In all my years of watching different cartoon powerhouses, I’ve been blessed enough to have seen some of the most stylish animated characters to have ever graced tv screens; and display omnipresent ways of how to “put that shit on”. Some of the most brilliant representations of personal style for a non-fictional character have been permanently etched in my mind, but not only can I say that these cartoon characters in the list had some of the best styles, but they also heavily influenced my personal style as well.
1. Ed, Edd, and Eddy
The first show I want to sound off on is Ed and boys from Ed, Edd, and Eddy.
From the baggy jeans with the perfect stack, mixing and blending all the right patterns they showed me early on that they were in a lane of their own. These guys by far had some of the most dope styles compared to many of the cartoons I’ve seen. They showed me that you didn’t always have to match every piece in an outfit or even have to be your exact size.
2. Rocket Power
Otto, Twister, Sam, and Reggie from Rocket Power are the next group of characters that had the most laid-back style among most cartoons because they meshed it with their lifestyles. They were all rambunctious athletes with a bit of leisure mixed in.
It was like they weren’t even trying to be fashionable but were still able to assemble the waviest ensemble. I love how they would layer basketball jerseys over t-shirts and wear the baggiest shorts imaginable. I even liked the egregious pattern pants they would wear with the most obscure prints and colors. These guys definitely knew what they were doing even if they were unaware of it.
The dynamic duo of Daria and Jane from the show “Daria” made thrifted outfits look iconic because there was never any sign of overarching try hardness.
What I loved most from this show were all the random miscellaneous vintage tees that the two sported. They made thrifting cool before it was a fad and always made it look easy.
4. Code name kids next door
Numbas 1-5 all rocked a unique steeze that would be by todays standards fashion memes.
It’s hard to deny how fashion-forward this group was, they were creating waves while other people were swimming in them like come on Numba 3 who was mixing the Rick Owens ramones with Vetements before it was a thing. Numba 1 always had a crispy pair of butters on his feet with the Tom Ford sunglasses, that man was so cool he even rocked them in the dead of night. Some people need to pay their respects to the originators.
5. Dexter’s Laboratory
Not only was Dexter from Dexter’s Laboratory was genius in the lab, but he was also a genius when it came to this fashion ting.
It is clear as day that prior to Dexters devoting his time and efforts to his scientific studies, he use to work at Maison Margiela which is why he still sports the signature lab coat to this day. Dexter among other characters showed tasteful ways of exuding flair and variety even in an everyday outfit.
6. Hey Arnold!
Arnold and the gang from “Hey Arnold!”, the level of confidence that these people to get up and just throw on what came to their mind is something anybody can take notes from.
I definitely have to take the time to big up Arnold for having the guts to pay homage to his Scottish roots by rocking the kilt in a way that even Alexander Mcqueen himself would blush, while living in one of the roughest and toughest neighborhoods of Brooklyn in the 90s is no easy feat.
“Doug” is another show that had a huge impact on me but not just in fashion but in how I stylize my art. The heavy use of colors and patterns is something that has been engraved into my visual language in the way I like to paint because it can be used as a powerful explosion of expression.
Out of all the Rugrats Chucky by a longshot had the waviest swag. His style was so goofy and unstructured it really made him stand out, like the untied shoes, wild patterns, and wild hair all screamed skater punk. Some of the other guys like Angelica, Susie, and Kimi were trendsetters with their unique hairstyles and the use of colors was a sight to behold.
9. As told by Ginger
I’m not going to lie this show was a pretty odd one if I must say, but the swag was on another level. From the accessories characters wore to the layering of garments, it more than made up for the weirdness of the show. What I appreciated the most was attention to detail like elongated sleeves on hoodies and shirts matched the sloppiness of some of the character’s personalities.
10. The Wild Thornberrys
There were so many different styles clustered into this show it was a lot to take in at one time. You had Donnie; the only kid in the jungle with no shirt and Versace shorts, you had Deborah with her grunge nirvana-esk emo gaze. Then you had Nigel with a super utilitarian loadout that had a pocket for every bump on your face. Then you had the lovely Marianne with Patagonia essentials and a red head tie and you cant forget Donnie and Eliza with the calm vintage Guess pieces.
Like many other industries, fashion had to reimagine many of its key visual marketing components which happen to be their runway shows and campaign activations due to COVID-19 protocol. This has led to numerous brands taking an adventurous dive into digital fashion and creating more immersive experiences. There are a number of brands that have been leading this direction such Balenciaga, Sunnei , Moschino, and GCDS with their unique approaches to show us they can still captivate an audience while were at still home.
Balenciaga has been the number one brand in being able to blend storytelling and visual submersion to create a world that feels bigger than fashion. With the release of their FW21‘Afterworld: The Age of Tomomrrow’ video game it not only introduced us to their new collection of clothing it also introduced us into a distant futuristic cyberpunk-esk dystopian wasteland as we able to maneuver through different worlds. Balenciaga’s use of unreal engine and collaborative efforts with a number of different creative studios played a pivotal role in creating the strongest immersive environment possible.
Balenciaga followed up their FW21 campaign with a digital video that displayed a futuristic love tale, which was like of reflection of emotions that people separated from loved ones may be feeling while in isolation.
It’s safe to say that Balenciaga is leading the charge forward into creating more digitally captivating content to be more than just the clothes but to create experiences that make the clothing more meaningful to an audience.
