Discussion in 'Streetwear and Denim' started by LA Guy, May 15, 2015.
And white sneakers
How old are you / what kind of environment do you live / work in? Do you have enough in-depth conversations with individuals on either side of the political spectrum to derive their interests If you encounter more right-leaning people in the context of work vs. left-leaning people in a more social context it would make perfect sense that left-leaning people seem more interested inc ulture etc.
Let's do this. In other news, bought myself some Hender Scheme WIP-08s (the "New Balances") as a b-day present for myself:
Never really wanted GATs, but kinda like the Hender Scheme ones. Probably a dumb idea
Was recently thinking about this piece by Cathy Horyn, who talks about a "post-trend universe." That is, there are so many small micro-communities now for fashion to exist, you no longer need huge narratives that everyone must follow. So workwear can exist alongside gothninja alongside Italian tailoring alongside palewave or whatever.
Anyway, it made me think about whether this also means we won't get to see the big designer fashion fights anymore, like YSL vs. Karl Lagerfeld. Or how Versace and Amani played off of each other in the 1980s (one super indulgent; the other very austere). Same with Gucci vs Prada, or Azzedine Alaia vs. CDG (although I guess that last one was more womenswear -- but same idea with one being very fitted and glamorous; the other very austere).
Seems like a shame, because those fights really made for great fashion stories. Also helped to define decades.
We've seen this on this forum for about a decade, and it's actually the route of some of the things that you've complained about. People into a specific style feel no particular opposition, in general, to another style, and this is especially true of more sophisticated, knowledgeable people. A goth ninja does not feel threatened by dudes into Visvim, or SLP, or whatever, and so the proponents of those styles do not feel at all compelled to argue with the proponents of another style. It's very much a "live and let live" world, but also one in which there is not much cross pollination. An hardcore SLP fan is not likely to be going to be in the Viberg thread, ever.
I even see this need for an overarching narrative diminishing in classic menswear, where there was always more conflict/discussions, because the idea of there being a more or less universal set of classical "rules", which sets up a natural conflict with those who don't believe that there are such a set of rules, or between people who have strong beliefs about the details of these rules. The attitude I see much more of is "Oh, yeah, that's cool for you. I don't really love it, and it's not my style, but... whatever." is much more prevalent. And the incidences of CM or SWD going across the border to troll hard have become essentially non-exisitent, definitely not the case even 5 years ago, when "jeans are just for yard work".
All of those come into play. I was thinking mostly about the neighborhoods that I live and interact in, including my work since its a place of service for the community. My work requires in depth interviewing of numerous people each day, and I am regularly told intimate details of the lives of relative strangers. So I don't think its work place vs social circle that affects what I see, but its a good point to think about.
I actually think CM Is more rule-anxious than ever before. People want to dress classically, but since most people there have entered the coat and tie look through the internet, it just means people are dressing according to SF rules, not social rules (or I guess in a traditional sense, old social rules). There's also very little "dress as you wish" culture. WAWYT there is more homogenous than ever, especially when you compare it to the diversity the forum had ~5 years ago. Changes on CM don't seem to be about what Horyn is writing about at all; feels like just a changing of populations (why the old group left is obviously a big contentious debate; prob not worth rehashing).
Anyway, leaving CM aside, it seems like the emergence of these microcosms also means that you don't get these big "fashion moments" in history, which were often defined by two big designers playing off of each other. Must make it strange, then, to write about the last decade of fashion twenty years from now.
Analogy time: You could take DWW post and replace fashion with hip hop, which had a great history of rappers playing off each other, battling it out with lyrics. Now everyone just finds their niche
I'm not sure that you need a central conflict in order to have a compelling narrative, though it's certainly easier. The story of the conflict between Versace and Armani, for example, while they certainly disagreed, is more compelling in the telling than anywhere else. It was fairly obvious fairly early on which designer had the upper hand. The House that Versace built was important mostly within a small fashion circles, and not so much in the "bigger world", and in fact, a relative fashion outsider, Ralph Lauren, was the real killer of the 80s, and the one designer who remains extremely relevant to the present day. Armani and Versace still exist, and their work influences generations of designers at every level, but Ralph Lauren continues to be a major force in the current industry.
