Deconstructed Tailoring Was The Standout Street Style Trend At Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2023

The chokehold that structured men's tailoring has retained on the fashion industry is impressive. As the physical representation of a society in the throes of late-stage capitalism, suiting has become the unofficial uniform for girlbosses everywhere, who’ve utilised the powerful sway of exaggerated shoulder pads to convince cynical investors to take million-dollar chances on hobbies-turned-side hustles. Nothing says fiscally responsible quite like impeccable tailoring
While empowering for the wearer, masculine tailoring has, historically speaking, been the regalia of comically sinister personifications of corporate greed (read: American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman). The clinical uniform values function and form over humanity. It demands one to forgo one's personhood in order to assimilate into an unyielding and cold state of socially acceptable civility. 
In a patriarchal society where women aren’t safe or taken seriously, it’s understandable they’d don the same clothing as the people who’ve oppressed them. Whether it’s a bid for power or a method of protection, women's adoption of men’s tailoring just makes sense. 
Who can forget Lady Gaga stepping out for Elle’s Women in Hollywood celebration in 2019 in a “men's suit made for a woman”? During her speech, Gaga explained that after trying on “dress after dress”, she simply felt “sick to her stomach”. 
“As a sexual assault survivor by someone in the entertainment industry, as a woman who is still not brave enough to say his name, as a woman who lives with chronic pain, as a woman who was conditioned at a very young age to listen to what men told me to do, I decided today I wanted to take the power back,” she went on to say. “Today, I wear the pants.”
The suit in question — a look from Marc Jacobs Spring/Summer 2019 Ready To Wear collection — was strategically oversized, grey, and the masculinised antithesis of the ballooned caricatures of femininity that Jacobs sent down the runway alongside it. Picture a parade of clown collar ruffled shirts, drop-waist dresses decorated with gargantuan plaid rosettes, and banana-yellow rubberised mackintosh coats seven sizes too big. 
The runway presented outdated gender narratives, poked fun at the pantomime of societal paradigms, and utilised a benign medium like fashion to do it. And it’s becoming more and more apparent that style is playing a similar role in the pop culture zeitgeist of the present. 
Given the finite lifespan of the capitalist model and the current state of the Australian economy, a subsequent sartorial divergence and deconstruction was always inevitable. Women have been impacted most by the Australian rental crisis, spending more than 30% of their income on rent alone. The government makes new, terrifying decisions every day that benefit the wealthy and destroy the infrastructure designed to protect the wellbeing of the most vulnerable. Most days, we read the news and we feel like we’re entering into an era of dystopian proportions. 
So while strolling the abandoned manufacturing yards of Carriageworks at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week, it was evident that we were witnessing the butterfly effect of the cost of living crisis in real time.

The deconstructed tailoring trend at AAFW

In a sea of last year’s blazers and heel-skimming trousers, some people tore apart the tailoring of yesteryear one stitch at a time — literally. 
We saw the sharp silhouette of a business shirt ripped open at the shoulder seams, exposing a flash of skin, and inadvertently, the evidence of human life beneath the corporate shell. 
Phoebe Wolfe for Refinery29 Australia
In another instance, we spotted a blazer that had been fashioned into a tube top. The lapel and sleeves of the jacket had been serrated just above the bust and removed. While the remnants were sewn to form a frayed and raw-edged neckline accentuated the wearer's decolletage. 
It's a welcome distraction from the ongoing skinny versus baggy jean debate. From storied patchwork pants to reimagined constructions, a number of attendees were seen rocking reworked denim pieces
The deconstructed tailoring trend was only further catalysed by designers Ginger & Smart, Bianca Spender, ESSE Studio, Mariam Seddiq and Jordan Gogos, who collaborated on Afterpay and Thread Together’s ReCouture collection. The collection utilised an excess stock of men’s suit that were donated to the Thread Together charity, and was shown at the Afterpay x #WeWearAustralian multi-brand show at AAFW on Friday 19th May.
“The initiative aims to shine a light on sustainability and clothing waste, which currently sits at 227,000 tonnes of textiles going to landfill each year according to the Australian Fashion Council,” a press release states. “This is supported by Thread Together’s view as they are currently seeing more supply than demand in Men’s Suiting post-pandemic.”

How to wear deconstructed tailoring 

If the idea of subverting a wardrobe staple sounds up your alley, let’s get practical. Confident with a pair of fabric scissors and a sewing machine? Try overhauling a tailored piece in your wardrobe (like last season’s blazer) that you don’t get much wear out of anymore. Alternatively, there are racks and racks of oversized mens blazers to be found at your local consignment store. Bonus points for repurposing a garment instead of letting it go to landfill. 
However, we understand that not everyone is as handy with a sewing kit, which is why we’ve hunted down a few deconstructed tailoring pieces we think are worth investing in. 
We love this Acne Studios Deconstructed Suit Jacket, $1500, solely for the fact that it looks like it’s been involved in an altercation with a cannon. We expect it’s also sure to elicit a handful of especially hilarious jokes from the paternal figures in our life. 
The shrugged asymmetrical construction of the JACQUEMUS La Veste Baska linen-blend blazer, $1600, reveals a strong but feminine curve by exposing the shoulder. Wear this with nothing underneath. Please. 
More of a denim fan? Ksenia Schnaider’s Demi Denims Jeans, $375, baffle the brain, but in a way that feels delightfully strange.
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