For the past few seasons – in an attempt to constantly get close to the “normal guy or gal” – the luxury and fashion industries have been mimicking, re-appropriating and exoticizing popular lower middle class aesthetics, subcultures, and socio-political statements.
As a result, a generation of millennials and fashion’s trend focused customers have essentially been tapping into luxury branded variations of the same urban subculture, and sportswear flavored look. Over time, this trend has translated into a streetwear flavored normality that is paired with an an apparent refusal of elitism, becoming distinctive by being indistinctive and thereby erasing any obvious belonging to high society.
But why is an industry that is really only accessible to a select few – the ones with a considerable budget – so obsessed with and inspired by the “ordinary people”? Is it a sign of a new, less discriminatory, luxury era for the fashion customer or simply the industry’s desperate attempt to be authentic? It’s a bit of both, but it also goes far beyond these two aspects.
Karl Lagerfeld once famously said that wearing casual sportswear was a clear sign that you’d lost your mind. “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants,” the iconic designer told his many fans and followers. As of today, we can say that this statement is far from being echoed by his industry peers and fashion’s increasingly urban and subculture obsessed audience. As a result of this, fashion aficionados wouldn’t just dismiss this statement as being a tad snobbish, they’ve rendered it obsolete with sportswear flavored runway shows and by buying into all those expensive versions of popular, urban athleisure.
While industry peers are still arguing whether this trend is truly authentic or not, facts and numbers speak for themselves. VETEMENTS has been selling like hot cakes and Demna Gvasalia’s appointment at the creative helm of Balenciaga are proof that the “new normcore” aesthetic are far from just being a seasonal trend. It’s turned into an actual style evolution that aims for a new, rejuvenated and less elitist fashion industry.
Images by Gio Staiano for VETEMENTS (FW 2017)