By: Eric Ren
Photos by: Sarah Mardjuki
When Kanye West stepped into the spotlight at runway shows, concert venues, and music award conventions circa 2014, his presence and image would permanently impact the world of street fashion. Wearing tops by Givenchy’s head designer, Riccardo Tisci, Kanye spearheaded the movement to bring draping silhouettes from avant-garde runways to luxury fashion houses, and finally to high street retailers. Gradually, this trend became categorized under the general term of longline. Though the trend initially surprised and shocked the general public, oversized casual clothing is not a new concept. Keep reading for a look at the history of this iconic style.
Photo Credit: Clayton Laduerotary
With roots in the casual t-shirt and jeans trend of the ‘50s, the evolution of the new longline or oversized silhouette can be traced through the ‘90s and the 2000s. Championed by rock bands such as Nirvana, the “don’t care” attitude that the look exudes dominated the fashion world. Brands released clothes that conveyed an overall grunge or relaxed vibe, which included oversized t-shirts and baggy, wide-cut jeans. The ‘90s was also the era of the “worn-in” look, brandishing washed-out, faded colors and naturally distressed denim.
Eclipsed by the graphic tees, oversaturated colors, and sweatpants of the 2000s, oversized clothing faded into niche, street style communities. Influential rappers such as Eminem pioneered a comfort-first attitude that was adopted by young folks and athletes around the world. The oversized silhouette also found traction among hip-hop dancers, as the baggy clothing emphasizes individual movements and allows for free range of motion.
The revival of the trend by designers in the 2010s gave us a new take on the oversized silhouette. Taking on the new “longline” moniker, the design now gives fashion-conscious individuals a piece that is not only slim-fitting, but also drapes like the oversized shirts of the ‘90s.
Pushed forward by influential rappers like Kanye and A$AP Rocky, and fashion cult labels such as Rick Owens and OFF WHITE, the longline shirt exploded onto the scene, perfectly complementing the popular skinny, distressed jeans and stacked joggers of the time.
The 2010s’ current longline trend combines the relaxed image from the ‘90s and the freedom of motion from the 2000s with a color palette that strikes a balance between the heavily washed-out tones of the ‘90s and the oversaturated hues of the 2000s.
Rising levels of consumer confidence mean that the concept has since been applied to other tops including sweatshirts, hoodies, and jackets. However, just like any other trend, longline is beginning to fade as a wave of minimalist fashion gives away to a boxier, old-school street style.
Everyone from luxury designers to Instagram models is constantly searching for the “next big thing” in trends. As longline and oversized clothing inevitably step out of the mainstream spotlight, niche brands and specific customer segments will continue to incorporate longline silhouettes in their offerings. Perhaps the next community to co-opt the look will be that of the electronic music industry. Constantly present at music festivals around the world, this niche community benefits from the free-flowing, loose silhouette that provides airflow and comfort, two aspects that are greatly needed in an audience of thousands.
Another niche community that will likely adopt the longline silhouette includes those who focus on the technical aspect of their garments. Different fabrics and construction mean that the shirt can provide moisture wicking or heat retention functions without compromising mobility and freedom of movement. Whatever the future may be, I consider the 2010s longline trend to be a defining moment in oversized fashion.