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The Cartoonification of Fashion: Is this really ‘fun’ fashion?

This week, hot on the heels of London Fashion week, we are thinking about cartoon fashion and what this tells us about popular culture right now. Social media channels have erupted with the debut of a pair of shoes from MSCHF, an art collective and brand known for their controversial releases. The boots caught attention as they seemed to resemble the red boots worn by the character Astro Boy, with large cartoonish proportions. Due to some clever influencer marketing, the boots quickly became highly sought after, with the $350 boots now re-selling for triple the original price. In a press release, MSCHF said “Cartoonishness is an abstraction that frees us from the constraints of reality”.

This follows a trend in the fashion world of brands taking inspiration from animation, most notably Loewe’s SS23 collection which saw 8-bit hoodies and runway heels which wouldn’t look out of place on Minnie Mouse. The trend for digitised fashion and pieces ideated solely to enhance Insta posts is another interesting development in how tech is influencing the ways in which we self-express.

In an era of rising costs of living, climate fears, political and social instability, is the move towards hyperreality (the inability to distinguish reality from its representation) a form of escapism? Social trends such as the ‘glitch in the matrix’, indicate that Gen Z is fascinated by the tensions between the real, assumed and fake. Their take on simulated reality suggests a whole new play space for brands, but also implies an unrest about the real world we live in and the complexity of choice faced by them as consumers every day.

Fashion has always tested boundaries between reality and fantasy, and we are wondering whether the shift to cartoon shapes speaks to some of these deeper themes. But for now, we are just enjoying the fun and frivolity brought by those red boots and the bold, brave shapes of this key fashion trend.


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