09 August 2013

a$ap, leather, and a reframing of luxury

When I go to sleep at night (or more accurately, 4:33 A.M on most nights), I'm at my most  delusional from sleep deprivation but also most active when it comes to things I want to talk about. Something about being incredibly loopy makes my mind break open a little bit and I see things a lot clearer in terms of the big picture. Like, the other night, it struck me that most people's idea of "luxury" is pretty outdated, and it's causing some strange hypocrisy and more than a little racism and classism (not that this is new, pft) when it comes to the 'new' luxury consumer. By this I mean -- there are a lot of amazing designers who cater exclusively to the kind of hyper-aware consumer who doesn't buy often, but buys very loyally to a handful of brands, and their aesthetic is deeply based in streetwear, but strangely, these consumers think it's ok to scorn the people who inspire the designers they're buying from. Listen -- luxury is not a static thing, it's no longer a Chanel 2.55 and some YSL heels and Tom Ford lipstick. It's also the limited edition Supreme t-shirt, it's also your leather laser-cut mesh shorts you wear when you're pretending you're exercising (but really just scoping out babes on the High Line), it's paying hundreds of dollars for a fashion sweatshirt. 


You don't need to have a lot of material things to be living in luxury. Luxury is about options, quality, choice, not quantity, you know? For example: minimalism is very luxurious. When you're poor or working class, I/you never try to throw things away because you always want to find a use for them. Fixing is more of an option, so you'll keep something even if it's broken for a little while. You don't know when you can get something better so you keep all things mediocre. And the stuff piles up. You might end up hoarding. To intentionally practice minimalism, you have some kind of understanding you will probably always be able to buy whatever you need when you want it. Space is the ultimate luxury: Comme des Garcon's ultimate status symbol is their incredibly sparse store spaces in Tokyo, a place where square footage is rare and prestigious. And Comme is not your traditional purveyor of luxury, with it's boiled and  intentionally torn wools and strangeness, but it's still luxury. Luxury is just as much about the rejection of traditional status items as the appropriation of more 'lazy' items like sweatshirts and sneakers, and the appropriation of pedestrian fabrics and unusual things like manmade plastics. Anti-fashion is still fashion, after all. The language of luxury is the same as the language of privilege. Denying status symbols of what you have doesn't mean you don't have it. It's the same with privilege. They both operate in terms of economics, and capitalism, and identity. When we don't bring these things into a discussion on fashion trends & marketing, we're choosing to ignore the importance of these things to how consumers treat one another. You can argue that brands shouldn't have to care about that stuff, but I am a romantic and I want to believe brand culture at it's best extends to build a community that takes care of one another. I've seen it first hand and have had it myself, so I know it exists, and I know brands are aware of the culture they create or aspire to create. I definitely feel kinship to other black crows of CDG, and I know my lolita friends feel community within loli. 

Which brings me to my real point: no one has the final say in what a brand should mean to someone. Just because you know a lot about this one brand doesn't mean a newcomer isn't any less worthy of wearing their stuff. We're all buying into a personal experience of a universal projection. Hypebeasts making fun of A$AP Rocky for wearing Rick Owens or whatever, and fashionistas making fun of Riri at Chanel Cruise, I see you. And the masculine goth dudes dressed in Rick Owens like to forget Rick is (inarguably) a huge kinky queer dude who loves hip hop (Zebra Katz 4ever) and doesn't take his work very seriously (pony play tails on the runway, goth metal bands suspended in air, photoshoots of him cumming in his own mouth, come on) and he probably loves A$AP Rocky. And people who idolize Coco Chanel seem to conveniently forget she was also married to a Nazi, sold people out to the Nazi Party, and fled to Switzerland because of it. I personally think it's hysterical that now Chanel is best friends with WOC, because it would utterly upset Coco, and anything that upsets a Nazi makes me super satisfied. Basically: all your faves would probably surprise you. There's always more to know about a person and a brand. I don't enjoy taking things at face value -- I'm insufferable that way. 

 Just because you own an item from a brand, doesn't mean you have the rights to dictate your personal experience with the brand to other people who want something from them too. People experience clothes very differently, you know? When I say I love fashion, my love for it is bound up for it in many different experiences, and books, and personal journeys with clothes. I like very specific aesthetics in a handful of designers, and I spend a lot of time researching them and their inspirations and  little to no time reading fashion magazines or trend watching. When someone else says they love fashion, they might mean they love buying fashion magazines and they really like Coach bags and collect them. We're saying the same words, but the stories behind them are a lot different. And both are completely legitimate and neither negates from the other. 

Anyway, that's my super dense fashion feels post for now. Broke it up with pictures of my take on the eponymous "fashion person" outfit I see on old-school industry insiders, the ones who don't dress up for street style photographers -- they slip in and out of the shows to get what they want, and they invariably do it in leather. I really do love this outfit, and the fact you can replicate it throughout all price ranges. I've included links to similar looks, though my take is all vintage. I am not wearing shoes in these photos, because I'm at home and I don't do that because these photos were taken on my bed -- and I'm not wearing shoes on my bedding for the internet. No shoes allowed. Anyway, thank you for reading this wall of text! I hope you leave a comment.