9 March 2020

The Instagram exposing fashion subcultures

Whether you’re a nicotine-addicted ‘Hedi-boy’ or a Margiela worshipper trying to cop vintage Tabis in your free time, no one is safe from @raf_semens. The cutting Instagram account trolls drop culture, hypebeasts and anyone who takes their love of fashion too seriously. A high school student from Texas, Max Womack, 18, is the creator of the irreverent meme account. Upon quitting his part-time job in March 2019, Womack earned himself some free time, out of which the page was born. 

The page is a wonderland for cynical followers of fashion—but maybe not followers of graphic design. The memes deliberately appear to have been made with little-to-no consideration for aesthetics, adding a layer of humour to poke fun at an industry that is all about image. Frequent subjects of Womack’s teasing are the ardent followers of Hedi Slimane, Virgil Abloh and Rick Owens and the signature brand products that true fans either have or want. He places these individuals under a hyper-satirical lens for both hilarious effect and as a reminder that fashion should never be so serious that we cannot exercise humour at our own expense.

He doesn’t see himself as an aloof fashion know-it-all, but instead, as someone who is just like the people he makes fun of as the profile’s first post “was poking fun at myself for being a huge Hedi Slimane fan.” Indeed, if you scroll to the page’s inaugural post you find a moodboard of Saint Laurent and Celine pieces accompanied with profile photos of moody, rockstar-ready looking adolescents. This is all completely subverted when you read that the caption for the teenage heartthrob this image describes, reads: “insecure about his Wyatt boots making noise when he walks.” 

Womack notes that fashion is a progression of styles and that we all encounter that same universal moment where we retrospectively shiver with a mixture of regret and disgust over an outfit we used to wear with unabashed pride. Mark Twain declared that the most effective weapon at a human’s disposal is the ability to laugh, and if you are going to ever get over that photo of you wearing COMME des GARÇONS PLAY Converses then you might as well take his advice.