by Jefferson Ellison. August 17, 2020.
Is there anything more polar opposite in the zeitgeist than a Hypebeast and a Basic White Girl? I mean, sure, in some twisted scenario they might date each other and in certain small towns (cough, Asheville, cough) they both find themselves shopping at Urban Outfitters, but I don’t think anyone would ever put them in the same category of dressing. And yet, as 2020 develops into the most bizarre year on the millennial record, the two have met, and dare I say are sharing a wardrobe. Even more interesting than the shared wardrobe staple is the fact that it seems that for once it's not the White women acting as the culture vultures. The Hypebeast is stealing from her, and just might be pulling it off.
In a world where menswear hasn't changed anything in the last 100 years but it’s propositions and the color palette, it makes sense that the most daring amongst us would begin to seek out something to fulfill his desire to switch things up and peacock. If anything it's more a surprise that this sort of culture merge didn't happen sooner. The world has been stealing from hip-hop and skate culture for decades and God knows gay men and gender-non-confirming individuals have been “dabbling” for years. I think perhaps EJ Johnson said it best:
The lowest hanging fruit of the trend is the continuation of athleisure. The hybrid trend hit its stride in 2014 and is estimated to be a $350 billion market in 2020 - pre-COVID, of course. As someone who attended a large Southern college, I can personally attest that the oversized shirt and Nike running shorts are a staple amongst the BWG set, but I’d be lying if I didn't notice the similarity between what the girls are wearing and what the boys put on. They may be longer but they are still Nike shorts. The rise of Instagram and Insta-thot mentality amongst men has allowed them to shed their fear of short shorts. And since their shirts were already baggy the transformation is complete.
If athleisure is the easiest to understand, then the most shocking has got to be the pearl necklace. I, for one, never saw this coming. I mean, sure, I noted a few years back that Giambatista Valli always closed his shows in a black t-shirt and a pearl necklace but that's different. He's a verified Friend of Dorothy who works in fashion selling $200K gowns. He can do what he wants.
Seeing influencers, actors, and rappers alike flaunting the Southern staple is a boundary push that I was not prepared for and am completely in love with. What makes streetwear so interesting is the ability to harden softer pieces and re-imagine traditional "hard" pieces in a delicate way. Kahlana Barfield-Brown has led this charge in her style over the years. In a lot of ways, I think blacks editors like her and Jan-Michael Quammie have pushed forward this fashion narrative that has resonated with the Hypebeast set. An aesthetic that is rooted in Black culture while blending the influence of high-fashion. The greater trend of "softness" in menswear is seen in the work of Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton, Kim Jones for Dior, and even The Row. Who knew convincing straight men to wear lace and cashmere would lead to a string of pearls over a t-shirt. Isn’t fashion grand?!
Last but not least, is the trend with the greatest bandwidth - the crossbody. Don’t at me. I know that I just told you how big the athleisure market was and I stand by that. But when you're wearing your athleisure, what kind of bag are you carrying? Exactly! The crossbody takes the cake as the biggest trend conflation because they can come in a variety of fabrics, shapes and price points.
At first, I think it was the convenience that convinced men to hop on the bandwagon but now I think it's because it's a cheaper flex that a Rolex or pinky ring. Even the Dior saddle bag only set's you back a few grand...