Blue Linen Summer Suit

It’s been an almost perfect couple of weeks. Study and school in the morning, run to the beach and snorkel in the afternoon, evenings with the wife, and post-midnight work on a paid creative collaboration. (I hope to be able to tell you more about that fairly soon.) Turn on a B-movie, pass out, start again. Mixed in with this, I’ve gotten another research apprenticeship for the fall. (This one with The Interplanetary Initiative.) And I’ve even had a linen summer suit made. Life these last few weeks has been perfect. It can’t possibly last.

I was a bit nervous about this one. It’s a bit different from what I usually like.

Straight from beach to basted fitting.

I usually work off a basically, for lack of a better term, British suit style template. For that reason, linen has always made me a bit nervous. Fuck knows, I didn’t want to look like I just stepped out of the colonial office for a gin and tonic. I would much prefer to look like a cocaine dealer than Dr. Livingstone. At least the crimes of cocaine dealers aren’t backed by the state. Well, not usually, at least. Not officially, anyway. Most of the time that is.

But, given the high temperatures and suffocating humidity, I decided I required a linen suit. I’m basically content transforming back into my punk form for the summer but it’s still nice to be able to, once in a while, put on some clothes and not just completely die.

I had to make some changes and take some risks with cut and fit, not completely sure how it would all turn out. I wanted a more Mediterranean style. Basically, for lack of a better term, a more Italian cut. Looser fit to catch any breeze, more focus on drape, higher waist, and, for the first time in my life, pleats. I wanted a suit that could keep me cool, and be fairly versatile. Nothing precious. Something that could be casual.

I’m very happy with the result.

Dressed down:

Dressed up:

The linen should wrinkle nicely. There’s not really anything you can do to stop linen from wrinkling. It’s in its nature, you see. But we took a few measures to try to control what will happen when it wrinkles. We even lengthened the jacket sleeves a little bit so that, when the suit wrinkles at the elbows, it should wrinkle into an even better fit.

It’s also my tailor’s favorite suit that she’s made me. She says it’s more the style she likes.

I like it too but, in particular, I’m really liking the comfort, feel and the lightness of the linen. These days, between my corduroy suits and this, I’ve favoring more durable suits made from tougher fabrics. Fabrics that look better as they age. Textiles that improve as they break down. A bit of wabi-sabi. Instead of fearing wear, I want to embrace sweet decay.

And, I don’t know, maybe in three to five years, my wardrobe and I might have a bit of a better grip on the heat and humidity here. I doubt it but I can dream. That’s perfectly legal.

love collapse

I’ve fallen in love. Some people may say that such a feeling is a delusion. A romantic notion. A sick ideal from a dead world. Impossible at the best of times. And during these times?

Surely love is a mistake. Love? In this economy?

More likely, it’s not love. Nothing so romantic. It’s probably just the desperate barnyard rutting of gasping animals. But love? There’s no way. Love is not real. Love is just a free hit of domestically produced drugs from some benevolent dealer lurking in our monkey brains. A plot to chemically trick mammals into rearing children rather than eating them. Or maybe it’s just a mind infection. A pattern of possession, property, and ownership. A reproduction of power in the personal. These giddy heights and slobbering feelings? These are only the joys felt on a Wednesday afternoon by a middle manager cutting hours and maximizing efficiency. The slow caress of fingers across the revised schedule. Nothing to see here. God is dead. There is no love. There is only economy and chemicals. Stop acting like a child. I understand. Yet, I cannot deny my heart. Love. I’ve fallen in love.

Of course, it’s with a fabric. I’m no saint. I’ve fallen in love with corduroy.

It could be worse – I could be in love with a cat.

I’ve known corduroy for a long time. I’ve always liked it. Of course, like many teenagers, in high-school, I experimented with blue denim pants (“blue jeans”) and the like but I was never fond of denim. As a fabric, denim is only really suitable for California – where, like a lot of California fashions that caught on worldwide –Chuck Taylors and the like– it feels great, works well, and is completely fit for purpose. But in Canada, a country that will eat your converse sneakers for breakfast? Denim is too cold when it is cold and too hot when it is hot. A cold wind cuts right through denim and humidity suffocates the legs. It’s terrible.

