Even while the current zeitgeist relentlessly schills artisanal, organic, authentic, handmade, crafted, made-with-love, ethical products to clothe ourselves and our lives, and even as we rejoice, repost and embrace these values, they are in the majority in contradistinction to our actual lived existence. There is a disconnect between what we post and what we are, between what we say and what we do. Adler’s positivist theories of reinvention were genuine in their quest for socialist cohesion; millennial social justice mediated from behind the isolating glow of a personal screen can never match up. We are counterfeit selves, but not always because of what we wear.
If you search ‘Armani jacket,’ you get one million versions of the same thing, with slight adjustments: golden buttons or silver buttons, big sleeves or short sleeves – all these modifications. And there’s a little bit of creativity put into every version of it. There is something strangely appealing about it. I think about our place as designers within an ocean of images and garments, a kind of melting pot. Originality is about figuring out how to use those components and play with them.
Like a suit, a uniform of jeans, T-shirt, New Balance trainers and sporty jacket relies on invisibility. The person (usually a white man) who wears it is virtually indistinguishable from a non-far-right guy in a casual everyday garb. Style is then either thought of exclusively as a tool to assimilate or paradoxically discounted altogether as irrelevant to one’s political beliefs. For white supremacists ditching the skinhead image means leaving behind their status as subculture, which defines itself in opposition to the mainstream, to reaffirm whiteness as the mainstream.
The much-appropriated Bryanboy gesture – one hand at waist, hip cocked with the other hand is held high, proudly clutching a designer handbag – has become a powerful symbol in the digital era. More broadly, the ‘blogger pose’, as it has come to be known in the digital landscape, has given the everyday fashion follower the opportunity to adopt a centre-of-attention status in a culture of fashion commerce.