We’ve been here many times before, haven’t we?
Getting Crazy Frog to number one, making Jedward a thing, voting for a dog to be mayor of a town, creating the name Boaty McBoatface for an important research vessel, continuing to celebrate the life of Harambe the gorilla as a Christ-like figure through memes.
But now our obsession with celebrating the weird and the downright lame has worked itself into the body of our style. From streetwear start-ups to massive high street chains, it seems that everyone is milking the look of dressing like an absolute twat. Random animals, religious imagery, psychedelic colours are just a few migraine inducing trends that tarnish today’s t-shirt market, worn by everyone from skateboarders to pub crawl lads.
This little inside laugh of wearing trashy clothing has seeped into the consciousness of the masses, and we’ve all been tricked into thinking it looks good. Worse, we’ve forgotten what cool actually is.
We're buying fool's gold
A recent, fresh example of a major brand taking advantage of the confusion and displacement of youth culture is Supreme, who is infamously known for their blatant piss-taking of their loyal customers. Just this month, the New York skate brand released a brick as part of its autumn/winter collection. Yes, an actual brick, which originally cost £28, now sold out and going for up to $1000 a pop on eBay.
You hear that? That’s the sound of Supreme’s creative director fapping away with your money. This is not the first time they’ve unveiled head scratching accessories, as they’ve also outrageously priced dominos, a baseball bat and a hammer. At least with three of these you can bludgeon yourself to death when you realise what little brain cells you have, but what the hell are you going to do with dominos?
Sure everyone should know better, but with the current trend for pop-up shops and capsule collection launches, which sees customers lining up for several hours to get into a shop for a limited time, you’d feel like you had to buy something because you’ve put the work in lining up and you don’t want to admit to your mates that you actually don’t really like any of it, which is probably what they’re thinking too, but would never admit.
We're not Alanis Morissette
At some point irony was a fantastic movement; a way for true artists to be cynical about mainstream society and what was deemed as hip. Think Andy Warhol with his pop art and Lou Reed with his PVC outfits. But in 2016, can anything truly be classed as 'cool'? What does it even mean anymore?
The late US writer David Foster Wallace once mused that: "Postmodern irony and cynicism’s become an end in itself, a measure of hip sophistication and literary savvy. Irony’s gone from liberating to enslaving. There’s some great essay somewhere that has a line about irony being the song of the prisoner who’s come to love his cage.”
Deep. And, if you really think about it, Wallace was on the money: we've become so cynical and satirical with our style that we have truly become lost in it, marooned from authenticity in a sea of self-imposed tastelessness.
As a result, even those who have a genuine love for fashion have at times found themselves trying to separate themselves so far from regular people that they turn to the ridiculous. Just take Tyler, The Creator, who created a brand identity from printing cats with upside down crucifixes for eyes on tie-dye t-shirts. Does this look fashionable? Of course not, it looks like a teenager on a bad acid trip got kicked through Battersea Animal Shelter, but he needed an identity to flog to his fanbase for big bucks.
Hipsters aren't much better than the Kardashians
It's not just musicians and brands that are guilty of using irony as currency either. Models and A-listers have played their part too, and lest we forget that time Kendall Jenner was photographed wearing a Slayer t-shirt, despite once Tweeting that she didn't understand how anyone could listen to heavy metal...
And what are those t-shirts highlighting obscure, forgotten celebrities about? We're talking to you Ryan Gosling, wearing a Macaulay Culkin t-shirt, strutting around like you curate a contemporary East London art gallery, which became more surreal when Culkin returned the favour with an Inception themed t-shirt within a t-shirt jibe.
But while it is really easy to point all the blame at a Kardashianised celebrity culture, these famous folk are not the true problem. No, hipsters know what they’re bloody well doing too. If they’re not wearing Nineties pop t-shirts as part of their supposed edgy, not entirely at all hilarious aesthetic, they’re wearing full on retro sports kits to do absolutely no sport in whatsoever.
The list of utterly appalling looks brought into the limelight by the flat white generation doesn’t stop there either: casual braces and bowties, horn rimmed glasses that aren’t needed, second hand track suits that make you look like a plumber in a porno, the list of trends that should’ve been dead and buried but have instead been resurrected and tripled in price goes on.
Crazed clowns don't all wear makeup
London Fashion Week has always been a circus. But where this esteemed event was once filled with stylish ringmasters, it's now being overtaken by slapstick clowns, attention-seeking oddballs loitering on the street outside in the hope of being papped for street style pieces, all in the name of grabbing a few new Instagram followers.
Getting second glances in the street doesn’t necessarily mean you’re dressed well, it just means you’re the fashion equivalent of Katie Hopkins: doing something shocking all in the name of getting talked about, because that’s the only way you can stay relevant. But when these photos are put into newspapers and on blogs they start to be taken seriously, because they’re eye-catching and the talk of the town, leading to retailers thinking that it’s an actual thing when really it should just be killed with lots of fire (the clothes, not the people, I’m not that much of a sadist).
Even tattooing is stepping towards that way too with the rising popularity of getting blacked out. Which is, as you could probably guess, getting completely covered in black ink. How pissed off do you have to be at the world that you become the human equivalent of the BP oil spill?
Where do we go from here?
If you see someone else wearing what you are in the street, don’t think the trend is dead and buried, just see it as you’re on to something. Just because someone is wearing a similar souvenir jacket to you doesn’t mean you have to cut off the sleeves and spray paint 'Cock, Piss, Partridge' on the back of it all in the name of being progressive.
Saying that, we do need those that push the boundaries of what style is, because if we didn’t, we wouldn’t have jeans so tight they stop us from having kids, or be allowed to wear trainers with suits without looking like we’re on our way to court to face GBH charges.
Everything in moderation. So, the next time you’re about to purchase some clothing just take a minute to ask yourself whether you'll look like a dick or whether one day Kendall Jenner may want to stencil your face across her chest.
Wouldn't that be ironic?