Now, I would not say I was lucky to grow up in the last century but there were some benefits. In the 90s, used clothing had not yet been repacked as “vintage.” Used clothing was called “second-hand” and it was sold cheap out of thrift shops rather than curated boutiques. True, you were shopping in a sort of semi-organized dump, but outside of the cities, you could get a whole used suit of decent quality for 3-5 dollars. That was cheap even then. It was about the price of a pack of cigarettes. If someone who shared your size and style, taste in collectibles or books, had recently died, you basically hit the jackpot. It was enough to make one think that measurements should be included in obituaries. We should have been reading death notices like the SEARS catalog. Oh well, missed opportunities.

The racks had not yet been picked clean by boutique owners buying every semi-stylish item and marking it up for resale in trendy districts. Even when that started to happen, the thrift shops took a while to notice. Of course, they did eventually notice and respond by raising their own prices. I remember seeing the prices skyrocket as the selection collapsed. I remember the first time I saw a used suit selling for three figures in Value Village — a second hand shop at Bloor and Lansdowne in Toronto. Shocking and absurd. Twenty was overpriced. But once you’re paying a hundred? You might as well not buy it. You might as well keep your money and start saving for a tailor. The difference between seven dollars and a hundred is a lot bigger than the difference between a hundred and a thousand.

In the nineties, there was also an influx of corduroy into these shops. This fabric had been popular during the 1970s and either the people who wore corduroy had decided it was dated and donated it, or the people who wore it had finally succumbed to their numerous vices, and had their clothing donated by their grieving (though, if we’re being totally honest, probably relieved) spouses. The styles of the seventies reappeared at cheap prices.

Time and space operated differently during that era. These days, there’s fast fashion and every era is instantly available and expertly curated. But back in the day? Fashion more or less cycled through death. It even used to be said that you were old when you saw your old styles come back into fashion. Basically, the best and most durable items from any era survived into thrift stores, where they could be cheaply acquired by hot teens in your neighborhood who had never seen them before, and being hot local teens in your area, they made it stylish again. And that’s the context I met corduroy in. A corpse’s old clothes.

By the time I left high-school, I had totally given up on blue denim pants in favor of corduroy trousers. They were comfortable, durable, and cute. Very easy to smoke ____ in the woods in corduroy pants. So what if they made a strange noise while you were walking? They also came in colors –largely earth tones, to be sure– but colors all the same. Blue jeans did not look blue to most people. I suspect they still don’t. Just as FUTURE HUMANS probably don’t see the silver in the silver jumpsuits they all wear, late 20th century humans did not see the blue in the blue denim pants they all wore. Blue jeans were colorless. An absence.

And since then, corduroy has been a staple in my wardrobe. An old and loyal friend but not one I thought much about. Over the years, I’ve had two blazers purchased second hand and made from corduroy –one which, a forest green three button, was my pride and joy for years– and a few different trousers. Whatever else was going on in my life, I needed a pair of corduroy trousers somewhere in the closet. Cooking, cleaning, painting. Needed them.

But even as the selection in thrift shops was generally decreasing, the selection of corduroy was specifically decreasing. Unlike, say, plaid, there was no rush to make new corduroy. There was no new influx of corduroy into second hand shops. Even as old GAP plaid shirts filled the racks, as last season’s FUBU hit the shelves, corduroy only vanished. Unable t breed, hunted to extinction by vintage shops, the fabric vanished. The carcass of the 1970s was chewed down to bare bones. I bought it where I could find it. I could not find it often.

It was always a pleasure to stumble into corduroy. When I used to shop second-hand, even when I got into suiting, I used to shop with my fingers first. I did not look at the clothes. I travelled down the aisle, touching them. You can feel quality in a cloth. My eyes might mislead me, but my fingers were honest. (In suits, fit and quality is more important than color or pattern — both of which are, in my view, a function of fit and quality. By all means, get a pink suit. I have one. But, if you do, that motherfucker better fit right. Otherwise, aim for gray.) When feeling something good, I’d make a mental note, look down, check its appearance and size, see if it could be altered or if it had to be, and move from there. That was my method. It served me well for a long time. Though one wonders if thrift stores can survive fast fashion — not just because of the cheapness of new items but because of their lack of quality. I suspect not. Stereo repair did not survive GoldStar. How can thrift shops survive clothes that dissolve on the skin? Who would pay for alterations?

But I lose the plot.

Corduroy always felt good. It’s a cheap fabric but it feels rich. It feels quality. Whenever my fingers bumped into it, my eyes would open. It’s something like velvet.

