The Good, The Bad, and The Problematic trends that defined 2017
Words: Kenny Morifi-Winslow | Illustrations: Eva Faerch
Below are the fashion highs, the lows and the 'I don't even knows' of an annum that came a close second to 2016 on the list of shitty-years-since-2008, I rate. No fashionistas were intentionally harmed in the writing of this list, but if the shoe fits... Just kidding, yay democracy!
I have a major bone to pick with millennial pink. Where was I when we, as a demographic, sat down and decided that that was going to be the colour we all agree represents us best? Is no one else slightly nauseated by the sickly shade that followed us all the way from the hell that was 2016? Clearly I’m the only one who’s not on board with the CI for ‘carefree youth’, because it’s been everywhere, all year, mostly accompanied by an array of similarly pastel flower petals and ‘sad boy’ lyrics. Okay guys, I get it.
The ‘corporate square’ staple got a high fashion face lift this year with the reinvention of the white shirt in every possible permutation 100% cotton could allow. Off the shoulder, back to front, side zips and elongated cuffs; this year, we dug the white shirt out of the archives and thrust it, in it’s new avant-garde guise, into the front of the well conceived wardrobe of the minimalist. Baby blue versions caught a brief moment in the sun, but the ‘less is more’ fashion set put their foot firmly back on the side of the original white. Though I doubt the white shirt will ever go out of style (you can thank Carolina Herrera for that) we saw some really interesting collars show themselves this year; Mandarins and Backwards Wingtips, which makes this year particularly big for the classic style staple.
Not to be confused with the culotte which is purposefully a ¾ length, wider leg palazzo style pant, cropped trousers are those Insta famous bottoms of 2017. Cut at an awkward, albeit deliberate, length, maybe a ruffle or two tacked onto the seam, or even an exposed hem with a little fringing for an added haute street effect. I mean who doesn’t love idiosyncratic pattern cutting? My only qualm with this trend is that it was literally invented for skinny girls. The proportion of this particular trouser has an ‘all ye with thighs who enter here beware’ sewn into the inseam, but I don’t scare easy, and neither does most of the world it seems, because all the shapes and sizes have been donning them all year in a giant ‘f**k you’ to fashion!
A personal favourite of mine, the kitten heel making a comeback has served me well. I remember when ‘granny heels’ came back in 2015 and I started wearing them early in New York (because walking further than four blocks in anything taller than my thumb is a death sentence for a fresh pedi), and everyone back home hated on me for my very sensible and somewhat nostalgic choice in footwear. A year and a half later… hate to say I told you so. Claiming it? Yes. Yes I am. They did however evolve past me into the pointy Celine style witchy toe look which I’m working on getting into, but that style needs a charisma I’m not sure I have found yet. I’m digging deep though, the shoes are worth it.
Okay so I know this isn’t exactly a fashion trend, but I feel like when Chanel quite controversially showcased their resort collection in the newly ‘emancipated’ time capsule of a country, it kind of blurred the lines a bit. Cuba is now not just the hottest tourist destination thanks to the sanction lift, but I feel like fashion this year embraced it with the vigour of a Black Friday sale. Bloggers, foodies and ‘visual artists’ alike made Cuba, alongside Morocco, a fashion travel destination for the decade, or at least until capitalism gets a grip on it. United against the McCuban we stand?
Again, not an actual style, but can we all agree that queer politics and culture have been coopted by the system and commoditized? The fashion industry has been doing it internationally for years, but now that we’re adopting the same bad habits on our own door step, without having properly dealt with what queer politics mean in this country, I feel like it’s time to cut it out. 2017 has been a big year for gender politics as a whole, but this is one trend I think should never have made it to this list at all.
Taking our cues once again from the goddess of Haute Norm Core Couture herself, Phoebe Philo of House Celine, First of Her Name. Slayer of Slouch Chic. Defender of The Over-Sized Shirt and Protector of the Knit Two Piece, layering of shapes and textures quickly became a major player in the fashion forward street wear scene. Long cuffed shirts under tank tops or cropped knits, layering, especially when done with shapes that ordinarily would be worn quite comfortably independently, made for some of the most notable looks of the year.
I blame Kim Kardashian West, her post apocalyptic designer husband Kanye and their hive of Yeezy stans for this. Insta baddies and slay queens across the world, have convinced us that high heels with a sock attached are the wave, and I’m ashamed to say I bashed it till I found a black pair with a kitten heel (I’m weak you guys). In my defense they were like 70% off and in black, did I mention the kitten heel? I get it now. It’s like… I’m a heel, and a boot, but I’m also a sock so your ankles still look cute, knees exposed or not. To be fair, Rick Owens gave us those powerful sock-boot sneakers in 2014 so I can’t say it’s new on the high fashion street scene, but this year we definitely took the trend as far as it could go.
I am willing to fight anyone who disagrees with me on this one. It was literally everywhere, I think it still is. I’m guilty of over doing this easy warm weather trend all year long, but I can’t get enough of a little shoulder action, especially when coupled with sensual fabrics and textures. Cancel me with the polyester Coachella cropped lace look, but a little linen, a little collar bone and we have ourselves a sure fire winner. I think we will all remember this trend with fondness, but I don’t think it will last past March, quote me on that.
Streetwear went mainstream this year in one of the grandest displays of the trickle up effect I have ever seen, and my favourite piece to come out of the revolution is the fanny pack, or over the shoulder man bag, depends on how you wear it, but you know what I mean. Those little neon pouches made from parka material and seatbelt straps. The Cape Town hip set can’t get enough, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s safe to say when Virgil Abloh made the world see street as high art, it became less of a ‘culture’ iconoclasm and more a fashion one. Either way, safe to say, they’re here to say.
Bring it 2018, give it your best.