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The rise of the subversive basic

Subversive basics are THE microtrend of 2021 for your vaccine appointment and the perfect outfit for your Grindr profile picture

2021 is the year of hope. With lockdown easing and us being out and about again, everyone is trying to get that Vitamin D.  And this is why subversive basics are THE new micro-trend of 2021.  Being partly naked highlights how skin-to-skin contact deprived we are. The beauty about this look is that it can be as subtle or as sultry as you like; a real spectrum on how to do it. On the (w)hole though, it’s about the suggestion of skin and feeling empowered.


Clarissa Larrazabal. Image Courtesy: Manuela Doran @MDS_STUDIOS

Subversive basics are tank tops, trousers and bodysuits and other fashion staples. The minimal but yet revealing garments tend to have asymmetrical cut-outs and most designers stick to neutral tones and simple fabrics. Cut-outs, keyholes and sheers are buzz words when shopping online for the style.

I first heard about the trend through TikTok influencer and Teen Vogue approved trend researcher Agustina Panzoni. She highlights smaller brands in her videos. “Fashion media started calling out cut-outs and sheers and deconstructed pieces. I had forecasted those earlier but also saw a narrative that united them. It’s already on the runway and getting bigger! I see it for both spring-summer and winter,” Panzoni analyses.

American-Venezuelan designer Clarissa Larrazabal has taken up this trend and deconstructed the bodysuit and transformed it into a subversive basic. The concept was very personal to her and she decided to deconstruct femininity. “I wanted to find a way to desexualise the female body but still empower the woman to the sounds like you can wear whatever you want, but you work for yourself,” Larrazabal states. All of the fabrics are locally sourced from Venezuela, Larrazabal’s home country.



Zac Brind in Salt Murphy. Image Courtesy: Zac Brind

The trend, however, is not just limited to women. Browsing through Grindr, I came across queer men embracing the trend. In contrast to Larrazabal’s statement, this style seems to be more sexualised on the male body. I reached out to Zac Brind, womenswear student at LCF, on Grindr. His profile picture in a white Salt Murphy Cotton Tank stood out. He shared that he feels sexy when he wears his subversive tank-top, but it does make him self-conscious to wear it out. “A lot of straight people will stare, and I will feel uncomfortable. When I am around my friends, then obviously, I will be fine with that,” he says.

This highlights how intimate this garment can be. You are showcasing parts of your body that normally don’t see the light of day and this can be anxiety inducing. Women on the other hand, may be more used to the scrutiny of being judged for their fashion sense. Larrazabal aimed to create pieces that shield women from the male gaze and sexualisation. This contrast between utilising the garment as a tool of seduction and actively desexualising the body will create polarising opinions about this trend and eventually push it into the mainstream.

But take it easy and slowly ease your way into this trend. Try subversive basics with shoulder cut-outs first. This is also quite handy for easy access for your vaccine appointment. You want to wear an immeasurable outfit for this iconic moment of history. Once you have the confidence, show other parts of your body, the ones you never show off. Panzoni sums it up, “Wear subversive basics wherever you like.” And if you feel adventurous, watch Muse’s TikTok tutorial and try to create your own subversive basics!

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