Looking Like a Yankee: Porteño Fashion Retrospective
A look back through my perception of Buenos Aires' style, now that I wear neon.
Hello! This post is a cop-out in that it’s three archival posts (plus new content!) mashed into one Leviathan text, but as the old HR blog is now basically down, I wanted to consolidate and re-share them with you in the context of over half a year’s worth of shocking sartorial assimilation.
The three posts below, published from September to October 2022, belie my sheer horror at first encountering the “fashion world” of Buenos Aires. I was fresh out of NYC, grasping at straws as to what it meant to be a fashion lover in a country that has an economic and cultural situation precluding a comparable world of style. All the “vintage” stores I went to in my first weeks here hawked 2015 Zara and pretty much only that, in ostensibly “trendy” neighborhoods, I never saw anyone on the street whose outfit made me feel energized and inspired to create my own, and any boutiques or clothes I even somewhat liked were priced so as to only be accessible to people earning on the USD, which left a bad taste in my mouth. I wanted to see fashion by Argentines, mainly for Argentines, that honored and criticized and embodied the city itself, like so much NY fashion does.
Luckily, my investigations deepened, and I was lucky enough to meet several people whose styles truly impacted my own in many ways, find the best (by far) vintage store in the city and befriend the people who worked there, and start to train my eye to glimpse the inspired flashes hidden in quotidian dress around the city.
I’ll write more in depth on all of this later, but for now, read on for my top five most inspirational, style-wise, people in this city, and five favorite shops, some of which are holdovers from my very first inklings last September and some I didn’t discover until I was really down the rabbit hole.
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People to follow on IG for Style Inspiration
@nanc4ptor - because she’d kill me if she wasn’t first on this list (and because she’s a genuinely talented, albeit demented, stylist)
@tu_morenitx - their style made me realize that the city had something special to add to my wardrobe not to mention their jewelry shop, @tiendalloron, is a fever dream
@canica.malaguenia - I met her while she was working at my favorite vintage store and immediately fell to my knees when I heard she was six years younger than me because she dressed so much cooler
@blx.ndinese - so talented at clothes-making, so punk, so lovely of a person, so genuinely visionary
@anitafurlong - the way I would wear literally any and all of their outfits, simply genius, their visual art rocks too, you gotta check it out
@keak_vintage_boutique - simply the best, and possibly the only, genuine vintage store in the city
@exe.estudio - a Café Forgot analog for a legitimately hilarious fraction of the price, tons of my favorite brands sell here
@under.support - my favorite showroom selling vintage collections, indie designers, and always chock full of both surefire bets and wild cards
@cropba - the better, cheaper, nicer Porteño cousin of American Apparel, perfect for the sexiest basics you never knew you needed
@momomangaofficial - for the weebs B)
Ok! On to the archives, now exclusively available here!
Buenos Aires Fashion: First Impressions
Originally published September 1, 2022
As everyone is tired of hearing, I moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina this week, and since moving have been exhausted, still in pain from my sardine can of a flight, and very confused as to what the Argentine fashion scene looks like. One reason it's harder to unearth than in NYC or Berlin is that Argentina has been in severe economic crisis for basically the entire past century, so the fashion industry has not been as high-priority or culturally potent as it is in other countries. This is reflected in the fact that most clothing in Argentina is so incredibly cheap on the "Dolar Blue," the unofficial exchange rate of USD to ARS (Argentine pesos), that I have had to triple check prices many times in disbelief.
In this first impression of Argentine fashion, I've done some deep diving into the cool CABA (Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires) kids' Instagrams and found a few boutiques, artisans, and vintage stores that I either have already liked or plan to check out soon and review more thoroughly. I've listed prices in their current USD approximation (not on the Dolar Blue, on the official exchange rate, so a little less cheap but the rate one would have to pay for international purchase) and in ARS, because I hope some Argentines find my blog and report to me on Instagram where the real cool places a Yankee couldn't discover even in 12+ hours of fervent research are located. If you have any questions about why I'm here, or live in CABA and want to hang out, contact me via the above routes!
Unitivo - Bright, saturated colors that buzz together (their socks are the best deal, I got 3 pairs!)
