As this year winds down we’ve recapped its highlights to bring you the best of 2016 in fashion, sneakers, music, movies and more.
As we proceed to pour one out for the discombobulated streak of events that defined 2016, let’s take a moment to bid one final adieu by looking back at some of the year’s biggest – and most unfortunate – trends that creeped their way throughout the realm of fashion, streetwear and sneakers.
Social media and the Internet offer a rapid flow of global communication just at your fingertips, allowing people to stride through a broad swath of fashion, music and art at any given moment, sans border or language restrictions. It’s what fuels today’s ever-constant crossbreeding of ideas, tastes and aesthetics.
The cyclical nature of fashion trends is a fundamental part of the industry and keeps the sartorial landscape fresh and exciting; it also gives us something to talk about on a daily basis. At Highsnobiety, it’s our job to chronicle these trends to inform our audience (aka you guys) what’s going on in the style sphere at large, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we always like them. For every new fad comes another that leaves us asking, “But, why?”
Whether they were overplayed, caused unnecessary aggravation or because they never should’ve happened in the first place, here are eight trends we hope RIP come January 2017. Don’t agree? Let it all out in the comments section…we’re ready.
I’m just as surprised as you are why this here trend made the cut in 2016. But alas, while we thought jogger pants were given a fair burial last year, they continue to hold an unfortunate relevance within the commercial zeitgeist. Uniqlo, Topman, ZARA, Urban Outfitters, H&M. The elastic-cuffed, trouser/track pant mutations have been steadily hovering on the e-commerce pages of nearly every mainstream fast-fashion retailer in existence, meaning that guys are still buying them. OK, so YOU might be over them, but your most swag-less homie sure as hell isn’t.
We get it, you want people to see your sneakers (or rather notice how much coin you dropped on them) without having to pinroll your jeans or sweatpants, that’s how KITH, Publish and a slew of other streetwear brands popularized the style in the first place, but news flash guys: there are other bottoms out there that will give you the same effect without looking like a seven-year-old who should be sporting a pair of light-up Toy Story kicks as opposed to some Air Jordans. Here’s a toast to their ultimate demise in 2017.
Poor sneakerheads. Not only are they forced to camp out on sidewalks for endless hours just to cop a pair of hype kicks, these days, if you want to get in on the action, you also have to duke it out with skip hack Internet programs, otherwise known as sneaker bots. Easily one of the most annoying issues to hit sneaker culture as of late, sneaker bots, just to sum it up, are code systems (or plugins) that tap into the back-ends of e-commerce sites and run automated add-to-cart scenarios by completing an order in a matter of 1-2 seconds.
The unfair advantage these bots propose is that not everyone has an astute knowledge about how coding works; there’s the factor of Internet speed (your iPhone 5 won’t stand a chance against a 7) as well as being present at the very second the shoe drops. Sneaker bots have also proven to be a golden ticket for resellers, who buy in bulk only to sell at an outrageous markup outside the system, leaving countless shoppers disappointed and broke when release day hits.
Many sneaker brands and retailers are working hard to fight these bots by creating raffle systems, allocations in-store, check-out trivia quizzes only real-life humans can complete and even “fighter” bots, but the problem still persists.
Attention sneakerhead geek squad: let’s make things democratic for all shoe shoppers in 2017, so quit going HAM on the coding schemes already.
You want to know how much a Gildan shirt costs at wholesale? Around $1.50-$4 USD. Want to know how much Kanye’s much-hyped Life of Pablo Gildan shirts retailed for? Well, T-shirts sold for $55 USD, a long-sleeve was priced at $75 USD and a hoodie went for a cool $108 USD. That’s a 5.8-8.5x markup… for Gildan. And that’s not including the prices tagged onto them once they hit the resell market.
Who would’ve thought that everyone’s favorite low-cost Canadian basics brand would leave such a dent in your bank account in 2016? Well Gildan itself might not have, but Kanye West sure did. Perhaps that’s why many fans felt so indifferent about their purchases once they carried their bags out any number of TLOP pop-ups…
But that definitely didn’t stop people from flocking to the shops en masse and wearing whatever they were able to cop any chance they could get. “Kanye is a God,” exerted an eager shopper in San Francisco. “Whatever price [the merch costs] is worth it.” Is charging an obscene amount of money for a cheaply-made hoodie really worth it, though?
