Thank you, New York Fashion Week, for answering our most burning question about the impending climate apocalypse: “What will I wear?”
Unveiled last week in an intentionally sweltering gallery (more on that shortly), the clothing line “Unfortunately, Ready to Wear” is the streetwear take on the fashion we’ll need when climate change really gets going — otherwise known as right now? Smoke-filtering bandanas! Fireproof jackets! Storm warning headphones!
Grist writers Eve Andrews and Zoe Sayler delved into why — and how — this mini-collection came to exist.
Zoe: Even in an era of increasingly ambitious crossover events, this is an unlikely alliance: the Natural Resources Defense Council, Milk Studios, and 21-year-old fashion icon Luka Sabbat, who brings 1.7 million Instagram followers to the table.
Eve: I understand and respect what the NRDC is trying to do here: Get climate change on the minds of young people with influence — be that influence in the form of social media followers, fashion sense, or possession of the obscene amounts of cash it requires to purchase anything showcased at NYFW.
As NRDC Executive Director Rhea Suh wrote to us, “We want to show the world that talking about and acting on climate can come in extremely creative and different ways, and partnering with a visionary artist like Luka allowed us to do that.”
I mean, it would obviously be great if this collaboration could somehow get the influencer set to put that sweet, sweet new money toward a good cause. But as far as awareness goes, the collection’s apparent target audience is already pretty worried about the future of the planet. Now we have to think about whether we should stock up on Instagram-worthy, death-proof jackets?
That’s the detail that really throws me. Sabbat’s entire presence is inextricable from Instagram culture — it made him “Gen Z’s ‘It’ Girl.” Why? Because Instagram is the engine for consumer culture, steering a $1300 sweatshirt straight into the hands of any 21-year-old with a hefty allowance.
He’s also not the only designer to venture into the apocalyptic recently. Last year’s Fashion Week featured some (decidedly impractical) hazmat suits and thermal foil blankets. That Sabbat’s version is specifically designed to be of actual use during a climate disaster doesn’t eliminate the question: What’s up with this trend in the first place?
It just feels like apocalypse porn — a way for wealthy people, who will likely never have to face the harsh realities of climate change, to experience the thrill of the threat. It reminds me of the perilous, artificial Wild West that the wealthy characters in Westworld escape to for a quick adrenaline rush, or the reality-TV murder spree that The Hunger Games’ ruling class watches from a guarded tower. Fear and survivalism are fun when they’re something you can just take off at the end of the day.