Black is not the new black.  In fact, black has always been black.  One might argue though, that black is more black than it has ever been.  What do I mean by all this?  For many years, black has been the most undeniably cool colour, or shade, around which to construct an outfit, a collection, or even a brand.  The ease with which one can wear black, even when compared with other monochromic colours such as grey, white, navy and beige, has inspired not just one cult of dressing, but several, from Audrey Hepburn’s iconic ‘little black’ Givenchy dress to designer Rick Owens’ current uniform, emulated by fashion-goth disciples worldwide.

It comes as a surprise then that even as we approach the colourful summer months, I’m still only thinking in black.  This can be attributed to many things: laziness; inertia in fashion; despondency, all of which, interestingly are things fashion is supposed to be avoiding.  Why then, is there so much black?

Instrumental in the recent proliferation of the colour was the rise of the spellbinding if ineptly-named ‘goth-ninja’ aesthetic.  Propagated by Rick Owens, Alexandre Plokhov, Alexander Wang, Damir Doma and Ann Demeulemeester, the look swept runways from the mid-2000s onwards, even encouraging other established designers such as Riccardo Tisci and Rei Kawakubo to partially adopt the aesthetic. 

Indeed, contrary to most opinions, it is obvious that this trend is not over yet either.  While designers such as Boris Bidjan Saberi, Damir Doma and other notable designers no longer produce collections that are overwhelmingly black, the meteoric rise of Daniel Andresen, Ahmed Abdelrahman’s ‘Thamanyah’ and Leon Emmanuel Blanck shows that there are more designers catering to this aesthetic than ever, and it is quickly becoming apparent that these young men and women put more effort and work into their clothes than the competition, another explanation as to why the darkness is closing in around us.  It also refutes the argument that designers and consumers are being lazy in their use of dark colours.

Of course, with goth-ninja at times evident in half the Paris runway shows, it was bound to influence the mass market, being filtered down through celebrities of course.  An image of Victoria Beckham wearing a Rick Owens biker while carrying a swaddled Harper will undoubtedly persuade some to splash £1500 on Net-a-Porter, even if they don’t buy into the designer’s aesthetic. 

Likewise, A$AP Rocky’s early maxim ‘Raf Simons, Rick Owens, usually what I’m dressed innnnnn’ convinced men that goth-ninja, or rather street-goth in this case, was cool.  This case was more interesting, as men seemed to buy into the culture more than women, often exclusively wearing high-end goth brands.  While this does also prove the huge influence hip-hop artists have on mainstream men’s fashion culture, it certainly accounts for the prevalence of black, with influences spilling over into formalwear and high-end streetwear.

Indeed, Kanye West’s recent Brit Awards performance of ‘All Day’ provided the most representative image of current menswear.  Thirty dudes dressed in all black, with a flamethrower.  Jammer and Skepta even wore Astrid Andersen and Nasir Mazhar.  It is telling of the power of black clothing that despite being a boring, sedate colour, it was used in this performance as a uniform to convey energy and aggression.  The flamethrower may have added to this image more than I’m giving it credit for. 

This is still very much a menswear thing however.  Outside of young women wearing black leggings and black Nike Frees or Roshes, I haven’t seen it incorporated much at all into other forms of dressing among women.  Indeed, women’s AW/15 shows were lambent with the usual fuss, intricacy and embellishment.  Men, however, go much further, as was evidenced by this years London collections.  Contrary to women, it is ordinary in the city to see five or twenty black bomber jackets walking down the street, black jeans, black trainers, all being worn by men.  I’m guilty of it too, having worn black Damir Doma slip-ons and a black JW Anderson logo sweater for most of the month, and now that I think about it, most of the year so far.

Perhaps I, like many others, just feel more comfortable in black.  Maybe it’s just the weather.

Christian Robinson