From the Palazzo pant to the blinder’s peak, sartorial shifts have coincided with our cultural landscape for most of the last century. But these days, even as the likes of Apple bombard us with non-stop newness, popular clothing styles have been stuck on repeat, consuming the past instead of creating the new.
Ironically, new technology has reinforced looking back: at the click of a button we have instant universal access to an archive of street style, the future has arrived and it’s all about dreaming of the past. Nothing dates an image more specifically than the kinds of clothes people are wearing – just google jeans across the decades to prove the point. But what can we say about today’s style status quo, where seemingly nothing is obsolete, and nothing is really new? Can we really define the fashion movement of the 21st century or have we hit a stylistic ice age?
Designers have turned their nostalgic cultural gaze to the 70s this season but that doesn’t mean we all need to reach for fabrics that are going to set you on fire if you look at a radiator. The new interpretation of 70s is literally rose-tinted with blurred edges, much like a happy memory. Disco isn’t dead, it’s just more honey coloured, clean, contemporary and minimalist.
In fact many of today’s taste makers were born in the 1970s – these people can actually remember what life was like before we had to be constantly connected to a screen at all times. Perhaps this been there done that mash up age is a collective reaction to today’s hectic digital world full of technological disruptions.
I’m certainly not anti-innovation or technology, and you only have to look at the marriage of function and fashion within sportswear & 3D printing techniques to work out that the industry isn’t either. I am, however, all for this current period in style where we take influences from the past and give them a 21st century facelift. Today, diversity and freedom rule and fashion implies wearing what looks good on you, flares, shoulder pads (I went there) dropped waists are all co-existing in harmony as one big happy family.
Above is an image from our fashion photography look book test shoot for Shao Yen, shot in Birmingham.