I read an interesting piece on Racked over the weekend about “How LA changed my personal style”.
I tend to think that this particular east coast-west coast beef was summed up, and much more pithily, 30 years ago by Bret Easton Ellis, when the narrator of Less Than Zero said: “my gray argyle vest, which seems vaguely more eastern than before, especially next to Blair’s clean tight jeans and her pale-blue T-shirt.” All without fashion’s equivalent of Suge Knight, who almost certainly would be Andre Leon Talley.
But, hey, I never complain, because it means shopping in LA is amazing. That subtly distressed slim fit cashmere sweater that sold out day one in New York will be 50% off two months later at Barneys at the base of Rodeo Dr, forgotten in a sea of lightly bleached dad-fit denim and hideous Louboutin high-tops. Studded, natch.
This isn’t the lead-in to a dig at LA. I love LA. And, these days, so does everyone else. When the NYT does a feature on the fact that Silverlake/Echo Park is basically Brooklyn south, it’s safe to say that the secret is out of the bag, and Woody Allen’s immortal joke about LA’s ‘only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light’ belongs where it was birthed, in the 70s.
Nor is this a shot at athleisure, soft-grunge, health-goth, or any other fashion-based taxonomic imperative, though it might have started that way.
And Stephen Marche’s piece in The Guardian this week may have also got me thinking, when he suggested that ‘There is no Toronto flavour. There is no Toronto scene. There is no Toronto style. Rather there are sounds and flavours and scenes and styles borrowed from elsewhere.’
Because fuck you.
That isn’t Toronto specific. It’s everyone. Everywhere. The new geographic fashion identity is an utter lack of geographic fashion identity. Thanks internet, but what did we expect? Pre-teens in Lagos spend all day on IMGUR, and Vogue is no longer based in New York. It’s based in the cloud. More specifically, in a storm cloud brewing over the Sunda Shelf.
The chicest compliment a Parisienne bobo can give these days is ‘Très Brooklyn’, but the ‘Brooklyn aesthetic’ is just repurposed Pacific Northwest heritage jawns. And guess what the kids in Seattle and Portland are actually wearing? Anti Social Social Club. No city that doesn’t start with ’T’ and end with ‘okyo’ has a wholly unique style anymore, so what in the actual fuck are you talking about, really? Vetements is doing a collabo with Canada Goose. Everything is nothing. We’re waiting for Godot, cuz his eBay finds are the realest. Fashion existentialism.
Since forever, by which I mean at least 5 years, off-duty models have cribbed it in jeans and singlets. And Tom Ford wore either a black suit/white shirt or black tank/black trou every day for over a decade.
Some people think that’s because they spend their workdays in fashion, and need a respite. The way a high-level chef eats BLTs on their day off.
But it’s not. It’s because they know that in subtle clothing, it’s the person who stands out. Anyone can look outré in Gucci leather (I’m looking at you, Buzz Bissinger), but it’s something else entirely to stand out in jeans and a T. Not everyone can be James Dean.
This truth is inevitable; it’s the fashionification of it that’s absurd. Sous-couture. Mercer St. as the runway. Showing me a picture of Alexander Skarsgård looking handsome in a black t-shirt is like showing me a picture of the Hope Diamond on a pizza. It’s still the hope diamond, naw’mean.
This isn’t norm core, it’s The Emperor’s New Clothes. Adjust accordingly.