Native TikTok Influencers & Indie Designers Search For Developments That Final : Bushwick Every day
Fashion trends used to stop. But now microtrends seem to be gaining the upper hand. But many of these wardrobe changes are neither ecologically nor economically sustainable.
A new generation of fashion consumers want to see more sustainable practices and strive to leave fast fashion behind in the past. They make a point of only buying from thrift stores or small designers, instead buying clothes that feel unique and are personally tailored to their tastes.
As seen on TikTok, Clara Perlmutter (@tinyjewishgirl) and Myra Magdalen (@myramagdalen) are pioneers of a personal style movement defined by an eclectic taste that mixes vintage pieces with new maximalist designers and non-traditional items like rubber lizards and includes TV remote controls. The pandemic has profoundly changed how people view and participate in the fashion industry, and has given many who are stuck at home the time to develop a more personal style.
Perlmutter often mixes contrasting patterns, works with interesting silhouettes, and enjoys wearing over-the-top accessories with colorful, childish jewelry, the “unnecessary” headband, coupled with her bald head. “This has been an incredibly isolating time and turning inward seems natural under the circumstances,” Perlmutter said.
Recent lockdown surges have given us time to reflect on how fashion can be both destructive to the planet and overwhelming to keep up with. Trend cycles that used to last 5-10 years now last only a year or two, a rapid rate of turnover that is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with.
“I’m concerned about the turnover rate of trends, but this is a generation used to instant gratification on our phones,” says Perlmutter. “It’s no wonder fast fashion websites are having such a moment. It makes little financial sense to spend serious money on something trendy when trendy means ephemeral. People opt for the knockoffs instead. However, it’s sad to see people I know keep getting ripped off. That’s why I’m all for owning bold statement pieces regardless of trends, things that are timeless.”
In order to keep producing new designs, fast fashion brands are often accused of stealing from smaller designers. The resulting products are cheaper, but often fall apart easily.
“You should look at your childhood,” recommends Perlmutter. “Early on in life, think critically about times when you fell in love with fashion. It could be something you saw on a cool girl at the mall, or a movie character, or some other aha moment for you… Great. Now distill this down to its essence. What aspects of [the] style attracted you? Were you drawn to the color palettes? Have you been drawn to certain silhouettes or certain patterns?”
Myra Magdalen is fearless in her personal tastes and often opts for items that people wouldn’t normally think of, like using a cylinder deadbolt lock as a clasp or book lights as hair clips. Including things that don’t qualify as clothing shows that fashion can be incredibly experimental and an ethical way to introduce new elements into your wardrobe.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with or wanting to be a part of fashion trends in general. However, I think microtrends are there to encourage people to keep buying new things and throwing things away. I think this has led to the rise of fast fashion and highlights the waste and sustainability issues in the fashion industry. I also think it makes it harder to cultivate your own personal style,” she says.
Magdalen’s approach to fashion can help us rethink how we dress. Instead of shopping for the latest trends to make your outfit more interesting, her work asks: What non-traditional items could you use instead?
“My best advice for finding your personal style is to just wear what you like and then move on. Don’t worry so much about fitting into an aesthetic or following fashion “rules” or trends,” Magdalen said.
“My hope for this fashion year is that there’s a bigger trend of finding classic pieces in your wardrobe and your own personal style. I think a lot of this can be done through thrift, adapting existing pieces, and consciously choosing the media you consume. If you follow small designers who align with your perspective, whether it’s style or values, you can avoid a lot of the noise from microtrends,” says local designer Megan O’Cain, whose work can be found on GG’s Social Club at 1339 are Decalb Avenue. (Top image courtesy of O’Cain.)
Shopping at boutiques and thrift stores can also help you create a unique wardrobe. There are many stores in Brooklyn that fit this criteria, but Megan O’Cain and Olivia Rienertson do something special: they design clothes based on their personal style and offer a unique experience.
In Bushwick, you can find O’Cain’s designs at GG’s Social Club, which also sells used clothing. GG’s Social Club has a homey vibe decorated with books; a deconstructed collection of Funk & Wagnall’s encyclopedias here, a 1970’s tape recorder there. O’Cain creates clothing that promises to release your inner child with colorful knitwear, voluminous silhouettes and a range of hand-painted designs.
O’Cain says, “I started customizing and repairing classic cars as a kid and it’s progressed quickly from there. Ultimately, when designing, I always create for myself, I saw a gap in what I wanted to wear and started designing to fill it. I try to always keep my personal style in mind when designing and that has given me a lot of confidence in my work because it feels really real. To find my personal style, I had to stay true to my inner child and get inspiration from things other than fashion to avoid falling into trends.”
You can find Olivia Rienertson’s designs over in Williamsburg at By Liv Handmade. The storefront stocks homemade knitwear, prairie-style dresses, and vintage sewing patterns. Rienertson strives for cottagecore clothing with lace and ruffles galore, sometimes incorporating a ’70s bohemian twist.
“When I started making clothes, it was out of necessity. I was a preschool teacher with a less than ideal salary and couldn’t afford to buy ‘nice teacher’s clothes,'” Rienertson said. She wanted “something durable, comfortable, stylish and functional”.
Rienertson believes that sustainable shopping is the only way to save the planet: “Clothing waste is so much worse than you think. The upcycled, low-volume, vintage, sustainable and made-to-order ‘trend’ is a real marvel,” she says. (Images via By Liv Handmade’s Instagram, where a number of Rienertson’s works are for sale)
“I started buying sheets from The Salvation Army on 25th Street [began] turn them into smocks to wear to work. It wasn’t until a few months later that I started making clothes for anyone but myself, so many of my original designs were made especially for me. There’s definitely still a great connection between the pieces I create today and the pieces I created when By Liv started, so an element of personal style will always be there.”
Featured Image: Courtesy of Megan O’Cain’s Instagram account.
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