Now, I like velvet. But I have feelings about velvet. To my mind, velvet is louche. The amount of velvet in your wardrobe should be a measurement of the amount of opiates in your bloodstream. If you plan on wearing a velvet suit, I approve, but you should accessorize with bruised arms, collapsed veins, a syringe in your pocket, and an antique settee to nod out on. Corduroy makes no such demands. It is sensual without suicide. A rare quality.

Of course, you can die in corduroy. It’s just not a requirement.

Until late last winter, I had never owned a new piece of corduroy clothing. They had always been second-hand. When I first started having suits made, I did think about getting a corduroy suit but it always remained my second choice. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. There were reasons for this. Price was a problem. I’m not actually made of money.

Bespoke seemed expensive for corduroy. Like seersucker, bespoke corduroy seemed a bit much. A process totally out of step with the fabric. Overdoing it. And, I suppose in some sense, I was still holding out hope that I would, one day, against all odds, find a second hand corduroy suit that fit. It just never happened. Quite possibly, those are totally extinct.

The other measure of price is value. I feel like spending $20 on a suit I didn’t like, didn’t wear, and fell apart was a bigger waste of money than $2000 on a suit I loved and would last me decades — if I could only keep my body disciplined. But this sort of valuation meant that I often aimed at all season weights. Something I could wear in winter and summer. Corduroy is a lot of things but it’s not something you can wear in the heat. Therefore, bad value.

And, back then, if I was to err, it would often be on the side of fine cloth. I think, my most fragile suit is a Holland and Sherry Super 150 Worsted. I love that suit, take good care of it, and have had it for over ten years, but it does make me nervous. It feels like wearing glass. It’s a cloth for people who can throw something like that out without a second thought and have another one made without looking at the bill. A bit rich for my blood.

Busan has changed my calculations. For starters, bespoke tailoring is cheaper than it is in North America, and tailoring is much more common. It does not seem like the same insane luxury purchase it is in Toronto. Now, it’s still high end but it’s probably below brand names. Altogether, it feels less luxury, more thrifty, and much more in reach. Clothing repair is also very common. And corduroy is a cheap option in bespoke suits. Korean corduroy, cheaper still. And Korean corduroy is really good. My fingers like it just as much as the Italian options.

As far as corduroy being too hot for summer here, it is. But so are all my other suits. The humidity is unbelievable. All my suits are winter suits. I’m not even going to try to fuck around with summer suits. In the summer, I’m just going to let the heat melt me back into some sort of glamor punk, deal with that as it comes, and wait for fall. That’s just how shit will be now. I’ll live. It might get ugly but I will adapt. I have to.

So, with all that in mind, I bought my first corduroy suit late last winter.

This might have had something to do with the general pandemic driven societal shift away from what some people were calling “hard pants.” For me, this meant something soft and comfortable like corduroy more than sweatpants. Though, help me Satan, I have nothing against sweatpants. I hate having to say that sort of thing but I do.

It seems like because I have opinions on what I wear, people love to assume that I have opinions on what other people wear. Even worse, they assume they know what those opinions are — often believing I want a world where everyone is dressed like me. Even more bizarre, people often assume that I must be a big fan of the latest show or movie featuring someone in a suit –that has been going on since Sick Boy in Trainspotting– and people also assume that must like music by people who also wear suits. I like some music by some people in suits. I also like music by people in DEVO hats and metal masks. Mainly, I don’t like music. I don’t care. And my basic opinion on all this is some of you need to get a lot more comfortable with difference. Not everyone wants everything to be them.

I’m not one of those people who goes around judging people by their clothes –if some asshole like me can wear a bespoke suit, all bets are off– and I have virtually no opinion on anything other people wear. I can’t be bothered to develop opinions about areas that have nothing to do with me and relate to the comfort and happiness of strangers. I’m not paying for your clothes, I don’t mind what you wear. If I am paying, you’re getting something cheap and durable. Dickies, probably. I only say or even think about other people’s clothes when I want to steal something, am asked or have something nice to say. Even compliments often feel presumptuous. I only ask that other people show me the same basic respect. You don’t pay me enough to make requests. If you want to compliment me, that’s fine. Who doesn’t like a compliment? Mainly, I like to be left alone.

