Fashion is important - Tyler Grosso and Young Thug show us why

Fashion is inescapable. Anyone that's ever sat down and watched the acclaimed The Devil Wears Prada will know all too well what I'm talking about. Stripes, block lettering, embroidered fauna; all a part of the ever expanding wardrobe that we see daily, so much so that we take for granted just how big a role fashion plays in how we perceive ourselves as well as how others perceive us. We forget that what we choose to wear inherently says something about us, it conveys how we feel at a certain time or what we want people to know about us.

With fashion essentially acting as a visual handshake for passersby it's important to be authentic in what you wear. Often we critique people for wearing merchandise from a band they don't even listen to (a topic to be debated), but why is this? Simply put, it's because it misleads us into creating a false initial impression. The same can be said for other styles of clothing, with fits being extremely important in portraying aesthetics. I think that too many people are copying outfits they see on influencers piece for piece, without taking into account their own sense of style. This leads to an outfit that, while ‘good’, lacks the creativity and originality that really portrays the person that we are. Of course there are more things that influence clothing than our emotions, for instance, media plays a huge role in our taste as well, and combining the two is something that can be tricky to master.

Tyler Grosso is a youthful, unique individual that symbolises the rise of youth in modern fashion. In fact, most of the people on this list represent the shift in influence from older, more polished representatives to a more youthful image; but that's a whole other article. Tyler’s story of success story is one that sees him creating his own clothing brand (superradical), an anti-establishment approach that takes a lot of inspiration from movies, music, and Tyler’s own emotions. Work by artists like The Doors, Britney Spears, and Lady Gaga have merged with an internalised feeling to form the resulting graphics, colours, and text, and so not only are these clothes a reflection of how media influences styles and identities, they also reflect how, at any given time, the clothes we wear are indicative of how we feel. A brash graphic and monochrome fit can be seen as quiet, minimalistic, even solemn, whereas brighter colours are more impactful and lead to the impression of loud confidence and spontaneity. Of course, fashion extends beyond our emotions and into our identity, culture, and gender identity, with the latter of these being a topic that is becoming more and more prominent.

Gender fluidity has seen somewhat of a social and cultural surge over recent years. Let it be known however, gender fluidity is not a trend. It is not something that will die down, it's not a phase, a fable, nor a gimmick of any sort. As society moves forward we are seeing a true progression with the discovery and acceptance of non-binary orientations, and that can't be redacted. Fashion too has evolved alongside this development, and I don't mean with traditional gender neutral clothing. Yes; hoodies, sweatshirts, t-shirts etc. are all generally considered gender neutral, but what I mean is that Fashion itself has blurred the lines between genders due to people choosing to wear more effeminate or masculine clothing, regardless and in spite of their apparent traditional values.

Jeffrey, Young Thug

Jeffrey, Young Thug

Young thug is, undoubtedly, a fashion icon in many regards, but perhaps most importantly for challenging the image associated with rap culture as well as gender norms. Wearing a stunning blue floor length dress on the cover of his 2016 album No, My name is Jeffery, Thug made a bold statement about his gender identity as well as taking aim at the stereotypical image associated with rap culture. Gender is becoming a topic that more and more people are willing to accept is not a set value, and so with Young Thug wearing a predominantly feminine outfit, he shows that fashion is the way forward in disbanding archaic ideas of masculinity and gender. As well as this, wearing said dress on the cover of his rap album challenges the culture associated with the genre. Often painted over with grit, chains, and grills, the effeminate, flowing dress plants itself firmly as a protest to the archetype that is so often used to paint over the industry. Challenging a culture is no mean feat, and for Thug to do so with such brazenness through style was incredible to witness. Culture is something that fashion not only allows us to express and alter, but to cultivate, explore, and re-shape as we move forward. Fashion plays a vital role in culture, it only takes a glimpse of the world's major religions to see that, but beyond religion there is much more that fashion and culture share.

To belong. That's all we're really after. To be able to share experiences, thoughts, ideas, emotions; it's what we exist to do. We actively seek communities of like minded individuals to connect with, to become a member of something that is bigger than ourselves. Culture is no longer limited to that inherited from our country or our religion; we actively create, alter, and at times, appropriate it. Fashion brings us together in unison regardless of what stands between us, it permeates a troubled past and forms something that we can bond over.

Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy initiated and curated a new culture for the youth of post-Soviet Russia. Drawing in and merging inspirations like rave culture, football, and industrial silhouettes, Gosha creates clothes that reflect the gritty culture that is currently enveloping the youth. Russia's underground past is something that few designers have first hand experience with, and so with Gosha’s designs simultaneously illustrating the most vibrant parts of suppression along with the harsh realities of the time, we're gifted with a unique style that cultivated the movement of youth today. By abandoning the perfect, fabricated nature of many brands, he has allowed himself to create an authentic culture, but also raised the questions “When does fashion become ugly? And does it matter?”.

Subjectivity in fashion is something that I have a love/hate relationship with. At times I love how I'm entitled to like a piece that others generally seem to hate, because I feel secure in the knowledge that it isn't objectively bad. On the other hand, there are times when something (looking at you, Supreme) is objectively bad, yet there is no way to validate this opinion, because that's all it is; an opinion. This doesn't mean that we should throw critical thought to the wind, it just means that fashion is inherently open to a lot more debate and discussion as there is no so-called right or wrong. With this thought in mind, we should consider one of the most controversial designers as of late, Demna Gvasalia.

A fashion icon, and one especially suitable to answer the above questions. Demna, know most well for his involvement in Balenciaga and Vetements, is no stranger to creating clothes that blur the lines between ‘ugly’ and ‘beautiful’. Recent collections are brash, daring, and elegance often takes a backseat in favour of artistic expression. He’s come under fire for some of his designs, wherein people argue that just because his clothing is experimental doesn't mean it shouldn't be subject to cynicism, and I agree. I think being sceptical and critical are very important things, especially as the fashion world moves forward. However, that being said, in answering the above questions, I agree with Demna. His stylings breathe life into the identify of fashion. Often we are told to stick to certain criteria and told what is good and what is bad with fashion, only to have these rules revoked next season when the trends change. Demna refutes this, and so allows his fashion to become a statement of identity, of expression, of bold protest. By holding a middle finger up to every conventional perception of clothing, he makes it clear that he doesn't recognise fashion as ‘ugly’, but rather something to be explored and tampered with to further discover who we are.

Words Mitchell Goudie