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Death by Skinny Jeans

by Malibongwe Tylilo, images by We-Are-Awesome / 11.08.2010

What is it that annoys me so about Cape Town’s wannabe-hipster crowd? They absolutely rub me the wrong way. When I say wannabe-hipster, I am not using some sort of umbrella term for everyone everywhere who likes cool, happening things. I mean the certain “skinny jean ironic tee/check shirt and trilby hat” wearing clan. Yes you. Graphic design-animation-illustrating eggheads often found at media colleges like City Varsity. They amble about with a smug self-satisfied look – proudly showing off their incredible belief and conviction in their own indefatigable coolness. When really they’re a sad suburban bunch with no actual edge to speak of. Their street fashion does not come from any actual understanding of or interaction with “the streets”.

Another Free Black Label

To better understand why they irk me so lets get to the bottom of that look. Skinny jeans, an ironic tee/or check shirt (it’s latest mutation comes with a pea coat for winter), and the inevitable trilby or fedora. It’s a uniform by now. A straightjacket strangling the life out of lifestyle. This is an old look actually (think the disheveled Beats in the 1950s and train-riding bums from the 1930s) that resurfaced in up to the minute style circles in the early Noughties. Right around the time the Mohawk (or Fauxhawk) and the mullet (another topic for another day) re-emerged.

Hipsters Mwah

Kate Moss and her then boyfriend, that enervated douche, Pete Doherty helped popularize it. Of course it became huge and retailers jumped on board. So for the last few seasons this look has reigned. Even our own Mr Price – go to outlet for watered down de-fanged fashion styles – has been regurgitating it ever since. It is old. It is done. It is over. I call bullshit. If you’re gonna do it give it an interesting twist. Do some bloody research or better yet leave it to suburban teenagers and pre-pubescent life forms trying to come to terms with coming out of the closet!

Another thing that irritates me is the resemblance to old pictures of Fokofpolisiekaar. That antiquated hipster thing is theirs. Leave them to it. The ‘Kaar need to move their look on and quite honestly I don’t care – I’m more concerned with the lack of originality. This crowd seems incapable of putting together a fresh silhouette – let alone starting a band. Coming out? If only most of them would stay in. I’m well aware they’re mostly heterosexuals and I know the South African straight male is generally not endowed with the gift of a fly fashion eye. But to dress in a way that explicitly shows one to be estranged from strong personal style is a tragedy. A tragedy. And don’t get me started on the hair. And the gel.

So on a Sunday recently specimens of the kids in question assembled at the AMICOLLECTIVE GARAGE to view a poster exhibition (and drink free Black Label). The posters were created with specific bands in mind. I haven’t bothered to Google the exhibit or interview anyone (this is Mahala). But in my sweepingly uninformed opinion, poster art combined with a few tokes of Swaziland’s finest just looks dated and juvenile. Much like the crowd. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for poster “art” in the world – I’ve admired a few posters in my time – why I’ve even read those big ass coffee table books from Taschen – but the stuff on show here was routinely unimpressive. Much like the crowd. We can safely assume that original thought and the WOW factor were not part of the brief. We all know the feeling of gazing upon something supposedly cool – that leaves you neither stirred nor shaken. How fitting. Hipster art for a hipster crowd. The Emperor wears skinny jeans. If only he were naked.

*Malibongwe Tylilo, Mahala’s Style Guru, is responsible for the fabulous fashion blog Skattie What Are You Wearing.

*All images © We-Are-Awesome.

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