The colour pink was splashed liberally around 2017. From the ‘pussy hats’ that symbolised the Woman’s March movement—initiated back in January in protest of the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States—to current Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson donning Acne Studio’s over-sized, unisex ‘Fairview face’ pale pink sweatshirt on air—causing a flurry of ID requests online after an edition of the programme was broadcast in February.
Pink was anything but passive in 2017, with variations in shades of intensity matching the political intent of the wearer. Intense hot pink was for pussy hats and mass protests, pale powder like hues were for guys who wanted to signal their openness and solidarity with feminist and gender neutralist ideologies without injecting themselves directly into the conversation.
The Boys Only Club cap is a piece of ‘merch’ produced to help fund and promote a podcast launched in March this year by YouTubers Steven Suptic and Reina Scully. Suptic and Reina are practically made of pure YouTube and (probably begrudgingly) represent the emergence of a group of ‘creators’ who have forged the types of careers for themselves only possible via this very specific platform. Suptic started humbly enough, as a spicy independent YouTube Minecrafter/vlogger, before being hired by SourceFed—a channel funded by YouTube’s 100 million dollar Original Channel Initiative back in 2012. When SourceFed folded in March 2017, he set about rebuilding his vlog channel, experimenting with a wide range of formats before setting on something he called ‘alternative lifestyle’ programming which would morph into the Sugar Pine 7 channel with a team of ‘characters’ flicking between scripted content and ‘bits’ filmed incidentally during their day-to-day life. Members of the Sugar Pine 7 crew may have dreams of moving into traditional media, being so close to both YouTube HQ and Hollywood, but it’s Suptic’s innate understanding of YouTube as a medium that has set a new benchmark for content on YouTube that is both personable, goofy but also quietly sophisticated.Search
[Womens March 2017], [Acne Studio Face], [Suptic], [Reina Scully], [Boys Only Club], [Sugar Pine 7]
Fashion needs new and after too many seasons offering slim variations on the type of ‘neue luxury’ ushered in by Tom Ford way back in the 2000s, the appointment of Demna Gvasalia as Balenciaga’s most recent creative director has reintroduced the radical to high fashion—by elevating the mundane.
High fashion has turned to street wear before for inspiration. That’s the least surprising thing about Balenciaga’s transformation. What makes Gvasalia’s approach interesting is his eye for every day objects that are ripe for reinterpretation. A clear example of this was Balenciaga’s ‘Carry Shopper L’, which caused a fuss in April 2017 for it’s resemblance to Ikea’s blue FRAKTA shopping bags. Likewise their ‘Car Design Skirt’ was met with similar consternation online due to it’s referencing of the cheaply-produced rubber floor mats used to protect car interiors.
2017 saw Gvasalia’s elevating of the mundane permeate everything the brand does. From the new wordmark by Mirko Borsche (with Gian Gisiger) based on a version of Univers Condensed previously used as a ‘default’ typeface for the Paris Metro. To the choice of runway models who represent the ordinary made extraordinary. Eliza Douglas was the first model out on Gvasalia’s Balenciaga runway. But her first magazine cover would not be for a fashion title but for respected art magazine, Frieze, as an emerging artist.
Likewise, the regular inclusion of brother’s Wyatt and Fletcher Shears in Gvasalia’s shows provides another subtle nod to the elevation of the mundane. The twins formed their band ‘The Garden’ in the bedroom of their family home in the suburbs of California. In interviews they often reference their suburban upbringing as a key inspiration and like to reframe their immediate environment through a portal into a fantasy realm they call ‘Vada Vada’.
In 2017 the twins released an EP titled U Want The Scoop? from which a music video for the track All Access emerged. The video, directed by recent collaborators Will Sipos and Sean Campos, takes us to a ‘typical’ The Garden gig inside the Vada Vada, a place where everyone’s dorky and everyone’s cool.Search
[Car Design Skirt] [Balenciaga Ikea bag] [#vadavada], [Garden All Access YouTube]
Combine the surge in use of dichroic and holographic material with the alarming rise of plastic nurdles and microbeads in the world’s oceans, witnessed in 2017, and you have ingredients for a perfect plasticised storm.
Cristine Rote runs the joyfully holo-soaked YouTube channel Simply Nailogical where she combines a career in criminal forensics with an obsession with nail art and all things ‘holo’graphic. Her set is laid out like a lab. She often dons lab coats and protective glasses whilst mixing various powders and solutions. Her videos are mesmerising as she often lets herself get distracted by the materials she collects and uses for her ‘nail art’ tutorials. A stream she is particularly interested in is holographic powders.
In a video uploaded late in 2017 entitled ‘Holo Cappuccino’ she investigated the holographic glitter used by a cafe in Mumbai in their coffees. Here she discovers ‘cake glitter’ and that the keyword, in terms of the legal definitions around what is edible and what is not, is ‘toxicity’.
A debate erupted around this topic on cake making blogs. As cake blogger Erica O’Brien pointed out “Many things are non-toxic. Rocks are non-toxic but I wouldn’t want to eat them.” What’s more non-toxic edible glitters are composed on the same material as common craft store glitter, i.e. tiny granules of plastic that does not easily break down.
Recent outrage at the use of microbeads, the tiny plastic beans used for ‘exfoliation’ within hair and skin products, has led to British companies labelling when they’re products are ‘plastic free’ and the banning of microplastics in the U.S. and U.K. Lush recently announced their switch to synthetic mica as part of their effort to tackle the microplastic problem.
It seems the thirst for colour refraction in 2017 has had consequences across many seemingly innocent pursuits and if Holo-sexuals like Christine are to continue to indulge their senses, new ‘naturally’ sourced substrates will have to replace all plastic alternatives… and fast.Search
[Simply Nailogical] [dichroic film] [non-toxic cake glitter] [Lush synthetic mica]
It’s been a super productive year for Nathan Williams of L.A.-based band Wavves. After splitting credits with Cloud Nothings on ‘No Life for Me’ and appearing on the excellent Beach Boys infused release by Spirit Club called ‘Slouch’ (‘Broken Link’ is a highlight as is the cover artwork by illustrator Robert Bailey), Wavves came back with an album of glistening noise pop confidently entitled You’re Welcome.
The source of this recent churn stemming from the physical embodiment of Williams record label, Ghost Ramp. The @ghostrampstore was set up in 2016. The store not only stocks releases by the label but also a wide range of merchandise in the form of t-shirts, pins, backpacks and more. Opening a physical ‘bricks and mortar’ store has also provided a place for fans, and artists affiliated with the label, to convene and hang out.
The distinctive identity of the Ghost Ramp brand has emerged organically out of collaborations with illustrators such as Nicholas Gazin, whose hand painted typography avoids cliques around current hand-lettering practise, has become as much a part of the ‘brand’ as the music itself.
Also L.A.-based, Seth Bogart and Peggy Nolan’s collaborative projects have worked in a similar way, blurring the lines between physical retail, music releases, artwork and personal branding. Nolan’s Wacko Wacko store and clothing label, also follows a similar energetic hand painted aesthetic to Ghost Ramp although often manifested through lurid pop-culture soaked, jumbo-sized, three dimensional sculptures or wearable ensembles. Her ultra-satisfying Instagram stories being a highlight in 2017, along with the acknowledgment of her prolific talents via a feature in Riposte magazine.Search[Ghost Ramp] [Nicholas Gazin] [Wavves Welcome] [Peggy Nolan] [Wacko Wacko]