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Fuuma

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I don't understand the "intentionality" discussion; surely these people are aware that they picked up a pair of cords in the morning and not a kilt so that is not what we are getting at here. There remains the idea of a subculture as something named, codified and stultified (i.e. dead). A new phenomenon would not have those characteristics and would be polysemic, welcoming of different styles, takes and people and certainly left unnamed and often unacknowledged by its participants (i.e. alive). BTW I personally don't see a there there in "bookcore” but, as you can see, that is beside the point.
 

breakaway01

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I don't understand the "intentionality" discussion; surely these people are aware that they picked up a pair of cords in the morning and not a kilt so that is not what we are getting at here. There remains the idea of a subculture as something named, codified and stultified (i.e. dead). A new phenomenon would not have those characteristics and would be polysemic, welcoming of different styles, takes and people and certainly left unnamed and often unacknowledged by its participants (i.e. alive). BTW I personally don't see a there there in "bookcore” but, as you can see, that is beside the point.
my point about intentionality is that many subcultures of dressing are based on identity. CM very much so, for example. SLP leather jacket and black side-zip boots, another. I put on a navy sportcoat with grey flannel trousers and brown split-toe derbies very intentionally. On the other hand, I don't think all of these people depicted in Derek's bookcore article dress the way they do to express some common "bookstore vibe" (or whatever we want to call it) identity. Which is not to say that I don't think there isn't something to it -- it's just that it is based more on our own interpretation of the look rather than anything that could be consciously expressed by the participants themselves.
 

pasadena man

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I think that the discomfort it seems to produce in the CM community might be one of the most interesting parts about it. Because, as the photos of “CM” vs “bookcore” comparisons show, a lot of bookcore is just CM that shows its age or contemporary ill-fitting, isn’t it? Whereas CM is all about asserting that a certain kind of fashion is “classic“ and immune to aging? It’s not so much that bookcore is different, then, but that it might be a bit too close for comfort? A bit debased or doing it wrong?
This point resonates with me because I have had an uneasy fascination with this thread. Your comment helps me discover the likely reason for that discomfort.

My sensibility is, loosely, CM, but I have also spent a lot of time in bookstores. I think my ambivalence is in part due to an “Uncanny Valley” effect with some of the examples DWW and others have cited. They are quite close to CM, but just different enough, in sometimes strange and minor ways, to be slightly unsettling aesthetically.


That said, more power to them. It’s a comfortable, lived in, leaned into, style (even if often achieved without conscious thought).
 

dieworkwear

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Now, I think if we really wanted to spice it up, we could add a third layer: Does this actually look good?
I think the style is mostly a spin on those who like tailoring but don't want anything too sleek/to be too dressed up/want to have some rugged flare & who don't want to be associated with the upper class (hence why it's something different than Ivy).
For me, I think part of the appeal is accepting that you might not actually look good. So yes, in some ways, it can look bad. But it's also accepting that the ideals laid out ten years ago -- the rich and handsome Italian man, the 1950s Harvard student, and the Savile Row gentleman -- are not attainable and, for some, not desirable. I think a lot of guys, including me, bought those types of clothes and over time realized we don't look anything like the photos posted. No one really looks like Andreas Wineas unless they're physically handsome.

Ethan Wong's take on tailored clothing looks much more natural to me for his lifestyle. It's artsy, indie, slightly alternative. And it makes much more sense to me than trying to mimic some 1950s Harvard student, which would look concocted for a young guy living in sunny Los Angeles and hanging out with friends in hip districts. I suppose whether it looks "good" is up to the viewer. I think he's stylish.

Reminds me of a convo I once had with Jeremy Kirkland at Blamo. We were talking about Jay Fielden's Instagram, which is full of these signifiers popular ten years ago -- the bespoke suit, fancy garden party, Earnest Hemmingway books, martinis, vintage cars and watches, sailing, tennis courts, etc. Jay is also a physically very handsome man and lives that sort of "learned life" he idolizes (but I don't think exists among actual academics). Jeremy and I were talking about how many of these photos look passe now, despite once being popular. My impression is that bookcore resonates with some people because it feels more attainable and relevant to their life, even if they don't actually attend bookstore lectures.

