Some Thoughts on Avant-Garde Fashion Theory

Bradley D. Sheen
Jan 3 · 3 min read

It seems the notoriety of avant-garde fashion is predicated off the elements of eccentricity, antagonism, and inaccessibility. These are not problems, and although an actor may, under they own undertaking, produce certain important dilemmas and negative situations from these formative strains, they must be understood as essential, necessary in the waking breath of the avant-garde.

Eccentricity shocks and creates impressions; lasting ones, fleeting ones, ones that are imbued with feeling and expression. A dialectic between materiality and feeling. It’s the physicality of clothing which creates these images, and they are coupled with the movements and structure of the human model. These models and their clothing are depictions of form; both fluid and static. It’s also color. It’s the basic things, the very basic facets of clothing. Adjectives used to understand garments of avant-garde will be underlined by the essence of eccentricity.

Antagonism may seem delimiting, however it’s oppositional tension is what makes it a promising ideal. This antagonism is not lay bare in avant-garde’s name sake, however it is natural, the term used cautiously here, similar to the cyclic cadence of trends/styles. This is a cadence mediated either by the market or by the select cultural overseers- brooding, sitting cross legged, near a small circular glass table, smoking cigarettes. I personally wish for an egalitarian sort-of sociological groupthink that enraptures the latter broods, but future democratic positivity is merely a method of quelling the pessimism of the coterie-dominated present.

Now, this antagonism may be presented towards the existing, normative standards of high-fashion. Polemic in their challenges towards more hegemonic styles. These are styles oft influenced by certain regiments of certain houses, oft money, oft the blindfolded, hungry people led hand-in-hand by a single man who claims to see the lone tree that produces the ripe fruit.

Yet sometimes, in its opposition, even in its sometimes grotesque refusal, the antagonist becomes codified, eaten by, and marbled into the larger mausoleum that is the avant-garde space.

Inaccessibility; monetarily, yes of course. However, that is known. As is its wearability, as clothes become more, as the fashion out-group would say, “like art,” there is a diminishing of utility, and rather a curating of unadulterated expression. The premises made of avant-garde fashion already explain this though: the eccentricity and the antagonism. The whole point of avant-garde fashion lies on that. The inaccessibility, adds another dimension, allowing avant-garde to regard itself as Godly, idealized, nominatively titular, but also: impermeable and understandable, hyped yet kitsch, scintillating but ever so tough; theory, it seems then, is unavoidably necessary here.

Bradley D. Sheen

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I’m going to try and write everyday.

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