In December of 2016, fashion was relatively new to me. My daily wear consisted mostly of black jeans, Vans, and thrifted sweatshirts. Eventually, I did decide that a trucker jacket would be pretty cool. As far as I was concerned (or really knew), Levi’s was the only denim brand, so that’s what I looked for. I was looking on Grailed because I was a poor high school kid and I wanted to save money, this one was $40, one of the cheapest on the site at the time. I bought it pretty quickly. I did not know how special it would prove to be.
Specifically, this piece is from a Spring 2011 capsule collection done in collaboration with Opening Ceremony, the third coming together of the two brands. This collection is best known for an anorak Chris Brown was papped wearing. The jacket is made in the USA of Japanese Chambray, with Opening Ceremony branding on the tag and buttons. It’s very boxy, with a width nearly akin to a medium but a cropped length of about 20 inches. It looks great worn over a sweatshirt to balance out the boxy fit on my diminutive frame. It was already well worn when I bought it with beautiful fades, a soft feel, and corners faded near white from wear and slightly threadbare.
But what is most special about this piece is not what it is, but what it represents. It was my first “real” purchase, my first dive into buying pieces used, my first foray into Americana, and my first experience with clothing that truly had character. Through it, I discovered my love for classic Americana/Workwear pieces, without it I would have likely never discovered my obsession with Japan’s Wacko Maria. Further, it influenced my love of punk/indie subculture and its fashion which helped to grow my musical interests and in turn further my sense of style. In February 2019, I added to it its only adornment, a pin for the band Gumming, who you should definitely check out.
I don’t really wear the jacket as much as I used to, in many cases it has been replaced by the aforementioned Wacko Maria. But, I would never sell this piece for any price. It’s affordable enough and hardwearing enough that it is one of the pieces in my wardrobe I can really easily throw on and live my life. And besides, it has had a huge influence on who I am, at least in terms of fashion, and that it a debt that I can never repay. I say that as if the jacket is a person, lord knows I love it as if it was.
For every instance of me posting one of these I have probably forgotten to do so three times. But anyway, I just got back from seeing these guys live with Lil Ugly Mane and it’s a slapper. Have a good one.
Monitaly has a belt, this belt, I want this belt real bad. I love how long this belt is, I love how shiny it is. I want to marry this belt and have its babies. I want to fall asleep caressing its supple bridle leather. I want to wear this belt with shorts for no reason other than it would be fucking stupid. I want to walk down the street and give people in that stupid Gucci belt a look that says “you absolute fucking neophyte, my belt might cost a few hundred less than yours but it’s made my Amish craftsman, enjoy your entry level conspicuous consumption, I have ascended.”
Sadly, this belt is out of stock and I currently can’t be bothered to proxy one from Japan at a mark-up.
Edit: Since originally writing this it has come back in stock, please don’t buy one because I need it more than you do.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.