In what is now an annual tradition, I spent the past few weeks trying to recall all the bizarre clothes I’ve encountered in the preceding 11 months. There was a lot, a lot, to sift through. In the past decade or so, clothing and footwear brands have recognized that generating conversation (particularly online) by creating something outlandish often serves their purposes better than creating something beautiful. As Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele said in a recent “60 Minutes” segment, “I like the ugly things.”
The trick here? Ugly sells, especially when it’s buzzy. On Gucci’s website a $1,250 sweatshirt with a freakish fanged creature printed on it is nearly sold out. As are ungainly $620 heeled espadrilles covered in ostentatious Gucci print. Other brands are finding clothes that land somewhere between playfully perplexing and genuinely off-putting just as bankable. Adidas’s Yeezy Foam RNNR, a sneaker that looks like a smushed, perforated turtle shell, has sold out and is now listed at more than double its $80 sticker price on resale sites like StockX. At the higher end, the boutiquey brand ERL is selling out of its $865 puffers with a Peter Max-esque shock of colors.