The problem with fit pics
Yr clothes are not 2D! Enter M.A.R.G.A.R.I.T.A. Mindset
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Yr boy Young Spyplane grew up feeling deeply desirous of many popping ‘90s-era-NYC-adolescence status garments (Starter jackets, Infrared Jordan VIs, Polo Sport tees, vibey crappy DKNY Tech fleeces ha ha) that my parents were not about to drop $$$ on. Their refusal was 1. because they tended to deem the garments in question “mad stupid” and, more to the point, 2. because they were freelancers living in a rent-controlled apartment full of flea-market furniture who did not have anything resembling “conspicuous consumption” money at hand …
But even though I essentially knew they were right, and even though I recognized that my desire for these clothes was disproportionately socially constructed, that recognition did not substantially blunt the desire.
Case in point: I remember one cool kid in high school (the first kid I ever saw in Air Max 95s) shutting down the d*mn halls one day when he rocked a crispy new DKNY Tech tee with chunky reflective lettering (pictured below, though I think his was black) … IIRC he copped it at this pioneering “luxury streetwear” store in downtown Manhattan called Atrium (which opened on the corner of Broadway and Bleecker in 1994 and has since closed) where my buddies & I spotted the tee soon afterwards and reeled when we peeped the then-unheard-of $100 price tag …
This tee (and other “status logo jawns” of the era) drove me crazy because I simultaneously knew it was dumb as h*ll, with nothing close to an intrinsic three-digit value, and yet I would have nonetheless rocked the f**k out of it, seduced by its garish a** logo and its aura, however fraudulent, of rarefied dopeness…
My only course of action as a kid, trying to reconcile these 2 opposed reactions, was to re-draw the DKNY Tech logo myself with a Sharpie on a blank white tee so that I could both “mock” and “own” this preposterous shirt at the same time. (On the subject of “Personal Swag Libraries” from last week’s newsletter, MAN I wish I still had that DIY Sharpie tee… maybe I should re-create it…)
I thought about the reflective-logo DKNY tee a few weeks ago when I was in Italy for a week of various Mach 3+ activities. I dropped into one of the many large Prada stores in Milan, because if you are in the dope-jawnz newsletter business how are you not gonna, and I talked with homie on the sales floor about the prevalence of the big shiny enameled-triangle Prada logo on what felt like ~80% of the s**t on offer, and how it would be dope if some of these pieces were a little less thirst-trappy, logo-wise. He was, like, “That’s what our customers want — if they buy a piece here, they want the logo.”
I get it, but … I hate it !! Because if you are spending Prada-level bread on a Prada-level jawn — which is to say, a garment ostensibly born of the G.O.A.T. design talents of Miuccia Prada, Raf Simons and Co., not to mention the time-honored G.O.A.T. materials-sourcing and craftsmanship of the Italian garment industry — what you should want out of it is that it “bespeaks its value” not through a logo but in a physically legible way, meaning it makes your body look great as you exist in & move through the world: it should fit, drape, and traverse space with handsomeness & grace, cut by well-paid talented ppl from beautiful materials that slide against the skin just so, in colors and finishes and textures that catch the light in pleasing ways that lesser garments putatively can’t, etc., etc.…
And yet often what we seem to want instead from expensive clothes of this kind is for them to announce their value more explicitly…. In our marketing-saturated culture this commonly takes the form of prominent logos, and it can also take the form of eye-catching “architectural” details / doodads incorporated into the garment — “doing too much”-type elements that alert the casual onlooker to the presence of a “high-level” piece.
The basic thinking here goes, “If I’m gonna spend this much on a jacket, I want it to ‘earn’ its pricetag in the form of, like, an asymmetrical zipper going from the neck to the clavicle or a roller-coaster belt-clip fastener on a bellows pocket hanging off the sleeve for no d*mn reason so that I can let these HATERS, OPPS AND LOSERS KNOW WHAT’S UP!!”
