Last night, Kanye West, in conjunction with Adidas Originals, showed off the Yeezy Season 1 fashion line. Inspired by his own fashion sense, it’s mostly devoid of color and adorned with vague militarism, featuring unisex bomber and blouson jackets, and distressed, oversized collarless shirts in olive, tan, and grey. Each piece is a color deconstruction of camouflage itself. (Though pieces also come in camouflage prints, too!)
The aesthetic isn’t wholly original–people have already pointed to West’s inspiration from Raf Simons’s AW01 line, which itself was inspired by the fashion of the Manic Street Preachers. But looking at the depressed models, wearing tattered, muted, oversized clothing, all I see are the saddest part of The Matrix. You know, the stuff worn by all those people who live in the real world, who have banded together the last remaining plus-sized thermals to be stained with protein gruel.
The female pieces get a slightly different treatment. Not only were the models dressed in nude stockings (presumably but uncertainly not part of the collection)–creating an effect that they were half dressed. These pieces were dyed in the family of red colors–turning them into The Matrix’s eye-catching, woman in red incarnate. Well, with a less finished hemline.
But for the most part, these aesthetics aren’t just the stuff of dystopian sci-fi; they’re all growing trends. Gender-ambiguous military cuts are in. Neutrals are too. Unfinished hems as well. Kanye’s fashion line is consumerizing zeitgeist more than causing it.
The end statement on stage was purely populist, featuring runway models wearing hoodies, looking less posed for the cover of Vogue than groomed for a ride on the subway. It’s was an inspirational, anti-aspirational sentiment: Nobody isn’t cool or good looking enough to wear this stuff.
And as for Adidas, who co-sponsored the show (though it’s a bit unclear which pieces they’ll brand), this drab everyman point of view could provide a strategic counter to their rival Nike. After all, Nike has defined its apparel by weaving it in every color of the rainbow, teasing a bright and optimistic future full of neon afterglow. But neon just isn’t cool when you’re hiding from the robots, huddled and shivering on the decks of the Nebuchadnezzar.