Fashion's Inside Joke

The best way to fit in is to pretend you don't care.

BY Joy Ling | Feb 22, 2018 | Fashion

Remember 2016? The year Vetements first surfaced on the fashion radar. Yes, fashion snobs, we are well aware the label made its debut two years prior to that, but you can’t deny 2016 was when it broke the fashion world. A quick search on google would show numerous articles on the mixed reactions. To save you some time, some keywords include “Breath of fresh air”, “Inspired by Margiela”, and “Just plain ugly”. You get it. You are familiar with the irregular cuts, slogans that made no sense but appealed anyway, and trademark oversized hoodies (which the brand has announced to be moving away from. Who knows anymore? Is water even wet?).

How did an underground label swallow a lion’s share of the mainstream market, and go on to earn the acceptance of the luxury fashion world? Fundamentally, there was a revived logo mania. An after-effect of being born into an era of popular culture, our taste betrayed our outward detest for mass consumption, only to reveal a subconscious love for it. Fashion gave an approving nod to appropriate a mass culture logo across the chest in lieu of some high-end Maison. And it was relatable. “People are so international today, they come from so many backgrounds, and all these cultures create one big global culture,” Designer Demna Gvaslia points out. My only question is, did wearers even know why Gvaslia chose DHL to begin with?

That’s not what’s important here, clearly. Fashion has always been about embodying cool, and there’s nothing more irreverent than having full knowledge of the season’s luxury must-haves, being equipped with the same buying power, but choosing to spend it on an otherwise ignored brand instead. The winning formula was normcore, but subverted in the right amount to create an avant-garde look that distinguished you from the crowd. The game was taken a step further with a shift towards irony. You see what was previously a symbol of wealth reduced to visual gags via a parody of a dead designer’s last name.

Prosaic at first glance, until you spot the pun. There used to be great disdain for wearing fakes, but it’s now glorified in the name of anti-fashion. Donning that Boolenciaga merchandise means you are so effortlessly blasé, so you wear your intentional indifference like a badge. It ushered in an avalanche of other references that teetered the fine line between homage and bootleg i.e. the Gucci Dapper Dan episode just last December. It’s getting hard to judge. Is that ugly t-shirt satire on the last season’s design? Are we thinking too much into this? We live in a world of democratic fashion. It’s all a fair game, and the way to win is to just not care.