In an interconnected world, menswear’s embrace of oversized silhouettes and exaggerated volume creates a wearable safe space.
In the initial throes of the Brexit referendum, a recurring joke was that the Americans and Brits were having a contest to see who could do the most damage to their country. Society was, and still is, swept up in an age of uncertainty, where the systems that were in place are changing rapidly, and the way consumers respond to the world around them is also in flux. In fact just yesterday we reported live from Web Summit, about how businesses, politicians, and whole countries are adapting to monumental global changes and societal shifts, to try and come up with systems that prepare for the ever-changing future.
Currently across the globe, the financial markets, retail businesses and of course our society is still processing Trump’s triumph, it’s still far too early to gauge the aftershocks his future administration will have. Yet anyone with an Internet connection can see the hyper-emotional moods proliferating on social media and traditional media platforms. And of course, as we have said many a time on this blog, that fashion is a reflection of the times, we choose clothes based on our mood, our feelings and the current state around us. When an interconnected, unstable, in flux world seems too much to bear–and immigrating to Canada isn’t an immediate option—where can we retreat?
One answer is into our clothes. Our recent report, Emerging Trend: Proportion As Protection (which is viewable by subscribers here) places the oversized hoodies and bomber jackets of designers like Demna Gvasalia and the prep-apocalyptic knitwear of Raf Simons into a paradigm of rebellious subversion. Simons’ mothballed sweaters and Gvasalia’s exaggerated bombers seem less directional and more appropriate in the context of a modern dystopia.
Like the style rebels of the ’60s and ’70s changed the connotations of fishtail parkas, Royal Stewart tartan, and hard-wearing leather motorcycle jackets, so too are these familiar items turned on their heads to communicate a message of youthful rebellion and disconnectivity. After all, if a garment covers our hands, then we’re spared from staring into the abyss of a smartphone screen.
The connection between proportion and protection is emphasized by Adam Wray in a recent article on SSENSE. He posits that “concealment could be about self-defense—a man hiding his nail polish in a neighborhood where it might put him in physical danger. In the age of ubiquitous surveillance, could anyone be blamed for wanting a little privacy?”
Indeed, in an unsure future where the democratic process can become a mass-scale anxiety trigger, sometimes it helps to be able to hide your shame under an oversized hood. Oversized clothing may not be the answer to what lies ahead, but for many young consumers, seeking subterfuge through style can provide an iota of comfort. And in these tumultuous times, that may be enough.
LIKE THIS? Follow Jian on Twitter. Subscribers can view the full nine-page report on Proportion As Protection here. For full, in-depth reports on emerging menswear brands and the modern menswear consumer, head to WGSN to subscribe.