While everyone was focusing on the so called rise of “quiet luxury” followed by its younger sibling prep style, a third trend has been slowly but surely making its way onto runways and style pages: blue collar style.
In the two years that Jeremy Allen White has been appearing as highly strung chef Carmy Berzatto in the hit series The Bear, menswear has been adapting – subconsciously, maybe, but I highly doubt it – back to fashion as it exists on street level in cities and suburbs. We saw a glimpse of this when the world became fascinated by the presence of a simple silver chain worn Paul Mescal in Normal People. It wasn’t a particularly unique piece of jewellery – it was just so familiar and present.
This isn’t the first time a hit TV series has driven the agenda on style either. Mad Men sent men scarpering to their nearest tailors or suit suppliers and perfecting the art of martinis. Suits had us demanding Tom Ford and single malt.
To tease out the family joke, blue collar is quiet luxury and prep’s less pretentious and far more fun cousin. The one that turns up with a roadie and the kids love. And you can tell that they’re all related because there’s familiar looks that appear in all three genetic threads: simplicity, lack of branding, comfort.
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What sets this blue collar uprising apart is its uniformity. It’s literally an everyday wardrobe that requires little to no thought in preparation. What it does is promise a clean, easy going look that doesn’t get lost in the details. It’s real, relatable and for the most part genuinely attainable rather than aspirational. This was also the look that made Brando famous in The Wild One. James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause.
That hasn’t stopped some of the most powerful brands incorporating its codes into their collections. Last year, Bottega Veneta began rolling out flannies, denim and vests – something you’d see worn by people in their backyards on weekends – in their collections. Only these were entirely made of leather.
And then there’s the OG working class brands like Carhartt and Dickies, which were spotted in the front row’s of the most recent fashion weeks while brands actually worn by White while in character as Carmy have been inundated by sales: German brand Merz b. Schwanen and Velva Sheen.
But it’s rise is due to more than just a TV show, no matter how brilliant. The mood, or vibe shirt, is becoming increasingly less lavish. Displays of wealth – stealth or otherwise – are almost now an admission to being part of the system. Call it billionaire fatigue: the capitalist promise of extreme wealth is slowly dying and with it the trends that accompanied the dream.
In a bizarre twist, the current strikes that are currently taking place across the US and Europe have inadvertently become an insight into the real-life style of actors. Including White, who took the streets with fellow actors and writers in a simple grey singlet and washed out blue jeans.
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The beauty of the blue collar approach to style is, now matter how much it’s written about or repurposed by luxury labels, it can never truly be appropriated. Purely because it’s so every day. So cheers to the working man’s wardrobe.