanting to live abroad, he moved to Berlin and then London before settling in Brighton. He is a photographer and designer. His latest project is a minimalist and ethical menswear label.

Website
monnerville.co
Instagram
@urbanjerseybymonnerville

Our Book, Inside Minimalism Vol.1

A collection of 50 short and relatable essays on simple living by a small team of writers from different backgrounds, but who all share a deep appreciation for minimalism as a way of life. This book covers many topics such as slow and quiet living, curation, consumerism, and family. It is not a strict guide book or a rule book. Rather, it is a book we hope will inspire, motivate, and encourage you to take a slow and simplified approach to life.

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