Fashion trends are a funny ol’ thing. It’s hard to suss out the real deal from the five minute wonder that will inevitably end up sitting in your wardrobe, unworn, until years later when you realise you never did actually wear that purple spandex bodysuit (BUT - the ‘80s! Everyone’s obsessed with the ‘80s!). “Odd shoes - they seemed like a cool statement at the time,” you mutter. Ah well, another day, another archived outfit post on Instagram.
It can drive you crazy: fashion editor’s who err on the side of caution find themselves in 2017 contemplating the appeal of a neon pink velour tracksuit jacket again; the style popularised by Paris Hilton in The Simple Life; the one you probably couldn’t get enough of when you were 14-years-old shopping in Woolworths (RIP). Sometimes trends just do not translate in real life, this much I know. However there’s a new unexpected buzzword a-brewing in high-fashion circles— one that you’ve probably encountered in everyday culture long before the designers took notice: ‘Dad dressing’.
Demna Gvasalia endorsed all things ‘dadcore’ for his latest Balenciaga menswear collection, inspired by young fathers in the park with their kids. Make way for Jerry Seinfeld-style belted trousers, practical rain jackets, polo shirts and a slew off-kilter tailoring. Unsurprisingly, the show got people talking (Balenciaga’s shows are lost without some shock value - all hail the ‘It’ shopping bag that looked remarkably similar to a 40p IKEA tote). But the French fashion house might just have shined the spotlight on one of the most defining styles of our times.
Look to Jeremy Corbyn. Commentators have been quick to zone in on the politician’s ‘anti-fashion’, ‘scruffy’, ‘dadsy’ dress code. David Cameron may have once suggested Jezza ‘put on a proper suit,’ but Corbs will not curb to pressure. He is the Everyman. His signatures? 50 shades of beige, trainers and socks, home-knitted jumpers and utilitarian cagoules. ‘Corbyn Couture’ - once seen us copiously uncool - is fast catching on (menswear designer Martine Rose admitted the Labour MP was a massive inspiration for her SS18 collection).
Speaking to BBC Newsnight in 1984 Corbyn said: ‘[Politics] is not a fashion parade, it's not a gentleman's club, it's not a banker's institute, it's a place where the people are represented.’ FYI: his mum made his crinkled muted sweater and his white shirt wasn't bought on Saville Row but rather 'the Co-op' (yep, they sold clothes in the '80s, apparently). Obama may have been mocked for his ‘dad jeans’ that went viral in 2009, but the former POTUS isn’t budging, telling Ryan Seacrest: 'I’ve been unfairly maligned about my jeans. The truth is, generally, I look very sharp in jeans.' Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wears the same grey t-shirt to work everyday.
I turn, then, to an expert in the field to review the newfound obsession with ‘daddy cool': my own father. John Firth’s essentials compile of ‘a comfortable pair of shoes, jeans or khaki-type trousers, a "good" belt and a blue polo shirt that’s not too tight.’ He shops mainly at M&S and Tesco (‘I do read the Sunday Times Style sometimes - but it doesn’t really effect my own style’).
‘The catwalk’s have never really been there for dads,’ Mr Firth says. 'A high proportion of the population are fathers, so there's obviously a market there. You don’t want everyone to look the same though of course, and clothes need to reflect your personality and lifestyle. For example, I used to love wearing loud, printed shirts. But now I’m more into comfort.’
A real dad’s take on Balenciaga’s riff on the ‘dadcore’ trend? ‘Well, that’s a different sort of age group - young fathers,’ John says. ‘It’s practical though - if you’re cycling around the place you need the right sort of gear. A waterproof jacket is essential too if you’ve got children in case they vomit on you!’
‘My work is always about reality,’ Gvasalia told US Vogue backstage after his AW17 show in January. ‘It’s just honest. That is what’s happening around us.’ So there you have it: your father is this year’s sartorial hero. But then, they probably always have been. Confident? Comfortable? Sometimes outlandish? This trend could outlast them all…