Posts tagged with "The Guardian"

Hawaiian shirts are returning—but ‘people want to think twice,’ says expert

April 13, 2021

The return of the Hawaiian shirt has been celebrated in the style press, as celebrities—among them, Bill Murray, Rihanna, and Sophie Turner—have been sporting them recently, The Guardian reports.

But according to Zara Anishanslin, a fellow at the Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University, people should think twice before wearing the traditional islander garments.

“They are the fashion equivalent of a plantation wedding,” Anishanslin told The Guardian, adding,  “They could be seen as fashionable embodiments of the history of American colonization, imperialism and racism against Hawaii’s indigenous inhabitants. People might want to think twice about whether the look is worth the weight of its associative past.”

What’s more, Hawaiian shirts have also been co-opted by the “Boogaloo” movement—white supremacists who advocate war against the federal government.

Initially made from leftover cloth intended for kimonos, the shirts were popularized by American veterans of the second world war. Soon Japanese motifs were replaced by Hawaiian ones and a cultural touchstone was born.

About five years ago, Hawaiian shirts became part of the “dadcore” trend. Then the “Boogaloo” movement chose to combine them with camouflage trousers, body armor and weapons.

“It might not be an aesthetically pleasing combination but it’s a smart one, in terms of picking out your fellow members of the group in the crowd,” Anishanslin said.

Last year, Reece Jones of the University of Hawaii wrote about how the brightly colored shirts came to represent something much darker.

“I know this seems like a joke and easy to dismiss,” he wrote, “but that is part of [the Boogaloo Bois’] strategy, to lure in young men and downplay what they are talking about. It is deadly serious. These men are preparing for a civil war.”

Anishanslin thinks the fashion industry needs to think about how such shirts have been co-opted.

“I do think fashion houses and individual designers and sellers should speak out about people using fashion for politics that encourage violence or racism,” she said.

Anishanslin also believes celebrities such as Cara Delevigne and Justin Bieber who have recently worn Hawaiian shirts have a chance to help to reclaim them.

“Why not design Hawaiian shirts that use anti-gun, anti-racist, pro-peace iconography and slogans?” she said. “Why not, perhaps importantly, hire indigenous designers to create them?”

Research contact: @guardian

Return of the ‘dad-bod’: Survey finds 75% prefer a softer male body type

March 30, 2021

Do most women prefer a man with muscles, or one with a few “soft spots”—including one for them?

Some 75% of respondents to a survey conducted by Dating.com said that they preferred the soft and round male body type to a more toned torso, The Guardian reports.

The term “dad bod” was first popularized in the mid-2010’s to harshly critique the beach bodies of actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Chris Pratt , as well as  non-traditional Hollywood shapes of actors such as Jason Segel and Seth Rogan. The term never quite fell out of favor: Last year Zac Efron was body shamed online for lacking a “cut” physique.

The Dating.com survey—conducted among 2,000 respondents—found that 20% of participants claimed that bod shape did not matter at all when it came to finding a partner. It also found that only 15% liked a “Barbie or Ken-like body type.”

“Very fit and in-shape bodies are seen as ideal when it comes to attracting a partner, however the users of Dating.com just proved that isn’t always the case when it comes to real-life romances,” Maria Sullivan, vice-president of the dating website, told The Guardian. “Movies and TV shows tend to promote ‘Barbie and Ken’ body types—giving people the idea they need to look similar in order to find their match. We are happy to confirm that is not how the real world world really operates.”

In March, the newly slim actor Jonah Hill spoke out on Instagram about how it felt to have his beach body discussed in the media.

“I don’t think I ever took my shirt off in a pool until I was in my mid-30s,” he wrote, “[It] probably would have happened sooner if my childhood insecurities weren’t exacerbated by years of public mockery about my body by press and interviewers.”

Body diversity has been a hot topic in fashion. Last year, Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty featured its first plus-size male model, Steven G, US size 2XL, modeling boxer briefs. “Big men, just like women, are hardly represented,” he told The Guardian.

But the picture in the fashion industry remains mixed. The women’s spring and summer fashion shows last year featured historic plus-size firsts. Versace featured three plus size models, Precious Lee, Jill Kortleve and Alva Claire, for the first time. Meanwhile, Paloma Elsesser was Salvatore Ferragamo’s first curvy model.

