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Why 50/50 fashion is everywhere right now: three theories

We thought way too hard about this so you don’t have to

We’re living in the digital age. Instagram is now TV, emojis constitute emotion, and our thoughts are limited to 140 (now 280) character tweets. Playing one person online and another IRL, against a backdrop of miscellaneous global chaos, it’s no surprise that we’re a lil overwhelmed. But is this fractured identity starting to manifest in our clothes? Judging by the amount of fashion brands creating pieces which look like two different items spliced abruptly together (or what we’re calling 50/50 fashion), then sure.

First appearing at Vetements (where most trends are born), Demna Gvasalia put out the now recognisable Antwerpen tee, spliced and restitched together to obscure the logo, way back in 2015. In fashion years, that may as well have been 1975 – but the deconstructed style was channeled in further hoodies and tees. As Demna dictated, others followed, with Marc Jacobs putting out a band tee version at his SS16 show. At Off-White, Virgil Abloh explored the idea for a few seasons, first splicing t-shirts at the back to create an uneven neckline, then for AW16, teaming up with Shane Gonzales to stitch together contrasting vintage tees. Central Saint Martins student Conner Ives got in on it too, reconstituting vintage t-shirts for a more sustainable take on the trend. Unsurprisingly, the high street eventually caught up, but the original idea had long moved on since then.

Back in the Antwerpen days, times were simpler. Now the identity crisis trend has evolved into looks that are split right down the middle – half of one look combined with half of another, in a completely different print or fabric. At Gosha Rubchinskiy’s agenda-setting SS18 show, this came in the form of jackets that were part denim, part schoolboy blazer, and – as part of his Burberry collab – a half navy, half beige trench. Spliced-together clothes officially had a new lease of life – since then, we’ve seen them at Prada, Balenciaga, and Maison Margiela. But why? We have a few theories. 


Who knows when it happened (we were too busy scrolling to notice) but collectively we’re more distractible than ever. We can’t commit to anything longer than a six-second Vine (RIP), or a Buzzfeed quiz telling you what kind of potato you are (scalloped FYI). In fact, we’re so scared of commitment that ‘ghosting’ has now been updated to ‘orbiting’ – a phrase used to describe people who disappear from your love life, but still hang out on the periphery, liking your pictures and appearing on your feed.

In the current ‘Renaissance’ period, we’re all a hybrid model-slash-DJ-slash-designer-slash-everything. So why not show that with our clothes too? If you feel like you’re best represented by clashing Baroque prints à la Burberry, or a more muted charcoal coat amped-up with a tartan print at Gucci, it’s up to you. Don’t limit yourself, get you a coat that can do both. 


Brexit. Trump. Putin. It’s a huge understatement to say that politics are pretty fucked up on a global scale. While you might think that being a liberal-minded person puts you in the majority – see: US election and Brexit results – the reality is that the divide is a lot more evenly split than you’d think. Not that you need reminding, but the Brexit results were as close as 48.11 per cent Remain, and 51.89 per cent Leave. 

It’s no wonder that we’re seeing this split manifest itself in fashion too. However we try to escape the opposition – be they Leavers, Republicans, or Save the 8th-ers – we all live on the same planet, trying to find a way forward. Sure, some of the halves complement each other better than others, but it’s the complete clashes that best represent the political struggle that we’re living in. And the struggle is real. It’s more than fair to say, this is the most unstable the world has felt in a while, and that’s following a double-dip recession. Will things get better? Will we remain in EU? Who knows! Uncertainty seems to be the only thing that remains certain at the moment. 


Okay, so technically you’re not getting two looks when you’re buying mashed-up fash, but in the IG age, that’s not going to stop anyone particularly enterprising from using it as an opportunity to get more likes on the ‘gram. Now, instead of being limited to one carefully curated, well-lit, slightly Facetuned image per look, you can get two – provided you get the right angle.

Take Prada’s reworked archive shirts that emerged at its AW18 show. From one side you can pose and show off SS10’s beach print, and the other, a throwback to the iconic SS11 bananas. LBR, we’re all misleading people on social media at least a little bit. So why not convince people you’re serving two looks instead of one? Forking out £615 for the ultimate hypebeast shoe, the Balenciaga Triple-S? Convince everyone you bought two pairs with its new hybrid version. Combine with more halved looks to provide even more photo ops. OK, maybe nobody would actually go that far but hey – anything is possible.