Avant-Garde Fashion: a Beautiful Challenge of Social Norms

A movement that began as a beautiful response to rigid social norms. Here, we give you an overview of avant-garde pioneers with further reading sources at the bottom.

written by: Forrest Bloom & J.

The basic purpose of fashion is to protect us from the elements and make us look “good” in the process. Over decades, fashion has developed into a robust art form that give us the opportunity to visually express our emotions. The styles and aesthetics you gravitate to are a reflection of your atavistic self. Whether you agree with them or not, there are social norms that dictate what we should and should not wear. Avant-garde fashion, which is woven together with art and music, is a response to the rigidity of these social norms. It rejects the mainstream for the unique.


Yohji Yamamoto

The "Godfather" of avant-garde fashion.


Yohji Yamamoto's aesthetic is characterized by gender ambiguity, dark colors, and flowing silhouettes. Upon further inspection, it is easy to notice the authenticity and sense of realism included in each piece of clothing. 

"I simply cannot stand people's tendency to become conservative."
- Yohji Yamamoto

Yamamoto's collaboration with Adidas, Y-3,  sparked the beautiful intersection of fashion and athletic-wear. He embraced contemporary sneaker culture to reconnect with streetwear. This paved the way for a wide-spread coalescence of high fashion and streetwear often termed "luxury streetwear." Most major fashion names; including Off-White, Balenciaga, Gucci, Gosha Rubchinskiy, and Kanye West have fully embraced luxury streetwear.


Rick Owens

"American" avant-garde fashion


Rick Owens, "The Lord of Darkness," is the master of combining glamour with grunge. His progressive style is characterized by luxurious fabrics and dark colors. Like Yohji Yamamoto, Rick Owens can be seen challenging social norms season after season.

“Indifference is the greatest aphrodisiac, that’s what really sums up style for me.”
- Rick Owens

 A$AP Rocky rocking Rick Owens Cargo Basket Leather Boots.

A$AP Rocky rocking Rick Owens Cargo Basket Leather Boots.

Avant-garde fashion in everyday life

Depending on how creative and adventurous you are feeling on a given day you can tailor how avant-garde you want to be. Your body is your canvas, and your fashion choices will depict the story that you want to tell. Make the outfit your own by balancing avant-garde pieces with other styles.

Remember when we said that avant-garde fashion rejects the mainstream? This is the key to the timeless aesthetic that can be achieved by embracing elements of avant-garde fashion.

Sources/Further Reading