Justa Petra - Miu Miu-esque buckled flats and deliciously shiny bags
Anushka Elliot - Breathtaking lacy dresses and cowboy-inspired clothes in great color palettes
Protesta - Pants printed with sick collages in innovative color combos
Low Low - Jersey or mesh loungewear printed with sea flora and fauna (translate their clothing descriptions, they're well worth reading). I am going to try to buy some stuff from them soon!
Canela - More masculine bags in various styles (the mini "Envel" bags are the coolest, but the fanny packs have the best colors)
Mas Amor Interior - Well-structured and romantic pieces in both basic cotton and tasteful florals! This is where I'll get underwear when I inevitably run out of laundry one day
Très - Brightly-colored undergarments that I thiiink can be used as swimwear, unless I'm mistaken?
Tienda Lelouch - A super solid selection, I'm excited to check it out and see how it measures up quality-wise!
Editado - The highest-end resale store I've found based in AR thus far, with the highest prices but some excellent curation skills at play
Rulos Vintage - I got a great deal on some accessories from Rulos and the person, Mariana, who met me to drop off the package was so lovely and kind! I look forward to ordering from them again. The below sandals are so reminiscent of Toga Pulla, for like 1/16 the price
Planeta Vintage - Some wild shapes and patterns that truly made my brain feel good
Mushi Stitch - I love the knit sleeves and the single-armed sweater situations (and it seems like the creator loves manga so that's a huge plus)
Handmade by Mech - The color combos are impeccable, the quality looks amazing, and the designs aren't tired or too trendy – I want the vest so badly!
Glaucus Blue - Anyone who makes Kurapika earrings gets a big stamp of approval from me
Chainss - Extremely affordable, simple, but perfect jewelry (I thought the key necklace was the perfect size to copy Tony Leung in Happy Together, the quintessential Argentina film [I'm kind of joking])
Eren - More simple pieces that drape perfectly (from what I can see in the photos)
MQM - I've never seen tattoo gun earrings before and these look sick!
J.J. - My favorite jewelry store so far, the colors, shapes, and designs of these pieces make me so happy. I love their use of baroque pearls
Muchas gracias por leer este blog, les mando mucho amor y inspiración desde Buenos Aires. Lo siento, apesto en español.
Looking Like a Yankee: Buenos Aires Style 1/?
Originally published September 19, 2022
This is the first of any posts I choose to make about my impressions of Buenos Aires' (more accurately, CABA's) style scene as someone who lived in New York City for seven years prior to moving here three weeks ago.
My perspective is relatively uninformed (I barely speak Spanish [yet]), novice, and is based mostly on my personal observations and opinions. I'm happy to learn more about Argentina's fashion world/history and change my perspective as I continue to live here, so if you have any insights to share, please do either via DM on Instagram or to email@example.com.
Also, if you're a new follower, I'm non-binary and use they/them pronouns so if I ever misgender anyone or myself, haha, while writing in Spanish, it's because of my lack of grasp on the language and I would appreciate being corrected!
This post begins with a few general thoughts on the ~vibes~ of the fashion world here and continues into more specific material trends I've observed.
Confusing Williamsburg 2010s Vibes... But Fashion is an Exception
When I told people I was going to move to Buenos Aires for a while, the first thing most of them questioned, aghast, was how I would survive there as a lifelong, gold-star vegetarian. I figured I'd live, but I never could have guessed that there would be vegetarian, if not vegan options at virtually every restaurant and cafe I encountered (as well as the crunchy equivalent to a bodega, a 'natural food' shop, every two blocks in the notably bougie neighborhood I've been privileged to stay in thus far).
This would be excellent if the veg options were varied and/or consistently good. Instead, I have been subsisting, to a dangerous extent, upon avocado toast. It's virtually omnipresent and affably affordable here, averaging around four bucks on the expensive side for a substantial, meal-sized slice of toast, the avocado usually accompanied by welcome (jammy eggs, tomato slices, basil leaves) or incredibly unwelcome (olive tapenade so salty it burned my tongue for hours, cream cheese, wine-soaked and VERY sweet onion slices) accoutrements. Below, the former vs. the latter.
