Dystopia-core: what’s the new punk look of the pandemic era? | Fashion


Tired of sweatpants? A new fashion trend that replaces elasticated waistbands with tougher, more utilitarian garments might be right up your alley.

Drawing inspiration from dark cinematic fantasies such as The Matrix Resurrections and Dune, “dystopia-core” comes as we approach the third year of pandemic life.

Dystopia-core, which stands in direct opposition to “dopamine dressing” – wearing overtly fun clothes to help lift your spirits – can be seen as the next step in the grunge and goth revivals.

“Fashion statements often have an element of defiance. In this particular case, the challenge is the dark, dystopian look,” says trend forecaster Geraldine Wharry. “The idea that optimism isn’t cool and doesn’t reflect our current times, like what punks represented in the 70s.”

A model wears an outfit from the Khaite ready-to-wear summer 2022 collection. Photography: Khaite/PixelFormula/Sipa/Rex/Shutterstock

The items that set the trend – long leather jackets and cargo pants – both saw increasing popularity. Online searches for the former rose 117% between the third and fourth quarters of last year, while searches for cargo pants rose, year over year, by 45%, according to Jewellerybox. .co.uk.

Dystopia-core can also be seen on TikTok, where the DIY trend of draping intricately textured garments over each other to create an angular, futuristic look is gaining popularity. Nicknamed “pre-apocalypse”, the hashtag has over 265,000 views on the social media app.

“People have stopped the rather passive trend of onesie/pajamas at home, working from home in your comfort clothes and realizing that they need to be more active and get out – and to do that you need to wear something. something more functional, more durable and more chic,” says Nick Groom, author of The Vampire: A New History.

Hailey Bieber
Hailey Bieber embodying the look. Photography: Broadimage/Rex/Shutterstock

It is, according to fashion teacher Zara Anishanslin, a reaction to the current post-apocalyptic mood.

“The experience of going through a pandemic is a bit like going through a war: both are traumatic collective experiences, both have people fighting on the ‘front lines’, both result in terribly high numbers of death,” she said. “Given these similarities, it makes sense that the fashion originally popularized through military use is experiencing a resurgence.”

Francesca Granata of the Parsons School of Design sees these garments as a kind of armor against the hostile outside world. “Over the past couple of years, we’ve been constantly thinking about protecting ourselves from outside pathogens, so it’s not hard to see how the clothes can work, at least symbolically, as an extension of that shield we’ve created around of us,” she said. .

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in Matrix Resurrections
Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in Matrix Resurrections. Photography: Album/Alamy

“An answer to [the pandemic] is to try to develop an enduring, self-sustaining and enduring image,” says Groom, “not blurring it with fringes and sashes and tassels, but making the human form sleek and sharply defined. The largely black and ominous clothes worn by new couple Kanye West and Julia Fox – all made by Balenciaga – speak to this look.

Besides Balenciaga, fashion brands such as Khaite and A-Cold-Wall* articulate these emotional states.

“The idea of ​​protection is a little more universal in luxury, contemporary and streetwear now, for sure,” says A-Cold-Wall’s Samuel Ross, who tackles dystopia in his fall/winter collection. 2022 in Milan this week.

“We played around with it a bit more in terms of length, I would say, and overall volume,” he says. “We’ve always had a utilitarian angle, but this season we wanted to bring a more ‘on the nose’ look, so we used mottled, hand-painted and baked weaves and twills to convey a sensibility [to that].”


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