Punk has always been good for fashion. Ever since the long-ago days of the Sex Pistols and SEX, the London boutique where Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood formalized a style to go with the music, punk has been a trusty ploy for designers looking to strike a subversive posture while also providing a fairly impressive soundtrack for anyone who gave a damn that the movement was about something more than a look.
So there was something bracing, if not altogether surprising, about the latest iteration of New York Fashion Week: Men’s opening with a posse of unaffiliated designers who took punk as their inspiration.
For the Krammer & Stoudt designer Michael Rubin, it was gutter punks, the tattooed transients sometimes called “crustys” and whose anarchic, live-rough ways were memorably chronicled by the photographer Mike Brodie in books like “Tones of Dirt and Bone,” and “A Period of Juvenile Prosperity.”
Dissect the collection — shown during New York Men’s Day, a showcase for new brands at its new financial district location in the cavernous Dune Studios — and what you got was a confident and commercial array from this fledgling label of roomy patch-pocket chore coats; snap-front Western shirts; vaguely pervy-looking belted trenches; cargo denims cropped to the length of capri pants; and carpenter’s dungarees with an intentionally Goodwill fit.
That was the commercial message. The conceptual one was accretive: layers piled on or slung over each other, shirts used to cinch overcoats, bandannas knotted on everything, including the tidily rolled up blankets that the models carried and that were a long way from the average dirt-encrusted “crustys” sleeping bag.
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