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Fashion Meme Deep Dive, Part 1: Falling Down the Rabbit Hole of Degeneracy


Writer: Casino Riv

So I’ve been sitting on my couch for the past few days trying to figure out how to write a concise yet elegant introduction on meme and fashion meme culture, but then something happened: I got a life and winged it!

You can scour the face of the planet for definitions and analyses far and wide, but when it comes down to it, memes mean many things to many people. They’re a way for us to take a mental break from class or work, they can spark connections with other like-minded ince- I mean individuals. Hell, they can even encourage conversations on the perils of global warming that threatens our very existence, all the while making us chuckle a little bit from their dankness. At the end of the day, memes and meme culture are almost as unexplainable as life itself, and that’s ok, because sometimes the most groundbreaking phenomenon known to man can’t be understood... But if that was the case we wouldn’t be writing this goddamn article.

Like memes, fashion memes are eerily difficult to explain to the outsider, as they require a level of sophistication, wits, and cunning that must be earned over time. From the heart shoe with eyes to the big converse ramones, fashion truly is the perfect target for memes, and for good reason. It’s no secret that the fashion industry is one pretentious son of a gun, and as you progress through the higher levels of fashion the pretentiousness of its participants and the ludicrousy of the clothing only get weirder. Look no further than the now classic ‘Seven Circles of Hell, Fashion Edition’ meme for a small peak into madness:

Seven Circles of Hell, Fashion Edition; the deeper you go, the more obscure the brands get.

Source: r/malefashion subreddit.

So why are we making a deep dive article on fashion memes anyway? Aren’t they just another means to pass the time? While that is very true, like memes there’s so much more to it, and this couldn’t be more evident than through our talks with some of the most legitimate fashion meme accounts in the scene. From fashion meme titans like Vetememes, Meme Saint Laurent and Fashion Wankers, to rising fashion meme stars such as Anarchokapitalism, the ARCHIVE.pdf Team have interviewed all individuals to truly understand just how deep this fashion meme rabbit hole goes. From educating the masses on fashion, to their impact on the fashion industry, the toxicity and beauty of the community, and much more, today we’ll be revealing one of fashion’s greatest online mysteries: Fashion Memes. Enjoy!

Memes and Fashion Memes Recap

Writer: Khan Delin

Before memes we really lived in a society… a society where nothing was funny and no one had any sense of humor. Some of the world's greatest technological advancements only came from memes. With these great advancements came social media platforms and forums like Facebook and Instagram. Many of us Gen Z-ers grew up consuming memes on online forums or social media platforms like Instagram, Reddit, and Facebook that allowed us to connect with others all over the world and with that power came great responsibility to make memes. Some of my fondest meme-ories were being a part of a Facebook group during high school called The Bathroom, a subgroup of The Basement, dedicated to fashion memes. Lots of users created their own original memes while others just spammed the comments section with countless stolen memes. With every community or niche group, there is always a group of people making memes about the subject, fashion is no different.

The fashion meme usually revolves around today's latest trend or someone just wearing a bad outfit. With this rise in social media and constant oversharing, the fashion meme has flourished and spiraled into its own meta-memed whirlpool. From the humble beginnings of fashion enthusiasts in small forums online, the fashion meme has transcended with the help of Instagram meme pages. With every fashion week or runway show that happens, a whole new set content can be created, and if all you really do is scour the internet looking for bad outfits to make jokes about, I’m sure you will find a lot.

If there are two main points I want you to take away from this part of the article it’s that:

1. No one is safe from being memed.

2. Rick = Good, Heart Shoe = Bad.

The Current State Fashion & Prevailing Existence of Memes

Writer: Art V.

Let’s be honest. The memes have taken over and have spilled over to niche communities such as archive fashion. Nowadays, even if you are not an avid follower of fashion, your Explore page on Instagram will contain at least one fashion meme from one of the more prominent accounts. To fully understand the current state of fashion and the prevailing existence of memes in the fashion community, we must go backwards in time and analyze what was going on in the 2010s. The current state of fashion and memes is significantly impacted by that time period, as social media steadily became our main source of digital consumption. As the information and content became more accessible, the demographic of the average consumer became younger and younger. These variables, combined with the prevailing elitism of luxury and archive fashion, played a vital role in the establishment of modern day fashion and all the memes that come with it. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Ever since the creation of the Internet, memes have always existed as a method of digital comedic relief to a world of suffering and existential crisis. This plays directly into the creation of fashion memes, as Instagram began to really take over social media consumption circa 2012. Before the fashion meme accounts and the jokes that hit way too close to home, there were starter packs that mocked a specific demographic and the cliche way they dressed. The “hypebeast” starter pack visualized the latest Supreme and sneaker drops, with obnoxious typography logos and colors. The “minimalist” starter pack showcased a Steve Jobs turtleneck with some stonewash jeans and Dad shoes. These starter pack posts would proceed to pave the way on how people would make jokes about fashion on the Internet.

'Artisanal Hypebeast' Starter Pack Meme.

As Instagram started becoming the first app people would consume right as they woke up, the globalization of information accessibility was evident. It would remove barriers of entry for information and fashion consumption, as the overflow of “mood board” accounts like @Hidden.ny and archive fashion accounts took over the fashion community and slowly initiated the saturation that exists today. The mechanism of consumption of fashion content on Instagram was now a well-oiled machine, ready for anyone with spare time and a smartphone.