So now that that’s out the fucking way, for the umpteenth time, and probably not the last, Satan help me, this is part of the reason why I quit this shit DEEP BREATH

But, not only was last winter my first corduroy suit, it was also my first piece of new corduroy. I have never felt new corduroy before. I had no idea how pleasantly stiff it was. I mean, I’d heard the rumors and I have some sense –not much– but this came as a surprise.

More surprising to me was how much I loved wearing it. It felt like I could put my feet up, wear it around the house, go out, roll up my sleeves, whatever. And one thing I like about suits is their flexibility. I like that they are kind of semiotically blank. You can wear the same suit in a lot of different spaces, blend in and stand out to the same degree, and have people draw totally different and wildly inaccurate conclusions about you. Their meaning is often their context and a corduroy suit does this well. It never quite fits. A stranger everywhere.

I want to live in this suit.

I know some people are concerned with outfit repeaters. That idea is the exact opposite of my feeling about clothes. I want to repeat outfits. My ideal is not a new outfit everyday – it is the same outfit every day. If I could find that outfit, if any outfit was that good, I would be very happy. For me, changing clothes is failure. It is a failure of my clothes and of my character. I would love to have just one outfit. From here to the grave. The impossible dream. I have had to settle for variations on a theme. Pobody is nerfect.

Having been so happy with my first foray into corduroy suits, I decided to try again. This time instead of blue, I wanted a dark purple. I did think about a forest green but it seemed too rural. I have not ruled the color out for future purchases and, as much as I like meeting deer and owls and cryptids in the woods, I’m not trying to shoot a quail in the face. I can wear deep purple into the woods. I’m not sure I can wear green downtown.

I am ridiculously happy with this suit. Not just the color and fit of the thing but also the feel. It’s stiff and tough. For now. But corduroy breaks in. And I love breaking in clothes. Too often, a new suit feels more like it is going to break down. The first time you wear it, is the best. That’s when it fits the best and is in its best shape. All that follows is decay.

I don’t mind decay. The custodians of the world do not get near enough credit. Of all the concepts we’ve seen perverted and lost over the years while people chase a buck, the loss of custodianship may hurt us the most. We’ve lost this concept not only in big things but in small. I enjoy being the custodian of my clothes. Of taking care of them. Of knowing decay is coming but these are not things to be thrown away and replaced but things to be looked after, even as I look after my body so that I can keep using them. They will decay. They started decaying the moment I had them made. But until then, I will look after them.

Custodianship is old and familiar to me. But breaking in? This is new.

Though I have never liked denim, I have known people who love it. And those who like it, even casually, often prize this breaking in. How the fabric changes over time, directed by the body. Certain Japanese denims are prized for what happens as they break in. A new beauty emerges from wear. The breaking in of clothes has been a pleasure denied to me. I suspect that it’s denied to many people these days, for many different reasons. Things too often break down before they break in. Boots and shoes even. It’s fucking tragic.

But I can feel this suit, almost like a living thing, adjusting to my movements, my heat, and my contacts with the world. It feels like it will age well. Show its marks. Not as damage but as character. And I am thrilled. This is a quality I’ve craved without knowing it. More even than the color, the fit, or anything else, I have fallen for the collapse. For the ways this suit will change and soften, and stain, and wear. For patches not yet put on.

I know it’s too romantic. I know I should concern myself more with matters of chemicals and economy. But I cannot help myself. I have fallen in love. With corduroy and with collapse.

New Overcoat: Herringbone

The heat of the summers has caused me to pretty much go all in on heavier cloths and cold weather suits. There just isn’t a summer suit that will work here. Not outside of air-conditioned quarters. And most of my time in suits is outside of air conditioning.

In the summers, I’m just going to resign myself to devolving back into some sort of punk nonsense and just learn to live with that. We are Borg. We will adapt.

As far as adapting to the current ongoing lung-grinding airborne crisis, with its various phases, stages, steps, and guidelines, I’ve made some important progress: My tailor made me a mask. Two actually. Both out of the same material as my coat. So they match!

As my photographic skills are, pretty much, total trash, here’s some pictures she took of the situation. These will probably also give you a better idea of how the coat and mask actually look. For some fucking reason, I can never get the color of things right. So here:

Mask worn over the real mask in accordance with KDCA guidelines.

Having those masks made was interesting. My tailor was very hesitant about making these –as well as the length of the coat– but she eventually agreed to both and was very happy with the results when they were done. But before we got started?

