Are your clothes "performative"?
Plus slapper sotto voce garments from a small line with impeccable DNA, a very funny jawns satirist & more
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— Jonah & Erin
Blackbird Spyplane back in the building. Today we’ve got:
Sick new unisex clothes on their “sotto voce eleganza mamma mia” flow from a small independent line with Lemaire and The Row in its DNA
A TikTok comic who’s not only a virtuoso “absurdist zoomer-speak” satirist but extremely funny about clothes & consumer culture at large.
BUT FIRST — A provocative reader question… and our profound answer —
“Do you ever feel like your clothes are a performance?” — leemore
Of course. On some level, I (Jonah) always feel this way, and rather than this being a bad thing, it’s probably a huge part of why I like clothes…
We’re all constantly performing, consciously and unconsciously, as a matter of course. Rather than being toothless or insincere acts of posturing — which is how the word “performative” mostly gets used online these days — these performances help to create our identities, “fake it till you make it”-style. You could call me Jawn-Paul Sartre the father of Flexistentialism the way one of my long-held philosophical tenets is that there is no such thing as a stable, coherent, “authentic” self that exists meaningfully apart from our actions — which is to say, the ways we behave ourselves into being.
How you dress, how you talk, the way you treat strangers, the movies and music you love, the ways you react to others, the kinds of people you’re attracted to, what makes you angry, and so on — these are all things that help make you “you,” and they’re also contingencies within your power to change as you live, grow, make mistakes, accumulate regrets, discover unexpected joys, and generally get wiser and discover dope new s**t.
Some things are harder to change than others. But I don’t believe there’s some fundamental unbudging you that you’re permanently tethered to and which, by extension, dictates how you “can and should” dress.
If that was the case then “the self” would be a prison, and I don’t wanna feel imprisoned baby, I wanna feel free!! The fact that you can explore and experiment with different ways of getting off fits — not just finding but also rewriting yourself, one jawn at a time — is some liberatory and exciting s**t.
The chief danger with “performing yourself” via clothes, of course, is that you don’t want your choices to feel arbitrary or feigned, which, put plainly, will risk making you look and feel corny. We all know — firsthand and from looking at other people — that some performances ring true, while others register as fidgety, hollow, and affected.
This is as true of clothes as it is of other forms of creative expression. Let’s take an example from the arts. Were you once stopped dead in your tracks by the immense power of a Donald Judd stack sculpture? Did it reveal surprising new depths and dimensions as you walked around it and its metal planes seemed to thrum, changing color ever so slightly in the light? As you beheld that b*tch, did the interplay of shadows on the wall between each rectangle remind you of the way that Steve Reich’s music, which you love, might seem droning and repetitive on its face but in fact contains a galaxy of transportive variations that only reveal themselves with attention and time?
No?? Then maybe that $150 repro Donald Judd Castelli 1966 exhibition poster you copped after you saw photos of Judd’s loft on an “elevated streetwear” moodboard is taking up wall space at your crib that would be better occupied by different décor!! What’s more, maybe the poster stands as a physical manifestation of some insecurity or pretension on your part that you might be happier if you tried to interrogate and push past…
But also, maybe that poster — despite the fact that you acquired it under dubious circumstances — will turn out to be a gateway. Your portal into an exploration of post-minimalist art that broadens your sense of the world, rocking your whole s**t and leading you down all kinds of other unpredictable but tight cultural rabbitholes that no moodboard has ever charted.
This would be amazing. And you couldn’t have gotten there without some “performing” along the way. Substitute enormous pleated pants for Donald Judd poster and the point remains the same!!
MEANWHILE — Check this fantastic line —
No one with Mach 3+ taste doesn’t respect The Row and Lemaire: 2 labels that excel, season after season, at cutting sumptuously roomy clothes from beautiful fabrics in fantastic, understated colors …
We’re talking about jawns that manage to speak VOLUMES saucewise, but in sotte voce tones … Real eleganza s**t.
Well, here are some fantastic new unisex clothes that check all the above boxes and more. Made in the UK and France, they’re from a small independent label doing their d*mn thing way further under the radar…
A few of our favorites are pictured above and below. And the line in question was co-founded by someone who has put in design work at…. Lemaire and The Row, where they helped launch menswear.
O yes! They just put out their FW23 collection, and it’s smacking.