The Rise of the "Scumbro" Aesthetic
In an era of fashion typified by maximalism and the unequivocal embrace of the “ugly,” the advent of the “scumbro” is perhaps a matter of course. But what exactly is the scumbro? The term was coined by Kenzie Bryant of Vanity Fair, who describes the scumbro as “a catchall for the R.E.I.-clad trustafarian co-ed meets Supreme…scumbro is the version of streetwear that wears irony like it’s a dewy hint of highlighter on the cheekbone—like normcore did, but much less precious. The scumbro wears Patagonia and Crocs but also the latest Adidas limited drop.”
Essentially a sleazier, psychedelic mutation of the hypebeast, the scumbro rather resembles a bedraggled college kid—if he was dripping in brand names. The essence of the look is to appear as if no effort whatsoever was put into the outfit, while underscoring exactly how much effort it’s taken to look so mismatched. There is a wanton, calculated disregard for the established codes of fashion: think socks with sliders, and a penchant for both tacky neon and drab, washed-out shades.
There is a brazen sleaziness about the aesthetic: one Twitter user said of scumbro Diplo that he looks “like a dude that sells you bad weed on the Venice boardwalk.” Indeed, the scumbro uniform may look dumpster-dived or designer-brand, often at the same time. You are as likely to catch the scumbro in Hawaiian print or tie-dye as you are to see him in overpriced labels ranging from high-end streetwear, such as Supreme and Palace, to the most ludicrous and lurid selections from luxury brands like Gucci and Prada.
Other hallmarks of the scumbro include ungroomed facial hair, scores of tattoos, and bleached or dyed hair. The look numbers Justin Bieber, Pete Davidson, and Jonah Hill among its most prominent poster children, and if the close following of these scumbro darlings’ wardrobes on streetwear blogs and fan accounts are any indication, the scumbro fan base is growing.
The scumbro makes for a fascinating case study in the evolution of fashion. Against a background where luxury brands increasingly co-opt subcultural fashion movements like streetwear, which derives its cool precisely from a turning away from high fashion, the scumbro, as the improbable alloy of exorbitant name-brands and the thrifty-crusty. Coupled with his rejection of fashion’s dogma, he emerges as a postmodernist aesthetic that is unique to the moment.
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