Candles are having a moment. There is a seemingly bottomless thirst for candles shaped like lazy, giddy, cool blobs and wiggles; candles that smell good, or at least look good; candles that, as my fellow VICE writer Bettina Makalintal explained, are so wildly popular because of their ability to be “nostalgic and also of the moment,” harkening back to personality of Memphis design and giving us the impression that a certain, forward-propelling boldness is packed into that candle wax. It meant something if you owned a bendy candle before they reached the DIY TikTok swamp:
The clout of having a nice ass candle hits differently these days, because these days are spent indoors, staring at the same bookshelf, bathroom cabinet, what have you, while our brains fall deeper into the air fryer. Unsurprisingly, our wallets have pivoted towards home decor objects that bring those fried brain cells a little aesthetic self-care, and our shelves a lot of bragging rights in the form of really, really nice candles.
So, yeah. Candles have become mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell, as we all know). Honestly, it's all gotten a little out of control. Kacey Musgraves X Boy Smells released an XL version of her popular Slow Burn candle that’s still sold out, that one Anthropologie candle is the size of a bird bath, and HAY just started stacking all its candles on top of each other (and pulling it off, as they should).
What’s next? Streetwear candles??? Actually, yes. Brands like Stüssy, Comme Des Garçons, and Chinatown Market have added super-nice, flex-ready candles to their oversized-jersey- and cargo-pant-heavy repertoire, proving once and for all that the Candles These Days have developed enough personality to become (relatively) accessible sculptural objects for everyone in the neighborhood, or at least those with $50 to spend on some vibey wax. In lieu of light, they bring lifestyle. Instead of Yankee Candles with basenotes of rock bottom, they’re replica Air Force Ones, smiley basketballs, and repurposed religious imagery. These shelf objets are beacons of hope for we, the bedframe-less.
You tried skating at MoMa PS1
Keith Haring goes to the beach with this unscented, graphic candle by Stüssy, whose surfman kind of just reminds us of a chalk outline, but is also stylish enough to give to someone you’re trying to impress without trying too hard. Also a primo bathroom shelf addition with that shade of blue.
Stüssy Surfman Candle, $55 at End.
You’re in love with a bodega cat
...not in a Furry way (but hey, whatever, do you). This candle pays homage to the OG Lady of Guadalupe, etc. candles from your local botánica or corner store, which is no small feat. “Prayer Candles have been a notable, mystical and superstitious item of intrigue for centuries,” says Bodega in the description, “and their purposes tend to vary greatly from culture to culture. So, whether you’re hoping to reserve your place in heaven, or lighting one just to keep the cops away, we wish you the best of luck.” All worthy endeavors.
Bodega Prayer Candle, $15 at Bodega
Welcome to Nellyville
Arguably the crispest Air Force 1 on the web, this candle comes is a lowkey nod to our love for the iconic Nike sneaks immortalized in song by Nelly, who is now also the king of Lays X Flaming Hot Cheetos, as he damn well should be. Legend. This one is the perfect sneakerhead/candle-curious crossover.
Nike Air Force 1 Low Triple White Candle,
$44.39 $37.73 at Etsy
So you DO have a bedframe
Maybe you missed out on the seemingly endless moment for those iconic Comme Des Garçons high-tops, but it's not too late to flex their other wares. The Japanese brand’s designer, Rei Kawakubo, is famous for blending his graphic talents with hard chiller brands like Carharrt, Nike, Converse, and other streetwear-centric labels. This waxy boy offers 65 hours of burn time and smells like magnolia and vetiver to “offset rich aromas of patchouli and cumin.” In other words, it's doing the most without looking like it’s trying, which is what Comme des Garçons does so well. We’re sus'd about the notes of cumin, but hungry enough to try it out.
Comme des Garçons 2 Candle, $49 at End.
You’re microdosing RN, aren’t you?
As a New Yorker, your pre-COVID 19 rotation was a blend of Max Fish, Cooper Park, and that one spot in Chinatown where everyone gets the good chains. These days you’re living in Los Angeles (more skating, more serotonin) with a smiley candle that says, “I <3 NY, but Venice Beach is my new Neutral Chaos of choice.”
Chinatown Market Smiley Basketball Candle, $59 at End.
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