Decoding Social Media’s Avant Basic Obsession

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Even avant-garde is basic now. Well, only if you consider funky prints and fluffy collars a member of that category. Due to the ever-quickening trend cycle and popularization of all things extra, fashion’s next craze has ensued: avant basic.

As with most style obsessions of the digital era, a simple cocktail of two essentials occurred to put avant basic on the map. 1. An outfit on Kendall Jenner, and 2. Trending on TikTok. After a funky green dress from House of Sunny earned a coveted feature on the model’s Instagram in July 2020, it became a social media sensation. House of Sunny was soon the face of an avant basic movement, and suddenly their artistic prints and fun silhouettes could hardly remain on the racks.

Not even runways were immune to the avant basic explosion. Supermodel favorites, Charlotte Knowles and Collina Strada, expertly incorporated the trend for an acid trip-like aesthetic. Avant basic got a much-needed edgy twist for both designers’ Spring/Summer 2021 collections, complete with doodles and colorful hair.

Fendi also rode the psychedelic wave, releasing their ‘Summer Vertigo‘ collection just in time for the heat. Collaborating with Sarah Coleman, a sought-after visual artist in New York, the luxury house infused ’70s and channeled avant basic in a bold capsule.

But where did it all begin? Origins of avant basic can be traced back to the prints that notably inspired styles we see today. Psychedelic colorways and the onset of “flower power” took over the ’60s, visible in Twiggy’s own designs for her 1967 collection and Pucci’s infamous prints throughout the decade.

Later, Bill Blass designed an early iteration of House of Sunny’s infamous fur-trimmed cardigan in 1973. Titled the “evening ensemble,” the look is a dead ringer for avant basic’s most Instagram popular piece. Additionally, Blass’ groovy “Rajah coat” from 1967 may have inspired modern fashion’s similar versions.

Of course, TikTok rapidly got ahold of the style and escalated the trend. Mixing all sorts of graphics and color palettes became an influencer addiction, spreading certain key items from labels such as Paloma Wool, Lisa Says Gah, and House of Sunny until they were sold out. Later, fast fashion giants such as Zara and ASOS released their own knockoffs of avant basic. Anyone without an orange or green cardigan during Fall 2020 was simply irrelevant.

But groovy knits are not the only elements of avant basic. As most of the fad is concentrated on loud prints, it comes as no surprise that avant basic has its own version of the classic checkerboard effect. Weaving in logomania, obviously.

And we can’t forget the design straight out of Austin Powers. Psychedelic graphics have landed themselves on just about every avant basic piece, from bucket hats to midi skirts. How long can prints like these really stay in style?

The final step to becoming a true avant basic girl is doting embellished mule sandals. Along with a branded canvas tote, all implementers of the trend must have the platform shoe to match. Better yet, in cow print.

Clearly, avant basic is a fun aesthetic. Perfect for Instagram due to its vibrancy and youthfulness, each drop releases a massive ripple of micro-trends. We’ve seen the power of overnight TikTok mania over and over, from every item of the “coconut girl” look to the obsession with crochet and Martha Calvo jewelry. But unlike ever before, the masses move onto the next trend before even wearing an item more than once. Fashion’s calendar is quickening by the day.

Although the brands who catalyst avant basic utilize sustainable manufacturing, the trend’s swift discarding of once popular-prints may be counterintuitive. ’80s-inspired prints are fun to wear a couple of times, but what happens after it becomes overdone? Unlike more understated trends, avant basic has a tendency to instantly be out of style or even worse… basic. TikTok over-saturates certain popular pieces to the point that nobody wants to be seen in it anymore. Is it possible to be avant basic without the “basic?”

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createdAt:Mon, 14 Jun 2021 14:14:20 +0000
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