Some fashion is subversive. There’s nothing overtly confrontational, or outside of conventional mores, but the specific context in which the clothes are applied presents an unspoken but clear message.
Sharp dressed subcultures like Mods and Rude Boys are prime examples. There’s nothing unconventional about wearing a stylish suit, or fashionable shoes, but when worn by a class of people who aren’t supposed to have access to these things, while engaged in some non-officially approved behavior like loud music, dancing, and chemical substances, the status symbols of their alleged ‘betters’ are undermined.
The prevalence of blue collar, proletarian work clothing in fashion definitely falls into this category. There’s an obvious gatecrashing element to bringing signifiers of stereotypically unglamorous labor into a world of delicate, refined beauty, but the more shocking suggestion is that this world is worthy of being considered fashionable and beautiful.
Real life has a way of intruding on aesthetic considerations. The collapse of so much industry over the years has made the workwear look another runway fantasy. Welcome to a world where “working hard, or hardly working” isn’t a lame water cooler joke; it’s a threat.
Photography: Ricky Orng
Words: Dan Alvarez