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When I was very young and frustrated, throwing a tantrum over something inconsequential that I cannot remember, I decided to insult my mother. Because I was in the wrong and I subconsciously knew it, the only slander I could devise was about her outfit. “Well you know, that’s ugly,” I told her. To my surprise she smiled, “Thanks. It’s Prada."
Miuccia Prada famously embraced the ugly, telling T Magazine in 2013, “Ugly is attractive, ugly is exciting. Maybe because it is newer. The investigation of ugliness is, to me, more interesting than the bourgeois idea of beauty. And why? Because ugly is human.” Prada attributes the success of the fashion house to her ability to open herself and her clothing up to the unattractive in an industry notoriously obsessed with perfection. And ironically some people would describe Miuccia’s designs as perfect because of how she embraces the aesthetics we’re exposed to everyday but that often go unseen.
Life (especially recently) is made up of many pieces that are not pristine and perfect. Everything Prada has ever made is a testament to this very real dichotomy of beauty and ugliness, reality and idealism, aspirational fashion and the ordinary everyday.
Evidently other designers have taken note, especially this past Fashion Month. Balenciaga elevated models with platform crocs adorned with Balenciaga pins. Stella McCartney paired eveningwear with cycling sunglasses commonly seen on tourists and lax-bros. Off-White paid tribute to Princess Diana’s love of biker shorts. Other fashion faux pas that walked the runway included socks with sandals, popped collars, sweater vests and waterproof ponchos.
In recent months, “Gorpcore” as penned by The Cut has been everywhere. The trend is essentially glamping but with clothing that’s actually functionable for camping. Patagonia t-shirts, windbreakers and fleeces. Teva sandals and down puffers. As someone from New York City, I have always had a distaste for all these things (and hiking/camping/surviving in nature.) They essentially represent everything I’ve never needed to wear but now I strangely find myself gravitating towards them (specifically, this Sandy Liang fleece).
The trend hasn’t come entirely out of the blue and is inherently a byproduct of many millennials’ political awakening. With a president who thinks climate change is a hoax, a government that’s threatening to cut EPA funding drastically and, numerous natural disasters across the globe (so far, 2017 is 2nd for most US natural disasters on record), the wellbeing of our planet has never been of such concern. And even if city kids in fashion capitals like Milan, Paris, and New York aren’t necessarily up against the elements, they’re supporting socially and environmentally responsible brands like Patagonia and North Face (who is currently collaborating with Sacai) in lieu of trendy fast fashion pieces that are infamous for their carbon footprint.
High fashion is clearly crafting it’s own take on “gorpcore” creating “ugly” pieces in the same vein and styling in a way that elevates them to a glamorous level never before seen. Even if the iconic fashion houses weren’t necessarily founded on the same tree-hugging principles of the OG gorpcore brands (who probably don’t even know what gorpcore is), they were established with the best craftsmanship and the finest materials. A designer piece is always high-quality and made to last, a timeless piece that speaks of a moment in history. As Miuccia said, “Fashion is about the way we compose ourselves every day.” And everyday right now feels like a bit of a revolution, a platform, a way to use clothing to speak. And so what if maybe they’re a little “ugly?” I’m kind of into it.