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Updated: Apr 12, 2023

Understanding the Trend Towards "Ugly" Fashion: A Closer Look

Have you scrolled past a Fashion post and looked at the clothing and thought "wth is this?!" well if you opened up the comment section you already know you're not alone, so what gives? Why does it seem like so many high fashion brands in recent years have a notable trend toward designs that can be described as "ugly"? This phenomenon has caused some confusion and frustration among the general public, who cannot comprehend why such unappealing pieces of clothing are celebrated by fashion insiders.

Collinastrada FW 23 - Highsnobiety post

Highsnobiety post- Collinastrada FW 23 A familiar sight at times.

Well upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that the situation is not as straightforward as it seems. In fact, there are several factors that contribute to the perception that modern fashion is, at times, quote unquote "ugly", and a closer examination of these factors can help us understand why very obviously talented and successful designers keep producing such work, whilst also providing some insight into the nature of the fashion industry itself.

One reason why seemingly unattractive pieces of clothing are celebrated by fashion insiders is that these individuals have a more in-depth understanding of the intricacies of fashion design and what goes into creating a garment, even a simple dress can be far more complex to bring to life than many would assume but a Yohji Yamamoto piece, as strange and weird as it may look, is a masterclass in pattern cutting, layering, and construction, even if it may not be universally visually appealing. So, Many of these pieces may not be universally beautiful to the average person, but to those who understand fashion design in-depth, the intricate construction and attention to detail are truly remarkable.

Yohji Yamamoto, Paris Fashion Week, March 2015

Yohji Yamamoto, Paris Fashion Week, March 2015

This brings us to our second reason, avant-garde clothing, which is highly likely what has led to the aforementioned views on modern fashion, is by its very nature for a very specific niche group of people and fans, rather than for the wider public audience. While these pieces may be seen as strange or unappealing to those outside of this sphere, they are highly valued and appreciated by those who they are meant for. Like any form of creative expression, fashion also has aspects to it that are subjective. ​ Finally and perhaps most importantly, our view of modern fashion is skewed by the incredibly curated and algorithmic lens that is social media where the abnormal and strange drive traffic and go viral, every view every click every comment, no matter how negative is a valued interaction and so those posts and those brands are thrust onto the masses whether or not that was the intended purpose behind the work. The truth, for better or worse, is While there are many brands designing clothing that most people would certainly find beautiful, just take a look at anything from the likes of Zimmermann or Elie Saab among so many others, these brands are not always sensationalized and therefore do not gain the same level of attention and popularity as their "ugly" counterparts.

Zimmermann Fall 23

Zimmermann Fall 23

In conclusion, while it may be tempting to label certain fashion designs as "ugly", it is important to consider the various factors that contribute to this perception. Does that mean every piece is some masterwork that you simply just don't understand? Of course not but ultimately, the fashion industry is a complex and multifaceted entity, and it is important to approach it with an open mind and a willingness to appreciate the intricacies and nuances of fashion design.


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