This is just one simple example of the ways in which many of the newer/'trendier' BA establishments skew, in both content and aesthetic, towards the infamous ethos of 2010s Williamsburg in all its slick but cloying Millenialism. A bar that would otherwise have felt romantic and classic was made mawkish by its mood-killing, decade-old dubstep soundtrack, which didn't even jibe with the other jarring factor of the pseudo-steampunk decor that evoked aggressively waked mustaches, bespoke decorative hatchets, yadda yadda.
There is certainly an economic factor to this apparently arrested aesthetic development, which I am not qualified or willing to dissect, especially because after all that yammering I will happily report that though one has to go to great lengths to escape this phenomenon in the food and music scenes, it is not a defining factor of the fashion world here.
A protective agent against the pull of twentyteens fashion cringe is the earnestness with which people seem to approach dressing in Argentina. Maybe it's simply in comparison to NYC where everyone is blackpilled into twenty meta-levels of irony that cake every sartorial gesture, but I've noticed here that it seems accepted and encouraged to dress on theme for theme parties and reference past decades with far less cynicism than what, say, Y2K has morphed into entailing in the states. Most notably, the coolest dressers are, as everywhere, the queer fashion plates (who I will hopefully feature in upcoming posts!), but here, classic aesthetic signifiers of queerness have not (yet) been eschewed in favor of the knowing subtlety/cheekiness that has characterized queer high fashion in NY these past few years.
At first, I interpreted the popularity of leather, lace, serger seams, and the below microtrends as retrograde or, less generously, influenced by a Eurotrash aesthetic I couldn't relate to. As I have continued to research on Instagram and at parties, however, I think this is more due to a wholesome resistance to the assimilation-oriented aesthetics American queer influencers have adapted in the 2020s. I want to emphasize that I don't think either tack is superior and that there is no "queer way" to dress, just that the Argentine fashion community seems to pull more influence from classically queer materials and modes of dress than their US counterpart, which, though potentially more innovative for it, has been inflected many times over with cynicism due to the heavy-handed commodification of more traditional queer aesthetic cues (e.g. leather daddies on a Bank of America-sponsored Pride float, or something of the sort) as well as the influence of mainly Northern Hemisphere trends such as.... "Clean Girl."
Though most people I've seen in BA have been dressed innocuously, mostly in the name of pragmatism (again, probably in no small way due to economic factors I will not get into here and now), I don't think I've seen a single person who has adapted the "Clean Girl Aesthetic" that so dominated the past year's style M.O. in the States. People here seem to either not care about fashion or care a lot and have no desire to present that care as understated. The aforementioned earnestness is incompatible with a trend predicated upon a studied minimalism and a je-ne-sais-quoi almost always backed up by either the existence of or the aspiration towards wealth. This particular brand of "Clean" is very Nordic, and upon arriving to Argentina I realized its colonial history means its Spanish and Italian influences define the brand of Eurocentrism that exists here. "Clean Girl" exists in opposition to the "messiness" of the "Eurotrash" look that, for all its heavy-handedness and emphasis of new money, I value for its earnestness and enthusiasm over Clean Girl's glassy-eyed amenability.
Last general note: a ton of anime-inspired or derived clothing is readily accessible here. Thank god. More on this later.
Sheer and/or Printed Fabrics
One of the first trends I noticed as a common thread through my favorite independent Argentine brands was the usage of sheer fabrics, photo prints, and combinations of the two. Below, two of my favorite pieces I've bought so far, a now sold-out Björk dress by ARXE and Anemone "Second Skin" pants by LOW. Basically, showing ass and nips is very acceptable in the party circuit right now, and surprisingly non-provocative amongst the general populace (I have worn both of these pieces outside to no chaos. Granted, I have spent most of my time in fairly artist and expat-heavy areas). Below my ass, more selections of sheer and/or printed garments I like.
Sleeves, Tights, Hoods
Accessories-wise, sleeves for your arms (sleeves), legs (tights), and head (hoods) are frequent additions to outfits.
I got these reworked sleeves via Instagram and am not quite sure what to pair them with, but I loved the swishy cuffs and neutral but eye-catching plaid. Suggestions on what to pair them with are welcome via DM.
Tights here feature unique details like foot straps, twisted cut-outs...
...and more of the aforementioned photo prints such as the sacred/profane combos made by Nina, which I am wearing below. I told her she should expand to Judaic imagery, because though I have moved countries, my commitment to Yentacore has remained steadfast.