I guess even if we don't focus on designers, I find it helpful to think about fashion in terms of big (sometimes oppositional) groups. One of my favorite encapsulations of the mid-20th century was by Bruce Boyer, who said that after the Second World War, middle class Americans looked to two directions for style: an Eastern Establishment WASP culture for business dress (and their accompanying, slightly more casual Ivy League look); and then the headier, working class culture of zoot suits, workwear, and motorcycle looks. Most middle-class guys ended up taking inspiration from the Eastern Establishment, which is what made things like leather jackets feel so powerful (sort of like an anti-sport-coat for the anti-hero).
It's kind of oversimplified, but it's also a nice way to explain 1950s and '60s fashion without just saying "there was a huge explosion of sportswear after 1947, and here were some of the big styles" (which some writers have done). Boyer's framework makes it easier to think about things.
But if everything is just about how there are dozens of microcommunities, it gets harder and harder to think about fashion history. At least in terms of what defines these big "moments." Workwear was probably the last big thing, but nothing since workwear has been "big." It almost forces writers twenty years from now to talk about fashion in those boring terms ("there was a huge explosion of styles after workwear died, and here are some of the main groups. Also, after those dozen groups died, here are the two dozen that sprung up").
I think someone (maybe Horyn) also commented once on how there aren't any new influential designers since the 1990s. Everyone who's important now basically came out twenty years ago. And even of those who are important, their influence is kind of contained (e.g. Hedi Slimane recently at SLP -- although I accept that might be contentious, as the guy has been hugely influential in many ways).
Cathy Horyn keeps on reminding us that she is getting old and a bit bitter. The fact is that the fashion establishment is just not as important and influential as it used to be. The businessmen and the smaller, often outside, players, are both encroaching on the importance of "fashion designers" and "fashion press", in fashion/
The luxury conglomerates trade fashion designers like pro-sports players, and the influence of any one specific designer is greatly diminished. Jil Sander and Margiela show that brands can stay relevant long after their founders have left, and these are not brands like Balenciaga, which was a mordant brand needing complete reinvention. Both Jil Sander and Martin Margiela were active designers. Bring in a Raf Simons, a "design" team, and clever marketing, and the brands even gain in relevance after the departure of their namesakes. Smaller designers and independent retailers, many without classical training or backgrounds, have outsized influence compared to decades past. Bloggers are more influential than Cathy Horyn and Suzy Menkes.
The most important development of the 21st century, so far, was "premium" denim, which made things like workwear possible, and really, changed the paradigm of fashion. This had nearly nothing to do with the fashion establishment. Most luxury and designer brands did not bring in denim until well after the fact. It was mostly led by amateurs and serial entrepreneurs who had access to some factories and washhouses and celebrities. The logical conclusion all of that were the one man dry goods brands.
Horyn actually welcomes the new free-for-all world of fashion. I do too (I think?). I assume everyone thinks this is better, since it gives people more fashion choices. I'm just wondering what a chapter on post-2010 fashion might look like in twenty years. If we're really in a post-trend universe, it seems like it will be hard to synthesize things.
Maybe it would focus on silhouettes? If there's any "trend" I see emerging in the next 5-10 years, it's fuller and fuller fits across the spectrum. Suits and casualwear are probably going to be a bit fuller, just out of reaction to the skin-tight, cropped things we've been seeing for so long.
We are socialists. You'd know this if you followed me on instagram, on which I posted photos from the recent Bernie Sanders rally in Los Angeles.
It helps to have evidence to show in favor of a hedge against possible pitchforks.
Not to go full pomo but this might be somewhat mistaking cause and effect. You could easily argue that the predominance of major designers wasn't because of some inherent world-shaking qualities that those designer possessed but because of the way fashion news/opinions were disseminated in a more centralized way where a few big institutions/magazines had control over the discourse and the narrative in the pre-internet. The interwebs and the rise of fashion blogs and forums have changed all that. I suspect that the means of communication and the dissemination of ideas have changed way more than any innate qualities of designers have, and the timing of the "post-trend" world seems to back that up.
tl;dr - designers haven't changed, the means of discourse about them have
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