Trend Alert: Ugly fashion

Trend Alert introduces you to the latest brands, products and services that are trending with 16-24s.

In 2018, fashion got ugly. Previously mocked styles such as Crocs, Uggs and bumbags have suddenly become cool, and luxury brands such as Gucci and Balenciaga are unexpectedly integral to the trend.

The most notorious example of ugly fashion is the resurgence of Crocs, the plastic shoes that were a late-2000s fad and, by 2018, were most likely to be spotted on hospital workers, or your parents while gardening. However, collaborations with designers such as Balenciaga and Christopher Kane resulted in Crocs appearing on the most prestigious catwalks, Instagram pages and fashion magazines.

The controversial collaboration had the desired effect for both brands, getting the fashion community talking. While plenty of people mocked the garish designs, they became a must-have item, and when a yellow version of the platform shoes above was launched last summer at a retail price of $600, it sold out before it was even released. UGG’s partnerships with streetwear names like BAPE and Jeremy Scott, and nostalgic trends such as high-waisted “mom jeans” and bumbags, can also be linked to the ugly fashion phenomenon.

So, what inspired the rise of ugly fashion? From the brand’s perspective, it’s a way to get noticed in an overcrowded market, and these shareable styles work as the fashion equivalent to a meme. For consumers, it’s also a way to stand out and create a distinctive personal style, which makes for engaging social media content, while some may see it as a protest against the pressure to look perfect that is perpetuated by Instagram culture.

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