At the same time, as others have suggested, there's also a veneer of this class signaling. I agree with others that this look is still highly connected to privileged lifestyles, often those of white liberals in certain college towns or NYC. Someone on Reddit described it as a mix of old money and artsy and weird. So for people who are uncomfortable with the traditional notions of class signaling through clothes, you can have your cake and eat it too, while also achieving a look that's a lot more attainable than possibly relevant to your non-elite lifestyle.
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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Life is absurd too, might as well have fun with it.

I wonder if this perceived "new or not" statement about Bookcore stems from a generational gap?
Reading this thread I don’t think that it stems from a generation gap. I like to watch…;) maybe its due majoring in Cultural Studies/ Critical Theory mind you I was once described as a cornflake packet reader.…

Initially I encountered a lot of discussion occurring around subcultures stemming from the identification of various “tribes” constellated around the Sydney 80’s post punk music scene. This in part came from the wholesale introduction of The Usual Suspects and Deconstruction entering the milieu of academia, and wanting to know what the attacteive cool girls studying Communications who were dropping names like Barthes, Bourdieu were talking about. It was focused on subcultures within a dominant genre breaking out and generating a cultural rhizome culturally independent of the host...meanwhile in the inner city art school my house mates attended the talk was all about what is this thing called Post Modernism.

Then enter the mid 90’s and Cool Hunters emerged, trawling through the underbelly of the dominant cultural hegemony operating in a number of genres within the Urban framework.

The point is that trend spotting requires a locus a ground zero site where people congregate and interact thereby the meme gains social traction as people pick up on the look expanding its reach, being descended from herd animals we seek identification and sense of belonging amongst other individuals of like minds. Subculture grows organically, of course if some designer working for a large label see’s something in it that they can exploit for commercial gain they go for it. Then depending upon values attached to the subculture members may revolt once commercialization sets in and talk of authenticity, purity grows amongst adherents and either it collapses or attains legendary status and icons of a movement emerge who are spoken of by adherents, academics and the culturally aware in hushed tones. Think Nick Cave…

The ”look” being described here has been a mainstay of my winter wardrobe for years, but in more of tailored look. Brogues DB, Wide Wale Cor-du-rroy, cashmere jumpers, tweed jackets…however the last few years I’ve favoured a parka designed on a variation of German Polis but I do the Swedish Polis jacket looks way cooler.

So in terms of legitimacy of a wave, a moment, it makes sense more so as one of the big uptakes of the Plague is reading…and Scandi Noir serials on TV(does such a thing still exist). Bookstores, author reading are considered culturally and hygienically safe places under our current Plague circumstances. So it naturally follows that a subculture would emerge from that environment symbolically expressing meme which as a form of symbolic identity becomes a loose uniform with site specific variations expressing a belonging to a larger group on the part of individuals. The French have a saying ”the dogs bark, the caravan moves on.” Revel in while its here.
 
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am55

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...the rich and handsome Italian man, the 1950s Harvard student, and the Savile Row gentleman -- are not attainable and, for some, not desirable. I think a lot of guys, including me, bought those types of clothes and over time realized we don't look anything like the photos posted. No one really looks like Andreas Wineas unless they're physically handsome.
 

FlyingHorker

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Bookstores, author reading are for the considered culturally and hygienically safe places under our current Plague circumstances. So it naturally follows that a subculture would emerge from that environment symbolically expressing meme which as a form of symbolic identity becomes a loose uniform with site specific variations expressing a belonging to a larger group on the part of individuals. The French have a saying ”the dogs bark, the caravan moves on.” Revel in while its here.
Man, unfortunately I don't have the knowledge to dissect a lot of this, but I think I did understand the paragraph I'm quoting here.

The Bookcore subculture being a product of the pandemic's environment makes sense to me.
 

