The future looks a lot like….the future?

“But it doesn’t mean anything now,” my boyfriend told me as I mentioned adding safety pins to an old t-shirt last Saturday.

I liked the way it looked and he wasn’t trying to take that away from me, but when I brought up it’s punk connotations he mentioned something his dad once said: “As soon as I went to one of your mom’s med school parties and saw a surgeon with a full sleeve tattoo, I knew it was over. It didn’t mean anything anymore.” 

My boyfriend (and his dad) are right. Like with piercings and tattoos, safety pins holding together shirts don’t mean what they once did. They’ve been capitalized on and commodified—something people use to reference a time of rebellion and nihilism. In essence, they represent everything they originally stood in opposition of. They’re “cool” you can buy.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the kind of fashion that will define our generation. It’s a weird time to even work in fashion, to tell people they need to buy a plaid skirt suit or colored tights when there are bulletproof backpacks for children selling out. To worry about the trends, the shows, and the glamour of it all while the lives of so many people are currently hanging in the balance doesn’t seem especially important.

But like any kind of art, fashion is subjective. It makes you feel. It provides a connection to something that’s much bigger than you are; a way to talk without speaking. So in a time where so much needs to be said, how do we wear our voice? 

Probably not through safety pins. As Andrew Bolton writes in Chaos to Couture (a book that sits underneath my laptop at all times), “Despite borrowing elements from earlier street styles…punk was at its core anti-nostalgic. Punks lived in the present. Central to this philosophy, at least in England, was the anthem ‘No Future.’”

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Last modified: March 4, 2018