But, according to a report from The Fashion Spot, body diversity representation was actually down overall during the shows. There were only 19 plus size models on the catwalks, compared to 34 during the last autumn and winter 2020 season.

Research contact: @guardian

What’s the skinny? Gen Z says boyfriend jeans are in; tight jeans are out

Febraury 16, 2021

A generational war has been playing out on TikTok for some time, although anyone over the age of 24 might be oblivious to the millions of “Millennial vs. Gen Z” videos that have appeared on the social media site in the past year, The Guardian reports.

But now the kids—also known as Zoomers—have turned their sights on something that Millennials apparently hold close—maybe too close: skinny jeans.

In scenes reminiscent of the OK Boomer meme that divided the generations in 2019, the videos are shining a light on how those in Generation Z—broadly defined as anyone born between the mid-90s and 2010—identify themselves in contrast with the generation(s) that came before them.

Since January, there have been 274,000 videos tagged “no skinny jeans” on TikTok and 8.3 million millennial v Gen Z videos. Earlier in the month the male supermodel Luka Sabbat told Esquire: “Skinny jeans don’t look as flattering nowadays.”

Indeed, a video made by TikTok user @momohkd instructs her 410,000 viewers to throw their skinny jeans away, set them alight, or cut them into something new. Like other users she says Millennials should stop wearing them to look youngerthe Guardian notes.

Skinny jeans became mainstream in 2005 after featuring in the Dior Homme autumn/winter collection, as overseen by Hedi Slimane. The size of the jeans—27 inches—was considered tiny—especially in contrast to the price tag: about £200 (US$238).

“Slimane’s skinny jeans were significant for their cut, but also for the bodies he showed them on —incredibly skinny bodies, both of male and female models,” says Emma McClendon, the author of Denim: Fashion’s Frontier. “This changed the marketing and styling of jeans advertisements away from the more sensual look that had dominated the market for bootcut, low-rise jeans to a more androgynous and impossibly thin figure.”

The skinny jean became part of the 2000s boho look of It-girls such as Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Nicole Richie (as styled by Rachel Zoe); as well as a part of the alternative rock boom of the era, as seen on bands including the Strokes and Razorlight.

But, the Guardian reports, they never really went away: FLOTUS Jill Biden recently wore a pair on Instagram and they also became a distinguishing feature on the four lads in jeans meme.

What’s changing? There has been an increased focus on body inclusivity in fashion in recent years. In September Versace cast three plus-size models for the first time, and the plus-size model Paloma Elsesser was on the cover of U.S. Vogue in January..

On TikTok, Gen Z users have advocated for baggy jeans instead of slim-fit—eschewing the prescribed idea that thinness is attainable. According to market research company Edited, sales of men’s relaxed-fit jeans have increased by 15% and women’s wide-legged jeans are up 97%. The skinny v baggy online debate not only exposes a generational divide but other socioeconomic truths, too. “This is about issues of ‘taste’ but they intersect with issues of class, age, location, gender,” says McClendon.

The skinny jean, however, may prove hard to get rid of. Last month, Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh told investors he did not “think skinny jeans are ever going away on the women’s side of the business”, despite a clear trend towards “casual, looser-fitting clothes in general”, according to Business Insider.

McClendon added that they “always have a way of bouncing back. They are an extremely versatile and adaptable garment that carry such a multitude of cultural meanings that they will never be irrelevant.”

 Research contact: @guardian

‘Human Etch a Sketch’: GPS art and ‘burbing’

January 19, 2021

As Henry David Thoreau once wrote: “This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” Now, more than 150 years later, a new generation of artists is proving that Thoreau’s words were remarkably prescient. They are tracing their own movements via GPS over the ‘canvas’ of entire cities and regions in order to create sketches, The Guardian reports.

That’s what Strava art is at its core. Named after the fitness tracking app that has previously helped reveal secret US military bases—and also referred to as GPS art or GPXthis medium allows you to “use your movements as the paint” and “a city block as your brush stroke.” Think of them as 21st century digital geoglyphs.