Mirage-

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well you seem very intolerant.
This is a post about you someone wrote in another thread, this one was spot on too.
Funny enough, I read the beginning of this thread, and was about to post that it seemed to me like this trend didn't really feel like anything more than random people dressing randomly*, then thought better of it and left without posting in order to avoid getting myself into another endless and unproductive debate.
So for a long moment I stood confused trying to understand who I could have offended and how, before eventually realizing I had been cited in yet another argument DWW got himself into.

*for example, just today at work (IT section of a big bank, Rome), I saw one guy in navy jacket, black waistcoat, and faded jeans (what style is that?). Others had navy suits and ties, and yet another had a hoodie from the Italian Air Force, jeans and gym shoes.
 

smittycl

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Obliviously you have not discovered Japanese Denim...:cool:
I have some Italian denim that wifey likes me to wear. Don’t get me started on dudes who roll up their jeans…. :fence: (All in good fun!)
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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I have some Italian denim that wifey likes me to wear. Don’t get me started on dudes who roll up their jeans…. :fence: (All in good fun!)
I do not roll up my denim..:fence:

PS I recently found some 20 year old Black post punk levis which still fit…:slayer:
 

am55

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I don't understand the "intentionality" discussion; surely these people are aware that they picked up a pair of cords in the morning and not a kilt so that is not what we are getting at here. There remains the idea of a subculture as something named, codified and stultified (i.e. dead). A new phenomenon would not have those characteristics and would be polysemic, welcoming of different styles, takes and people and certainly left unnamed and often unacknowledged by its participants (i.e. alive). BTW I personally don't see a there there in "bookcore” but, as you can see, that is beside the point.
But Derek is speaking of NYC and other yank cities. The yanks are very good at creating a suitable environment for reifying whatever fiction you come up with for yourself. It's like Amelie Nothumb's Peplum - the characters wear movies and through this express themselves, and yanks wear the stories they have crafted for themselves. "I am a...", primary school style. It is what makes the US the US, non? Like taking what Rebatet would describe as a "rassemblement d'abbesses, d'antiques vierges, de dames et de puceaux d’œuvres, de gentilshommes bretons à bottines" and in crossing the Atlantic tying it to students in indie bookstores.

And so the question of whether or not this story is one that is sufficiently shared by other storytellers becomes moot - what matters is the individual's story. Derek is in the story telling business as well, and in this case takes the angle of abstracting individualism of storytelling (which after all these pages, strikes me as the "core") as the defining feature for his category. There are some parallels with Claude Shannon's information theory here - how many bits of originality, how orthogonal is X from everyone else? I found myself exploring this in an attempt to understand Derek's point and it was fruitful, but that is my own storytelling (or Barthesian mythology, for Geoff's aforementioned sociology students of Sydney).
 

DoubleDouble

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For me, I think part of the appeal is accepting that you might not actually look good. So yes, in some ways, it can look bad. But it's also accepting that the ideals laid out ten years ago -- the rich and handsome Italian man, the 1950s Harvard student, and the Savile Row gentleman -- are not attainable and, for some, not desirable. I think a lot of guys, including me, bought those types of clothes and over time realized we don't look anything like the photos posted. No one really looks like Andreas Wineas unless they're physically handsome.

Ethan Wong's take on tailored clothing looks much more natural to me for his lifestyle. It's artsy, indie, slightly alternative. […] I suppose whether it looks "good" is up to the viewer. I think he's stylish.
This, 100%. I would even go a step further and say that frumpy clothing is a rejection of attraction being primarily based on physical fitness and, essentially, being born with the right genes. Ironically both the sex-positivity/body-acceptance folks and the (mostly online) sex-negativity folks can adopt this and make it work for their purposes.

The distinction between "looking good" and "being stylish" is a critical one and could deserve its own thread, but I'll just say that Ethan Wong is stylish and looking good, partially because he's found a haircut that works for him, and partially because he's confident and at ease in his clothing and, if anything, he's having fun. Hard to say the same about a lot of CM folks that on paper are supposed to be more handsome.
 
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