The desperate urge to fit in, be beautiful or simply keep up with the latest fashion, blinds normally sane people into a frenzy of thoughtless consumerism and trends underpinned by a philosophy of “anything goes” as long as one is “in.” The ever-metamorphosing fashion industry picks up on the street ethos derived from alternative movements, like hip-hop; co-opts its codes, messages and mode of dressing and turns into a generalized fashion statement (I’m thinking Adidas sneakers or tracksuits). Some are long lasting and tasteful, others short lived and terrible, but they all make a profit. Let’s take a look at some of the worst fashion trends from around the world.
An apt name for one of the stupidest and weirdest trends ever to hit planet Earth. Luckily, the body modification trend is localized, mainly to Canada, where this bizarre practice was born, and Japan, where it caught on among the country’s trend-setting ravers. Those wishing to don a bagel head must endure a 300-400 cc injection of medical-grade saline in the mid-forehead over a period of two hours, and then press in the center of the bulge to achieve the much-coveted “bagel head” look. Fortunately, unlike tattoos, those victims of rash decision-making episodes under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs need not carry their “bagels” for a lifetime as the body will absorb the saline solution over the course of a few hours and the bagel will be digested, so to speak. Still, you might want to hold the lox and cheese for that.
If the tattoos you sport on your body weren’t painful enough, you might want to try tattooing your cornea, i.e. your eye! Though the practice has been around since antiquity with famed Roman physician and philosopher Galen recording the procedure, it has only been recently that the practice has taken off as a trend. Again, Canada seems to be the world leader in corneal tattooing but has also caught on in Brazil, Russia and among the prison population in the US.
The most technologically sophisticated society in the world is also notorious for having produced some of the most dubious fashion trends ever; among them Ganguro, a 1990s fashion trend popular with young women in Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun. Ganguro is characterized by dark tans, bleached hair and whitish make-up around the eyes. Ganguro waned by 2000 only to usher in it’s sister aesthetics: Yamanba and manba, a radicalized version of ganguro featuring white lipstick, pastel eye make-up, tiny metallic or glittery adhesives below the eyes, brightly colored circle lenses, plastic dayglow-coloured clothing, and incongruous accessories, such as Hawaiian leis.
You may know them as ‘bubble skirts’ but the name is the least of it. Puffball skirts made their debut in the 80s in Europe and then the US. Their popularity dwindled but every once in a while, a daring fashionista risks life and limb by wearing one in public. In case you didn’t know, they are mini skirts that have been doubled over at the hem to give them a puffball, or fungus, appearance. They were first invented by LaCroix and worn during the Bros/Stock Aitken Waterman/late Bananarama era in the UK.
The alluring and suggestive bikini meets its nemesis in the guise of a “facekini,” a recent Chinese fashion craze for beachgoers meant to protect the user from the sun’s harmful rays, insect stings and jellyfish. The mask itself is reminiscent of a Mexican wrestler’s mask (think El Santo but with a wide array of colors and patterns), or, dare I say it, a terrorist’s mask. Chinese beachgoers, however, are not taken aback at the sight of their fellow masked bathers. Chinese online sellers are having a field day with the facekini as they are selling like hot cakes.
If you thought eye tattooing was unsettling, then you will certainly cringe at this one. The procedure involves implanting a flat, platinum design, usually a star or a heart, between the sclera, the white part of your eye and the conjunctiva or clear part of your eye. The fad began in The Netherlands in 2004 and is now growing in the US, with one New York ophthalmologist charging as much as $3,000 to make you “beautiful.” Supporters claim the procedure is safe, but its detractors warn there could be risks including infection and blindness.
Picudas are Mexican pointy boots popular with trance, tribal and electronic music lovers in Mexico. So how pointy are they that they should be included in this list? Well, some stretch out as much as 5 feet long, which makes them curl up towards the knees, and some incorporate flashing LED lights, disco balls and even mirrors. The boots reportedly originated around 2009 in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí and made it’s way to the US, especially to Dallas, Texas, but also in Tennessee, Mississippi and Oklahoma.