 Michael Wallace, also known as WallyGPX, is one of the more prolific Strava artists online. The high school teacher from Baltimore, Maryland, has completed more than 700 pieces across his city—ranging from a map of the world, to a scene from the game Donkey Kong, to multiple tributes to the late Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia.

“I like to consider what I do is more like being a human etch-a-sketch,” he recently told The Guardian. “While I’m out there pedaling around the city, I’m sort of creating this imaginary digital spray paint behind me.”

Wallace’s artistic career began in 2009 after the proliferation of GPS technology in smartphones. His approach to planning is simple: Using a printed map and a pencil, he allows the streets and city parks to guide his lines and curves. He then jumps on a mountain bike and works his way around the path, likening it to tricking himself into exercising.

The artwork, itself, dictates the length of the ride. His largest piece required 44.7 miles (72km) of cycling as he took all day spinning a spider web across his city.

“I’ve never really cared about how fast I’m going,” Wallace says. “Like on Strava, everyone’s sort of obsessed with pace. For me it’s about where I am.”

An alternative approach to Strava art has also grown in popularity during the coronavirus outbreak. “Burbing” takes the same concept, but rather than sketching an image, you cover every street in a suburb.

It began as an alternative to Everesting —in which you ride the equivalent of the elevation of Mount Everest (for example, when two friends crisscrossed the roads of their respective Melbourne suburbs). It has since grown in popularity as the city went into strict COVID-19 lockdown with movements heavily restricted.

“Riding your suburb has a certain attraction,” Cameron James, one of Burbing’s founding fathers, told The Guardian. “You discover different places, different houses and areas you’d never have the occasion to go down.”

“There are some people who get a little bit anxious about missing a certain road or a couple of streets and feeling like they haven’t done the activity,” James says. “But at the end of the day, it’s about going out there, having fun and enjoying the experience.”

Research contact: @guardian

Why pink is the ‘statement-making’ hair color trend of the pandemic

January 13, 2021

In a time of pandemic, many celebrities are going out of their way to show that they are “in the pink.” Just last weekend, Chrissy Teigen unveiled a pink-purple do, while Jennifer Lopez’s stylist showed the actor and singer sporting a similar shade just before Christmas.

Variants of the color have dominated 2020’s biggest pop culture moments, and that looks set to carry on in 2021, reports The Guardian.

Justin Bieber went pink for his Yummy video in January, while Lady Gaga went pink in February for her Stupid Love video. And others such as Dua LipaMadonna and comedian Whitney Cummings dyed their hair rose, fuchsia, and bubblegum.

 “In the past year, we’ve sold one pink hair product every 30 seconds,” Alex Brownsell, co-founder and creative director of hair company Bleach, told The Guardian, adding, “which is a 50% increase from the previous year.”

There’s no doubt pink translates well on social. “As beauty influencers and consumers, we tend to lean towards things that are eye-catching and statement-making,” Los Angeles-based celebrity hair stylist DaRico Jackson told the news outlet. “Not only does pink pop on your page, but it matches up on all sides.”

Despite the apparent extremity of choosing the shade as a hair color, it is not an allegiance that needs to last forever. “It’s a low-commitment color that fades or washes out when you get bored of it,” commented Rachael Gibson, editor of the Hair Historian on Instagram.

She added the obvious:  “Pink is a very joyful, positive color, which is frankly what we all need.”.

Research contact: @guardian

Tree of the week: ‘Like the haunted figure in Munch’s The Scream, he reflects our times’

December 15, 2020

Some people look at clouds—and see angels, hearts, dogs, and faces. Others recognize familiar faces and limbs in the tangle of branches and dark hollows of a nearby sapling.

 “Most days,” says Julie Reid, a contributor to The Guardian, “I walk or run through the National Trust’s Hughenden Estate, near High Wycombe [outside greater London]. This was the home of 19th-century Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, who had a passion for trees and planted specimens from all over the world in these grounds.”

At the high point of a hill that leads to the manor house gates, alongside the mature horse chestnuts and newly planted oaks, Reid writes in The Guardian, she greets, “my stricken friend: the scream tree, who reminds me of the haunted figure in Edvard Munch’s 1893 painting The Scream. I am always pleased to see him but, at the same time, he gives me a jolt.”

