Photography/GIFs: Kathryn Chadason
Here’s the thing about Fashion Week: as much as everyone tries to one-up each other, almost everything ends up boring. And then you have shows like Hardeman’s, which make all the lines, selfies and self-important douches, actually worth it.
For their NYFW debut, the Amsterdam-based brand harnessed the sleaze of classic American culture, debuting Rouge 66, their S/S ’18 line. Of course, Hardeman is a denim brand, and jeans are a deeply rooted part of rock ‘n’ roll history. But when you work with only one fabric, especially one as specific as denim, it can be hard not to feel one-note. And Hardeman never does.
There’s also a fine line between good trashy and not fashion. Mixing classic styles with a modern gender-fluid edge and an unapologetic crassness, Hardeman is sleazy—and only in the best ways.
But just because the brand came to NYFW, didn’t mean they were going to conform to any ideas of what a fashion show should be. After all, Hardeman is built upon the principle of breaking down barriers, and that’s exactly what they did for their show—if you even want to call it that. At the Lower East Side’s Chinatownsoup Gallery, models in Farrah Fawcett wigs and assless chaps chewed Double Bubble and ate Wonderbread sandwiches covered in mayo.
The installation piece was like a slightly homo-erotic version of the Camel man, a surrealist and sex-drenched take on ’70s Americana. Like Hardeman’s denim, the presentation itself subverted heteronormative notions of how to dress and perform gender. By satirizing traditional American elements, the performance piece destroyed stereotypes and held up a mirror to social constructions that tell people how to look and dress. That radical symbolism speaks to what’s at the heart of Hardeman’s brand DNA: taking a classic masculine fabric like denim, and completely transforming it into something that can’t be defined.
And as we move closer to the Trumpocalypse (or maybe we’re already there), it’s brands like Hardeman that keep us sane—and not just because they’re out there throwing up a big middle finger, but because they make us laugh and say, “What the fuck?”
View photos from the Hardeman S/S ’18 presentation, above.