Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Kyle Guerra: The Throwback Kid

Kyle Guerra is an amateur skater and bassist for the band Small Hands, and, in addition to that, a walking time capsule.         

          With this summer’s trends reverting back to the oh so easy and comfortable simplicity of the 90’s (Teva sandals and oversized slip dresses anyone?), including the return of Normcore (a style once reserved for your nerdy, middle-aged father), I thought it perfectly fitting for my newly hatched fashion blog’s first piece to feature a short lived and long divisive 90’s fashion legacy: Grunge.

"Grunge and Glory"
Kristen McMenamy photographed by Steven Meisel for Vogue, 1992
        The "anti-fashion" trend has long been a controversial topic in the fashion world. Many critics cringe at the word "Grunge," even bashing the iconic 1992 Vogue spread created by renowned creative director of Vogue, Grace Coddington, and talented photographer Steven Meisel. However, I believe that when it comes to Grunge many people dislike it not only because they do not understand it (it is, after all, intended to be both misunderstood and undefined), but also because it is so often badly executed.

        After all, Grunge is not just about "dirty" and when it comes to Grunge, the biggest mistake people make — including myself — is planning; no one can successfully feign not caring, both in fashion and in life, and not caring is really what gave birth to Grunge in the first place (thank you, Kurt Cobain). Grunge has been called many things, but when successfully executed can be perfectly summed into one word: cool. What makes something “cool,” you ask?

         In order for something to look cool, it must be completely effortless. In fact, it is only when the awesomeness and visual appeal of a look completely outweigh the amount of effort put into it that it is truly cool.

        This is what brings us to the subject of inspiration for this article. When I asked my friend Kyle if he would be willing to be the subject of my first fashion feature, he was perfectly surprised (remember that one time when I talked about effortlessness being the key???), which assured me that I had chosen the right person.

"I grew up listening to 90's music."

His Inspiration:

[My favorite skateboarder], Bobby Worrest,
he just kinda has, like, a cool style that I
like. He just wears plain clothes, Dickies,
cheap work pants."

        Kyle's style is, to no surprise, very heavily influenced by both the skateboarding and punk-rock culture scenes. He is a bassist for Virginia based band Small Hands and even still forgoes digital music for old fashioned records. But it is not just music culture of the 90's that influences him. Kyle also credits a much more personal tie to that time period as an inspiration to him. "My dad is working-class blue-collar, so he always wore Dickies because that's what he could afford and I just kind of liked it, I guess. They have that classic Chino look, but they're tough. I mean, there's definitely a nostalgia to it.
"I've always loved flannels, I guess."
My dad graduated high school in '93 and if I look at pictures of him in high school, all he's wearing is flannels and stuff." Not only did I genuinely find it interesting that Kyle's father had played such a vital role in creating Kyle's unique aesthetic, but the word "nostalgia" also quickly caught my attention, reminding me of Kurt Cobain's 1993 interview with author Darcy Steinke, where he cited his nostalgia for the years before his parents' divorce as a reason for his signature style of "perpetual adolescence." 

His Aesthetic:    
"One of our friends will walk up, and we're just
like, 'dude, you look like a grandpa'."

        What makes Grunge great, and in many ways more practical than other trends, is not only its visual appeal, but its appeal to both function and economy. Kyle learned this perk early on, and has been repurposing many of his worn out pants into cut off shorts for years. In fact, it is this necessity for practicality and money saving that creates the worn and torn thrift store look we love so much. "I don't want to spend money on $60 pants and get holes in them. I know what I buy is gonna get a lot of wear and tear." Fortunately for grunge wearers, this
"I buy what I see and I like that's
reasonably priced."
"wear and tear" adds character, rather than depreciating value. "I like it when a shirt looks worn in kind of, so I tend to just wear the shirts I've had a long time.  Me and my skateboarding friends don't really care what we wear; we kind of take pride in it, but not, like, in a pretentious way. We wear dingy clothes because, ya know, we don't want to mess up nice clothes, but at the same time, all we own is dingy clothes because we skate in them and everything." When I asked Kyle if there is any planning involved in creating his outfits, he  sort of responded with both a yes and no: "I don't plan like a chick would, but I guess I kind of pick things. I don't really care about matching...probably because I don't know how to. I just wear what I like."

His Attitude Towards Fashion:
"A lot of it plays into the apathy towards
what we wear...Like I could wear just
whatever I'm feeling -- whatever
I like -- at the time."
 "I think some people take it not, like, too seriously, but I think people worry too much about fashion. When I put something on,  I think about it, but I don't think about it much. But I think it definitely does have an impact on our culture."


Special thanks to Kyle Guerra for being my first feature and to Daniel Kost helping out with the photo shoot
Thanks for reading! <3