Stark and naked in the cold of winter, stripped of his leaves, the tree reaches out with his fragile left-sided limbs,” Reid says. “He seems to reflect these terrifying times with his expression of anguish and astonishment that things could ever have come to this.

When he is dressed for summer, his leaves barely soften his apparent torment, but give him an eccentric twist, as if he has had a new jaunty hairstyle, and put on his finest clothes and his bravest face for the world.

“This is an old sycamore tree, planted around 1800 and left as a veteran stump on the edge of the old carriage drive,” the Hughenden estate’s countryside manager, Neil Harris, told the news outlet recently. “Queen Victoria would have looked at that tree as she trundled past when she visited Disraeli.”

The scream tree in his prime must have been a majestic sight, towering above the landscape, Reid thinks. Now, in his declining years, he is a character—a community elder, a fellow sufferer.

His appearance may change with the seasons, but his message doesn’t. “To me, he is a constant reminder of the internal, hidden pain of others, of the need to be kind and compassionate,” Reid says. “But there is something else. From his lofty vantage point, is he also looking down and outward, shocked at the state of the world? Pointing. Pleading with us to do something.”

Research contact: @guardian

Go with the Flowbee: George Clooney reveals how he cuts his hair

December 11, 2020

With salons largely closed, male grooming has been in freefall since the start of the spring lockdown—and DIY haircuts have proven less-than-successful for many who no longer cut a dashing profile.

However, one Hollywood star has shown that—even in a global pandemic and, in fact, even before that—bad hair is not the great equalizer we hoped it would be, The Guardian reports.

George Clooney, the 59-year-old actor and human rights activist, has admitted to successfully cutting his own hair at home using a device called a Flowbee—an electrically powered vacuum cleaner attachment for cutting hair that has been on the market since 1988,

“My hair’s really like straw, so it’s easy,” Clooney recently told CBS Sunday Morning.

According to Clooney—twice voted People magazine’s sexiest man alive—the $139.95 (£103) contraption is so reliable that he has been using it for more than 22 years—and not simply during 2020. “My haircuts take literally two minutes,” he said, adding that its speed and efficiency had afforded him time to stain the garage doors, mop the floors and do much of the family’s washing during lockdown in their Los Angeles home.

The Flowbee was a defining product of the 1980s infomercial boom in the US. It was designed in 1988 by Rick Hunts, a San Diego carpenter who was moved to invent the product after using his industrial vacuum cleaner to suck sawdust out of his hair. Hunts initially created and sold the gadget from his garage. But it was live demonstrations at a local county fair that edged him towards success, before global fame soon beckoned him, in the form of late-night TV demonstrations. By 2010, more than 2 million Americans had bought one.

But times have changed and, more recently, the product has needed a “spokesperson” like Clooney to remind Americans that it still exists: Google searches for Flowbee took off following Clooney’s weekend admission and the Flowbee website itself crashed, The Guardian reports.

But while his endorsement will no doubt lend invaluable celebrity cachet to the brand’s image, largely unchanged since the 1980s, the Clooney effect is not in fact wholly responsible for the product’s recent success: The lack of personal services during the pandemic and the sharp increase in bad hair days are two major factors.

As early as mid-March, the Flowbee had sold out on Walmart’s website and on Amazon. It is not available in the UK, according to Fortune magazine; and  Amazon says it doesn’t know when the item will be back in stock.

Research contact: @guardian

Helicopter pilot finds mysterious monolith in remote part of Utah

November 25, 2020

He swears he wasn’t “woolgathering” when he first spotted it: A state employee assigned to count sheep from a helicopter has discovered a mysterious monolith in a remote part of Utah, The Guardian reports.

The structure, estimated at between 10 feet and 12 feet high, appeared to be planted in the ground. It was made from some sort of metal—its shine in sharp contrast to the enormous red rocks that surrounded it.

Utah’s highway patrol shared images of both the sheep and the monolith.

The helicopter pilot, Bret Hutchings, told local news channel KSLTV: “That’s been about the strangest thing that I’ve come across out there in all my years of flying.”

Hutchings was flying for the Utah Department of Public Safety, which was helping wildlife resource officers count bighorn sheep in the south of the state.

