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Creativity Culture Psychology Tech

When ugly is beautiful

In a selfie-obsessed world, it pays to be ugly. Fashion houses across the world make eye-cringing designs on purpose. The crazier, the better. #gif

In a selfie-obsessed world, it pays to be ugly. Fashion houses across the world make eye-cringing designs on purpose. The crazier, the better.

Says Prada’s head fashion designer Miuccia Prada“The investigation of ugliness is, to me, more interesting than the bourgeois idea of beauty. And why? Because ugly is human. It touches the bad and the dirty side of people.”

Why do people love using Snapchat over other social media services? Because it celebrates authenticity. When people try to be real, they can be flawed, which is relatable.

Beautiful gets boring. Ugly is pervasive and unforgettable. It stands out with a clear message.

Balenciaga nailed ugly when it designed clothes inspired by the Bernie Sanders logo.

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Photo: Catwalking/Getty Images

Gucci’s Dapper Dan jacket is an attempt to throw back to an era of displeasing design.

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Photo via NYTimes

People preferred Madona when she displayed her natural gap tooth. Ugly is about breaking the rules and doing things a little different. Models never smile on the runway because they want to be unshakeable.

But people view the world as it relates to them. Letting go of perfection and designing for ugly creates a sense of communion with the viewer.

art via giphy

Categories
Creativity Culture Fashion

New Gucci jacket gives Dapper Dan his due

“How would he feel if that Louis Vuitton pouch became a whole outfit?” remarked the Harlem fashion designer Dapper Dan, aka Daniel Day. And so he made custom clothing for famed sprinter Diane Dixon and rappers Eric B and Rakim, going on to remix all types of designs from the world’s most renowned brands before they shut down his operations.

New Gucci jacket gives Dapper Dan his due
Photo by Drew Carolan

Dapper Dan’s efforts mimicked the sampling culture which helped give rise to hip-hop at the time. Said Elle Magazine director Samira Nasr, “Sampling was taking existing music and slicing it to recreate new sounds for original lyrics. Dap was sampling in a way. He was taking existing fabrications and breathing new life and beauty into them.”

The urge to remix also came out of Dap’s own experiences growing up poor in Harlem. “My sense of style came from having holes in my shoes. I was in third grade, and I would put cardboard and paper in the bottom of my shoes.”

Remix culture is the foundation of the Internet, the biggest copy-paste machine. But Dapper Dan predates the likes of Nasty Gal and other fashion outlaws looking to recast something new. Thanks to Gucci’s branded version of the jacket and nod to Dapper Dan, the couturier is finally getting the attention he deserves.

Categories
Creativity Culture

Wearing your heart on your sleeve

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The individual wears no logos. Punks wear studs and diamonds. Fashionistas signal their hipness with cashmere scarfs.

We all brand ourselves in one way or another whether we sport plainness, tattoos, or Prada.

We speak through our clothing. Design reveals some of our inside expressions. But most of us are more complex than that.

We can’t judge a book by its cover no matter how much or how little it stands out.

Categories
Culture Politics & Society Tech

Thinking hard about culture

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Culture is a broad term used to describe the habits and practices of society. Cultures differ because people differ–in looks, tastes, and religion–and when there’s a hodgepodge of cultures, they mix to create something novel, i.e. America, which then becomes its own cultural pillar.

As broad as culture is, in say music with its infinite number of genres and subgenres, it can also be limiting. For instance, the three most popular operating systems smartphones run on are iOS, Android, and Microsoft. Given the scarcity of choice, people choose sides, resulting in Apple fans, Google geeks, and Microsoft traditionalists.

But even when there’s a variety of choice, a favorite always wins out. Whether it’s a preferred operating system, musician, film, or shoe style, some cultures become mainstream. If you copy such trends, you are the benefactor of the wisdom of crowds. If you’re an early adopter or renegade, you look for things on the edges which are a plausible reaction to the herd mentality.

Given culture’s categorizations, people always conform to a certain type regardless of how big or small a niche. Culture’s resistance to sameness guarantees the durability of uniqueness, and there may be no better modern-day American dissenter than Mark Grief who appears to be against everything.

