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Friday, July 12, 2024

Commentary: Is contemporary fashion evolving or deteriorating?

21st-century fashion designs might be on a downward trajectory


By SARAH HAN — arts@theaggie.org


Fashion is viewed through a subjective lens: some people might view one design as revolutionary while others simply do not understand it. However, beyond subjectivity, recent fashion designs seem to overwhelmingly garner the latter opinion, and the following examples are a reflection of these unfavorable sentiments. 

An example of some of the most impractical designs is Viktor & Rolf’s Fall 2007 Ready-to-Wear collection. Most of the models in the show wore clothing attached to lighting rigs, making it difficult to balance and walk. Although I’m all here for artistic originality, these designs left me wondering about the designers’ intent and concerned for the models’ safety. Rather than amplifying ordinary clothing by incorporating a personal spin, I feel like the designers are competing to obtain the “most original” or “most eccentric” title.

Indeed, creating extraordinary designs is one goal of the fashion industry. However, I feel like some current designs are only prioritizing this aspect over others, like practicality. There is a fine line between what’s original and what’s too much, and unfortunately, many contemporary fashionistas do not seem to care if they cross it.

Another example is the beloved 2017 Commes des Garcons designs. This brand became popular from its collaboration with Converse, which was a huge hit: the well-known heart decals added a quirky spin to the classic sneakers. However, on the runway, the brand’s designs did not resemble clothes: they looked like casts that were molded into wavy blobs, and the shoes looked like bedazzled ankle stabilizers. 

Maybe these fashion designers are not thinking about practicality at all — I mean, it would be unfathomable to categorize these designs as clothes you could wear to brunch or the grocery store. I don’t think many of these looks would even be appropriate for formal events aside from those that clearly establish that practicality is out of the picture, like, for example, the Met Gala.

Though it is a fundraising event, one of the central aspects of the gala is to showcase creative and unusual designs that are not meant to be worn in everyday life; in fact, the Met’s chairwoman, Anna Wintour, announces a unique theme before the annual gala each year. Events like these are specifically designed to celebrate outside-of-the-box fashion, and even at these, I feel like many of the designs are more wearable than ones we often see on runways.

Despite this trend, many contemporary fashion designs do still value practicality in addition to originality. Recent Ralph Lauren, Versace and other collections all incorporate the designers’ unique tastes to ultimately amplify the garments themselves. 

While the fashion industry champions artistic freedom and creativity, designers seem to push the boundaries solely to obtain attention and clout. However, it’s up to the designers if they want to continue creating impractical designs or make their clothing more wearable.

Written by: Sarah Han — arts@theaggie.org