“One of the biologists is the one who spotted it and we just happened to fly directly over the top of it,” Hutchings said. “He was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, turn around, turn around!’ And I was like, ‘What?’ And he’s like, ‘There’s this thing back there. We’ve got to go look at it!’”

Hutchings said the object looked manmade and appeared to have been firmly planted in the ground, not dropped from the sky.

“I’m assuming it’s some new wave artist or something or, you know, somebody that was a big 2001: A Space Odyssey fan,” Hutchings said.

The monolith and its setting resembled a famous scene from Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film, in which a group of apes encounter a giant slab.

The somewhat monkey-like behavior of two crew members, dressed in sci-fi costume-like overalls, who found themselves compelled to climbed onto each other’s shoulders in an apparent effort to see over the top of the rectangular cuboid, only added to the impression, The Guardian notes.

“We were kind of joking around that if one of us suddenly disappears, then the rest of us make a run for it,” Hutchings said.

Bighorn sheep live in some of Utah’s most rugged and remote areas and survive in hostile climate conditions. Fearing amateur explorers might get stuck in the wilderness while seeking out the monolith, the flight crew have not revealed its exact location.

Research contact: @guardian

Faint praise: How ‘flattering’ became fashion’s ultimate F-word

August 14, 2020

Faint praise: How ‘flattering’ became fashion’s ultimate F-word If you asked someone how your outfit looked, and they said, “Fine,” how would you feel? Not so great? But what if he or she looked you up and down and said, “Flattering”?

‘I’ve got loads of dresses that I bought because someone in the changing room told me they were flattering,” Billie Bhatia, the Fashion Features editor at Stylist magazine, recently told The Guardian in an interview. “In that moment, I feel lifted. My insecurities about my body are erased.”

But Bhatia, 30, has been having second thoughts about the word. “Occasionally, it means a great color that makes your skin glow, but most of the time ‘flattering’ is just a byword for ‘slimming’,” she said “If someone delivered the same compliment, but substituted the word ‘slimming’ for ‘flattering’, would you think that was an OK way to talk to a woman? No, right? Everyone likes to hear a compliment. But ‘flattering’ is a dangerous word.”

In 2017, the perfect pair of jeans was “on-trend”. In 2018, it was “fierce”; last year it was “extra”. Right now, it is “dripping”. In fashion, every season comes with a new form of shorthand. But one compliment—“flattering”—has outlived them all, selling more jeans, more party dresses, and more swimsuits than any other word.

“Flattering” is fashion clickbait, an add-to-basket dog whistle. Except when it’s not: For Generation Z—roughly speaking, those born between 1995 and 2010 –“flattering” is becoming a new F-word.

To compliment a woman on her “flattering” dress is passive-aggressive body-policing, sneaked into our consciousness in a Trojan horse of sisterly helpfulness, The Guardian notes.  It is a euphemism for fat-shaming, a sniper attack slyly targeting our hidden vulnerabilities. “Flattering”, in other words, is cancelled.

The British model Charli Howard, 29, has been a force for change in the fashion industry since 2015, when an angry Facebook post she wrote about her then-agency saying she was too big – she was a UK size 10/12 – went viral. “The issue with the word ‘flattering’,” says Howard, now an activist for model diversity and healthy body-image, “is that we instantly associate it with looking thin and therefore looking ‘better’. It suggests your tummy looks flatter or that your waist looks smaller. I find it’s a phrase older generations use. Girls I speak to from generation Z tend not to use it. Those girls see a diversity on social media that older generations didn’t. Celebrating your flaws is considered cool these days.”

“Magazines that I grew up with never went an issue without a ‘how to fix your body issues’ article,” Emma Davidson, 33, the Fashion Features editor at Dazed Digital, told The Guardian. “It was either about how to look slimmer or about ‘adding curves to a boyish body’. The message was that whatever you looked like, it wasn’t good enough.”

Until recently, Davidson said, “there were lots of things I didn’t wear because I thought I was ‘too big’. In the last few years, I’ve begun to accept and celebrate myself. The word ‘flattering’ is part of how fashion tells women that they are taking up too much space in the world. That’s just wrong on so many levels.”

