Cults are having a moment! Perhaps their biggest moment since the ’70s. Don’t miss out!
Not only has the trend already successfully infiltrated music, film and television, it is now in the process of overtaking fashion as well. To be certain, this aesthetic aspect of the cult trend is in no way connected to any real ideology or religious belief system–unless you happen to have a dogmatic and overly zealous ~passion for fashion~ that borders on the fanatical. Instead, the current trend is merely all about the look: the hot-and-hip “cult member” look.
From Tinseltown to Jonestown, cult-wear is a timeless fashion statement. Granted, that statement may be “I am an indoctrinated follower of a charismatic but potentially dangerous egomaniac”, or it may just be “I shop at Wood Wood.” Either way, wearing all-white is definitely in. Not only does the ensemble epitomize those chilled-out vibes of late-summer, it also hits on the highlights of the laidback athleisure trend of yesteryear.
The cult trend can be interpreted as rising to prominence for the same implicit reasons that normcore once did. In the fashion arms race, one of the most effective ways of asserting distinction is by rejecting difference entirely. Despite the seemingly contradictory logic, trends are inherently individualistic – they arise from a desire to differentiate oneself from the pack, thus granting the individual an elevated status. Of course, if everyone is trying to be different, then sometimes the most “different” thing one can do is to seemingly reject this status-seeking behavior altogether and embrace sameness.
What’s more “same” than looking like a cult member? Cults have historically downplayed individuality and materialism while simultaneously emphasizing the value of collectivism and aesthetic similarity: remember the Nikes of the Heaven’s Gate cult, or the ubiquitous mullets of the Peoples Temple? Catch this cycle of obsolescence while it’s on the rise and ride the wave to its peak!
Pictured above, HBO’s The Leftovers is a haunting television adaptation of a dystopian novel, helmed by Damon Lindelof of Lost fame. (Former Losties will perhaps point out that Lost‘s Jacob – a chilled-out Jesus-like figure of the Island – was in the habit of wearing all-white as well. He was prescient and all-knowing, so perhaps he had a ten-year jump on the trend; waaay ahead of the curb.) The basic premise of The Leftovers, which is set in the modern day US, revolves around a random, one-time “global event” wherein 2% of the world’s population mysteriously vanished into thin air. The series explores the emotional fallout from this event and how those who are “leftover” cope with life in the years following the unexplainable “sudden departure”. It sounds very rapture-esque, but is not overtly religious; there is no sneaky-Jesus proselytizing creeping in. Instead, The Leftovers envisions a world in which the “sudden departure” of millions of people has lead to the proliferation of various cults as a coping mechanism, or way of comprehending what happened. The cult which plays the most major role in the series is called the Guilty Remnant, a laconic group whose followers choose to dress all in white, chain-smoke and glare at others with deadpan expressions. Coincidentally, this happens to perfectly exemplify the next cool fashion trend.
It’s true: these days there’s nothing more on-trend than wearing all-white while chain-smoking and looking sullen. Buy yourself a tub of bleach and get on it!