E-Boutiques and Minimalism

This is what SSENSE’s website looks like. SSENSE is an incredibly popular online luxury retailer.

SSENSE 2020

This is what Dover Street Market, another luxury e-boutique, looks like.

Dover Street Market

There seems to be an obvious obsession with white, blank space. Each article sits neatly boxed off in its own square and floating, as if on an invisible, anorexically thin body. Some logos, some hyperlinks but other wise the site has exactly as much graphical representations going on as needed to function. And this style has been all over the place for the last 5 years or so. Not just on boutiques either, tons of designers like Supreme and C2H4 and YEEZYSUPPLY have embraced this “style” of no style on their store.

But it’s time for it to be retired.

It’s been very, very overdone, but what isn’t quite apparent is why it took off in the first place.

Perhaps it was an obsession with the pre-2000s internet. Of dial-up speeds, and speeds and wacky, flat, serif-y UX. I mean, fashion, and the Western world in general, has shown its obsession with the decade that should not be named. However, as sneaker and Supreme drops showed us, designer fashion’s demographic is far too young to appreciate whatever referential value this “artistic” choice has. Besides, the fashion world aka Teen Vogue, is already jumping into early-mid 2000s nostalgia.

Although, in the realm of mid 2000s nostalgia is nestled a defining online moment in many peoples’ lives and the development of the social network giants that we say today — MySpace. And so in a way, this rustic HTML texture is meant as a throwback to the days of top 8s. To revive the feeling of visiting an acquaintances poorly self markup-ed webpage. It could be.

It could also be a component of haute couture’s appropriation of poor, proletariat (and usually Black) imagery. Cactus Plant Flea Market, Bodega Store, the constant use of empty-apartment squatter aesthetic and crowded pavements in fashion photography. Maybe this is there distillation of the straight-to-the-point mindset that is needed to survive this world as part of the ruled class.

But that’s giving the industry perhaps a little too much credit in the amount of thought, political strategy and specificity that goes into their marketing and web design.

Really it’s because it’s easy, lazy and by some act of the Lord, became popular enough to be not just gotten away with but praised. At one point in time it may very well have been hard and but now it’s not just been washed but it’s been hanging out to dry.

The real question is where will fashion and web design meet next?