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Ranking Avant-Garde Fashion for Actual Wearability

Culture industry was a term coined by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkeimer, two brainy theorists with awesome surnames who waxed poetic about the failure of the Age of Enlightenment. Heady stuff, but their century-old theory about mass-produced culture and the media machine that makes it is relevant now more than ever.

Over the last decade individuality has — ironically — been standardized thanks to the likes of indie superstore, Urban Outfitters, H&M and (sorry Jenna Lyons) J. Crew. The fashion equivalent of the soap opera, retail giants are by definition formulaic, adhering to pre-existing templates that above all else, promote scalability and profitability.

With the modern mass culture factory growing at a mind-blowing rate, we thought we’d take a minute to look back at its antithesis: the avant-garde. Should consumerism ever go the way of the dodo, here’s a fun reminder of what our closets might look like if artistic originality not sales figures ruled the day. From the Godfather of vanguard fashion, Issey Miyake, to Björk’s partner in fashion crime, Hussein Chalayan, to the intentionally anonymous genius behind Maison Martin Margiela, click through to see how we think these eccentric and original designs measure up in terms of everyday wearability. Let us know in the comments which look you’d consider rocking any old day of the week.

10. Hussein Chalayan

Image credit: body meets dress, dress meets body

We’re going to put this cloud-like confection of a dress at the very bottom of our list. Sure it’s fun and probably pretty comfy, but visibility looks like an issue and we can’t imagine public transportation in this ensemble, not to mention the most basic of daily activities – sitting down.

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