For most millennials and Gen Z members, TikTok has become a source of content and also fashion trends. One of the microtrends that were born on the platform was the subversive basic, in which t-shirts, dresses and even pants are deconstructed with cutouts and transparencies. In the app, the hashtag “subversive basics” has more than 187 million views.
The term was coined by Agus Panzoni, a former trend scout at consultancy WGSN, in a video on his TikTok profile. In the content, she says that the subversive basic is “a basic that rebels until it loses its usefulness”. “It is common for you to see a top, t-shirts, tank tops, full of cutouts to the point of no longer recognizing the original piece. This deconstruction is the biggest characteristic of this aesthetic trend”, says style consultant Rafaella Nunes.
The pieces are a little dystopian, a little punk. Therefore, the expert says that they represent well what we are going through in a world that is overcoming a major pandemic. “It is common for these aesthetics that represent the end of the world to be on the rise.” She remembers Leeloo, Milla Jovovich’s character in “The Fifth Element” (1997), whose costume was designed by Jean Paul Gaultier.
However, even before earning a name on TikTok, subversive pieces could already be seen on the catwalks of brands such as Mugler, known for its unique pieces with transparencies and cutouts, and Chloé. The success of the aesthetic made Clarissa Larrazabal’s brand known. The designer has already dressed Demi Lovato and Madeleine Petsch. Brazilians Anitta and Bruna Marquezine also wore subversive basics.
How to use? Subversive basics usually have neutral colors and are made of malleable pieces, with or without a certain transparency. They can be blouses only with sleeves, like a kind of bolero. An asymmetrical top that only covers one breast. A skirt that is completely cropped. “The clippings match a lot with the hottest days, because they allow you to stay cool, but the interesting thing is that the pieces allow the construction of layers, so you can change the composition if you are more or less cold”, says Rafaella Nunes. “Using the cutouts, you create the way you want to show the body the way you want and feel more comfortable.”
Because of this more “unique” character of the trend’s clothes, Rafaella Nunes advises you to bet on DIY — many of the “#subversivebasics” videos on TikTok are exactly explaining how to make a piece at home. “You take your tank top, your t-shirt, and you cut it out until you find the look you like best.” The look is usually well adjusted to the body, with some transparencies. Showing skin is part of the look. So it could be read as an ultra-feminine aesthetic, but Rafaella Nunes — and the folks at TikTok — disagree.
“There is also a cultural issue in relation to gender. In subversive basic, the pieces can be quite agender. It is not necessary to have a specific body to use it. It can be an aesthetically feminine or masculine body”, adds the consultant. Precisely because of this transgressive characteristic of the trend, there are not many rules on how to combine them. “Despite being a deconstruction, the subversive basic is still a basic, so it can be used both with a silver heel and with sneakers”, concludes Rafaella.