Fashion loves a slogan – it’s one of the easiest and most effective ways to convey a message through clothing. Amid our current uncertain social and political climate, more and more designers seek to make a statement that goes beyond the fashion. From Dior’s “We should All be Feminists” to Gucci and Balenciaga’s self-riffing logos, slogans have certainly had a resurgence of late. If done well, they can reach iconic status and go down in fashion history – i.e. the likes of Katharine Hamnett. However, if done poorly they can feel forced, disingenuous and meaningless.
Presented against the backdrop of a mock warehouse, UNDERAGE’s AW18 collection had something to say. Inspired by the punk movement of a bygone era of youth subculture, the collection aimed to capture the zeitgeist through a selection of unisex looks adorned with a range of slogans: “We Are Youth,” “Live Fast Die Young,” “Yada Yada Yada” – garments cried out in bold strokes of red, yellow and gold, expressing a contempt for authority and an aim to celebrate rebellion, nonconformity and self-expression.
A successful slogan should be witty, intelligent and original – if not thought provoking. It should be something that people feel compelled to display upon themselves as a statement aimed at letting the world know who they are and what they stand for. This was lacking here, slogans felt unimaginative and uninspiring; “Yada Yada Yada” – is this what young people really want to proudly wear as an emblem of their beliefs and identity?
In a fusion of decades of youth culture iconography, brooding models wore spray painted Doc Marten style boots, conservatively tailored pieces; overcoats, trousers and blazers, juxtaposed with more contemporary pieces; hoodies, puffer jackets and bum bags – all screen printed with skull motifs, mock- devoré metallics and graffiti- esque graphics.
Titled Riots of Our Own this was UNDERAGE’S reimagining of what someone of a similar mind-set to a 70’s punk would wear today. Capturing the essence of youthful rebellion in a post subculture world – in which fashion has become a lot more homogenised, is no easy feat; but quite literally spelling it out across a selection of garish garments is not quite convincing as a particularly fresh or modern approach. Is this what the youth of today, even those who regard themselves as the most nonconforming, want to wear? The sentiment was there but the execution felt crude and somewhat cliché.
Words: Lucy Hardy | Fashion Week Writer | @lula_har