‘Oxfam Suits & DM Boots’ was a visual extension and development of my dissertation subject: ‘Hedi Slimane and the Post-subculture’. I had been thinking a lot about post-subculture, bricolage and the construction of a style. The broken and pared-back nature of 90s Britpop style, and the use of bricolage, have within them a criticism of an unthinking way of life. The effect of bricolage is to recognize the pre-existing trappings of social signs (Dr Marten boots for example), so in turning them into bricolage there is both a recognition of the force of these signs and what they mean, and a critical usage of them. The gaps and emaciation of 90s Britpop style are a reminder of the potential effect of that critical bricolage – that is, they turn into a style the inevitability of the ‘nothingness (that) comes into the world’ with freedom. In this sense the style could be seen as the embodiment of a philosophical attitude, not just a social gesture.
I explored an ‘existentialist’ method of constructing a style through the image of early 90s Britpop bands such as Blur, Elastica and Pulp – I found this interesting as they used elements of pre-existing social signs borrowed from subcultures such as punks and skinheads, and also traditional English country gentlemen. In turn subcultures today are borrowing signs from Britpop style to create their own bricolage. Through the wearing of ill-fitting, battered, unfashionable clothing, these bands intended to give the impression of not caring about fashion. They constructed their style in a post-modern method, and in doing so embodied an existentialist way of thinking.
I initially looked to the work of one of my favourite graphic designers, Josef Müller-Brockman, for inspiration for a colour scheme, but then began experimenting with including prints of his posters on the garments.