Is Anything Cool Anymore? | GQ

W. David Marx writes in his new book: “Nothing is great because everything is good. Status and Culture. Marx’s book is vast in scope, covering everything from music to megayachts to explain the mechanics of culture: how trends work, how flavors form, why Roman emperors were obsessed with sea snails that secrete purple dye. The book represents a major attempt to decipher why we like the things we do.

But that line, from the part about why, exactly, everything in culture is starting to feel like stale bread, has stuck with me. Especially in the field of fashion, we seem to have entered an era of style that liberalizes everything for nothing. outside and everything is InThe ’90s are back and so is Y2K fashion. Wide leg pants are back with low-rise jeans. Twee fashion is back, as is elegance itself. Sneaker collectors call for retro versions, away from new styles. Arguably the most exciting thing to happen in menswear this year is the resurgence of a mall brand that fell out of favor less than a decade ago and is now making a comeback thanks to the power of the brand. strength of wide-leg chinos from the ’90s. A strange effect of all this: if everything maybe be cool, To be anything interesting?

I think Marx can help me understand whatever the hell is going on. Speaking by phone from Tokyo, where he lives, Marx cited the concept of the resurrection, from Simon Reynolds’ 2011 book of the same name. “It means that people have the choice to do new things and do old things, and for some reason they choose the old over the new,” Marx said by phone from Tokyo, where he has headquarters. “So that doesn’t just mean the old has an appeal, because the old always has an appeal. That there is something missing about the new. “

So what is missing in our new cultural artifacts? There’s a lot to blame, perhaps most prominently the Internet and its fetish for speed. When it comes to fashion, its main crime is crashing the trend cycle. In Status and Culture, Marx describes this loop as “a never-ending journey. People who run on the cultural track are all running in the same direction,” towards the high-status. Now, however, the chase feels too short to lead to any lasting trends. Think of the certifier’s speech quoted from The Devil Wear Prada, in which Meryl Streep lays out the long road a product takes towards mass. Now, it’s as if a wormhole has opened in our trend cycles: the boldest and most coveted looks recreated in Zara, Shein and H&M at record speed. Our looping breakthrough kills innovation, smoothing out the rough edges of new ideas to make them palatable to as wide a audience as possible. Marx cites how artists Kanye and Drake have curated smaller repertoires in other genres — for example, incorporating a popular young driller before the genre developed into a star production system. star. As fast fashion brands flock to the work of emerging designers, those designers don’t really get a chance to make their own stand out.

And as customers inevitably find themselves participating in these trends, doing so no longer holds the same impact it once had. Marx writes: “We have been paralyzed by many traditional status symbols. “Pictured vacation photos of a radiant sunset on a beach in a faraway land are no longer as impressive as they are otherwise images on the feed.” A T-shirt with the Supreme box logo no longer shining; an expensive watch makes no difference. When anyone can buy anything, what was once special becomes the norm. “In the late ’90s, it was impossible to try to buy a T-shirt from a Japanese streetwear brand,” Marx told me. “And now there are probably hundreds of Japanese streetwear brands available to anyone in the US pretty easily… So that’s the dilemma right? Everyone can have everything. And so it feels like nothing is good.” Is Anything Cool Anymore? | GQ

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