It would be cheering to report that the word “flattering” is, therefore, being retired from active duty; phased out as society casts aside the cult of skinniness and learns to celebrate beauty in diverse shapes and sizes. The truth, sadly, is rather more complicated. With a few laudable exceptions – Eckhaus Latta’s all-sizes casting at New York Fashion Week, Vogue covers for plus-size models Ashley Graham and Paloma Elsesser—fashion’s bodily ideal remains stubbornly narrow. The pantheon of supermodels has yet to admit any woman over a size 8.

Kendall Jenner, Kaia Gerber and Bella Hadid—the most high-profile models of the moment—are as thin as or thinner than any era of cover girls before them. Every designer, every fashion retailer and every changing-room assistant will tell you that women always start with shape when shopping for clothes. “Flattering” is very much alive, and selling clothes.

What’s more, some women are protective of “flattering” as a practical shopping aid, a friendly word rather than a toxic one. “Flattering” can describe clothes that feel like they have been made with the real female body in mind, rather than clothes that have been conceived to promote an abstract concept of design, or a trend.

At the British label Me+Em, Clare Hornby, 51, and her female-led design team are proud to give their customers flattering clothes, The Guardian notes. “We listen to our customers first and then create a functional yet chic offering that speaks to their needs, rather than us telling them what they should be wearing simply because it’s ‘on-trend’,” says Hornby.

“A perfect example is our zip-front necklines: a lot of customers with larger bust sizes commented that they avoided button-up designs, so we came up with an alternative that means you can choose your own neckline – catering to lots of different shapes – but that also adds a contemporary, sports-luxe feel that speaks to our aesthetic. Turn-up cuffs on trousers and jackets, adjustable draw-cord waists, removable belts – all these intelligent design details are important, because there is no one cookie-cutter body shape.”

So, it seems that the disquiet around the word, “flattering,” isn’t about pretending that our body hang-ups have gone away, but about a rising consciousness of where those hang-ups come from. “Insecurities don’t just go away overnight,” says Davidson. “I have had a lot of unlearning to do.”

Research contact: @GuardianUS

Everything old is new again: Why young men are dressing old school

June 25, 2020

First it was Peaky Blinders; then, Harry Styles. Now ,flat caps, tailoring, and tank tops are back in fashion for a new generation, The Guardian reports. In fact, in the world of fashion, it is grandfathers who are having their day.

The grandpa look extends to all the usual items you might associate with the older man: jeans, collar shirts and cardigans, tank tops, and loafers. But this time they have been styled for a new generation.

Leaning heavily on the flat capped-influence of the TV show, Peaky Blinders, the look is something that’s been taken up by the spawn of celebrities (Brooklyn Beckham and Rocco Ritchie); as well as actors like Chris Evans (he made a cable knit sweater go viral in the filmKnives Out) and Armie Hammer.

Singer Harry Styles has carved out a niche in bespoke Gucci outfits. Indeed, as Esquire puts it: “Harry Styles is dressed like the man your grandma secretly obsessed over.”

During the menswear shows early in the year, the streets resembled a ballroom dance class for the over 65s: They were full of chic male fashionistas wearing more mules than trainers; more houndstooth coats than Puffas; and double breasted blazers instead of parkas, the Guardian notes.

A buttoned up, grandad-style of tailoring continued at the shows of Prada, Dior Men’s and Louis Vuitton, while the show from Bode  had a definite vaudeville septuagenarian air about it.

Indeed, according to The Guardian, the “set” was a community garden project (read: “cool allotment”), the collection featured a suit which looked like a pair of pyjamas, there were neckerchiefs, crocheted jackets, scarves with marbles attached, gardening gloves, and lots of animal-associated items (a bag shaped like a fish, sheep patterns, cow print). The brand promote an idea of nostalgia, repurposing quilts from the Victorian era.

Lovers Rock, a collection from Grace Wales Bonner, featured flat caps, roll necks and fleece jackets that were influenced by the older generation. “It’s a reflection of my family on my father’s side,” she said. “My grandad came from Jamaica in the 1950s.”

“It’s about retreating into a wardrobe that won’t be recognizable to anyone under 25,” says Esquire’s Digital Style Editor Murray Clark. “Wide pleated trousers of the thirties, … sweater vests, and so on. It’s not new per se, but to Gen Z, this is new, and a stitch beyond their cultural reference points.”

Research contact: @guardian