She very much wanted me to understand that she was not in the habit of entertaining such insane requests. She would only make these masks for me. Why? Because I’m a regular and, well, because I’m me. And, while I’m not entirely sure of what it means means to be me, I suppose it might mean that I’m, er, a little outside of The Norms of polite society.

The tailoring culture is a little different here.

Now, I want to preface this with — I do think people can read too much into things and misunderstand a lot. I could be totally wrong about all of this. It’s just an impression I get.

The impression I get is that the tailoring culture is different here. For starters, there’s a lot of tailor shops. I haven’t even been able to count how many are in my immediate vicinity and this isn’t even a tailoring or fashion district. There’s just tailors all over the place.

I think the standard way that you get a suit is you have a suit made. The typical suit is not off the rack but made in one of these numerous little shops. And the suits are usually for business or formal events. (I don’t think Casual Fridays exist in Korea — thank you, Satan!) A big driver of suit sales is, I believe, The Interview Suit. When you’re getting interviewed for a jobs, you have a suit made for your interviews. There’s guidelines.

Whatever impression one may have gotten from k-pop or k-dramas, the style suit? Not really a thing. Bright colors? They’re a rarity. From what I can tell, the highly developed street style here is generally very introverted. There’s a lot of black and some beige. Rather than express a personality, much of the street style seems meant to create a sense of mystery. It’s more of a pull you in than loudly assert yourself. Conformist, I guess, in a sense but . . .

It was much the same in Toronto. In a way.

If you’ve ever walked around Toronto in a pink suit at any time or in any color during the winter, you will have probably noticed the total dearth of color. The odd flash of a red scarf in that monochromic landscape attracts attention. Only advertisements are allowed to be bright. Everything else is shades of gray and black and beige and brown and navy blue.

That’s what passes for taste, I guess.

But the few bespoke tailors there are in Toronto do seem comfortable with flash, flamboyance, and flair. Now, I was always a bit of an odd duck and often pushed things, but I never got the sense of restraint about tailored suits in Toronto that I’ve gotten here. There was much less a sense of the suit as uniform. That sense existed but as atavism.

Not so here.

When we traveled to Seoul years ago and had a few suits made in Itaewon, it was basically impossible to communicate that the suits were not for business. (The tailor was fluent in English so it wasn’t a language barrier.) When I saw a fairly wild pattern that I liked, I was told that was “a mafia stripe” and not allowed to buy it. The suits were basically divided like that — business and other business. I suspect things have changed, but you get my drift.

I do think the concept of “gentleman” and “dandy” and some confusion between the two have washed ashore here, but, in a way, these have also become uniforms. And me? Well, I’m no gentleman and I was a lot more comfortable being called a dandy when it was just something my friends said to make fun of me, and meant nothing except I was some sort of overdressed drug addict. A weird glowing stain on a bathroom wall, perhaps.

저는 우주 쓰레기다.

It’s probably a peculiarity of my character that I like a value this sense of restraint and of the suit of uniform. I need rules so I can break rules. There’s few things I find more suffocating and oppressive than freedom. I don’t know how to use freedom. I hate a free-for-all where everyone gets to be themselves. It’s like some awful participatory community theater project.

I know this is probably an unpopular idea but I’m not even anti-bully. Now, don’t get me wrong — I fucking hate bullies. I have fought bullies and will fight bullies. Won some, lost a lot more. I fucking detest a bully. But give me a choice between a freak who has fought for their right to be them and some quirky weirdo who has been encouraged by parents, peers, and staff? I know who I prefer. I want the one who has been hit in the face. Been knocked down, got up, knocked down again, and has that “fuck you” in their very bones.

But, I will say this — my ideas on this subject are probably no way to run a society, a family, or anything else. More just a sort of matter of personal temperament. Not a thing I take all that seriously and certainly not a prescription for anything. More a mood. A vibe.

Like, I’m probably just fucked up. Hit in the face too many times. I know that.

Did I have a point? I like my new coat.

Virtual Influencers

So here’s a thing. Well, sort of a thing. Virtual Influencers:

virtual

Computer-generated models are undergoing a transformation from niche branded avatars to relatable and inspiring influencers. Leading this movement is Lil Miquela, a digital simulation who rose to fame in April 2016 due to intrigue around whether she is an art project or a marketing stunt.

