In Bruce Sterling’s closing speech of SXSW, he claimed that the interactive attendees were better dressed than the music people: “There’s something semiotic, Gibsonian about people dressing better than musicians. When you showed up at SXSW X years ago, you were meeting guys in [t-shirts, jeans]… they’re still here, but mostly that’s the way your uncle looks now. Now they look put together — not like rich person, not like, ‘ook at my sable fur,’ but like new shoelaces, done hair — they look pretty nice. They’re trying to live up to their products and services, which [didn’t look nice] 20 years ago…”
Now, I’m not really sure that’s true – but he was completely right that the dress sense of many, and especially the music people was completely retro. I didn’t see a single example of non-retro dress sense during Music.
And Bruce had a challenge: “Although SXSW people do look chic, it’s a rather retro look. They don’t actually look very futuristic. I would suggest, when you come back next year… come back in robotvision glitchcore. Man, you would rule the physical universe. It would be like a silent coup, people wouldn’t know what to make of it.”
I’ve been mulling it since. And when I say mulling, I mean pinteresting. Thinking through looking. It definitely refers back to Russell’s original quote that “every hep shop seems to be full of tweeds and leather and carefully authentic bits of restrained artisanal fashion. I think most of Shoreditch would be wondering around in a leather apron if it could. With pipe and beard and rickets.” Whilst I like a bit of tweed now and again I wanted to see what else was out there.
It’s explicitly non-retro, even more so not retro-future, or retro 8 bit. The look overlaps with this season’s aztec fixation, but even appropriating such imagery ruled a piece out of consideration. Sometimes it’s just the right colours, or the cut. It’s more gradient fill than pixels. It’s things that couldn’t be made 5 years ago. Supersymmetry and asymmetry. It’s not about the ‘machine vision’ that the New Aesthetic references, but it’s hard to see how that will not be appropriated and re-emerge into fashion as something not necessarily technically correct but aesthetically interesting.
I’m not convinced it wouldn’t ultimately be ’90s revivalism, at least in the hands of a few of the more knowing trendsetters at the houses. Looked at what (e.g.) Vexed or Yeohlee or even Prada Sport were doing in ’97, ’98. Tricky called it: the pre-millennium tension was everywhere in the way people were dressing. (I loved it, still miss it, and am kind of heartbroken that far from representing “the future,” it’s now just more grist for the plundermill.)
I think the “machine vision” angle really is at the core of this, making the CV Dazzle example the most important example of a New (Fashion) Aesthetic.
Perhaps H&M’s preference for digital models over human ones?
Of course the NA-ideal would be actual clothing items being cut for this hypothetical, non-human body… Which perhaps generic measurements in some sense already are?
Algorithmic knitwear (is anyone doing this? They should be!)
Digital prints – huge at the moment, from catwalk down to Primark, but often taking a hyper-natural approach (e.g. Katrantzou’s flowers). How can these be New Aesetheticised… Digital glitches (CMYLK gets mixed up with RGB?), or digital subject matter (elegantly repeating CCTV-prints?)
Any help connecting this to actual active designers likewise appreciated.
So, who’s going to be The Satorialist of the new fashion aesthetic? No fashion look is complete without its own streetstyle blog.
email: chris is at anti-mega.com