Somewhere up there, the fashion gods must be having a laugh because, seriously, how else do you explain the latest Rihanna-designed sliders that look just like… our grandma’s toilet slippers? Or the Balenciaga x Ikea bag that accidentally happened.
We’re calling it: pasar malam fashion is in, and it’s mighty
To our less-informed friends, a pasar malam is also known as a night market, and the place where we get our Ramly Burger fix. In many parts of Asia, they’re also where hawkers set up shop to sell household items, imitation goods, or questionable wares that include bright, gaudy colours and cheap plastic sandals. It’s the regular hangout of any regular neighbourhood auntie or ah ma – where do you think you got those Doraemon bedsheets huh – and no judgment, we love it all.
Except, when luxury fashion houses borrow from these tropes and try to pass them off at unreasonably high prices. Slap a brand name on something, and suddenly it’s a 1,000 times its original value? Here’s a friendly reminder that this existed:
Those are actually pretty cute, we admit, but wait till you hear this. The Chanel basket bag came with a hefty US$12,500 price tag, which guarantees that you will never leave it unattended along the NTUC aisles, while the 2.55 handbag packed in a polystyrene tray sets you back US$3,600. Anya Hindmarch’s spin on your breakfast of choice? Upwards of US$1,500. Suddenly, “go for broke” makes a lot of sense.
Why is fashion having a moment with the cheap everyday object? A far more eloquent intellectual might go on about the democratization of fashion, or talk about the irony of imitation – but nah, we call bullshit. If you’re gonna borrow – heck, straight out copy – things that literally sell for 99 cents, we’re not letting you get away with it. Here, we find it appropriate to quote the Urban Dictionary-approved adage: check yo’self before your wreck yo’self.
Oh, wait too late. What ever happened to pushing boundaries, the joy of creation? Or have we become totally jaded and given up on the meaning of originality, traded it for the ‘gram and one-note “controversy”?
Honestly, even the great hoo-ha of deliberately ugly fashion’s getting old. Perhaps, it’s fitting of our time then; like an Internet meme that should but never goes away – bottle flipping was cool the first time, until it got lame, really fast. Or, should we say, it’s the fashion equivalent of Steven Lim. Ah, now you get it.
Here’s a nice sampling of all the instances fashion went too far to prove a point, or drum up unnecessary hype for themselves. Hilarious, lowbrow, or utterly offensive? You decide.
That Blanket Bag
This made the news this year, right after the previous unveiling of their tacky Thailand plastic totes, which confirms that the people at Balenciaga absolutely know what they’re up to. Basically, they went from a subtle wink to full-out creepy stalker smile. This time, they re-purposed the “classic” blanket bags you’ll find outside OG; let’s just say you won’t sleep easy knowing how much money you burned on it. Needless to say, Balenciaga’s controversial spin on the Ikea bag falls under this too, total basic B stuff right there.
High Art, or Nah?
Like all art, it’s a matter of opinion – and in our opinion, these deserve a massive eye roll. Famous art works such as Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ and Van Gogh’s ‘Wheat Fields and Cypresses’ are unceremoniously slapped onto handbags, backpacks and wallets, like the magnets at a museum souvenir shop.
Sure, there are lofty statements on how artist Koons attempts to “erase the hierarchy attached to fine art”, but remind us again how claiming art from the hyper-rich and selling it to the poor people who can only afford a measly $4,300 weekend tote is considered innovative?
The worst offenders though, have to be shoes. As if to signal the massive decline of taste – or, mm, slide – we’re here to declare that toilet slippers are in! Check out Rihanna’s Fenty PUMA jelly slides, or these Miu Miu pool slippers that you’re suddenly allowed to wear to Orchard Road, because #fashion.
Prada’s rubber sandals wouldn’t look out of place in your toilet too, thus taking granny fashion to an unprecedented level.
You know it… Crocs
If you ever need two arguing folks to agree on something, then easy, just bust out the crocs! Universally regarded the world’s ugliest shoe – perhaps something to do how it makes normally dainty feet look wide and silly – they’re now ‘upgraded’ with marble prints and rock crystals. Sorry, even high fashion models can’t save this from veering off into disaster zone.
Okay, let’s finally stop ranting and go for the fun stuff. Admittedly, these are kinda cute, and still symbolic of the home items we find at a typical bazaar, you know, that one store that sells these plastic baskets you might find near your washing machine? At least the 60s-style Sun Jellies bags don’t come at a ridiculous price tag! Only £17.50.
To be honest, we haven’t met a grandma who doesn’t own one of these exaggerated flowery tops, and we have no idea why. Fashion comes and goes, but the floral top, whether in faded pastel or bright hues, is forever here to stay. Is there some secret ah ma convention we don’t know about?
Okay fine, this auntie staple’s borrowed from a legit fashion trend itself – that is, if you’re still living in the maximalist, more-is-more 80s, not this side of the 2010s. Still, we find it sprouting up at the most unexpected of places. You might be the rare few that can spot a leopard-print top with a head full of pink rollers, but hey, here are some options that are way less offensive — honestly, we don’t mind the once-gaudy prints on these modern items, which just goes to show, you can recycle tropes into something truly inventive after all, without bordering on the atrocious.