Can we talk about anti-fashion? First, what is it?

It’s one of life’s truisms that we’re all condemned to wear clothes that, with hindsight, make us look like wankers.

Welcome to anti-fashion: a blanket term for dressing in ways that reject the fashion of the day. Take the DHL t-shirt designed by Demna Gvasalia at Vetements, yours for a reasonable £485.

Does buying it make you a twat?

Not necessarily. But it’s not looking good.

It may, after all, just be that you shouldn’t be allowed to drive, vote or go to the bathroom alone.

If you own the DHL t-shirt as a non-courier, you most probably work in fashion. Or have a 200k+ insta account. Or a photographer’s assistant with private means.

You may claim that this is what next-level fashion is all about. You may explain your purchase by saying it was done with a sense of irony; as a critique on the nature of branding and of consumerism in general.

And when you die, your soul will forever be in Pseud’s Corner. But it wasn’t always like this.


Anti Fashion and Coco Chanel

In the 1920’s and 30’s, Coco Chanel introduced trousers, jerseys and trouser suits for women – all of which had generally been reserved for men up until this time. She moved away from the corset to looser fitting, less oppressive clothing.

Although over-used, here it is apt to use the word empowering to describe what Chanel was doing. And what she was doing could also be seen as one of the first acts of anti-fashion; the great bucking of existing trends. But she did it through innovations that also carried austere elegance.

But now, I don’t see this kind of subtext in anti-fashion. It’s a soulless 6th former’s joke that knowingly and triumphantly makes people look ridiculous.

And the people who are anti-fashion are in my (admittedly anecdotal) experience so boring they can freeze your bone marrow.

You’d think you could say to them: take a bow, at least you’ve made yourself hilarious to look at.

But it’s a sad irony that to dress as comedically as anti-fashion people do almost always requires po-faced, puritanical self-reverence.

And anaemia.

A tragedy of the anti-fashion wearer is they often don’t meaningfully embody the look in any way. If you’re not doing it for jokes, do it with swagger.

But they have too much timidity; as if made out of glass and spotted leaving the G.U.M clinic.

To openly criticise anti-fashion, however, is to be condemned as a vulgarian, a bigot and an anachronism. (Although if you’re pro anti-fashion you must be careful never to be caught looking at anything at all)

To be fair, there is some playfulness to be found in the hugely popular and frighteningly named fashion site, Man Repeller. To achieve its title’s aim, it initially suggested an anti-fashion approach of wearing things such as harem pants, shoulder pads and clogs.

I would argue this repels the human retina more than it does the man.


The anti-fashion guide to love-making

It is axiomatic that if you are a true proponent of anti-fashion, you’re shit in bed.

Your hip bones will jut while you have ironic sex. You’ll have a post-coital water.

On the floor beside you will be a shapeless, cotton Vetements dress bearing an Umbro logo that cost £1200 and looks like it was owned by Rose West.

The guy or girl in the room could just as easily have been wearing a baggy tracksuit, white socks and flip flops. An outfit basically identical to what a person who genuinely doesn’t give a shit about fashion wears (which is what you’d think anti-fashion should be).  But this person would be considered a dork. Whereas if you’re wearing the same outfit conceptually as an anti-fashionista, it’s cool. And it’s all too much.

But this isn’t to say all anti-fashion people are all bad.

Quite a few started as sensitive souls who, as children, wrote awkward poetry and spoke too quietly to be heard.


One day will it all make sense?

I’m not sure anti-fashion, ultimately, means anything. It’s more of a runway-designer led movement that is perceived as the most avant-garde and conceptually outré collection at a particular time.

And it’s not necessarily that pioneering in many instances. Vivienne Westwood bringing punk to the runway or Marc Jacobs bringing grunge to the catwalk for the Spring/Summer 1993 Perry Ellis Collection may have been extremely bold. But this still amounted to introducing to rarefied circles looks that were already out there – which then trickled down to the more general public.

And with the exception of Jacobs and Westwood, lots of designers wouldn’t be seen dead in the stuff they send down the runway.

Because they don’t want to look like Bob Geldof.

And if most of the anti-fashion clothes were conscious beings, they’d be committing suicide all over their owners’ bodies.


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One comment


Great article. The first sentence had me hooked.

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