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When your mind is operating along these lines, you might walk past, e.g., a simple black virgin-wool sweater folded tidily at the Prada store and give it a complete miss, even though it might actually prove itself to be the most quietly elegant thing on the premises if you tried it on and walked around for a few minutes, pushing up the sleeves, seeing how the hem bunches up atop yr pants etc.
This theoretical sweater (it doesn’t need to be Prada, obviously, I’m talking any mad nice simple sweater that costs a lot of cheese) might ultimately “justify” its price by making you look way better than the $2500 nylon anorak Frank Ocean wore that one time, but that’s the type of jawn you’re fixated on, wearing blinders because you saw photos of him looking swaggy at the M*t Gala and you want to stunt similarly !!
Again, I get it: Blackbird SpyFriend Danielle Haim wears a different enamel-logo Prada windbreaker in the “Summer Girl” video, looking casually cool in it to the degree that even I remain tempted to try and cop one despite everything I’m saying in this essay…!!
But this brings us to one of the major distorting effects of the contemporary style discourse, where the laws of physics rely more heavily than ever on photos of clothes rather than I.R.L. encounters with them…
Yes, photography & fashion have been tightly intertwined as long as there has been mass culture, and ppl have fetishized logo jawnz since ~ the ‘90s, but the contemporary prominence of e-commerce sites, moodboards and IG fit pics (and the decreased prominence of cool stores and just being out in the world among ill people who assemble outfits with taste & panache) has necessarily tugged our eyes toward garments that “announce” themselves loudly & legibly in photos…
Many of those clothes might be fantastic. But the glaring problem remains, of course, that you are not 2-D and neither are yr fits !!
Quite the contrary, outfits unfold and reveal their virtues and faults along the axes of both time & space … So when you get dressed “for a fit pic,” consciously or unconsciously, it’s not merely a case of “getting dressed for other people, when you should be getting dressed for yourself,” but also one where your basic incentives when it comes to creating a “fire pic” are at a disconnect from the actual lived-and-breathed experience of looking good while wearing clothes !!
Thankfully we have a remedy for this problem — “M.A.R.G.A.R.I.T.A. Mindset”
M.A.R.G.A.R.I.T.A. Mindset stands for Masterful A** “Regular” Garments Actually Reflect Ingenuity, Talent and Ability. It’s about the difference between stepping into a top-notch pizza spot and ordering a margarita pie — to see what the masters can whip up using nothing but 1. dough 2. mozzarella and 3. tomatoes — vs. stepping into that same place and saying, “Well if I’m dropping $28 on a d*mn pie I want the s**t loaded with asparagus, fingerling potato, castelvetrano olives, bufala burrata, calbrian chilis and pancetta.”
Pie #2 might be delicious but it is not the haiku-like gem — offering no room for an unskilled chef and subpar ingredients to hide — that is the margarita. And I would argue that for this reason an excellently executed Pie #2 can never reach the same heights of sublimity that an excellently executed margarita can.
Transposing this to jawnz, I’m not saying don’t ever buy stuff that’s LOUD (we are fans of loud clothes at BBSP), and I’m not saying AVOID LOGOS (though that’s not horrible advice.)
M.A.R.G.A.R.I.T.A. Mindset is just about focusing less heavily on eye-catching prints & doodads & textures and remembering to also factor in fundamentals of MATERIALS & CRAFT because these are what will actually make you look and feel good.
A M.A.R.G.A.R.I.T.A. outfit might not get as many IG faves as one that “pops” more readily off an iPhone screen, but who cares. When you rock it, the swaggy impact of your exquisitely fitted three-dimensional presence will linger pleasantly and powerfully in people’s memories long after no one is opening IG anymore !!
SPYPLANE: OUT ☮️
Relatedly, we have explored:
the merits of “fit vs. fabric” here,
the connection between NFTs and logo jawns here,
the delights of buying clothes I.R.L. here,
and the perils of “brand-simping” here.
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