Bass Shoes - Uuh, jealous?

"Wouldn't you like to be in his shoes?" It takes a second or two to realize the ad's not a parody or something. Then you remember "Oh yeah. I'm holding a magazine from 1971. Some people actually really for real dressed like this."

Also, this ad was found in Esquire magazine - always a publication that fancied itself a bit of a dandy. We'd be mistaken to let ads like this become our telescope into the past. Yes, some people dressed like this in '71, but this was far from the norm. If you were to head down the street in 1971's New York (not that I could have) to get a carton of cigarettes and a six of Schlitz, what you would not see is an army of Leon Redbones and Janis Joplins twirling around together.

The Phil Are GO! Reserach and Googling Team did a quick look for scanned snapshots of actual New York from 1971 that seemed fairly candid and normal. Turns out a handy post at Jeremiah's Vanishing New York had just the thing. Link to the post here...


...and images reposted without permission here. I hope they don't mind.

Not a Leon or Janis to be seen. A couple of double-breasted suits and more floral shirts than in 2016, but nothing nuts. That's "fashion" for you: always urging us to look like idiots and trying to convince us it will make us cool, instead of making us broke idiots.

But then every generation regards itself as the sole arbiter of cool, that future history will always identify us as the ones that finally got "cool" right, and that everyone before us were clueless fools. However, anyone old enough to have seen a few cultural laps around Lake Trendy will know that there's always something really stupid going on, but we may be too close to it to tell. Hmm. What's stupid right now? Are we too close to it to tell?

Let's have a look at the Supreme Arbiter of Cool, Esquire.com. Once at their site, it's pretty easy to find a page wherein they dictate to us the definition of "looking good for this spring", as shamelessly defined by their sponsor, Bonobos. Bonobos is one of the proliferating number of subscription clothing services. Yep. Subscription clothing services. How those work is this: You agree to let the service make you send them money each month for clothes, and they send you clothes every month. Some will let you send back stuff you don't like, and some have "agents" try to pick stuff tailored to your tastes, to minimize returns. Anyway, the important thing is you let them make you buy clothes every month. Clothes, it's important to remember, can be re-used, unlike food. You would think that this would mean you shouldn't need to buy new clothes on a monthly basis, but Esquire clearly wants you slavishly following the caprice of having The Newest Thing. Thinking for yourself is bad for (their) business.

Remember how great the Columbia Record Club was? Getting records you hate because they're on the charts that month, and forgetting to send them back in time so you're stuck with them? This is that, but with clothes. If you like exactly what the average person likes, you're golden. If you're even slightly eccentric or, god help you, a free thinker, fuck you.

Anyway, let's look at a group of models paid to wear the clothes they're wearing, as prescribed by Esquire and Bonobos as the clothes you need to be wearing:

Skinny pants barely long enough to touch your shoes seems to be cool this spring... until they decide it isn't. Apart from that, things look pretty normal, if a bit foppish, which is, admittedly, what we've come to expect from Fashion. You need to be a fop. Fop it up already, will you? If you're leaving the house to get a loaf of bread, you need a tweed blazer and maybe a socks / scarf combo that match perfectly. if you don't, you're a troglodyte and need to feel shame.

By and large, nothing here looks as simply stupid as the Bass Shoes pimp suit. This could mean that...
A) The Seventies simply had terrible judgment. That's an absolute truth.
B) There's something truly silly going on with The Latest Fashions for 2016 but we're too close to it to tell. That's worrying.

Instead of writing a paragraphs-long screed on the slavery to fashion, Flight of the Conchords took the clever route and wrote a song about it. Excellent soundalike parody of Eighties new wave bands in here. As always, FOTC make perfect satire look easy.

UPDATE: Diligent Associate Graphic Blandishment and Photoshoppery Cadet John S has done the world the service of popping this permanently-fashionable couple out of their New York scene and dropped them on a nice rectangle of alpha. Now they can trip the light methtastic anywhere you choose. He's also included a serving suggestion of where the real action was in '71, and where these two may have been dancing. Thanks, John!

Click for big.

Click for big.


Mat Black said...

Excellent post. I am a 48 year old straight white suburban dad. I have no interest in fashion. Today I went with my 19 year old daughter to the mall so she could get applications for a summer job. While there I saw a bearded, suited fop mincing out of Macy's and I noticed he was wearing what we used to call "floods". It confused me because he obviously spent a lot of time putting his outfit together. I couldn't understand why he would neglect to have pants tailored to the proper length. Thanks to your post, I now realize this faux pas was actually a trend! I also noticed wearing brown shoes with black pants is now a thing. Fashion is retarded...sorry I meant mentally challenged.

Michelle_Randy said...

The funny thing is that I bought a pair of shoes VERY VERY similar to these about 2 years ago at my local Bass Outlet. They are quite fancy, thank you very much.

Of course, these are women's shoes, not mens, so I can't say anything to Oscar Wilde wannabe in the picture.

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

I think the boundaries of silliness are much wider for women. Aren't these clothing clubs only for men? It sure seems that way. As anyone can tell you, all men are clueless oafs who need help dressing themselves, right?

I'm sure you pull of the shoes just fine, Michelle. Aren't those called "saddle shoes"? I recall the cheerleaders at my high school called them that (part of their uniform).


Michelle_Randy said...

Actually, they aren't although I can see why'd you think so. They actually look like men's two-tone wing tips. :D SHARP!!! The ebay pic I found was a close as I could come with my brain at it's current function on a Monday.

Steve Miller said...

Which Warhol movie was this ad from?

g said...


Post a Comment