One Direction vs East 17: A Case Study In Fashion

   For those who lived through the nineties at a sentient age, many a terrifying sight was witnessed particularly in the field of fashion. Whilst we now live through something of a golden age of men's street wear, it is easy to take for granted just how well dressed some of our current pop-stars are and, in my books, none are more refined and dapper than, perhaps the world's most popular band, One Direction. Suave, debonair, stylish and cool, for those who have not lived through less enlightened times it is easy to imagine that this is the look that all pop bands, those who aspire to become iconic and loved, should hope to aim for. Yet, cast your mind back to the nineties and this was not always the case.

   I have stated before, and I will state again until this notion is accepted as common wisdom, that the nineties were the worst dressed decade in the entirety of civilisation or, indeed, pre-civilised, pre-evolved humanity. I do not think it is hubristic to say that I know with certainty that their were Neanderthals who, without the benefit of the high street, or anything more technologically advanced than stones to bash walrus's faces in and knives to remove their fur, managed to dress better, and aesthetically more pleasing, than 90% of humanity in the nineties.

   The nineties, lest we forget (and we should always make a point of remembering, like we do with great tragedies, to make sure we do not repeat the same mistakes of our forefathers), was the decade which brought wet-look gel to the forefront, the era in which man thought it was okay to lather goo into hair so short that no product was at all necessary; it was an act of such obvious waste it almost became an exercise in performance art meditating on the wastefulness of resources in a capitalist society. If Francis Fukuyama declared "the end of history" then wet look gel was a sign that the bad guys had won.

    Aside from strange choices of hair stylings, the nineties also brought the Spice Girls endorsed platform sneakers for women (shoes which are neither great for sporting purposes, comfort or aesthetics and thus emphasising the negatives rather than the positives of the two styles it hybridised. In a lot of ways they made a bigger statement about  the society which gestated them than the products of the vacuous artists who came to prominence of this age including Damien Hirst, Banksy and Tracey Emin).

   The men, however, had it much worse - the 90s emphasised the more ridiculous aspects of hip-hop dressing and asked men to team them with "sports-casual" clothing. ("Sports-casual" is probably the least common sense hybrid of clothing ever - "sports" clothes should be used for physical activity, "casual" clothing for the exact opposite action of inert inactivity). At the forefront of this style was the cartoon buffoons E17 (née East 17) who represented everything that was bad about 90s fashion. Unlike their aforementioned Neanderthal ancestors, none of East 17's clothes made sense on a practical level and the site of a cut open seal carcass from which the lining has been removed, leaving entrails of guts and blood haphazardly splashed around in a morose mess is, surely more fun to look at than the precarious hat balancing antics of Brian Harvey et al.

   Compare and contrast this with the tailored, smart ensembles sported by the likes of Bradford's finest Zayn and his One Direction buddies and their really is not much competition at all. In studying the two choices of clothes we can use the two contrasting styles of fashion as exhibit one for my thesis that we're currently in the midst of a golden era of men's clothing having, collectively as a race, clawed ourselves out of the cess-pit nadir of the nineties. Hopefully, an old thesis that style is cyclical, will be proved to be wrong.


  1. 90s were not kind to boybands haha

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  2. OMG i couldn't agree more!

    I loved and lived through the 90's and embraced the whole spice girl/Jennifer Aniston age and rock it well, so i thought....looking back....not so much! Yes men had it worse than women, the whole hip hop/rap era came and totally dominated, but when you think of it what where your choices, Hip hop style or belly top (Mark Owen), waits coats (Boyzone). you are right there was no winning, so i hope you embraced it and rocked it.

    ramble over, love your blog and i'm now your new stalker!


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