Amidst claims that detachable jorts and RompHims are poised to be a thing (They won’t be.), another fashion trend has been lurking for a few weeks: Ikea bag fashion. Is this a thing? I assure you it is not.
It all started with the Balenciaga versus Ikea tiff that was as meant to be silly all around. That moment morphed into a micro-trend of creating Ikea bag fashion designs. It’s all itchy business that isn’t actually wearable but, hey, people are trying to turn these bright blue things into a thing.
As The Outline points out, this is somewhat inspiring.
Making clothing from every day objects is perhaps a move towards sustainability, and to that end the trend is at least nominally inspiring. Maybe some day we’ll all wear recycled, recognizable clothing, and maybe some day it won’t take a high-end brand to make that concept cool. The Balenciaga bag and the Ikea streetwear it inspired are part of a noble tradition in which fashion people make inexplicable decisions in pursuit of the intangible goal of style.
Sure, maybe, sure. But everyone is missing the point in some regards: Balenciaga, like Vetements, is intended to be a joke. No, the brands aren’t jokes but their designs are tongue-in-cheek riffs on popular culture that keep crossing over because of said riffing.
Think about Vetements’ DHL shirt and the Thrasher hoodie: it’s a co-opting of ubiquitous style and low-class design for high class people. It’s poor people drag. It’s as stupid as it is smart, as loved as it is hated.
Balenciaga’s head dude Demna Gvasalia introducing leather Ikea bags onto the runway fall into a tradition of his Balenciaga riffing on low-end bags. From blanket bags to laundry bags, they’ve posed the question of what is or isn’t for years. For them, it is a future upcycling of classic design via remixing into the wearable future.
The best way to think of it is how Vetements/Balenciaga stylist Lotta Volkova put it.
There are no subcultures to be discovered anymore, at least not in the Western world. It’s more about the remix of information. Kids today — the new generation — they think in different ways. They don’t even have the knowledge of what a subculture is. It is not relevant to them. If they want to wear a punk shirt, that doesn’t mean that they have to listen to punk music or have a political point of view. They don’t have that mentality. In my generation, when we were grunge, we were grunge. It was a mindset. That’s why today I am so interested in the different codes of social uniforms.
Yep. That’s exactly it: using different uniforms and super normal designs as a means to invent a new language of luxury. It’s minorly inventive, yes, but mostly a joke that the rich pay to be the butt of.
But what happens when the not-rich co-opt it back? The joke loses it’s humor. That is why Ikea fashion isn’t—and shouldn’t—be a thing: it turns the conceptual into the literal, sucking the poison out of the design punch.