This phenomena has been aching to be born for some time. It’s been The Next Big Thing since the 1980s at least, but, unless you count Mickey Mouse and cartoons (and I can’t really think of any reason why you shouldn’t count them) the whole thing has usually ended up falling short of expectations and leaving us with mere human influencers.

Except, of course, for The Noid and Chuck E. Cheese and whole host of other corporate mascots. Hell, we even have an imaginary corporate mascot for president. That’s right. I’m just going to assume that Donald Trump is some sort of haywire computer program produced by late capitalism until we seen some actual evidence of the creature’s humanity. Until then, he looks, sounds and acts pretty fucking phony to me.

The trend does have its detractors. Virtual Influencers Lead to Virtual Inuthenticity:

The root of what makes influencer marketing impactful is authenticity. It’s the philosophy that influencers have generated a following and credibility as tastemakers and trend-spotters by immersing themselves in their field of expertise. They’ve tried many products, spoken to experts, and are providing their audience with curated recommendations that they can stand behind.

Most of the problems people have with this seem rooted in “authenticity.” Seems odd, since the whole thing is about leveraging relatability to increase sales. What’s so fucking authentic about that? If you ask me, the problem isn’t the virtual part, it’s the influencing part. Specifically, influence towards what? Just buying more shit, mainly.

It’s not the virtual that’s demhumanizing, its the turning people and all the relationships between them into sales pitches. We shouldn’t be surprised that a society of used car salesmen is run by them.

 

New Consumerism

These are your ten commandments for the new consumerism. What’s the new consumerism, you might ask? Well, it’s this:

For decades, a brand’s only priority was to create the best possible product at the most competitive price to ensure sales. But as consumers develop a more comprehensive understanding of issues like sustainability, authenticity and transparency, brands and retailers are being forced to change the way they sell in order to survive.

This change in consumers’ attitudes has a term — “new consumerism” — coined by research firm Euromonitor. “[Its] about today’s consumers reassessing their priorities and increasingly asking themselves what they truly value,” says Sarah Boumphrey, Euromonitor’s global lead of economies and consumers. “[And] conscious consumption replacing the conspicuous consumption of yesteryear.”

So basically, forget good products at low prices, consciousness is now a consumer product. Sweet and tasty. Very good. We sell bespoke experience wholesale.

bee-head

I don’t know why I do this to myself. Really, this is just your standard marketing-speak, handed not down from on high on stone tablets but at conferences on business cards and spread through a thousand speaking engagements worldwide. But then I remember:

I fucking love the throwaway lines in things like this. If you like your dystopian hellscapes rendered in the most banal language possible, well, take a look at this:

“As life becomes a paid-for experience, people increasingly question what is real and what is not.”

 

That’s probably a bit more insightful than the author intended. Here, we find the roots of The Hallucination Regime. Philip K. Dick could take that quote and use it as a tagline.

“Time has become a luxury in today’s connected world.”

Odd isn’t it? If you were to change “today” to “tomorrow” –  “Time has become a luxury in tomorrow’s connected world” – people would be like – that sounds horrible! A world gone mad! Don’t do that! But, as it is, it’s just business as usual. It’s a shrug.

And these relationships with brands? Don’t even get me started.

 

Flashion – Algorithmic Fashion

This is an interesting piece about algorithmically chosen style: Style Is an Algorithm: No one is original anymore, not even you.

Amazon’s Echo Look, currently available by invitation only but also on eBay, allows you to take hands-free selfies and evaluate your fashion choices. “Now Alexa helps you look your best,” the product description promises. Stand in front of the camera, take photos of two different outfits with the Echo Look, and then select the best ones on your phone’s Echo Look app. Within about a minute, Alexa will tell you which set of clothes looks better, processed by style-analyzing algorithms and some assistance from humans. So I try to find my most stylish outfit, swapping out shirts and pants and then posing stiffly for the camera. I shout, “Alexa, judge me!” but apparently that’s unnecessary.

It goes on . . .

Every platform, canvassed by an algorithm that prioritizes some content over other content based on predicted engagement, develops a Generic Style that is optimized for the platform’s specific structure. This Generic Style evolves over time based on updates in the platform and in the incentives of the algorithm for users.

And on . . .

The promise of algorithms is that they will show you yourself, refining an image of your tastes that should be identical to what you would have chosen on your own. The current reality is that these feeds silo you in homogenizing platforms, calculating the best-fitting average identity. That these average identities come in increasingly minute shades does not mean that they are unique.

