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The Fashion Issue 2003

My America

He still loves fashion.
December 1, 2003, 12:00am

Fashion! Hooray! Clothing and Accessories! The wealthy people get odd hats and chinos (the work pants of yore), and the poor people get gold teeth and $200 sneakers. I don’t even know what fashion is exactly, but I’m all for it. I live in New York, where I moved after a delightful nine years in Los Angeles, so I’ve certainly seen my fair share of “cutting edge” fashion. Whether it’s current, retro, or post-retro current, I heart fashion. I’m always the first in line for the latest issue of the 142 different monthly magazines devoted to all things fashion!

I can’t imagine a world without fashion. Well, I can actually, and it’s called Communist China in the 60s and 70s. Fashion is a way to denote status and to also try to have sex. There are even some cultures that will base their decision on whether to fuck you or not solely (hey, a pun!) on the shoes that you wear (more on this later). First, a brief history of fashion: Fashion officially started in olden times when everybody wore robes. Nothing much happened for the next few centuries until years later, when some aristocrats (including the Dutch and the Japanese) wore some interesting things. And then fashion pretty much stopped again until American high school. That’s when fashion really “took off.” But fashion isn’t just about berets and baubles; it’s about hair, skin, buttons, and shoes, too!

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Do you (or will you) wear gold teeth? If so, how many golden teeth? Who wants to step up and wear a full set of platinum teeth? Who wants to have extra teeth surgically implanted? Forty-two teeth, all dipped in titanium with your name engraved in a diamond on each one. That’s not for everybody, of course. Some people like $600 jeans. I can understand that. If you’ve got the money then why wouldn’t…no, wait a second, I can’t understand it. Hey dude, that’s the crazy world of fashion. We’ve finally reached an era where getting addicted to heroin is a viable fashion choice. God bless us, every one of us.

It’s surely not going out on a limb to assert that what you wear is just a kind of uniform or costume. It’s as much about whom you aren’t as it is about who you are. Myself, I tend to wear clothes that are both comfortable and practical. Oh, and cheap, too. I’m definitely cheap when it comes to clothes, which explains my sarcastic attitude toward/contempt for fashion. I tend to favor the cargo shorts with lots of pockets in the summer and long pants with lots of pockets in the winter. There, done. Not counting my rad suit, I think I’ve spent a total of maybe $2,000 on clothes (and shoes, bitch!) in the last ten years. A lot to spend on clothes if you’re a Mexican hippie, but I live in America, godammit.

I used to buy my clothes by the pound when I lived in Boston. For real, there was a place called By the Pound, and it was on the second floor of a warehouse down the street from me. My moving away from Boston coincided with getting on TV, which meant people gave me free shit to wear. You should see my MTV hoodie––it’s ugly, garish, and free. I’ve been known to dabble in the ironic T-shirt and cap world, too. I’m no innocent. I’ve purchased and worn plenty of “funny” T-shirts, only to be greeted with the studied indifference of a nation of jaded youth too cool for school. “Get in line, asshole,” they seem to say. “Take your ‘Special Olympics Pride—Lexington, KY ’93’ hat and go stand behind the douchebag with the so-nerdy-it’s-actually-cooler-than-you’ll ever-be entire outfit, and I’ll see if maybe I can’t throw a look your way.”

Not too long ago, I got in an argument that I never for a second imagined I would ever be in. This is for real, too; I am not making this up. I was at a bar (this was in NYC, which I think might account for it—I can’t picture this conversation occurring anywhere else in this country) with two straight male friends of mine. We were drinking and just shooting the shit. At some point, this beautiful girl that I was having a brief thing with came in to meet me. I introduced her around and she eventually went to the bar to order a drink. Here’s where it gets weird (and again, I am not making this up). Both of my friends did that thing where they watched her go to the bar and once she was there, turned to me in unison and started going on about how hot she was. I agreed smugly. Then one of the friends said (and I quote), “Damn, dude, she’d be perfect if she wasn’t wearing those platform flip-flops.” What? I didn’t notice her shoes. Are you joking? Who cares about her fucking shoes?! You’re telling me her “flip-flops” are turning you off? She’s fucking beautiful! Are you gay? It’s OK if you are, but just get to it already. Don’t waste your time trying to convince me that you’re a heterosexual male that actually cares about the shoes a woman wears because that’s the definition of gay as presented by the American Heritage Dictionary of English Language, you total fag! Fucking New York, huh?

And speaking of New York, I recently attended a 4th of July party (can you guess when it was? Answer at the end of this column!) in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. I was asking for it, I know, but still. You see it in a new perspective when it’s all you see. And I know that the “Williamsburg Hipster” is just one tiny part of the pack in a vast world of fashion. It is not the tragic fashion of black nerds, or fat, Midwestern Christian fundamentalists, or Texarkana ranch hands. It is, however, a delightful mix of all of these, and more. I’ve always been irritated by people who are revered for their fashion sense when it rarely consists of anything more than unoriginality dressed up (another pun!) as originality. I can’t believe that people get away with that shit. Merely co-opting selected features of different cultures’ fashion that you find mildly amusing or “lame,” and then attaching a detached irony to it may be funny, but it isn’t necessarily commendable. See what I did? Through the implicit contradiction of my wearing that stupid fucking polyester whatever, my biting wit shines through to all as I mock fashion while simultaneously creating it! Crown me king. What a noble pursuit!

If people want to be real ballsy, try dressing like a gay cop. Wear crazy makeup and hoop earrings and as much of a cop’s outfit as you can legally get away with. Or just wear old-timey bathing suits all the time. Just wear one shoe. Or start a trend of dressing like bums. Shit yourself and think of it as an accessory. What about the elements? Start incorporating more water and ice into your “look.” What about a shirt made of ice? Or bricks? How about brick teeth? Start thinking big, people. Let’s get some hot new ideas out there for winter of ’03. If anybody can do it, it’s you VICE readers! Come on, seriously. That shirt you’ve got on right now is soooo yesterday.

DAVID CROSS