Read Louis Menand’s Cultural Criticism and the Way We Live Now

Categories
Apps Fashion Photography photoJournal Tech

Mars Effect: Download the new Nike Sportswear x VSCO filter

Image by Wells Baum

The new Nike Sportswear x VSCO filter dropped while I was on vacation last week in the Dominican Republic. It paints a Mars-like effect on your photos. This is how VSCO describes it on its blog:

“the preset creates a bold, duotone look using strong black and red hues. The tonal range of each image is remapped to these two colors, resembling the innovative look and expressive style of Nike Tech Pack.”

As I typically do with every new preset release, I go back and try it on recent photos to see what works. Portraits and scripture seemed to work out best. Here are some of the ones that came out.


Jimmy Chin teaches adventure photography


Processed with VSCO with tech preset
Processed with VSCO with tech preset

Push the limits of photography


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Processed with VSCO with tech preset

Nike has sponsored a VSCOCam filter before with the NikeLab ACG x VSCO. It also featured a dark aesthetic.

I love creative accidents. I originally applied the Nike Sportswear preset on this image and the changed it to preset X5 but the sky retained some of the red and black from the Nike preset.

You can see a bunch more pictures from the trip on the VSCO Grid and on Instagram (@bombtune).

Categories
Fashion Psychology Science

What’s cooler than cool? 

Quartz published an interesting piece on the neuroscience and origins of “cool.”

Today, we define cool through the lens of fashion and consumption. Instagram is the fashion runway for generation thumbs. Social media influencers signal the new trends. Studies show that our medial prefrontal cortex lights up when we see something desirable in our feed.

But I found the history of the word cool most interesting.

“It was black Americans at the turn of the 20th century who first used “cool” as an expression of approval.

From blues to rock, from hip hop to Eminem, black culture is American culture.

Given the heightened racism in American politics today, it is worth examining why American culture became the cultural hegemony of the world in the first place. We are the hodgepodge of experiments.

And it is our duty to ensure American culture — one of openness and plurality — appears cool.

Categories
Fashion Life & Philosophy

The Strange World of Hats

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gif via timeout

  • Fitted caps
  • Mesh hats
  • Sombreros
  • Cowboy hats
  • 👒🎩🎓

Etc…

Not everyone looks good in a hat.

Hats are weird things. They’ll hide a bad hair day but flatten your hair like a pancake, also known as ‘hat head.’

Wear a hat often enough, they say, and you’ll go bald.

For something that saves people time grooming, you’d think hats would be a daily staple. But not all heads are created equally.

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Uncategorized

Fashion is just a fresh combination of elements that we all connect with.

Rick Owens
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Uncategorized

From Fan to Artist

Your taste defines who you are. I admire people that have interesting tastes in art, fashion, books, and music.

But I really admire people that attempt to recreate their tastes.

For the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making is not that good. But your taste—the force that drives creative people to do what they do—“is still killer.”

Ira Glass

The fun only begins when you’re recreating the art you enjoy. Naturally you’re going to suck in the beginning. But all great artists struggle in the beginning.

All you’re trying to do is prove that you too can make cool stuff, not just collect and consume it.

Emulation may be the highest form of fattery, but you can’t just clone someone else’s work and call it your own. Once you master the fundamentals, you need to individualize your work. Otherwise, what’s going to make your work stand out from the ones that came before it?

Creativity is a process of copying and personal expression. Your output is ultimately an opinion of how you see the world.

You need to be able to express your ideas. So find a way to get your thoughts out there so you have experience articulating and defending a point of view, because that’s what design ultimately is; a point of view.

Jeffrey Zeldman

You already know what’s good. All artists were too once fans. Now you just need to stake your claim by doing the work yourself.

Art is not something you do at the end of your career.

Categories
Fashion Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Body Moving

  • You are what you own.
  • You are what you wear.
  • You are where you work.
  • You are what you say and tweet.

Is your lifestyle a clear indication of who you are and what you really desire?

Most of the time we can’t get what we want, so our actions are pragmatically confined to what we can actually get and make the best of.

But if you adopt the thinking of your existing lifestyle you may dent your imagination. The will to believe beyond the way society defines you is the only way to convert fantasies into reality.

Reflection is both internal and external. You can accept it in perpetuity or you can think and chip away at the things you need to be happy. The work is waiting, but only if you really want it.