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Avant basic is dead, long live avant DIY

WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT

“Avant DIY is bleach patches, loose threads and ad-hoc accessorising, eccentric silhouettes and home-done patchwork tattoos.”

It’s the era of goblin mode and feral girl summer. In 2022, we’re throwing off the societal shackles and letting it all hang out, baby. We’re breaking the rules, peeling off our polite-and-performative masks and hacking away at everything in our wardrobes. Avant DIY is here!

As science cutie Newton said, every action has a reaction – and every trend has an anti-trend to follow. Avant DIY is the crafty bastardisation of the 2021 megatrend, ‘avant basic’ (which FJ writer Sunny Chisholm wrote about in May of last year); a close cousin to the ‘avant apocalypse’ movement. Now there’s a paragraph that would kill a small Victorian child.


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If last year was all about “vintage without the effort”, this year is where rulebreaking personal style will reign supreme. The irony, of course, is that we’re looking for individualism within a popular trend – but at this point, nothing is truly original anyway. Avant DIY is about indulging your main character complex and moving away from the ‘basic’. You’re not like other girls!

As trend forecaster and TikTok creator Agustina Panzoni (@thealgorythm) explained, “2022 fashion will be all about rebellion. Changed priorities towards personal time, mental health and flexibility has 40 per cent of people swapping jobs in what is known as ‘the great resignation’”.

 

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So what does this elusive, kitschy, slightly subversive, loosely anti-establishment movement look like? It’s hard to define. If you know you know, you know? Just kidding. As a Melbourne resident, you’d be hard-pressed trying to walk down the street without seeing a bleached cap – and this, girlies, is the symbolic avant DIY gateway drug (just watch this TikTok from Melbourne’s Tabula Rasa music festival). 

The trend is malleable in nature, taking cues from subversive basics, the Y2K renaissance and last year’s dystopian punk revival. Avant DIY is bleach patches, loose threads and ad-hoc accessorising, eccentric silhouettes and home-done patchwork tattoos. It’s spray-painted and screen-printed, made from unconventional materials pieced together in weird and experimental ways.

Because the fashion trend cycle is forever accelerating and trends continue to melt into each other, there’s some inevitable crossover. Blobby resin rings, colourful phone charms and playful beaded necklaces are all accessories that sit at the intersection of ‘craftcore’, avant basic and avant DIY (avant translates to “before” or “forward”). 

 

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When our basics went subversive, internet girlies started getting crafty. “By reforming a basic article of clothing like a white T-shirt into a shirt with holes, and playing with imbalanced symmetry, the shirt is rebelling against its original form and intent,” Paper Magazine’s Maria Poggi wrote in a recent article. “This goes the same with a pair of tights that have been cut and reworked into a crop top. In many ways, it gives the wearer a reimagined, second layer of skin.”

 

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But avant DIY isn’t random cutouts and willy-nilly washes of bleach. It’s intentional – each rip, fray and splatter placed with careful consideration, a subtle nod to those in the fashion know. Think the grungey equivalent of wearing an exorbitantly expensive, high designer pair of plain black boots. Most won’t recognise the reference, but it doesn’t matter. Those who count will.  

As far as micro (or macro, really) trends go, this one seems less likely to accelerate the extreme wastefulness and inevitable fiery collapse of our planet’s natural resources. Which is always fab. The inherent ‘thrown together’ nature of the trend encourages upcycling and – obviously – DIY fashion projects, which we love to see. 

The problem comes when ultra-fast fashion giants like Shein start ripping off the trend, commodifying its honest and well-intentioned beginnings. We saw this a lot with avant basic, with every internet corner I turned uncovering another Paloma Wool or Lisa Says Gah knockoff. I know – it’s just what happens, and we often feel helpless in the path of the big ol’ fast fashion steamroller.

 

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If you’d like to have your own avant DIY moment, try to be a conscious consumer. Kind of a blanket statement, but it’s particularly important this time – purchasing mass-made ‘DIY’ truly pains me. Get on the internet and learn how to transform a garment you already own or buy from one of the many incredible, sustainable local designers. 

I’ve linked out to some in this article and you can browse Fashion Journal’s Fashion vertical for more. Purchase carefully, dress thoughtfully and bleach, splatter and hack to your heart’s desire. 

For more on conscious trend consumption, head here.

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