I sometimes have a bit of a tendency towards ‘old head syndrome’. Kids these days and all that. That Rakim > Rocky, Leica M3 > Sony A7r iii, et cetera barbershop head shaking tip.
I mean, I definitely ride the fashion merry-go-round. I’m happy to make outré choices on occasion. Last winter I was a metre-wide in that Vetements x Canada Goose super puff coat. Looked like the Michelin Man wearing a hamster ball costume with leather-kneed Amiri shotgun joggers. This summer in the LES I was wearing a laser-cut ombré leather singlet from the A Wang runway and got rejected at a bar that had a ‘dress code’. Had to tell them that I didn’t care if they didn’t like my cocktail dress, but fashion is fluid and they can’t force me to conform to normative sartorial roles. Then I got super shook on Paloma’s and whinged about how I felt bad about feigning a struggle that is genuinely real, until my militantly gay rapper homie deaded that with ‘It was funny. Shut up. All this woke is putting me to fucking sleep’.
All this by way of saying that I’m not coming from a Dockers and Oxford perspective. But, seriously, some of the fashion choices of late have my head spinning. I feel like that ad that was on all the yellow cabs last summer. ‘On fleek. (Whatever the hell that means)’.
Everyone looks the same. Non-conformist conformity. Just like I can’t remember the last time I met someone without the obligatory sleeves. How did having no tattoos become the counter-cultural statement of rebellion?
That whole Calvin Klein sports bra/Supreme boxers poking out of mom jeans thing looks great on Sarah Snyder. But what doesn’t? It’s like we’ve all gone back to Fruits-era Tokyo. To the casual onlooker they all looked hyper original. But, in fact, there were highly codified tribes. They say there’s 16 personalities. Well, there also seems to be 16 styles. FuckYeahMensWear broke them down lovely, for dudes (goth ninja, euro jetsetter, hype beast, fashion victims, et cetera). Like Glenn O’Brien said:
In my childhood, people complained that it was an age of conformity, but now we have entered the age of the clone. Why imitate if you can duplicate? Now even nonconformity has become clichéd, with rebels rolling out of the alternative assembly line, decked in designer rebel uniforms, with tattoos selected from a brochure and piercings in the usual shocking spots.
It’s not like I’m mad at pretty girls wearing ripped jean shorts that make Daisy Duke look modest (though boys, remember the one sage thing Esquire ever said: ‘Before wearing your jean shorts pretreat them by throwing them in the garbage’). But style is supposed to be ‘yours’; a reflection of you, not of Ssense’s IG/sales section.
Mary H.K. Choi may have summed this particular phenomenon up best, in her seminal piece ‘On Female Fuccboi Style’.
It’s not exactly “basic.” Basic is a heathered snood. A mock-angora, warm-weather beanie. It’s skinny jeans with too many zippers tucked into boots. It’s a pre-distressed fast-fashion M65 from F21. Basic is believing nude platforms are working because bodycon is still a thing, or owning ballet flats. Basic is fine. It’s regional, like your special word for soda. It just means you live in Portland or Jersey, which can happen to anyone.
If I’m honest, anyone who looks to previous cultural accomplishments in lieu of contemporary ones with perma-fixed rose-coloured glasses is living in a dream world.
Is Rakim a better rapper than Rocky? Yeah. But, musically, did he push the envelope as much? Nah. And he’s definitely not better than Kenny. Would I trade Pink Siifu for Gil Scott-Heron? Probably not. But I don’t have to. We can have both, and it’s’ fuxking lovely.
Technology has provided access and opportunity to a wealth of talent that previously would have gone undiscovered. Arca would have never been discovered twenty years ago. And that ability to cull all information and parse it for oneself allows for limitless possibility.
You and your roommate don’t both need that OC x Alpha MA-1. That’s all I’m saying. Stand the fuck up.
Remember what the Fresh Prince used to wear? He thought he looked cool; dressed like a fucking clown. Well, that’s the cat in the Triple-S’. They’re stunna shades for the feet. That are being worn by 65 year olds in Hong Kong who love to tell their friends how ‘with it’ they are. Good look.