Brooklyn Clothes

It’s as if Andy Warhol turned his silk screen-ly attentions upon Marvin the Martian instead of Marilyn Monroe, choosing a hooded sweatshirt as his medium instead of a giant canvas. It’s as if someone decided that those skeleton costumes from the Halloween fight scene in The Karate Kid were the next big thing. It’s as if suddenly it became necessary to camouflage yourself outrageously in graffiti. Get a garment and cover it with pinks and greens, browns and yellows, colors and logos of every description utterly shocked to be in each others presence. This and some jeans with embroidery on the butt; you got yourself an outfit!

If you live in Brooklyn, don’t even pretend like you don’t know what I mean.

I am talking, of course, about Brooklyn clothes. Some surreptitiously-snapped examples:

brooklyn clothes at a J stop

Lively sweatshirts!

Or check out this gentleman’s (blurry) hat:

brooklyn clothes

Brooklyn clothes emulate hip hop style but are not explicitly defined by it: for one, they have a vibrant or eye-catching quality that seems absent in mainstream hip hop fashion. It adds up to something unique. Tell me if I’m wrong but I think that this particular style is home cooked, a Brooklyn phenomenon. I’m trying to gesture here at the bizarre Brooklyn flavor embedded in this fashion; the element that says, “I can do/wear/say whatever I want — I’m in Brooklyn.”

People of different ages, genders, races, and creeds all sport Brooklyn clothes proudly, from what I can tell. On the other hand, it seems like Brooklyn clothes connote a kind of street culture which is intertwined with the daily life of poor or working class folks more than that of us middle class types.

Another fascinating thing about Brooklyn clothes, as opposed to pretty much every other style of clothing in any culture that I’ve ever witnessed, is that the men dress flashier and more colorful than the women! I wish I had photographs to back this one up…but you can test this theory the next time you see a pair of Brooklyn-clad lovebirds at a J stop. It is quite true.

I often think of fashion as a particularly divisive element of consumer culture because it’s the ultimate in conspicuous consumption; it’s status writ with style. Brooklyn clothes are this way as well, I’m sure, but expressed in a cultural lexicon that I can’t read, hence that I don’t disdain as much. As such, Brooklyn clothes grab not only my attention but also my enthusiasm. Brooklyn can be lonely, drab, and gray — Brooklyn clothes seem to make this place a little more lively. And I am all in favor of that!


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