I have a history of stumbling upon fashion trends the way most people invest in stocks–far too late. I’m a “buy high, sell low” kinda guy.
1989 was the year of snap bracelets. For those too young to remember, snap bracelets were a band of razor-sharp aluminum sheathed with ultra thin (usually neon colored) fabric, which did this [see left] when they touched your wrist. Soon after acquiring an impressive collection of bracelets, my elementary school outlawed them. The aluminum strips were coming unsheathed and slicing into the pre-pubescent hands and wrists. Something had to be done, I get it. My bracelets began to collect dust in my desk drawer, while I hopelessly prayed for a comeback which, to my knowledge, never happened.
I grew up during the prime of Michael Jordan’s career. A massive poster of MJ hung on my bedroom wall. I would stare at that poster, mesmerized by Jordan’s airborne tongue exposure, the expressions on the faces of the crowd (halfway between horror and ecstasy), and the humiliated defender below just waiting for the embarrassing moment to pass. I recall the guy on the poster who was “defending” Jordan looking like he’d been hijacked from a late-1970’s Coors beer commercial: a towering, awkward looking white guy with curly red hair, a robust mustache, and the early signs of back forestation.
Michael Jordan had his shoe, but Richie (my 4th grade arch enemy) already owned that shoe. So I was compelled to go a different route. I cozied up to the tomahawk-jamming Dominique Wilkins and his Reebok Pumps.
But there was a catch. My parents didn’t have a lot of expendable income, so for my 10th birthday I was faced with a choice: a new bike or the Pumps. To my everlasting shame, I chose the shoes. These days, Jordans fetch over $200/pair, while Reebok Pumps have only recently been reintroduced into the shoe consuming world after almost two decades in fashion exile.
By the time I reached 6th grade, I had developed a warranted skepticism about my sense of fashion. Partly because the first year of middle school is really all about making it through alive, and partly because of the aforementioned fashion blunders, I resigned myself to simply dressing in a way that rendered me unnoticeable: stonewashed jeans, Keds, and t-shirts advertising sports teams. Around that time, however, a French clothing designer blew up the fashion-sphere with these:
I couldn’t help myself. I had to have a pair. Luckily, another birthday was right around the corner. With the Reebok Pumps mishap still fresh in my mind, I reluctantly began to gravitate t0ward Girbauds. Still, I knew the clock was ticking. If I didn’t purchase a pair of Girbauds soon, I could once again find myself desperately clutching the coattails of a quickly dissipating fashion trend. On an early November night my mom and I raced down to the department store. We weaved our way around the stacks of jackets, sweaters, and suit coats before finding the oasis of fashion. I had already determined to practice conservatism and go with a pair of standard blue jeans. That way, when the Girbaud hype waned, I would possess something classic. I was ill-prepared for what happened next: no blue jeans, no black jeans, no khakis…only two tones of Girbauds were available on the rack: rust or green. With a look of hysteria, I turned to a nearby sales associate and frantically asked, “What happened to the other colors?!” Without a shred of empathy she mechanically responded, “Oh, we should receive another shipment in a couple weeks.”
A couple weeks?! I mean, who knows what wave of fashion we’ll be riding at that point? In a couple weeks, I might find an entire rainbow of Girbaud options at the local thrift store!
So I went with these:
Things went downhill from there. I mean, sure I technically had a pair of Girbaud’s, but what matches green jeans? Certainly not our school colors (brown and yellow). I realized this on my third day of Girbaud ownership when schoolmates who had younger siblings began reminiscing about various bodily fluids their siblings ejected in their earlier years and how the color pallet of my outfit bore a striking resemblance.
I could go on. I won’t. Because my sense is that I’ve thoroughly proven my point and alleviated any belief you, the reader, my have about me possessing any innate fashion sense. I deserve that. And yet, in the second half of this post, I was to talk about a fashion “trend” I’ve stumbled upon that I believe has not only a “cool” factor, but also utilitarian appeal. So stay tuned…and stay cool.