Right, so this week’s column was going to be something very serious about how the pandemic and the general collapse of society as we know it has forced the fashion industry to both look inward and give outward. It was going to talk about Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada’s post-A/W'21-show Q&A with fashion students, and about how that probably wouldn’t have happened had a regular show been possible, and how despite this being a patchy time for the fashion business, it’s a good time for those who want to know more about its most ethereal people and practices. But then something silly we wrote went lightly viral, so I’ve decided to expand on that.
Gradually, our editorial meetings have come to resemble group therapy sessions. They tend to begin with a collective exhalation, a sardonic chuckle over what we all did over the weekend (sit down, drink too much and make hollow promises to be a better person the following week) and then we get down to the real meat and gravy of content. However, these being the hard times they are, the meat can be a little dry, a little sinewy, and the gravy is often more Harvester than Hawksmoor for the simple reason that nothing – NOTHING COOL ANYWAY – is going on. People are just staying at home, wearing the same clothes every day. No office to wear your new Loewe shirt in, no pub to debut those Acne trainers. Even the fleeting thrill of going bottom-less on a Zoom call has been desiccated by its own futility.
And then it hit us. The false dawn of 2021 was indeed just that, and as it transpired, we had all been shielding from the gloom in “sadwear”, the clothes we have all reached for when the existential ennui of lockdown became too much. I wear my “Margaux” hoody by Novel Mart because it makes me feel like Finch from American Pie – the coolest dude in cinema history. Dan Choppen, Esquire’s fashion assistant, reaches for his Aries tie dye tracksuit, while digital style editor Murray Clark breaks out the silk(y) pyjamas, and so he should because he deserves it. And so do you, babez.
For me – and I’m claiming to have invented the word so this is gospel – sadwear is more than just comfy clothing to wear during a pandemical lockdown. It’s more than just clothing that makes you happy, too, although those are two major factors. No, sadwear is the umbrella-term for the disparate, often comfy/dashing/alarmist/hypey clothing we reach for in some vain attempt to stave off the grey drudgery of our current context. Donning sadwear can be an active or passive act – the other day I looked down and found that I was wearing Birkenstock clogs, Arsenal football socks, running tights and a collapsible pork pie hat. I was wearing a sweatshirt, too, but that was just quite normal.
All the stuff made sense in isolation (lol?) – socks for warmth and futile loyalty, for example – but not as an ensemble. The hat, which I had found in a box that morning, was keeping my lockdown hair up out of my eyes, but there was definitely a part of me that thought, “if I wear this stupid hat I might feel less gloomy, or at least be able to write a column about it next week.” Now, I’m wearing a wooden bead necklace that I bought in India in 2006. It’s reminding me of the 19-year-old fool I once was, and making my girlfriend cringe, which is funny, so the sadwear mission is accomplished. If only for a brief moment.
The Guardian picked up the Sadwear story, as did the Daily Mail. Then someone (unattached to Esquire) tried to get the word registered in the Collins dictionary, which is a weird flex but OK. The Guardian asked me which celebrities had led the trend, and I said that it wasn’t really a celebrity thing – although sadwear definitely had shades of Bieber’s scum-bro vibe – and it’s just something that we came up with. Part of the beauty of sadwear is that it has been born out of people just sitting at home, bored, uninspired and unconsciously hungry for some kind of sartorial expression.
Sadwear isn’t the first word we’ve invented at Esquire. We were responsible for “shipster” (the post-hipster uniform, fishing, trends, workwear, small beanies and existential crises) and the “lotharibro” (“a middle ground between the kind of silk-shirted man who does his flirting out the window of an Alfa Romeo, and the kind of Soundcloud rapper who does his flirting in the DMs”). We also described the tousled, flirtatiously pious haircuts of Bieber and Harry Style as “cherubim”, which promptly sent hundreds of THOUSANDS of men down the barbers clutching a picture of Marcus Aurelius. We assume.
So, until our next trend-inducing mindfart we urge you to explore sadwear, and yourself. Take the time to recalibrate your mind so your wardrobe is no longer just a cupboard where you keep tea-stained sweats, but a dressing up box of vast potential. Get gussied up, go casual, wacky, colourful, coordinated, mismatched; whatever. We’ll be wearing normal clothes again soon enough, there’ll be work and weddings and Sundays with your family and job interviews and all manner of genuine reasons to wear pants, so piss around while you still can.
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