The Changing Face of American Fashion
Denim. Apple pie. White picket fences. The traditional concept of Americana is just that: a traditional concept. It’s old, it’s outdated, and quite frankly – it’s boring. Design powerhouses such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, and Kate Spade dominate the American fashion landscape with cookie-cutter designs that fit the idealized American dream. There’s a reason that they do so well overseas – if you can’t have the American dream, why not buy some of their denim? Prozac-popping moms gobbled up Michael Kors’ poppy colored leather bags like they were organic, non-GMO lip fillers. Aside from being the perfect pairing partner to a 16-year-old’s Forever21 outfit, these brand’s days are numbered. Even though they’re netting billions of dollars a year.
If you look at who the CFDA has been nominating for choice menswear and womenswear designer and best new designer for the past few years, it’s never one of the traditional American powerhouses. Polo and Tory Burch aren’t attracting editors and buyers the way that they used to. Pay close attention to who attends a Tommy Hilfiger show – it’s Macy’s buyers and the Sak’s buyers that have been going to the same runways for years. No one is interested in the picturesque American dream anymore, and fashion is surprisingly at the forefront of this idealized revolution. America’s new designers are dirty, gritty, stylized, and stunning. And guess what? There’s not a ballet flat in sight.
Thakoon Panichgul is the man behind Thakoon, one of the most celebrated new American womenswear designers this side of a decade. Did Panichgul grow up with two golden retrievers summering in Nantucket? Is he rolling out polo dresses like a champagne sipping suburban mom? Thakoon Panichgul was born in Thailand, raised in Omaha, and is now creating show-stopped American pieces in New York City.
Hood by Air has gained an incredible mass of cult level obsessed followers, with celebrity champions such as Kanye West and A$AP Rocky. It combines high-fashion integrity and design with the credibility of street wear, creating a result that gets both editors and celebrities foaming at the greedy mouth. Shayne Oliver, founder and designer of Hood By Air, didn’t “do lunch” on the tennis courts with his dad’s business buddies before making a million tennis shorts in Beijing sweatshops. Oliver is an African-American who was born in Minneapolis and raised in Brooklyn – and he’s redefining the archetype of what a modern American brand looks like.
Prabal Gurung created one of the most show-stopping Fall/Winter 2015 collections in New York last year. He isn’t worried about creating the next it-dress for America’s sorority women, rather, he’s out changing the face of the American runway. Gurung was born in Singapore and raised in Nepal. He started his career in New Delhi, before coming to New York and establishing one of the most lust-worthy evening wear brands on the New York runway.
America’s changing face of fashion replicates America’s changing ideas of what constitutes the American dream. It’s not white-washed fashion, it’s not polo dresses and perfectly pressed denim. It’s dirty, it’s rough around the edges, it’s a melting pot, and it’s f*cking creative. And I, for one, can’t wait another second to see what comes next.
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