Just when you thought the memory of SSUR’s ever-popular “COMME des FUCKDOWN” beanies from 2012 had long faded, parody fashion experienced something of a comeback in 2016. From ironic slogans to multi-logo spinoffs to high-fashion iterations of cheap commodities, it seemed like the industry was looking for something to humor itself with this year; so much so, in fact, that even labels which thrive off parody designs (*cough*Vetements*cough*) became satirized themselves.
The most polarized emblem of this trend, aka that infamous $330 DHL T-shirt, also became one of 2016’s biggest street style accessories, proving just how much fashionistas were vibing with sardonic sartorial statements this year. Though the intentions behind the tee were, according to Vetements head honcho Demna Gvasalia, wholehearted and produced legitimately, there still hovers a notion of putting such an exorbitant price tag on something that allegedly “homages” DHL workers, yet exhausts what they may actually be able to afford.
We all love a bit of sarcastic jest in fashion, but hipster irony, which is where most of parody fashion falls under, is both played out and not funny anymore (or was it ever?).
It’s hard to remember a time when Kanye West didn’t dominate the influence of consumer culture. The hype surrounding his adidas-collaborated YEEZY imprint hasn’t even come close to subsiding since it was first launched at New York Fashion Week FW15, with designers and fast-fashion retailers making their own iterations of the brand’s aesthetic to satiate the sartorial appetites of style-conscious ‘Ye fans all over the globe. But while some labels might be trying to mimic the “look” of YEEZY, other manufacturers are making straight-up counterfeits of it – particularly the line’s ubiquitous footwear.
The demand for YEEZYs, especially the boost 350 model, has far outreached their supply, which is why the bootleg market became substantially saturated in 2016, with China being the prime source of counterfeit production (no shocker there). The popularity of “fugeezys” was so prevalent this year that legit check forums and subreddits dedicated to finding the best bootlegs around experienced sharp spikes in traffic on a daily basis, not to mention that the price point for high-quality replicas nearly matched the retail value of their authentic counterparts.
As illegitimate shoe makers continue to step up their game by creating some of the most realistic-looking YEEZYs on the market, spotting the difference from the real thing has become increasingly difficult. But you know what’s become even more difficult? NOT spotting a pair of YEEZYs on the streets, be they fake or legit. Anyone up for a more varied footwear palette in 2017? We definitely are.
Tour Merch Pop-Ups
I admit it, I love a good pop-up shop: they incite a sense of excitement by offering consumers an exclusive product for a limited time, making the purchase feel more “special”. I’m also a fan of tour merch; that is, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a logo or graphic of an artist that I actually listen to and admire (one of my holiest grails is a shirt I copped at a Rob Zombie show back in 2001). But 2016 blew these two concepts so out of proportion that the thrill and personal significance affiliated with them have nearly vanished entirely.
Tour merch was a colossal hit with streetwear fans this year, as pop singers and rappers used their star power influence to create products that presented themselves more like straight-up fashion labels rather than one-off souvenirs. Sure, Kanye’s 2013-released Yeezus merch set the bar when it came to producing gear that fit with the style zeitgeist, but 2016 was the year that every big-name artist in the business had his/her own “fashionable” tour line with a coinciding pop-up.
Aside from Kanye, whose Pablo merch lies in a league of its own, Justin Bieber was one of the first to ignite the whole pop-up epidemic with his uber-trendy Purpose gear. Corresponding with his own personal re-branding, the merch, created in collaboration with Fear of God designer Jerry Lorenzo, cribbed design tricks from Vetements, Thrasher and heavy metal iconography (all of which were HUGE vibes this year), then slithered its way through niche boutiques (VFILES, Alchemist, Nomad) to upscale retailers (Barneys) to ultimately where all trends go to die (Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, H&M).
