“Shoes became sneakers, suits became sweats and chic destroyed the planet; at the same time we’re trying to be sustainable,” summarizes vintage fashion expert Cameron Silver.
L.A. native Cameron Silver knows his way around fashion history. In 1997, Silver founded the expertly curated vintage couture boutique Decades on Melrose Avenue and has since outfitted stars such as Michelle Williams, Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Kidman in his finds. The 50-year-old personality – who starred in the 2013 Bravo reality television series, Dukes of Melrose — authored Decades: A Century of Fashion (Bloomsbury, $95) and is currently fashion director for the New York-based fashion label H by Halston, which he peddles on QVC.
Silver weighed in with The Hollywood Reporter on the fashion macrotrends of the decade — from a disposable culture driven by fast fashion and Instagram (where influencers seem to be eclipsing star power) to a growing need for lasting connections (the rise of experiential retail) and collections (owning and rewearing versus renting). The decade’s styles range from Neo-vintage maximalism to minimalism to luxe streetwear, and Silver questions the impact of sportswear, fast fashion and Instagram.
“This is the decade when the industry basically collapsed because of several factors,” says Silver. “The entire sportswear trend alienated the luxury customer and, consequently, this youth obsession that fashion brands have has really become a misfire — between the amount of casual schlep attire that’s been pushed on us and the amount of disposable, fast fashion that (no matter how woke we think we are) is consumed to such catastrophic effects.”
Moreover: “Instagram basically killed fashion, because the notion of ownership has become questioned,” adds Silver. “God forbid if you are photographed twice in something with your 324 followers! Shoes became sneakers, suits became sweats and chic destroyed the planet. At the same time, we’re trying to be sustainable. It’s the yin and yang decade.” Here are the top six trends of the 2010s.
Influencers Eclipsing Stars
“The last decade has been strange because the power of celebrity was eclipsed a little bit by the power of the influencer,” says Silver. Before Instagram debuted in October 2010, “there was a time when an actress would wear something on a red carpet and it would actually move the needle.” Now, “As far as pivotal red carpet moments, the crazy thing is that probably the biggest moment of this year was Jennifer Lopez recreating her Grammys moment that brought Google Images to the forefront. That was the great irony. We continue to wax nostalgic.”
Silver adds, “I have found myself less enthralled with red carpet and Hollywood dressing, primarily because I think the individuality of celebrity has really been lost in this modern studio system with stylists or fashion brands having contracts with talent. Who is our Cher today? I mean, thank God for Cate Blanchett, Tracee Ellis Ross and Tilda Swinton. People who take some risks and have fun with fashion, but also appreciate it as an art form. I’m just curious about who is going to do a retrospective in 20 years of all these actors in borrowed clothes and borrowed jewels!”
Sustainability: It’s Chic to Repeat
“I’m very concerned that people have been misinformed by the culture of celebrities and influencers wearing things only once to think that it’s wrong to repeat,” Silver declares. “And I’m really promoting that it’s chic to repeat. In a shared economy, with all of these rental apps, the greenest thing to do is to buy something that you wear for a course of a lifetime, that has some quality and exists in quantity in your wardrobe in the sense that it rotates.”
“Cate Blanchett and her stylist Elizabeth Stewart have been promoters of the ‘chic to repeat’ concept, which has existed historically in Hollywood. Grace Kelly won an Oscar in a dress [designed by Edith Head] that she wore to the premiere of that same film [The Country Girl, in 1955]. I’d like more of Hollywood to take the responsibility of encouraging ownership. That’s the best thing we can do for the planet. It’s great when you rent a dress, but there is an impact on the environment through the amount of dry cleaning and shipping it back and forth that may not balance the shared economy aspect.”
Small is the New Big: The Experiential Retail Renaissance
“Authentic luxury, visceral experience and independent bricks-and-mortar retail are having really strong moments,” adds Silver. “Small is the new big! It’s a terrible time to be a big conglomerate, where you’re just trying to hustle sneakers and lipstick. People crave community. If we become a society that is completely digital, living in front of a screen, we will cease to exist because nobody will go out, nobody will date or procreate. People are recognizing that they need interaction with human beings. So many people are getting it wrong because they’re obsessed with likes and that kind of engagement, but it doesn’t necessarily create a monetary benefit. It has to go beyond selling.”
He adds, “Independent retailers that are engaged with their clients and their community are having a real renaissance. It’s about a smaller brand doing in-store appearances and talking about the process over tea with clients. On a larger scale, it’s Dolce and Gabbana doing a four-day [Alta Moda] couture show twice a year for 250 of their top clients, who have a relationship with Domenico and Stefano that is so rare in a corporate culture. At Decades, we hosted a talk about the impact of Sex and the City with the founders of the Instagram account @everyoutfitonsatc that was packed with people, who were so happy to talk intelligently and passionately about fashion.”
“The casual, athleisure concept has certainly made fashion accessible for a lot of people, but I think that it is running its course,” Silver continues. “I have a couple designer track suits that are my airplane outfits. But people are doing it day, morning, noon, and night! I think there is a time and a place. It’s like the person who wears Uggs or Lulu Lemon all day. I’m glad that their cost-per-wear is getting cheaper and cheaper by the second. In our consumer culture, we are learning how to consume more consciously. But how many sweats do you need?”
“I bought a pair of Balenciaga sneakers 75 percent off at Neiman Marcus, purely for anthropological purposes. But the sneakers I really like are by this Chinese brand that does cool, real sneakers for $150-$200, not $1,000. The challenge with the sneaker-sportswear culture is that it is very easy to replicate at an accessible price point. So I have a concern that all of these legacy luxury brands become famous for their sneakers and not their clothes anymore. If you are a fashion brand that doesn’t sell clothes, but you sell sneakers and sweats and handbags, are you a fashion brand anymore?”
Maximalism to Minimalism and the Rise of Neo-Vintage
“In the first decade of the 21st century, everything in fashion was so vintage inspired,” says Silver. “The second decade will probably be identified by sportswear, but then it’s also retro. There is certainty in the past. The most spoken-about brands, like Gucci, had a renaissance on a very retro-looking [maximalist] style. Then we have also had great moments of the revival of minimalism through the work of The Row and beautiful, emerging luxury boutique brands such as Gabriela Hearst.”
He adds, “A segment of young, high school age people are totally turned off by being sold to by luxury brands. Also by fast fashion, because they are very aware of what it does to the planet. And they see athleisure’s thousand-dollar sneakers as a rip-off. But they are enthralled by the value of neo-vintage pieces from the ‘90s and early 2000s. If you’re 16 and wearing something from 2005, that really is old to you! Many young women come in to Decades to get dresses for prom because they want something that no one else has. They are conscious of ownership and history.”
Gender Bending: The Billy Porter Factor
“The impact of gender fluidity has been marvelously refreshing and exciting because it was celebrated and not vilified,” says Silver. “One of the best things that has happened is that we are not caught in boxes of masculinity and femininity, and I think that has really helped propel the creative process and change retail. The other day, I went into Maxfield (I had not been in years) and I instinctively walked in the door and went to the left where the men’s section was. But it wasn’t there. The sale associate told me that they mix everything up now. That’s so fantastic. There are no rules. All of my friends’ husbands (straight dudes) wear concealer, because they want to look good.”
Silver says, “Though we are in a very divisive moment politically in our country, artistically and creatively (as evidenced in fashion) there is really interesting progress going on, especially about gender and fluidity. During difficult times, I think the arts flourish. Fashion is an art, and I’m thrilled to see people expressing themselves in such an exuberant way.”