There’s a new aesthetic in town. No, it’s not one of those AI generated fashion trend predictions – though ‘Recessioncore’ and ‘Doomcore’ may be onto something. It’s not even really Post-Apocalyptic, albeit it’s definitely a closer relation to that than others. Yes, we’re talking about Neanderthal Chic – the burgeoning new fashion niche popping up all over the corners of the internet (and the runway).
Take an extended scroll through TikTok or Instagram and you’ll find a treasure trove of style elements that look as if the inspiration was plucked from a prehistoric cave – if the inhabitants of said cave shopped at Diesel, that is. The term ‘neanderthal’ might conjure up mental images of hairy, hunched humans huddled around a fire dressed in the skin of their latest meal, but the trend we’re talking about focuses on a highly tuned subculture of faux fur flaunting, leather draped high fashion players.
Followers of neanderthal chic are both trend forward and raw in their stylistic choices. Think animal prints, furry mini skirts and Russian bear hunter hats – blended chaotically with Y2K elements and streetwear features. The neanderthal chic follower takes mock prehistoric skins in leopard, deer and mottled imitation leather – once the only thing a caveman (or woman) could get their hands on for protection against the elements, and turns them into a noughties inspired, minimalist – and yet somehow, maximalist(?) – ensembles. ‘Back to basics’ in this instance literally means back to the OG, the blueprint, the Mankind Basic.
You only need to look towards Acne Studios’ latest FW23 campaign to get a taste of what we’re getting at. The images, set in a cavernous, primitive cave, embody the genderless elements of the ‘modern day caveman’, with layered, earth coloured tones and fabrics draped on the body as if pulled straight from mother nature. Yuhan Wang channelled Flintstone faux fur energy for FW22 – a trend we’ve seen all over social media in the form of animal printed Emma Brewin hats – and more recently, Americana-meets-Tarzan at Dsquared2 FW23 and Schiaparelli’s big cat taxidermy dresses at Paris Haute Couture Week. Even Rick Owens offers certain neanderthal-esque touches, with rough leather finishes; dominance-asserting torso cut-outs; distressed rips and element proof animal skins fit for a nature dwelling individual.
XXL shaggy boots have also become a fashion must for players in the niche – even Rich the Kid wanted in on it – with brands like Miu Miu, Saint Laurent and AVAVAV leading the way with their giant mammoth clodhoppers, perfect for making your way through the wilderness (the walk back from the tube) to hunt for your dinner (to collect your Deliveroo at reception). In 2023, you’ll find that the modern neanderthal dwells in a high fashion cave.
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