A better mode of resistance might be to use the algorithms’ homogenizing averageness against them, adapting their data for productive disruption. We can take advantage of the clash between multiple algorithmic ideals, or between an algorithm’s vision of the world and reality, creating a glitch-based aesthetic. What would be error could be art.

And so forth.

It’s really very good and you should read it.

The bit about glitches reminds me of that old Brian Eno chestnut:

“Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit – all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided. It’s the sound of failure: so much modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. The distorted guitar sound is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them.”

Which is, to say, that a glitch based fashion aesthetic will probably emerge as soon as the  glitches can be avoided. As for now? This algorithmic stuff is fashion but it also isn’t. If I had to call it something, and I suppose I will, considering that it’s going to be around for a while, I suppose that I’ll call it flashion – the sudden technological illumination of clothing, a light that makes the operations of fashion visible in minute detail but blinds in regards to meaning, content or purpose. It’s all very bright but we can’t see.

A situation such as this, calls for some sort of moral view. I have one on the methods of production, the labor practices involved, how the supply chains will be used to squeeze workers out of anything they’re owed and how all that relates to the general thrust towards total efficiency and security (and I’ll probably totally ignore that moral view if I like the object) but, when it comes to people using computers to dress themselves? In and of itself? Not so much. I have no great fetish for originality or authenticity, particularly when it comes to clothes. I do like correct descriptions of things but, then again, the counterfeit is a part of dressing. It might even be a foundation of dressing. Taste itself, like a handbag, is now going to be counterfeited. That doesn’t concern me. I suspect it will be visible. Just as you can tell the difference between a Tumblr post and and FB post and a Twitter post, we’ll probably see similar differences written into the clothing recipes. This math dressed that person and that math dressed this one. And we’ll judge the quality of the dressing according to the price of access to the particular algorithm rather than according to any principles of composition. Like brand-names, it will probably all turn out to be a bit fucking boring. Humans themselves will likely be the glitch. So it goes.

If you need me, I’ll be in the hot-tub. Thinking about robots or something.

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Neo Mint 2020

Apparently, this is the color that we’ll be seeing everywhere in 2020.

It’s called Neo Mint.

neo mint

It claims to be futuristic.

“When it comes to a color for 2020, Neo Mint is an oxygenating, fresh tone that aligns science and technology with nature,” says Boddy. Why would this work for fashion though?

Recently, there’s been a huge pop culture reinvestment in popular ’70s genre cyberpunk i,e, a sci-fi genre that warns against the power of technology and AI to overpower humanity. It was exemplified by the popularity of the recent 2017 sequel to Blade Runner and more recently, a fashionable infatuation with the cool and hacker-esque aesthetics of The Matrix

In a similar way, 2020 could adapt the aesthetics of biopunk, the subgenre (and cyberpunk’s cousin), that mixed nature and biology with futuristic technology, biohacking and transhumanism. Do you remember the atmosphere set by Gucci’s creepy hospital room that brought in both baby dragons and severed heads? That’s Neo Mint and it’s the kind of modern fantasy vibe that could be continued into SS20.

If I remember right, it was called biofunk, not biopunk, but I digress.

But . . .

As long as we’re bringing cyberpunk into this, I would call this color a smeerp. That’s from The Turkey City Lexicon, a sort of cyberpunk style manifesto. “What’s a smeerp?” you might ask. Well, a smeerp is a rabbit. As as technique . . .

A cheap technique for false exoticism, in which common elements of the real world are re-named for a fantastic milieu without any real alteration in their basic nature or behavior. “Smeerps” are especially common in fantasy worlds, where people often ride exotic steeds that look and act just like horses. (Attributed to James Blish.)

Neo Mint just looks like mint to me. I like mint. Hell, I like it so much that I painted my house, when I had one, mint. But I don’t really detect any “neo” in any of this. Especially not when someone is hearkening back to 1970/80’s subgenres of science fiction. That’s not neo, that’s nostalgia. It’s just fucking mint, you know? Nice color.

And, as far as the predictive aspect of all this, it’s not all that impressive. It’s not exactly like fashionable colors emerge organic and unbidden from the deep. Someone decides on them, even if that someone is an AI. It’s a bit like predicting what shirt I’ll be wearing next week. The industry doesn’t know how to predict, it knows how to sell, and it sells it’s ability to predict most of all. This, it has in common with science fiction.