If it seems like the internet has been losing its collective mind over an item of clothing on a near-weekly basis lately, that’s because it has. And it’s a phenomenon that GQ’s Rachel Tashjian has dubbed the “fashion freakout.”
A few weeks ago, a pair of Y/Project denim panties hit Ssense’s digital shelves and “everyone FREAKED!!! OUT!!! Mashable wrote about it. Fox News wrote about it. USA Today even wrote about it!” Last week, Patagonia announced it was going to stop offering corporate discounts to financial firms and “the internet erupted once again, claiming that the ‘Midtown uniform’ was ‘in peril.'”
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Tashjian writes, “we are now living in the age of the fashion freakout.” But those freakouts can actually be pretty good for the brands at the center of them.
As Tashjian notes, “the people freaking out have no effect on the business — it’s not like cool, plugged-in guys are going to stop wearing Y/Project because someone mocks their janties — and in fact the outrage adds a halo that potential buyers can coast off of.”
Glenn Martens, for instance, who designed the offending janties, was a “young, avant-garde designer whose clothing is found mostly in small, independent boutiques.” But now, “suddenly everyone” is aware of him.
And then there are the designers that have begun to actively exploit the fashion freakout, like “Bootcut jean deity,” and Balenciaga Creative Director, Demna Gvasalia, whose meme-worthy platform Crocs and leather Ikea bags consistently drive “otherwise normal, moderately stylish people to lose it.”
“The bigger the freakout,” Tashjian writes, “the more the brand benefits, because suddenly everyone is aware of a designer that the potential shopper can feel he uniquely gets.”
You can read more about it at GQ.