Lastly, hoods ranging from simple swathes of fabric worn by my friend Nani below to sculptural, structured headpieces, are a utilitarian trend: they are perfect in both cold weather (in lieu of a balaclava) and hot weather, as they block out the sun beautifully.
Come back later for more yankified thoughts on Argentine fashion + interviews with people I consider fashion icons down here, and let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org or on IG if you have any specific questions about the sartorial culture in Buenos Aires you want answered.
Buenas + ciao!
Looking Like a Yankee: Circus Grandpas, Living Sculpture, and Magical Realism in Buenos Aires Style
Originally published October 11, 2022
As a 13 year old boy whose text is about to be way overanalyzed by the girl he has a crush on even though he hasn't had any sexual or romantic feelings yet and basically only thinks about FIFA and in his mind is just texting a random person while he waits to go home to play FIFA would write: heyyy
Another post about trends and inspirations I've gleaned from the place I now live in that I want to share with the world, because I think Argentina has a lot to offer it! I don't have much to say up top except that I'm really happy with how this post came out and thankful to all the lovely people who agreed to let me feature and analyze their style. If you live in Buenos Aires and have great style, hit me up on Instagram and I'll be the judge of that! Ha ha! Just kidding, but if you follow me and I like your style I'll reach out.
Note: The items curated in this post are from stores worldwide and are listed in their country's price. Sorry, doing the conversions to USD for everything was getting a little too time-consuming for me. If I slipped up and didn't include the correct currency signifier in a caption, sorry! Once I'm paid to do this, I will have an editor who catches this stuff! Trying positive manifestation here!!!
El Abuelo va al Circo / Grandpa Goes to the Circus
This is the most specific and esoteric trend I've noticed among the cool fashion lovers in BsAs like my friend Nani, who is a stylist and a force of nature: Grandpa (or an Argentine abuelo/any old guy) crossed with a clown. This means boinas, which as far as I can understand can be used to refer to berets, pageboy caps, and the larger, floppier beret-ish caps that are sometimes seen in traditional Argentine gaucho garb. It also means ties are back, baby, which I have been warily on board with for months now, and Nani recently convinced me suspenders can be made cool, too. The trick is to introduce a sense of abjection and humor to liven up Gramps, and what is more abject and humorous than a clown? Don't answer that question. Lots of things, I'm sure.
Nani achieves this look with boinas layered over skullcaps (Mach 3000 style level), fussy ties with collared shirts, blazers, jumpsuits, and the aforementioned suspenders (not pictured here), clashing arm and leg warmers, dramatic makeup looks, and the coolest hair ever, which combines an artificial widow's peak with two long and two short braids and is divided into lime green and neon orange halves, which she sometimes augments with fabric woven into the braids (as in above left). She usually keeps her outfits' palettes relatively neutral and staid, which grounds the unhinged layering, clashing patterns, and fluorescent hair with some Grandpa sensibility. Te amo Nani! You changed my style world forever.
The above look was styled by @laraschottland (more on them below) and reinforces the tie resurgence, combining a formal upper with Bolsa Bolsa tights (linked below) that are very literal in their clownishness, printed with pictures of the creepy guys themselves. The diamond pattern and neon colors augmenting the sedate working man garb by themselves would have been enough to push my point that Grandpa Goes to the Circus is a bonafide look, at least in BsAs (thus far).
Escultura Viviente / Living Sculpture
Another trend in BsAs fashion is not shying away from wearing more abstract or sculptural garments and hairstyles. This manifests in a kind of elegant, abject aggression that seems to characterize a lot of the Argentine ethos as well as the art. This trend's lack of irony makes it feel like an invitation to join in the flow of frenzied energy instead of like an inside joke designed for exclusion, as much abstract fashion can become in more well-trodden and cynical scenes such as the one in NYC.
This is largely due to the fact that the people who are wearing the clothes and acting as tastemakers are often involved in the making of the looks, either as designer, crafter, or stylist – many of the people I'm featuring in this post fit into multiple categories. The DIY energy is so literal that at a recent party, I watched Camila of Krisis craft a piece of jewelry on the floor of the venue (above left) as the rest of us fussed with our makeup and clothes (many of which were handmade, like the above right garment by @blxndinese modeled by Nani).