Sunnei the Italy label is another brand that has been able to keep pushing digital fashion into a new direction with their SS21 and FW21 Sunnei Canvas show that consisted of CGI models under their new unfoldment of ‘Canvas’ which is Sunnei new VR implementation that allows the customization of a number of current/past Sunnei collections that start out as blank white canvas with free reign to get creative as possible, in fact a number of different retailers were given the opportunity to digitally customize the shape, fit, and materials used in each piece.
This attention to detail allows more thoughtful usages of consumer interaction and content creation puts them head of the curve because it allows them to feel more involved in the creative process instead of being a bystander in most instances.
My favorite show had to be the Moschino SS21 because they opted from doing a video game based approach but instead a show involving marionette dolls. Not only did each doll wear pieces from the collection they also were crafted to resemble each of the model that wore the piece. This was so nostalgic yet refreshing because its unexpected, being as unconventional as humanly possible is something you can always expect to get from Jeremy Scott.
GCDS had to be one of the strangest digital shows that was shown last year. It was very dream like because it took place in the most far out environment in some distant part of the universe. The audience was comprised of care bears, Dua Lipa, aliens, and whatever else you could possibly imagine, the same could be said for the casting as well. The models were all shapes and sizes, had all kinds of hair styles ,skin tones, there was even an alien with one eye. It all blended together to make almost feel like you weren’t watching runway show. It all made sense in away because pieces in the show were in collaboration with the popular tv show ‘Rick and Morty’.
What I love most about all these shows is how each of them have there own creative direction that’s identifiable to each specific brand but is universally captivating regardless how niche the clothing might be. This potentially could be the thing that’s needed in fashion to break the mundane cycle while incorporating digital asset such as NFT’s in the space of fashion while the community continues to grow, or it it could just end up being something that was experiment was used during the 2020 during global pandemic.
The effects of the current global pandemic not only have completely disrupted the structure of our conventional everyday life, but it also shifted the structure completely in more ways than one. It also exposed how unsustainable long-term the fashion industry is in many of its different funnels. If it wasn’t already hard being a designer in this industry the pandemic made it so much harder. A large number of brick mortars and namesake brands had to either file for bankruptcies or cease operations completely which include household names such as Neiman Marcus, Totokaelo, Jeffery, Century 21, Sies Marjan, J.Crew, and even True Religion to name a few. A number of different factors before the global pandemic contributed to their financial problems. Many of it a being heavy reliance on wholesaling, overproduction, and unobtainable profit projections.
There’s no doubt in my mind that there is an overbearing pressure for designers to turn out 2-4 or more collections every 6 months in order to maintain a steady flow of attention and prestige that comes with following a traditional fashion calendar during fashion week. But there has been a recent resurgence in designers refusing to follow that script but instead creating a schedule and business model that works more optimal for themselves and their design teams. Designers such as Telar Clemens, Haeni Kim, Jerry Lorenzo, Emily Bode, Mowalola, Kerby Jean-Raymond, and Sean Oliver are some of the designers leading that charge. There are a number of ways brands get their products into consumers’ hands whether it’s direct to consumer sales through their own e-commerce channels such as their website or wholesaling through another party such a Dover Street Market or Nordstrom.
Each of these decisions come with their own specific hurdles that have to be understood before going forward. During the pandemic, a number of different retailers asked designers to delay deliveries, cancel orders, and cut prices at a wholesale level before collections even hit stores because they feared customers might not be willing to purchase specific items because they already had seen collections months in advance. Let keep in mind that wholesaling by its self is already at a discounted price, imagine being asked to slash prices while trying still to pay your overhead and your employees. The other aforementioned method was selling products via your own e-commerce channels which include your own website and social media platforms. When considering doing this route that means you have to put as much focus into your visual presentation as much as you did for creating the collection because what’s the point of putting together a solid collection but you cant present it in a way that gets people inclined to purchase it. You have to understand that they can only use their eyes to give context as to how pieces feel, fits, and moves based on these intrinsic values. This video shows ways the industry is trying to innovate to change this problem.
Now let’s talk about overproduction which is my favorite. As a designer, you tend to walk the line between where your making clothes that may or may not sell based on design concepts and storytelling you’ve created or via trend analysis conjured up by those at WGSN or beyond. When the pandemic came along it completely changed all of that, it scrapped and changed all potential preconceived ideas because it changed what was considered the everyday ‘essential’ and peoples day to day living. Do you think someone how saw a $3,500 Chanel mink coat before the pandemic was going to purchase one during the pandemic? That’s where pre-orders and made-to-order items come into play. Pre-orders and made-to-order allow smaller designers to safely scale the supply and demands in portion to their customer pool. People like Telfar and Haeni have realized how much more sustainable this process is because it minimizes waste and allows them to hone in on what their customers are looking to buy. It also provides more value to the brand name because it allows them not to stretch themselves too thin. Items become more like collector’s items to those who see the value of the brand and it also allows people to enjoy an item before more items get presented to them.
Once you understand what your customers want to purchase you can begin to continuously have a particular item in stock as a staple like a T-Shirt or an accessory like a bag that can continuously be made on-demand at a low-cost sort of how Telfar has established with his bags. Then from there, you can continue to produce more items that you want to put out. I always recommend watching the Kerwin Frost interview with Shayne Oliver of Hoodbyair to get a better grasp of how newer designers should maneuver with their brand and learn from those who have been battled-tested because allows you to put yourself in someones else’s shoes. Knowledge is more valuable than any dollar that someone can put in your pocket.