Sarah Magliocco delves into the concept of “Avant-Basic,” the aesthetic style that dominates TikTok and Instagram.
Antique wardrobe effortlessly cherry-pick your way through trunk sale after charity shop after flea market in search of gems.
Adapt your empty IKEA flat pack into a marshmallow dreamland of psychedelic rugs, puffy-framed mirrors, and pastel candles. Change your entire look every two or three months to keep up with the latest waves of must-haves, leaving clothes you bought three weeks ago in the dust, now unattractive and overpriced.
This is “Avant-Basic”.
Avant-Basic is one of the most easily recognizable aesthetics in contemporary fashion, with exotic color combinations, patterns and prints inspired by the 60s that make for apparel that is as appealing as the aftertaste.
The term comes, of course, from a combination of the words “avant-garde” and “essential,” which writer and creative consultant Emma Hope Elwood first coined in 2020 — avant-garde means avant-garde, innovative and progressive, with essential being self-explanatory.
The title Aesthetics may sound like a dig, but in reality, it’s the perfect representation of how the trend cycle took the inaccessible items of high fashion and managed to slice it into an over-consumer frenzy for the masses.
While avant-garde innovation can change the direction of luxury fashion houses, shift the focus of runways for years, and introduce new design concepts over time, avant-garde style does not create permanent trends or new categories within fashion, it simply generates micro-trends.
Here I am Kristen this style: Avant Basic pic.twitter.com/1NO3DxzkfO
– Emma Hope Allwood / EHA (@emmahopeall) December 22, 2020
Micro trends are excessively pinned miniature trends online, usually focusing on one particular element, causing the element to be removed and copied over and over, resulting in poor quality and more abundant imitation of the original design until – in just a period of weeks – this trend is dead and buried from Oversaturation.
What ends up on the TikTok For You page or the Instagram homepage is heavily dictated by the ability of a photo or video to stop or slow people down as they push themselves through the endless daily scroll and get involved in some way.
For this reason, avant-basic has taken off on social media thanks to its bold eye-catching properties that easily catch the eye.
House of Sunny Hockney Dress Live in My Mind Rent Free pic.twitter.com/ZbXKEmwwCw
– J (feelindior) December 8, 2020
The first contemporary example of “death by microtrendification” is the custom House of Sunny Hockney dress. One simple shot of Kendall Jenner on Instagram, casually posing in the brand’s signature Hockney dress while lounging on a sunny balcony, was enough to launch gúna into star status.
The dress became popular in the summer of 2020, and while we’ve always seen a slow streak of “inspirational” alike items on High Street in the weeks and months since the trend emerged, Hockney’s dress has been restyled within days by a slew of fast-fashion websites that have seen a boom in buyers during the onset of the epidemic.
Within a few months, the dress had become infamous, with the item being called cheesy, basic and exaggerated as it reached hyper-saturation online.
House of Sunny is one of a growing group of brands setting the tone when it comes to basic avant-garde trends—one they undoubtedly prefer not to associate with, despite their penchant for it.
I’m still thinking about #564 / Balance sandals from Paloma Wool yup pic.twitter.com/nO7vULrIob
– 𝓚𝓪𝓻𝓵𝓲 (miumiugala) August 15, 2021
Paloma Wall, Lisa Says Gah, Poster Girl, Bobby Leesman, Holiday, Maison Cleo, and Jimagos all have certain groups or individual items within groups that become an obsession for the Vanguard’s staple followers—a festive artifact worth admiring at the altar of enthusiasm but dressing lazy, and honoring it via arrows Pinterest and restocking queues – until a cheaper brand inevitably makes a rip-off inspired by the growing popularity of the original.
Currently a pair of desert sunset print jeans is €230 in my online cart at Lisa Says Gah, and the reason for not buying it is twofold: the upfront cost (because these trend-setting brands are excellent with the right price tags), and the fear that in weeks Which follows a purchase that I intend to wear for a number of years, will become an item, being smashed across the board by shoddy imitations.
While avant-basic may have its roots in the fashion industry, it has spread to the interiors sector.
✨✨ Room decor finds shopper✨✨
Theme: Danish pastel aesthetic 💜💚🌷
thread 👇🏼 pic.twitter.com/TBfF8jt2hw
– and now (zmzlhlmy) 29 July 2021
This trend was initially referred to as Danish pastels, and this trend has been supported by famous influencers such as Matilda Dejerfe who sets the eternal trend. It’s impossible to open a photo-sharing app today and not stumble across a re-shared shot of her gleaming gingham bed or winding candles on a glossy coffee table, complete with fashion books and cobalt blue glassware.
Where we live is becoming more of our personal sphere than ever before during the pandemic. With the majority of people documenting their lives on social media for their followers – whether it’s 200 followers of friends and family or a community of 200,000 – our homes and our surroundings are becoming more fodder for online content than ever before.
This generated a need for cheap and cheerful décor items to spice up our spaces, and with the avant-garde aesthetic crowning the trend of 2020, it was the perfect standout look to incorporate into our home décor.
The style inside the homewares introduces a staged kind of eclecticism, inspired by antique furnishings mixed with Scandi-esque accessories and textile elements in bold graphic patterns.
I myself fell victim to the temptation of a handwoven rug in a modern house move, which I bought in hindsight because it was so trendy but thankfully I still love it now that the trend has passed.
As geometric, checkered and floral prints and more optics associated with the aesthetic are eye-catching and whimsical, the avant-garde took off as the most desirable home décor of the 1920s. Spotting an opportunity, fast fashion companies got into the trend.
For the first time, brands like PrettyLittleThing and Missguided launched lines of homeware, while outdoor sites like AliExpress and Shein became popular, mass-producing designer or artist-inspired small home goods at a fraction of the original price.
However, unlike the traditional homeware trends that have developed over the years and even epochs of history, the rapid evolution of the trend cycle within home decor reflects the cycle of excessive consumption and waste that we see in the apparel industry.
Our online presence has helped amplify and expose how we view fashion as disposable, and this attitude seeps into how we present our homes as the basics rise.
Antique, thrift, and second hand styles (of which basics have borrowed many of their aesthetic roots) offer a more authentic and edgier look via eco-friendly practices, and the sense of pride and accomplishment you get from acquiring a one-of-a-kind piece, the work you have to do, is part of How much you ultimately value for your big-ticket possessions like furniture and knick-knacks.
However, the value of the way we are viewed in on-screen pixels is now higher than our desire for self-exploration and our desire to discover and create our own personalized style – in both homeware and fashion.
This is not to say that avant-basic isn’t a perfect personal style for someone – after all, the taste-makers who brought the style to life were initially innovative – but without the influence of online content and the temptation to make maximum statement to those who look at us through the sliver insight that Are our phone screens, they can’t reach the levels of public approval they’ve got.
Our homes should be an extension of who we are, our tastes, the books we read, the artists we love, patterns that remind us of the past and the future we want to achieve all woven together in a place that says something about our personalities. What does avant-basic say, other than that we have a taste for what’s trendy and wifi connectivity?
People can love the aesthetic and adapt to their home without having to fill it in from unsustainable sources, or feeling pressure to adapt your space to something more acceptable to the online audience.
While the imitation chessboard rug is here to stay, I’ll choose to continue researching household items as a natural process, picking up pieces here and there, rather than ordering someone else’s aesthetic en masse and showing up in an Amazon box.