This Vanity Fair piece from two years ago is still soooo true.
It’s about how nothing much in our style culture has changed since roughly 1990. Still true.
Go to the link to be convinced (bottom). Men’s fashion, music, movies, TV sitcoms, architecture, retail store design, cafes, hair styles… 2014 and 1994 are nearly the same. 1974 massively different. Unmistakeably.
At first you kind of want to list exceptions. Since 1990 there are totally lots of new (non-tech) looks — glass towers, selfies, beards, high waisted pants, Third Wave coffee…? Well maybe.
Actually a lot of it does feel like remixes of past ages, to the point that no recent thing feels like a “whoa that’s crazy”.
You would have thought culture was accelerating. It’s slowing down!
He has tons of great examples. Gaga is just Madonna, Apple Stores are just Gap Stores.
The cool idea at the core of it is why. The world’s culture platform has changed. Style used to be produced artisinally. Now thanks to globalization, retail supply chainification, automated production and global marketing — you can’t change the worlds fashion every three months. The global supply chain has too much platforming and standardization to contend with. So things look the same.
Now that multi-billion-dollar enterprises have become style businesses and style businesses have become multi-billion-dollar enterprises, a massive damper has been placed on the general impetus for innovation and change
The iPhone never looks that different from year to year. The Apple stores literally do not change, since 2001 when the first one was modeled on the fresh 1990s look of Gap.
And nothing else is really changing either.
Until, that is, the platforming is complete and style itself can go as crazy as the App Store or T-shirt or Sneaker designs or YouTube videos.