Slash & Burn: The Destruction of Menswear

source: Chris Fenimore

Menswear, at least as we traditionally view it, is dying. And that’s really cool

I was recently browsing one of Grailed’s weekly NYC Street Style galleries and came across this picture. It’s of Jake Woolf, former style editor at GQ and currently working for clothing store/app SEAM. The main thing about this outfit is the bottom half, baggy nylon shorts with hiking boots. And not even semi-cool hiking boots like Alyx collaborators ROA or Salomon Speedcrosses. These are the kind of boots you’d expect to find on the legs of your 47 year-old Scoutmaster who enjoys verbally abusing his two sons, which is frankly deserved because they’re fucking morons. Anyway, I absolutely hate this look, but what I hate more is that I actually kind of like it, and I’m not alone. This look is very similar to one worn by Shia LaBeouf a few years back. The difference? Back then, it was mostly picked up by blogs and forums who lauded it as some sort of normcore upper echelon. Now, such a look such as this can get recognition from publications like GQ or Vanity Fair, publications which matter to the general populace.

Justin & Hailey Bieber

When I entered fashion, it was still the Saint Laurent era, everything was slim or skinny, a “good” outfit was typically trim, clean, not a hair out of place. In that era, #menswear was still a selective club, dominated by well-groomed men who went to Pitti Uomo and wrote articles about dressing for job interviews and collar rolls. Back then, men’s fashion had barely started to leak into the mainstream and it was generally assumed that if you got into fashion as a guy, you just wanted to get laid. Now, men’s fashion is accepted into the mainstream, it’s understood that people get into it because it’s fun, and the landscape of who is considered an “influencer” has radically changed. Influencers are no longer people working at heritage institutions, it’s people who post their mood boards on Instagram and memes on Twitter. They’re working from bedrooms and for them, the most formal occasion they’ll have to worry about is working from a Starbucks. In many ways, it’s responsible for the death of the dress code, and that has some interesting results.

Lawrence Schlossman

I do think such a divisive approach to fashion is really interesting. The ultimate goal of fashion for a lot of people is to reach a point where they can reach into their closet, throw clothes on at random, and evoke a coherent feeling. This style does help to reach that point, because it’s stylistically meant to be effortless. I love clothes, arguably to a fault, but it does make a lot of sense when people who are far wiser than myself caution that it is only clothing. Ultimately, I feel what matters about clothes isn’t the clothes themselves, but the life you live while wearing them. And there is something about this easy-going, frumpy look, it’s that it allows you to get along with living and who cares if you mess up what you’re wearing along the way. And besides, stepping out in something so atrocious is kind of fun.

Jon Tietz
source: GQ

Largely, the rise of this lax form of dress has arguably helped to democratize fashion. Of course the style got labeled as “scumbro,” the people wearing it, Justin Bieber, Pete Davidson, Jonah Hill, have fuck you money, they’re viewed as being able to dress a mess because they can afford to do so. Justin Bieber has more money than anyone could ever need yet he’s stepping out in Dickies and Vans. Suddenly, you can buy Blundstones and Carhartt trousers off Amazon and look like a GQ editor. Now, the sweatshirt and Patagonia Baggies I wear to the grocery store is cool. Is traditional, put together menswear actually dying? No, nor do I especially want it to. I merely view the increased popularity of this style as a hopeful sign. A sign that perhaps in a world where mall sneakers and nylon shorts is cool, that Gucci belt, a veritable institution of conspicuous consumption, holds a little less power. That maybe the perceived need to be “fitted” at all times which supports the popularity of fast fashion brands might slowly die out. I see a space for a brighter future, one that is practical and rough, but in a disgustingly stylish way.

Youth Crew Summer

Youth of Today

Those who know me well as well as those who are unfortunate enough to follow me on Twitter have likely noticed my recent fascination with straight edge. Last I checked, I’m certainly not straight edge so where has this interest come from? Perhaps some sort of existential crisis of realizing I’m nearly 20 and have yet to be a part of any movement or community, perhaps it’s because I can’t stop listening to Down to Nothing, who knows? Who cares? As always, the real thing that has brought me here is the Youth Crew style. This post will be how to dress within the Youth Crew aesthetic, or at least my interpretation of it.

Mindset

First, the bottoms. The classic Youth Crew aesthetic is heavily rooted in a sporty, comfortable look. Therefore, I would personally recommend nylon shorts. My personal recommendation is the currently trendy Patagonia Baggies, affordable, durable, versatile and damn comfortable. However, if Baggies are too expensive or too baggy for you, basic nylon shorts can be found just about everywhere. If you want one pair, black is what I would recommend as it can be worn with anything. You can also get away with plain cotton shorts or cut-offs. Please just avoid the cargo shorts that an uncomfortable number of straight edgers seemingly wear.

If, for whatever reason, you don’t want to wear shorts, there are other options. My next recommendation would be twill work pants from brands like Dickies which are quite common in modern hardcore, though an item I associate a bit less with the classic aesthetic. Hell, you can play things safe and just wear plain black jeans, but that’s frankly boring in my opinion. Same as cargo shorts, sweatpants also did have a heavy presence in the scene but please, just don’t.

Break Away

Next, the shoes. Sneakers are without question the name of the game. In Northeastern hardcore, Nikes were the most common, especially high top silhouettes like the Blazer and Jordan 1. These would be my personal preference though you can certainly play around with other, low-top models such as the Air Max 90 and other classic runner models. All that being said, Nikes are not the sole choice. Here in Virginia, Vans are often the most common, notably the Sk8-Hi and Old Skool silhouettes, though Authentics and a few other models will pop up here and there. Nikes and Vans would be my primary recommendation as they have the most visual connection to the scene, are often the easiest to find a wide selection from and I personally feel are the most attractive.

