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Essay: In The Street

by Lou Stoppard on 21 April 2016

Depictions of the boy 'in the street' are rife within fashion. This part of the Mad About The Boy guide considers the reasons why.

Depictions of the boy 'in the street' are rife within fashion. This part of the Mad About The Boy guide considers the reasons why.

Installation shot from Mad About The Boy

Fashion designers and image-makers have long mined counterculture movements for inspiration. In the work of numerous designers, including Raf Simons, Gosha Rubchinskiy and Nasir Mazhar, and image-makers such as stylist Simon Foxton and photographer Jason Evans, one sees an interest in the innate authenticity of the teenager’s wardrobe, and numerous references to well-worn basic staples, uniform elements and sportswear.

The rise of street casting, championed by the likes of Evans in the mid-nineties, as well as the prevalence of 'straight-up' photography in magazines such as i-D, have resulted in casual culture, streetwear or anti-fashion elements becoming fashionable. Just as the rules, styling and details of sportswear have become increasingly referenced by high fashion designers, a 'thrown-together' approach – a look often related to teenagers – has also come to be synonymous with style, and is accompanied by an inclination to eschew traditional luxury or overt emblems of high fashion.

Musician Skepta, who collaborates with Mazhar and modelled the Spring/Summer 2015 look on display here at Mazhar’s show in London, championed a lack of desire for traditional luxury labels in favour of brands that actively promote street culture and style in his 2014 track That’s Not Me (featuring JME), with the lyrics, 'I used to wear Gucci / I put it all in the bin ’cause that’s not me / ... / I used to wear LV / I put it all in the bin ’cause that’s not me.'

'I don’t think I’m a fashion designer ... I’m interested in youth, not fashion.'

Indeed, the desire to shun what is perceived as fashion has penetrated the industry, with Rubchinskiy, one of the most discussed menswear designers of recent years and the recipient of financial support from Comme des Garçons, stating in a 2015 interview with SHOWstudio, 'I don’t think I’m a fashion designer ... I’m interested in youth, not fashion.'

Objects featured in this section of the Mad About The Boy exhibition:

  • Nasir Mazhar, Spring/Summer 2015. Courtesy of Nasir Mazhar.
  • Kim Jones, Spring/Summer 2007. Courtesy of Kim Jones.
  • Gosha Rubchinskiy, Spring/Summer 2015. Courtesy of Gosha Rubchinskiy.
  • Gosha Rubchinskiy, Autumn/Winter 2015. Courtesy of Gosha Rubchinskiy.
  • Jason Evans, Untitled, C-type, 1991–1996. Courtesy of Jason Evans.
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