With the release of the latest Marvel Comic adaptation, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ on 3 July 2012, over-enthusiastic fashionistas may very well dare to wear the red and blue unitard and emulate Spiderman’s spandexy style.
For the rest of us, this is not necessary because comic book fashion is already seeping into the mainstream.
You may not look to Spiderman directly for fashion tips, but with so many comic book adaptations being released at the moment, the aesthetic of these films is having a massive influence on our runways and on the high street.
For some time now, runway fashion has mostly been serious, minimalist and borderline dour and the high street has been a place where young people can dress much older than they actually are.
If you picture a typical runway show right now, it’s likely that most of you will picture a white runway with a parade of identical, serious looking models walking towards you wearing mute coloured clothing cut into complicated, un-wearable shapes.
The comic book aesthetic mostly consists of the complete opposite: bright, block colours, clear, simple silhouettes and iconic symbols or prints without much detail. Spiderman clearly fits this description. As Peter Parker he has embodied the other part of the comic book aesthetic, that is; classic clothes, which give him a 60s, geeky look. They actually haven’t done this as much as I would have liked in the new film, with Peter Parker wearing hoodies, having messy hair and more modern, casual clothes. The glasses are probably the only thing keeping his look more classic.
The previous incarnations featuring Tobey Maguire have seen him in shirt and tie with neat hair and bolder, retro glasses.
The reason for this aesthetic is that Spiderman was first published in the early 1960s at a time when bright, block colours were fashionable, Michael Caine and his black glasses were iconic and people often still made their own clothes, so silhouettes were uncomplicated as these garments tend to be easier to make. These things were further exaggerated in print because of the need for visual clarity and the lack of need for detail and subtlety in the artwork.
Now the comic books are resurging as films we can witness this aesthetic creeping, or rather exploding back into fashion through designers like Jeremy Scott (bottom), who’s 2011 ready-to-wear show was directly and obviously inspired by superheroes. He takes a lot of inspiration from not only comic books, but also other cartoons by Disney and video games like Super Mario. This influence is also seen through designers such as Mary Katrantzou (above), Alexander McQueen and Meadham Kirchhoff (top), all famed for their bright colours and exciting runway shows. On the high street we’re seeing the return of classic, 60s clothing, peter pan collars, block colours, simple patterns like polka dots and stripes, simple silhouettes and cartoon prints on t-shirts. At the same time, there has been a big move towards a more dapper, sometimes geeky look with men’s attire and accessories.
So whilst Spiderman may not be a style icon in himself, the general aesthetic of these films is bringing the fun back into fashion and in times like these, we need all the help we can get!