Fashion gets the joke and turns it into profit
The word meme was coined by British biologist Richard Dawkins in 1976 to mean an imitated thing. Today, it denotes the humorous images or GIFS that have become common currency on social media.
Memes quickly became part of the lexicon of a generation that spends 34.3 hours a week on the internet and fashion, never one to miss a bandwagon, wants a slice of the pie.
Last year, Gucci released their #TFWGucci campaign, featuring popular slogans ‘I’m not like the other girls’ and ‘When all your friends are getting engaged and you’re in a committed relationship with your Gucci watch’. The ads were brought to life by meme-makers @williamcult and @beigecardigan and though the hashtag only got about 1,000 posts (because they weren’t particularly funny) it was a good effort to engage with millennials.
Going viral can be more effective than the most exhaustive publicity campaign and while still behind bars on 11 felony charges, Jeremy Meeks or the ‘hot felon’ scored a $30,000 modelling contract after his mugshot went viral in 2014. This coup enabled him to bag Topshop heiress Chloe Green. For Jeremy Meeks, going viral meant a life he could only have dreamt of was now within his grasp.
Memes aren’t just influencing marketing campaigns but the way designers actually design too. After Balenciaga launched their triple S trainers, the ugliest trainer alive competition ensued with both Louis Vuitton and Dsquared² throwing their hat (well, shoe) into the ring and releasing increasingly more ridiculous trainers – all of which sold well.
So, in order to dissect its impact on fashion, SKIP Dinner has compiled a list of the top 10 most memeable garments in history.
LET ME SEE THAT THONG
Back when the internet was but a spring chicken, Tom Ford sent men's thongs down the Gucci SS97 runway. Had it happened in 2019, it would definitely have spawned many a ‘How close I am to losing my shit’ style meme.
GO FUCK YOURSELF
Viktor and Rolf’s 2019 meme-inspired couture show was appropriately named ‘Fashion Statements’. The collection featured slogans the meme generation are well versed in, including ‘I Am My Own Muse, ‘Go Fuck Yourself’ and a V&R favourite – ‘NO’.
17 looks were well received by the fashion press and photoshopped spin-offs included Lady Gaga quote ‘There can be 100 people in a room...' and Mariah Carey's infamous 'I don't know her'.
Edwin Mahoney’s 2018 graduate collection took on a life of its own after making a splash online. A year later and new memes are still popping up from all four corners of the Internet.
BAG OR BAGGIE
Jacquemus is very big on playing with proportion - in fact his SS19 show invites were barely big enough to fit a gram of coke in. Memes included 'how many fucks I give' and 'When you say you carry no emotional baggage'.
OFF WITH HER HEAD
Alessandro Michele, whose kitchen sink approach to design leaves no trend unbastardised, sent SFX severed heads and dragons down the runway for his AW18 Gucci show.
Jeremy Scott may have reduced Moschino to little more than a gag on a T-shirt but his designs can be very effective for the avid meme-maker. Simple slogans like 'I'm a mess' and 'SALE' may seem uninspired but are actually very effective at stopping those endlessly swiping fingers.
For his AW15 show, Rick Owens sent a handful of penises down the runway in an otherwise very banal collection. The fashion press claimed the designer was 'questioning why penises were ugly' but they were definitely over-intellectualising it - nudity is the OG clickbait.
Y Project resuscitated the Ugg boot, a highly polarised item of footwear, for their AW18 show. The gag was simple: a heel.
You wouldn't have to work in fashion (or gardening) to clock Gucci’s post-it yellow rubber builders bucket. The item was compared by Instagram users to a long list of items including a laundry basket and shower organisers. However, the greatest uproar came in regards to its price tag - £675.
MET GALA GREGGS
Rihanna’s 2016 Met Gala look by Guo Pei set the internet on fire for months as photoshopping wizards delighted in turning the XXL train into a variety of food products from pizza to Greggs slices.