IS IT 2017 AGAIN?

by Stella Hughes
5 min

We all know fashion and art love to revisit the past. The concepts of trend cycles, ‘vintage’ clothing and trend-led outfitting all rely on fashion (and people’s) tendency to look to the past for inspiration, taking elements of the old to craft the new. But what happens when trend cycles compress into a matter of single digit years? Is fashion moving too quickly, and have we inadvertently found ourselves back in 2017 already?

Well, maybe. Supreme rose to dominance in the early half of the 2010s, revolutionising the fashion and streetwear spaces with its previously unseen hype-building, limited drop and internet domination business model. At the forefront of the converging movements in fashion, music and art, Supreme set the precedent for a whole new lifestyle – the humble hypebeast.

Tyler, The Creator in Earl Sweatshirt’s “Sasquatch” Music Video 

Perhaps the most obvious signifier of this was the BOGO – The Supreme Box tee was once the steezy signifier of an ‘in the know’ streetwear aficionado with everyone from Tyler the Creator to Kate Moss and Kanye buying into the hype. As explored previously in our article on its disappearance from the scene, its significance and strengths came from its simplicity, yet it was able to be simplistic because Supreme has such an untarnishable and grounded self-awareness of its brand identity and purpose. The less is more approach to the box tee worked because everyone wanted to be a part of the Supreme story.

So where are all the box tee’s now? Well, the brand and box tee’s dwindling public persona can partly be explained by its ultimately detrimental, yet not totally avoidable, shift in its target demographic. What once was the face of underground, authentic street and skatewear soon became more of a corporate enterprise, as its original ‘grassroots’ magic waned and trends moved on. Coupled with the rise of bots and AI selling out drops before regular ‘preme fans could get their hands on them, it’s not that much of a surprise that the once certain lines outside of each store have almost dropped off entirely now.

However, earlier this year, Supreme announced a new collab with Burberry – seeing the box logo make its comeback, this time in the British luxury brand’s signature nova check. Whilst this was largely received with, well, not much opinion at all, it was indicative of Supreme trying to harness the pulling power of nostalgia – harking back to both its own glory days, and Burberry’s iconic nova check pattern which was popular in both the 90s and resurgently, in the 2010s.

But Supreme isn’t the only brand doing this – it seems to be part of a wider shift within fashion. More generally in the fashion space, we have been seeing a rejection of Y2K’s impossible ideals for a while now. Despite the ongoing prevalence of the low-waist silhouette (thanks, Miu Miu), brands which popped off for SS22 like Blumarine did not receive the same exclusively-glowing reaction to their AW22 collections. Although lots of their designs and silhouettes remained the same, tapping into Gen Z’s Y2K drive, it seems that the world has moved on from the Paris Hilton-esque aesthetic, advancing a decade or so to find ourselves back in the throes of the 2010s.

As trend forecaster Mandy Lee first coined in her TikTok, this movement has been dubbed Indie Sleaze, and favours Tumblr dashboards and Alexa Chung and Alex Turner as a OTP. It was a mash-up of 90s heroin chic, 80s grunge, combined with all the questionable fashion choices of the 00s – yes, including those lensless shutter glasses. In the images permeating these early social media sites, flash photography was not so much implied as positively required – creating high-saturation, contrast and shadow – an aesthetic that worked its way from people posting their own shots online to album covers and even whole brand identities.

Maybe the most prominent example of this was American Apparel – a brand that before its infamous fall in 2010 championed a provocative, studio-based aesthetic that had Tumblr in a chokehold. As well as fashion, the trend encompasses music mash-ups (DJ Earworm, anyone?), popularised again thanks to TikTok, and now we’re even seeing old buddies Rex Orange County and Tyler, the Creator link up for a new single once again. These two were at the forefront of 2017’s music scene, thanks to both parties releasing albums that went on to become wildly popular.

Back in the realm of high fashion, and Phoebe Philo’s reign at Celine was also a major part of the previous decade. With her return anticipated to catalyse an industry-wide shift back to minimalism, alongside Rex OC & Tyler, the return of Supreme and Indie Sleaze, we can’t help but feel we may – inadvertently or not – be back in 2017.

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