Stylist and model @laraschottland works often in this space between sculpture and garment, becoming a sculpture herself in her gymnastic style of modeling (check out her IG to see what I'm talking about) and wearing pieces like the above left top that are evocative in both materiality and symbolism.
The pieces sometimes render pragmatism as beside the point and often give the impression that the garment exists as a sovereign being: the piece wears you, and though conventional fashion advice says that's bad, why does it have to be? Instead of relegating a garment to merely a means to cover up our bodies to a societally acceptable degree, why not imagine it as an almost-sentient entity with its own agenda, idiosyncrasies, and life cycle? Framing the way a garment hangs and drapes or warps and obscures the body in this light is an incredibly exciting and generative way to conceive of fashion in my opinion (and also why I love Rei Kawakubo so damn much).
I saw @enunaconlaluna at the party where these photos were taken and was struck by the vivacity and levity of this hairstyle. Either gelled straight or natural, the sprigs of hair create an impact similar to the one I described above in garments, and is, on a pragmatic note, a great style for someone in an in-between length or in the process of growing their hair out. It's also such a showstopper that you can wear sweats with this hair and still look like you are Pulling a Look. Major props for this.
@ninaxscout is both a creator of wearable art like the above left bag and the tights I mentioned in a previous post and an exemplary manifestation of a different tactic of sculptural fashion: using clothes sparingly and strategically to render the body itself as a sculptural object. Using straps, tight fabrics, and plays between baring and concealing skin, Nina does this expertly.
In this section, I picked out a few items that speak to one or more of these facets of sculptural fashion. Garments that look like they're going to fall apart or put themselves together, that look hungry or like they're devouring their own fabric, that look like structures you could live in or be trapped in or become possessed by.
Realismo Magico / Magical Realism
Two of the most stylish people I have encountered in Buenos Aires so far are @mirn_nda (who works as a stylist) and @tu_morenitx (a designer and student). Both use colors and textures ingeniously, creating characters and narratives with their outfits while maintaining a sense of casualness and utilitarianism. Their fits are ingeniously created to take them seamlessly from a photoshoot to a rave without losing their air of energy and balance childlike experimentation with an adult sense of what it means to have a body in the world.
They both eschew the obsession with "effortlessness" and irony that dominates the US fashion scene right now in favor of having earnest fun with clothes, which translates so well to people like me who see them and remember why I like getting dressed in the first place. It's not that they are fussing over the details of their outfits or strategically deploying color theory (I think), both simply have excellent intuitions informed by both magic and reality (both do creative work in different capacities) that result in an ineffable coolness that characterizes the best stylings in Buenos Aires.
Some of my item picks below are references to their exact looks, but some are pieces that I gravitated towards on an intuitive level, inspired by the sensibilities of all four fits shared below. This translates to: talismanic figures, color combos that initially repulse but on second look attract, a sexiness that is devoid of cis male desire, a feeling of being at once very young and very old.
The blouse that at first glance appears formal and victorian but at second glance is spliced with contemporary mesh and a subtle butterfly shape would be cool on its own, but tucked into shiny cobalt sportswear bottoms and accessorized with furry navy fingerless gloves and a head scarf it becomes less of a statement piece and instead evokes a world in which a shirt like that could be considered a "wardrobe staple." On the right, the bright orange bomber jacket has been snatched directly out of Kim Kitsuragi's hands (check the link for a TON of orange bomber recs) and, to his dismay, been made into a punker uniform than black on black with matching neon trousers. Check out their instagram @mirn_nda for endless styling inspiration.
Mia kindly gave me a ton of info on the looks above (in addition to being one of the best-dressed people I've ever seen, they also are one of the kindest and most generous people I've met), so I can give you specific IDs! On the left, their corset is from Natalia Martin, their shirt is Bolsa Bolsa, the skirt is thrifted, their boots are Koturno (an iconic store in the queer and ravey scene of BsAs), and their stuffed animal is by Daimonz, whose talismanic toys (each is unique and imbued with protective qualities, which I only just realized I need as part of every outfit) are for sale at Unidad Basika alongside Mia's own brand, Tienda Lloron. Their bunny (conejito <3) shirt in the right picture that validates and expands upon all of my sports fashion proclivities is by pielcitta.
Now go text heyyy (sic) to your crush and see how they respond.