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Crocheted tops, knitted sweaters, fit and flare pants and shift dresses in colour palettes that resemble the swirls of melted rainbow ice cream form part of the emerging fashion trend called “avant basic”.
Infiltrating the online fashion scene, your entire TikTok For You Page and Instagram feed is bound to be saturated with the trend that borrows inspiration from the 1960s and 70s. These two prominent decades in fashion saw the rise of the miniskirt, bold colours, disco style silhouettes and bold prints with distorted geometric shapes inspired by abstract art.
From the fitted skirts to the polo neck vests, the retro garments are an almost replica of what you’d see during these eras but avant basic adopts a slightly more subdued take on the colour. Turning the vibrant psychedelic prints into earthy neutrals and shades of pastel, the entire look is a commitment from top to toe.
The brands leading the pack are Paloma Wool, House of Sunny and Lisa Says Gah. These labels have a minimalist's take on eclectic aesthetics that's equal parts fresh and feminine.
Emma Hope Allwood, an editorial and creative consultant, took to Twitter to “christen” the aesthetic as avant basic in a Tweet that included a screenshot of the Lisa Says Gah Instagram feed. She followed it up with an explanation, that eloquently expresses what the trend embodies: “It's algorithm fashion. Quirkiness in the age of mechanical reproduction… vintage without the effort.”
Gen Z is an Earth-loving group aware that the future of our planet is in their hands. As they begin moving into a position of having significant buying power, businesses are starting to realise the pull they have when it comes to deciding what is trendy. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, fast fashion produces 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions each year and, on top of it is also responsible for polluting landfills.
Brands that embody the style of avant basic promise their clients that they use ethical practices by seeking partners and suppliers who share a common vision of sustainability, accountability and transparency. So, without having to raid their parents’ closets or hunt down clothes at garage sales you can embrace the vintage appeal of avant basic.
4 aspects of Avant basic fashion:
Patterns form a huge part of this trend. From groovy 70s florals to diamond check and bold, cartoonish illustrations, it’s definitely a look made to stand out. Some opt to allow one print to shine at a time, but the “power clashing” of contrasting prints is also popular. To make the look work, balance out bolder, more graphic prints with one that is more subtle, or go all out with garish prints at once. Use similar colour palettes to tie everything together.
Mix and match
Who knew green and pink or orange and purple were a match made in heaven? One of the most enticing parts of the avant basic trend is how much room it leaves for self-expression. Break all the rules and get creative with your colour combinations. The results are bold and playful yet effortlessly fashionable.
Retro head to toe
This trend is about committing to the look. You could fall in love with a singular avant basic piece, but the outfit works best when you go all out. From make-up to nails, hair and shoes, all aspects of an outfit can be saturated with avant basic themes.
Avant basic extends beyond just clothes, it is a decor trend too. The aesthetic is quirky and colourful without being too loud and obnoxious. Bella Hadid recently bought an Ettore Sottsass pink wave-edge mirror for $10 000 (R135 859) that emits soft light, but people have been replicating the look with DIY. Astrid Wilson prints and the Murano mushroom lamp, weirdly shaped candles, and patterned rugs are also popular favourites within the avant basic realm.