After the repeated attempts to introduce the male skirt, to no success, came “meggings,” or male leggings, another flop in the making, originated in New York. The fashion industry has been trying hard to pass on traditionally female garments and accessories, to men with varying degrees of success (think of the “murse” or “man bun”), and this article of clothing will probably be no different. Meggings were voted the biggest fashion faux pas of 2013 and we have yet to see droves of men romping down the streets of major urban centers wearing meggings. Really, only Henry the VIII and runners can wear these.
Thailand captured the attention of the world in 2013, when out of the blue a spontaneous fashion phenomenon for Nazi memorabilia and Hitler imagery emerged in the South East Asian country. It started as a craze for T-shirts printed with cartoon images of Hitler’s face and soon continued with SS style bike helmets, swastika tattoos, and pictures of cute teddy bears doing the Nazi salute. The madness has since reached other Asian countries with the sale of Hitler key rings in 7/11 stores in Taiwan, Nazi T-shirts in Japan and a clothing store in Hong Kong caught decorating the counter with Nazi flags.
Haircuts and styles must also be included in fashion trends and none is worse than the mullet. The mullet, that distinctive “short at the front, long at the back” look brought into living rooms by the likes of David Bowie, Rod Stewart and Paul McCartney, has surprisingly resisted its demise with many media stars and misguided youth guilty of keeping the revolting haircut alive. Prominent among these are the indie rock duo Tegan and Sara, Tom O’Neill, famed hair stylist, Sandra Bullock and Rihanna. The mullet also became popular among Middle Eastern immigrants in Australia.
You may remember the quick-footed MC Hammer and his 1990 hit “Can’t Touch This”, when he popularized those Arabian-looking baggy pants suitably called “harem pants.” These showstoppers have a saggy crotch and are tapered at the ankles, which gives them that “puffy” look at the hips and, for those of you who have worn them, a lifetime of embarrassment when looking at old pics. Still, regardless of the lack of fashion sense, they do look comfy and suitable for a beach day, but not to romp around.
En vogue in the 90s, thanks to the NYC hip-hop scene, this two-piece renegade descendant of the tracksuit has been going and coming back into popular fashion every so often, much to everyone’s chagrin. In a sense, it is the ultimate (anti) fashion statement saying tons about the hassle of always having to look “one’s best” and with the latest gear, but that’s ok if you’re not in the public eye (and even then, it’s not recommendable).
Inspired by the one-piece suits and jammies used by infants, the Norwegian company OnePiece thought it would be a good idea to make an adult version and found almost immediate success among its Scandinavian brethren. Years later, the craze caught on in the UK and in the US. As in the children’s version, onesies are perfect for lounging indoors and sleeping, however, the bold step of venturing outdoors wearing one of these is the pinnacle of tasteless.
Platform shoes have a rich and long history, believe it or not. Beginning with the Greeks, whose thespians wore something called a “Cothurnus,” leather sandals with 6-inch cork platforms to give the actors a bit of a boost. Then came the “pattens” in the Middle Ages, worn by all the citizenry when strolling down the unpaved streets, which were filthy and unsanitary, so the pattens would elevate them to avoid all the muck. Platforms reappeared in their modern form at the hand of Salvatore Ferragamo with his rainbow-colored cork sandal in the 1930s, and has had an on-and-off existence since then. One of the latest reincarnations of the platform shoe was as a sneaker (or trainer) reportedly elevated (no pun intended!) to fashion symbol by the all-girl sensation group the Spice Girls. Since then, many have sprained their ankles while others were temporary blinded by the unsightly, unstylish and impractical platform sneaker.
The West came out with gold teeth, or “grills,” an awful trend that continues to this day and no longer limited to rappers and street thugs. But Japan, yes, Japan, yet again, has responded with ”yaeba.” The Japanese challenge to grills consists of dental crowns that elongate their canines and give the effect of dental overcrowding and slightly vampirish teeth. Reportedly, Japanese men find women with these teeth attractive and innocent in a childish and impish way. Needless to say, a mature 30 year old with yaeba is anything but impish and childish; she’s simply another person with slightly crooked teeth and long fangs.