The terms may change, but most styles find their way back to the shelves, and into our wardrobe. I suspect that if we didn’t throw away clothes from 20 years ago, it would reduce a lot of unnecessary shopping today. Just as we were getting done making fun of all those ‘90s videos with baggy pants and loose sweaters, the style is back in fashion. This time around, it is called the anti-fit. Mind you, it isn’t the first time the term has been used. In fact, I remember Levi’s had done a whole range around them, over a decade ago. Other brands have dabbled in it too, under different names.
For me, growing up in India meant that the parents never bought clothes my size, but always, almost two sizes bigger. So, for me, the term anti-fit harkens back to those dark days of my childhood that were spent in odd, loose garments in garish colours, as picked out by my hippie generation parents. As it always happens with fashion trends, an idea usually starts in the utility section of the times, and from there, it’s elevated to the fashion pedestal, before finally being relegated to the bargain basement. Trench coats, pea-collar jackets, dungarees, the list runs long. Anti-fit, similarly, was common as industrial or functional clothing, because being oversized aorded the wearer extra room that may have been needed to facilitate ease of movement, prevent chaffing, and maybe also to provide general comfort over long hours.
It’s precisely why clothes meant for cycling are fitted and tight — to be functionally aerodynamic — although, that one brief moment when bicycle shorts became mass fashion was the biggest eye sore of the last century. This time, the ill-fitted style has made its way back through the athleisure route, which has been the biggest craze in this last half a decade or so. Skateboarding and basketball may not be the most popular sports, but their gear and style DNA have always portrayed a strong and powerful imagery, albeit one of rebelling. Brands like Thrasher, ASSC, The Hundreds, Chinatown Market, come racing to mind, but there are many more. Let’s also not forget designers like Heron Preston, Virgil Abloh, and Rick Owens who have either put out their own lines to exemplify this style, or have collaborated with other popular (and usually older and more classic) brands to create some very covetable silhouettes.
Most recently, the Uniqlo collaboration for their UT range with Billie Eilish and Takashi Murakami has thrown up a slew of slick tees, which work very well if you go a size up on the fit. Closer to home, brands like Vegnonveg, Six5Six Street, Strey, Capsul, Delhiwear, and BISKIT (to name a few) are doing a great job of bringing some fresh and unique (read: zany) ideas to the local table. The question that remains then, is what am I doing here, writing about things anti-fit for a column that now seems rather un-aptly titled, ‘Sartorial Man’? Well, the pandemic has affected a lot of things, including the way we dress up. For one, the gap between work and home wear has narrowed like nobody could have imagined. There is an increasing tendency that formal wear will either take a slight backseat, or become roomier, to allow more comfort.
With all these webinars and online meetings requiring us to sit put in one place for long periods, the essence of being comfortable has become more pertinent. Otherwise put, the constricting Italian cut, which was all the rage till sometime back, might have to be packed away for the next season, as English and American formats (or maybe something even more relaxed and easy) get centerstage. I won’t be surprised to see a category like ‘formal loungewear’ tagged onto shelves in the near future. I mean, if we can have casual fine dining (which is ubiquitous and acceptably popular), why not this, right? So, if you want to get with it, get into antifit. This is coming from a person who used to eschew anything even half a size too big. I think there are deeper underlying issues stemming from my childhood there that need to be addressed, fodder for an entirely different day, and doctor.