Lawrence Schlossman (not actually in the scene)

Another thing to consider in terms of footwear is the socks, good high socks. When I say high, I mean higher than ankle, not full crew socks halfway up the calf. Make sure that they’re not totally pulled taut: you’re going for a comfortable look, not looking like you’re about to work out or something. Socks are especially desirable paired when with high top shoes, reaching about an inch or two above the top of the sneaker.

It may be summer, but shirts are still recommended, especially given the power they hold in pulling the full look together. Quite obviously, the most sensical option would be to wear shirts for bands associated with the scene. That being said, it’s not the only option. The most iconic alternative is the Supreme Youth Crew t-shirt. Noah is another brand which openly embraces the culture, notably through their collaboration with Youth of Today. Additionally, it’s easy to reference numerous streetwear brands such as Stray Rats, Utmost, Brain Dead, Bianca Chandon, and of course Stüssy, who Turnstile referenced in their merch.

Gorilla Biscuits

Finally, the sweats, and no, I do not mean sweatpants. Sometimes, the temperatures during the warmer seasons do cool down a bit. In those cases, it’s a great time to go full sportswear and embrace the sweatshirt. Same as shirts, a good merch sweat is the best option though the same streetwear brands also hold up, a notable item being this one from Supreme. Another type that does come into play is a clean collegiate hoodie, the Colgate one pictured below is an item which I cannot stop thinking about. Crewneck sweats will work too, though I just prefer a hoodie as it gives a more laid back vibe and, I feel, looks better with shorts.

The way I see it, there are three main benefits to going for the Youth Crew look (or my bastardization of it) –

1. It’s affordable.

If you shop around even a little, you can pretty easily put together a full outfit for under $100. If you choose, you can of course put together something a bit nicer which does entail higher costs, but it’s hardly necessary.

2. It’s unisex.

The benefit of an aesthetic as basic as this is that it is attainable for just about everyone and can look good on just about anyone. The only real variation comes down to your item choices and fit preferences.

3. It’s versatile.

I don’t mean versatile in the classic #menswear way of “bro, you can go from the boardroom to the bar on a Friday night,” I mean in terms of what you can do in such an outfit. It won’t fit in in a professional environment, it won’t fly in most workplaces. But you can easily go from exercising, to relaxing, to a show without changing fits. It’s comfortable and sporty in just the right way that you can live life without worrying.

Noah x Youth of Today

A Sense of Harmony: The AntiFashion of Gummo

Today was the first day of the year to truly feel like summer and along with it came the careless freedom of throwing on an oversized band tee and a comfortable pair of Patagonia Baggies. However also with it came a fear of what is to come, the hot stillness of the summer heat. The desperation of being trapped in a town in which you cannot step outside without being suffocated by a wall of hot air so thick and humid you can nearly drink it. Everything takes on a sense of starved slowness, like crawling through pudding. It’s like being trapped in a song from Sleep or Eyehategod, both artists appearing on the soundtrack for today’s topic, Harmony Korine’s Gummo.

When Gummo was first released, people loathed it. Hell, though I find it disturbingly attractive, it’s not really a film I enjoyed all that much. However, if anything may be said about the film, it’s that it presents an incredibly strong aesthetic. It’s an aesthetic as grotesque as it is nostalgic. I’m reminded of childhood trips through backwater Virginia, I’m reminded of the RV park where we used to buy bags of ice while at the beach. A strong component of this aesthetic is the clothing, the component which personally most interests me.

The first of the film’s cast of characters is Solomon, the quasi-protagonist. He spends most of the film wearing the denim jacket pictured above. It fits him near perfect, the sleeves slightly cropped. It’s a great usage of a piece so deeply ingrained in menswear that it can hardly be discussed without using such beloved buzzwords as “timeless” and “versatile”. On the left breast (barely visible) he has a Slayer patch and two pins. It’s the perfect image of a well personalized piece which will be worn for years to come and become a component of the self. Next, there are the awful nylon checkered side-stripe pants, a piece that reeks of 90’s/Y2K gaudiness which I would not be surprised to find being sold by Urban Outfitters or Fashion Nova.

In this sadly low quality image you get a better view of the fit on the jacket’s sleeves and the nylon pants. It also shows what appears to be a pair of Converse Weapons, a shoe not only steeped in normcore but best known for the 2006 collaboration release with grunge-fashion darling – Takahiro Miyashita’s Number (N)ine.

Next we have, obviously, Tummler’s dad. The outfit as a whole reminds me of this Balenciaga campaign more than anything else. However, I do much prefer this fit, rather than feeling like a forced trend pander, this feels totally natural in all of its disgusting glory. The blazer reminds me of Take Ivy, the droopy polo of Noah, the jeans, perfectly distressed. Helmut Lang wishes his jeans had looked like that. This is the kind of fit no one would be creative (or perhaps insane) enough to think of yet, with a few tweaks, would likely be an amazing ensemble. I love it.

Again with the normcore, this time perhaps more suited to a warmer climate. Not only that, but I find the high-top basketball sneakers and sweatpants somewhat reminiscent of the Youth Crew aesthetic, another look I am quite fond of. However, the star of this show is the band tee. Ah, the band tee, the apple of 2017 Instagram’s eye. This faded and filled with holes is probably the kind of thing you’d find costing a couple hundred at a yuppie filled boutique in Los Angeles. On a similar note, check out this tee worn by Dot (played by Chloe Sevigny).

I feel a need to throw this image in out of an acknowledgment of fashion’s current love affair with the cowboy.

In the age of “AntiFashion”, the age of tie dye and Realtree camouflage, the style of Gummo seems just as much at home at an artsy house show as it does in the roach-infested homes of Xenia, Ohio.