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i'm officially out of fashion
because the next big thing is phat with a “f”
by jeffrey d. walker
pop culture

Heidi Klum reminds us on each episode of Project Runway that, in fashion: "One day you're in, and the next day, you're out."

Well if the alleged latest craze is true, then I'm out, and a lot of lazy slobs are in by default.

On Thursday, August 13th, the New York Times Fashion and Style section featured a piece by Guy Trebay called "It's Hip to Be Round," which seemingly endorsed potbellies as this year's New York hipster accessory of choice.

Mr. Trebay's article isn't available online unless you subscribe to the Times; however, the story was picked up by Salon.com and some other various places online, most taking time to point out how Trebay's article features a quote from Dan Peres, editor of Details magazine, who suggests the possible cause for this trend being a "rebellion" to our flat stomached Commander-in-Chief.

That's right! Forget your trucker hat, and get out the spare tire if you're lookin' to make the scene!

I won't claim to be all that fashionable. In fact, what little fashion sense I have I owe in large part to my wife, who changed my dressing habits for the better shortly after we started dating. Seriously, I could barely pick out things in the right size before she came along. (Thanks, dear!)

But even though I'm far from being a fashion icon, when I read about this one, I was like "Seriously? Is it here and now, in my lifetime, that we've entered the male Rubenesque period?"

Luckily, Slate.com's, Jack Shafer, called the whole thing bogus, pointing out:

“Although Trebay avoids the word trend as well as its many synonyms, his piece reeks of bogusity. He never explains what makes something hip. Is it pure numbers? If so, the iPhone is hip. But by definition, something celebrated by everybody and found almost everywhere is conformity, and conformity ain't hip. Usually when something is called hip, a top hipster can be found embracing it. But Trebay names no leader of potbelly hipness and uncovers no evidence of hip potbellies in the cinema, the stage, the concert hall, the night club, or elsewhere. It's just these random guts strolling around New York. You might as well say argyle socks are hip.”

So what is Trebay doing? Just making stuff up to make his deadline?
Maybe. Or maybe he's a marketing genius.

The New York Times, like many large print media outlets right now, has a serious cash problem. And magazines aren't doing so hot, either. Their primary threat is the Internet, and its free news sources available to almost everyone without having to walk to the mailbox, without having to pay.

If you're Trebay at The New York Times, how do you trick Internet news freeloaders into buying your goods?

Answer: create an Internet buzz for your in-print piece.

Here's how I think this happened: There is Trebay, trying to spot the latest fashion to write about, only he doesn't have anything legitimate yet. He leaves his desk and heads down to a bar on the Lower East Side, maybe he even hoofs it out to Brooklyn for one more, but all he sees is guys at the bar with potbellies.

And then, perhaps drawing on the comedic genius of Demetri Martin when he used to do "Trendspotting" segments a couple years back on The Daily Show, Trebay cooked himself up a ridiculous piece on fat guts being the next thing. He even called up his editor buddy at a respected men's style magazine, telling him about this ridiculous plan, and getting said editor to suppose a reason for this fake trend in order to give the whole thing some degree of credibility. After that, he simply waited for people to get wind of this douchebaggery and get all bent out of shape in online forums, the readers of which would then (hopefully) pony up the dough to review Trebay's original source material.

Of course, Trebay may have merely drafted up some drivel out of laziness that was to run on a Thursday, and he figured no one would call him on it. But it seems to me that if he were trying to skate by, he wouldn't call up a legitimate source and risk the blowback if he got caught. I think they were both in on it, and that is was, indeed, marketing genius.

What's really frightening is thinking about hipsters binging on beers and McDonald's because they heard about this crap, and were trying to get in on the latest trend. Think they wouldn't? This is the same crowd who did ironic mullets, bad mustaches, and stupid hats / headbands.

Who knows? Maybe all of these previous horrible fashion trends persisted simply because the eager youth are too busy trying to get with the latest fashion trends to notice that the fashion writers were clearly pulling things out of their asses.

Maybe the next big trend for hipsters should be critical thinking.


A practicing attorney and semi-professional musician, Walker writes for his own amusement, for the sake of opinion, to garner a couple of laughs, and to perhaps provoke a question or two, but otherwise, he doesn't think it'll amount to much.

more about jeffrey d. walker


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tracey kelley
8.24.09 @ 10:27p

I think you're right. It's probably all satire -

- but it will be funny to see how it takes off.

suzanne hagell
8.26.09 @ 1:40p

I have never been more in style. Thanks, Jeff!

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