The History of Leather Part 30 – 21st Century

Posted on 02/02/15

Livinin that 21st century, doing something mean to it (2000-present)

We’ve barely scratched the surface of the 21st century. We’ve hardly had time to catch our breath after the rapid-fire succession of radically different fashion trends in the latter 40-50 years of the previous century. So far, in terms of fashion, all we’ve been able to collectively muster is a greatest hits of decades gone by.

The beginning of the century was an elaborate 1990s hangover, fashion-wise. The Spears and Aguileras of the music world still held tremendous sway, and the former hadn’t had her very public meltdown just yet. As such, we were still seeing young women sporting low-top trainers, knee-high boots, hot pants, sweat pants, flip-flops and crop tops. A veritable Spice Girls wardrobe, really, though good sense prevailed and tossed the platform shoes to one side.

As we got more into our stride, the first divisive fashion trend emerged – the now-prevalent skinny jean. Part of 2005 and 2006’s 1960s revival, alongside aviator shades, “vintage” clothing and small leather handbags, skinny jeans caught on and endured far beyond what was expected.

The other divisive fashion trend of 2005-6 wasn’t so lucky – the Croc. Promoting more vicious, sneering vitriol than genuine societal issues in today’s court of public opinion, we are quick to forget that Crocs were a legitimate craze at one point. Sure, it was one summer in one year, but it was a craze nonetheless.

The 1960s revival was quickly followed by a punk revival, bringing studded leather jackets back with a bang, alongside acid washes, animal prints, denim-print jeggings and the brightest neon shades. Funnily enough, the look only went mainstream two years later in 2008 with the advent of rave and new wave-inspired indie pop. At the same time, the 1950s look made its grand return – Perfectos, rolled sleeves and all.

It wasn’t many Earthly rotations and axial pivots before the noughties gave way to the teenies. In perhaps the most immediate of revivals, the 1990s made a surprising comeback, bringing with it grunge’s anti-fashion. At the same time, 2010-2012, the teenies so early that they aren’t even teens yet, saw perhaps the first revival revival, with rave fashion making yet another comeback.

The only truly new trend we’ve seen so far has been a dark, monochrome, almost gothic aesthetic, drawn up by designers such as Riccardo Tisco and Rick Owens, and popularised by hip hop heavyweights like Kanye West, A$AP Rocky and Pusha T. Here Jay Z’s vision of “all black everything” finally came to fruition, bringing black boots, leather jackets and drop-crotch trousers, and marrying them with monochrome sports jerseys and the occasional floral print.

As for the future, we’ll only know what the fashion future holds with the days, weeks, months and years to come. Will we see the high trousers of Jonze’s “Her”, the flowing leather and designer shades “Matrix” look, the illuminated bodysuits of “Tron”? Well, we don’t know yet, but it’s going to be one hell of a ride finding out.

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