Riding Biebs’ bandwagon were Rihanna, Travis Scott, Zayn Malik, The Weeknd, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Post Malone, Drake, Future, A Tribe Called Quest and Cash Money Records, who all produced pop-ups of merch that nearly all looked the same from one another. But hey, hype sells, so of course artists are going to ride the wave until it crashes.
I’m not saying that tour merch pop-ups are a bad thing, but when my inbox gets flooded with press releases about them on a weekly basis, I’m more inclined to react with a “Really? Another one?” as opposed to something more enthusiastic. And not for nothing, but it also feels like merch designs have reached their evolutionary arc, which is why you have crap like this being made now.
Dressing for Instagram
There’s no denying the unremitting potency of “The ‘Gram”. Last year, the popular social media platform took home the CFDA’s annual Media Award, solidifying its global and cultural influence in the fashion industry. But while we all know how incredibly useful a tool Instagram is, from discovering new talent to forecasting trends to sharing ideas, the homogenous way people are engaging with it these days has promoted predictability and sartorial mimicry over individual creativity.
For many consumers, a purchase depends entirely on how many virtual hearts it may get once posted on social media. Personal preference, in an age where likes and high engagement dictate how relevant you are on the Internet, has become pretty obsolete.
Sure, you may actually like that box logo hoodie or those NMDs, but don’t tell me that your drive to flex for Instagram didn’t manipulate your interest even just a little bit. In the words of a popular streetwear fan, “I essentially break [my purchase] down to what the piece will offer me in terms of exposure. Can I sell this piece a few months later for a similar price or higher? Will it create an explosion of hype on social media?”
Blame it on the hype. Blame it on Kanye. Blame it on the media (guilty). We’re all at fault in the end, but please, for the love of God, let’s try to be a bit more diverse when it comes to what we wear and how we style ourselves in 2017. It’s OK to cop that weird jacket from a brand that only has a few hundred followers on IG, but by all means, do it for you, not for an app. Cool, pep talk’s over.
Hating on Posers
Before you come at us hard for this inclusion, hear me out. Yes, this list is, at a cursory glance, almost, if not entirely about criticizing trends that we’ve grown tired of throughout the year, hence promoting their dissolution in fashion and pop culture at large. It may seem patronizing, but at the end of the day, you’re all free to do whatever the hell you want and wear whatever the hell you want. Style is subjective.
Don’t care that joggers are several seasons dead? Not ready to stow away those fake YEEZYs? Still vibing that Pepto-Bismol pink dad cap despite it being the most heinous color in the visible spectrum? (Kidding…but not really). Whatever trend you choose to follow, regardless of how popular it may or may not be, if you wear it with conviction, then that’s really all that matters.
That being said, the act of hating on people for wearing something that references a culture they may not be well-versed in has grown especially tiresome. Take, for example, two of 2016’s biggest trends: Thrasher and metal band T-shirts. You may recall a few months back when Thrasher magazine’s editor-in-chief, Jake Phelps, fired shots at Justin Bieber and Rihanna for wearing skater gear despite them having zero affiliation with skate culture. We’ve been guilty of spewing discontent towards these so-called “posers” too, particularly when it came to those ubiquitous vintage band shirts.
Subcultures have long been appropriated by the fashion industry and pop culture, and yes, it is irritating when you see someone frivolously following a trend tied to a niche community without being a part of it or even giving that group its due credit. But the year is 2016, and there exists this thing called “the internet,” where people have the ability to research anything and everything at any given moment.
Rather than lambasting kids for wearing that Slayer shirt just because Supreme made it and it “looked cool”, how about educating them about the band instead? I highly doubt many of today’s 14-year-olds come out the womb head-banging to guitar riffs and waving the sign of the horns (myself not included, but that’s a different story). Also, the popularity of subcultural motifs in mainstream culture permits younger generations to discover something they may have completely bypassed otherwise.
It’s time to stop taking fashion so seriously and being so cynical ALL THE DAMN TIME. If you like skating, go skate. If you like Metallica, listen to them. And let others discover it, too.
The views and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of Highsnobiety as a whole.
Nik Schulte / Highsnobiety.com