CRAIG BROWN: Snappy dressers rejoice! Crocs are back… again

CRAIG BROWN: Snappy dressers rejoice! Crocs are back… again

Fashion journalism is the art of announcing an item of clothing is back even if it has never been away.

In May, the Daily Telegraph fashion pages excitedly reported that ‘Skirts are back’. Sometimes, the fashion pages announce a more peculiar revival. That same month, the same paper announced ‘Crocs are back’.

July’s fashion announcements in the Telegraph included ‘Cycling shorts are back in fashion’ and ‘Separates are back’. These were followed last month by ‘Budgie Smugglers are back’.

The Daily Telegraph fashion pages excitedly reported ‘Crocs are back’

It’s sometimes hard to keep up with the fast-moving world of fashion journalism

By then, those Telegraph readers who are dedicated followers of fashion must have been sent into quite a spin, particularly as last year they were advised that ‘Handbags are back’ (June 2020), ‘Slim eyebrows are back’ (October 2020), ‘Moustaches are back’ (also October 2020), and ‘Bootcut jeans are back’ (January 2020).

No newspaper is free from the whirligig of fashion moods. For all their progressive views in matters non-sartorial, Guardian readers are clearly more conservative when it comes to fashion, forever seeking reassurance that this or that old style is now undergoing an unexpected revival.

It’s the Guardian readers’ barbers I feel sorry for. Within the space of a little over a year, readers were advised that ‘Mullets are back’ (August 2019), ‘Hair curtains are back’ (May 2020) and ‘Fringes are back’ (October 2020).

In April of this year, just when they had finally managed to shape their mullets into curtains with a touch of the fringe, the same readers must have woken with a start to the alarmist headline: ‘The bob is back.’

As if their clothes didn’t give them enough to worry about! This April, the Guardian fashion pages declared ‘Frayed jeans are back’. But just a few months earlier readers were told, ‘Flares are back’ (November 2020), followed, a month later, by ‘Power shoulders are back thanks to Zoom meetings’ (December 2020).

But, then again, Guardian readers must have grown used to these perpetual fashion revivals. Witness ‘Shoulder pads are back’ (2007), ‘Bow-ties are back’, ‘Shell suits are back’, and ‘Denim jackets are back’ (all 2009), ‘Dungarees are back’ (2010 and 2013) and ‘Platforms are back’ (September 2016).

It says something for that quintessential Guardian reader, Jeremy Corbyn, that he has so single-mindedly refused to kow-tow to these revivals. On the other hand, it might be a pleasant surprise to see him arriving at the forthcoming Labour Party conference in platform heels, topped off with a shell suit and bow-tie.

Last week, a headline in the Times excitedly declared ‘Boots are back!’ This came hot on the heels, as it were, of ‘Cleavage is back’. In August, the paper also told us that ‘The fashion corset is back’ and ‘Bodycon dresses are back’.

July was a bumper revivalist month in the Times, with ‘Polka dots are back’ on the 21st, and ‘Lips are back’ on the 19th. Meanwhile, two months after the Telegraph’s scoop, on July 25 the Sunday Times enthused that ‘Crocs are back’.

Other Times fashion scoops this year include ‘Love them or loathe them, jeggings are back’ and ‘Retro trainers are back’ (both January), ‘Baggy jeans are back’ (March), ‘Combat jackets are back’ (April) and ‘Leggings are back’ (May).

Last year was even more of a hurly-burly of back-and-forth. In January 2020, ‘Skinnies are back.’ Did they ever really go away?’ In March, ‘Signet rings are back.’ In May, ‘Leather jackets are back.’ In June, ‘Wedges are back’ and ‘Maxi skirts are back.’

Now you see them, now you don’t. Of all items, it seems that the maxi skirt is perhaps the most volatile

It’s sometimes hard to keep up with the fast-moving world of fashion journalism. Blink, and you’re out of fashion. Blink again, and — hurrah! — you’re back in.

In August 2020, the Times announced that ‘Ballet pumps are back’. In April of this year, the Sunday Times noted that ‘The ballet pump is back — here’s why it’s the perfect shoe for now.’ This suggests that within a matter months, the ballet pump had been out of fashion, come back into fashion, gone out of fashion, and then come back into fashion.

Now you see them, now you don’t. Of all items, it seems that the maxi skirt is perhaps the most volatile.

‘Maxi skirts are back for summer 2020 — get ready for some hippy chic’, declared the Times in June 2020. ‘Maxi skirts are back’, declared the Sunday Times, a year later, in July 2021.

Eleven years earlier, on April 3, 2010, the Times announced the revival of the maxi skirt from 20 years before, though this was itself a revival of the maxi skirts heyday 20 years before that, in the early 1970s.

Recently, we have been told that successive lockdowns have put paid to the suit. But that was at least three weeks ago. It can’t be long before someone comes up with the snappy headline: ‘The suit is back.’

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