We are constantly in pursuit of the next great thing. This is often perceived as a millennial problem, but we have always yearned for what is better than what we already have. The difference, really, is I’m not sure we’re actually looking for anything different. We did that for so long that being different almost became…the same. And anyway, we live inside a time period that has exactly no respect for patience and consistently lauds the freshest! Latest! Coolest! Just being new is good enough. But I don’t want to criticize this totem. It’s the day and age we’re in and have helped make, so instead, here are three compelling cases for what’s new that emerged during February Fashion Week.
Vaquera actually launched in 2013 “as a reaction to the lack of diversity in the fashion industry,” by Patric DiCaprio. He has since been joined by Bryn Taubensee, David Moses and Claire Sully, who together now operate as a design collective. Says DiCaprio, “Working as a collective allows us to see our creative ideas to their fullest potential. Being able to bounce ideas off each other is an important part of our process. No single person has a perfect or fully-developed idea, so it’s nice to be able to discuss and improve with the group. There really are no downsides.”
The clothes feel like a cross between the reactive energy of Vetements — tapping into anti-taste, what the designer thinks the customer wants — and clothes that are there to function as installation art. “We just make clothes that we’re passionate about,” they said, never minding what a target customer should look like. This shouldn’t sound novel, but it does. To think that designers are making clothes based entirely on what they’re passionate about? Absolutely freeing! They call their collections, “fashion fan fiction,” noting that their clothes are meant to stir conversation. “We’re disappointed by the lack of creativity and abundance of pieces that are designed strictly to sell and then go out of style. We’re always questioning materials and concepts and want others to question more.” Call it the anti-time capsule wardrobe if you’d like.
Section 8 launched very quietly during New York Fashion Week. Similarly to Vaquera, Section 8 is designed by a collective, or group, of designers — but they have largely chosen to remain anonymous. The clothes are unique in that they’re pretty basic and for the most part, seem to have been designed for a working girl. An intern working on the Trump campaign, to be exact. Akeem Smith of Hood by Air, who is involved in Section 8, mentioned this in an interview with Vogue.
What’s cool is that instead of literalizing the definition of their working girl and harking back to references from the late ’80s and early ’90s, she seems to be tuned into a frequency that can only exist right now. If Vaquera makes the anti-time capsule wardrobe, this collection may as well be a frozen memory from the late 2010s, detailing the collapse of seams and blunt lines, the rejection of archetypically rendered garments and the rejection of “good taste” in favor of what is thrillingly questionable.
The third brand, Halpern Studio, is largely lauded as a “Beyonce-approved” brand, which makes sense given the abundant sequins and larger-than-life bell bottoms, fur details and party shoes. It’s hard to look at these clothes without wanting to dance. This obviously galvanizes a fiercely different perspective from the former two brands with its disregard for lowbrow hoodies and expensive jeans in favor of nostalgia. But not the kind that smells old or moldy like an unkempt attic. It’s kitsch and refreshing and escapist enough to remind you that if the conceptual is too dense for your taste, fashion can still be so much fun just simply to look at.
Photos courtesy of Vaquera, Halpern and via Vogue.com.