The consumption of fashion content and memes on the Internet is increasing drastically while the ages of the consumer are decreasing drastically. Davil, founder of Vetememes emphasizes that “you have to grow up in a certain generation to fully grasp it. Boomers are completely out of the picture when it comes to a lot of memes''. As a verified fashion meme page on Instagram with over 100,000 followers, Davil is able to directly see the phenomenon of fashion content consumption. Whether the post contains a heart Converse Chuck Taylor or a Rick Owens Geobasket, he knows that the “memes have penetrated the mainstream market” and a good amount of people will get the joke. Sorry boomers!

Meme Character Cheems wearing Rick Owens Geobaskets.

While the consumption of fashion expands globally, there is another variable that contributes to the explosion of fashion memes on the Internet: luxury elitism. Karsten, founder of Meme Saint Laurent, emphasizes that “fashion has never truly been a non-toxic community, even before the Internet”. A significant amount of that toxicity comes from the pretentious gatekeeping demeanor of luxury and high fashion brands, as they try to establish barriers of entry for new consumers that don’t pertain to their targeted audience. Davil of Vetememes believes in the same sentiment, as “the fashion community in general is elitist by default” and can often remove accessibility from specific demographics of consumers. With all that in mind, this elitism and gatekeeping endeavors are where fashion memes thrive. Karsten strongly believes that fashion memes are “being counter-cultural towards the elitism”, as each meme is a reminder to not take things so seriously. It’s very refreshing to see the mocking of the elitist gatekeepers, and fashion memes play a significant role in expanding the concept of fashion for all, not just fashion for some.

'I Want to Go Home' Fashion Meme.

With the prevailing existence of fashion memes, the mantra ‘If you can’t beat them, join them...’ becomes reality as luxury fashion houses are actually using memes to implement marketing campaigns for specific collections. Instead of being the center of the laughing stock, these brands and houses have ultimately turned the joke onto themselves to expand consumer marketing. A great example of this is the Le Marché des Merveilles watch collection via Alessandro Michele’s Gucci, as the Instagram was filled with #TFWGucci memes that pertain directly to the watch collection. Creative directors are now taking very diligent notes on the impact of fashion memes in modern-day fashion and they begin churning out witty captions with a “tasteful” alignment of images. It is truly the epitome of a full-circle moment.

#TFWGucci Campaign, 2017. Source: Gucci.

The alignment of fashion memes and the brands that they make fun of can be defined by one trailblazer in the fashion world: Demna Gvasalia. He is honestly the OG Meme Lord. As the founder of Vetements and current creative director of Balenciaga, Demna has made a living utilizing fashion meme culture to his advantage. He began his impact with Vetements collections that contained meme-baiting strategies that would draw the attention of every consumer, even the parody artists. Vetememes would not exist without the infamous AW2016 Vetements raincoat, as Davil remembers that “everyone would have the Vetements raincoat and it became a meme”, providing the incentive he needed to create the Vetememes raincoat. Not only did Demna embrace Vetememes, he emphasized that Vetements will not be filing any lawsuits over the Vetememes raincoat and he hopes that Davil has enjoyed making his project as much as they did making Vetements clothing. This embrace of fashion memes occurred before all the fashion houses and brands hopped on the trend of utilizing memes to sell their collections. Demna genuinely thought it was funny and he believed Vetememes aligned directly with his meme-baiting marketing campaigns. That man was playing chess, not checkers.

Vetememes Raincoat, based off the Vetements Raincoat.

With products like #DHLVetements, where Vetements partnered with their shipping partner DHL to create t-shirts, Demna began to fully embrace the fashion meme community. He would bring this energy to Balenciaga and as the creative director of one of the most prominent fashion houses, Demna would take the memes to the next level. Every Balenciaga marketing campaign and lookbook would indirectly hint at the fashion memes on the Internet. Pieces like the Balenciaga IKEA bags, platform Crocs, and the T-Shirt Shirt would be Demna’s successful attempts at portraying his personal humor through his fashion endeavors. It was almost like he was making pieces that would immediately get meme’d into oblivion. What was once just 2D images on a fashion meme Instagram account was now on Vogue Runway and Paris Fashion Week. You can just imagine how the Internet reacted to it all. Consumers would respond to the creations as ironic or iconic, but no matter what they were responding. A thousand memes about a shirt means a thousand set of eyeballs on Balenciaga.

Fashion Products created by Demna Gvasalia. From left to right: Balenciaga x Crocs, Balenciaga Frakta Bag inspired by IKEA Bag, Vetements x DHL T-Shirt, Balenciaga T-Shirt Shirt.

Whether you are a fan of fashion memes or not, the reality is that they are here to stay and the current state of fashion has created space for them to exist independently. With designers and creative directors fully embracing the existence of fashion memes and dry internet humor, fashion memes will continue to prevail. However, there are pros and cons to their existence. Oversaturation of fashion content, whether it’s genuine art expression or humorous memes, can bring forward lots of positives and negatives to the community. It is truly the best of times and the worst of times.

Pros and Cons to Fashion Memes & Its Community

Writer: Art V.