Fashion is not supposed to make sense. It is not supposed to be natural, look normal, or run flush with logical. In fact, fashion is supposed to be the polar opposite of all these attributes. In point, fashion, by design, is supposed to make people look at you, to be a beacon for social energy, [...]
Fashion is not supposed to make sense. It is not supposed to be natural, look normal, or run flush with logical. In fact, fashion is supposed to be the polar opposite of all these attributes. In point, fashion, by design, is supposed to make people look at you, to be a beacon for social energy, to draw attention to your body by altering your appearance in some abnormal, unconventional, or new way. I understand this, but there is one popular fashion in China that I simply cannot grasp:
Big, thick, plastic eyeglasses without lenses.
What the . . .?
Why? Who would ever want to wear eyeglasses to begin with, let alone voluntarily wear them without lenses?
Big, thick plastic glasses frames are the style — but having lenses in them (and thus rendering them into vision, rather than fashion, aids) reduces their cool a few dozen notches. The glasses frames that have been selected for this fashion statement are like super charged, overly exaggerated version of Woody Allen’s vision gear — or the kind of plastic glasses that are invariably attached to the big nose and mustache gag disguises. These no lens glasses now come in all sorts colors and shapes, are sold everywhere fashionable youth go, and have become exceptionally popular among both female and male hipsters.
What is double odd, is that these no-lens glasses in Asia are not only for those seeing 20/ 20. Young people with legitimate vision needs are also getting in on the trend. No, they don’t just have have lenses put in their big fashion frames, they wear contacts with their big lens-less eyeglass frames over the top. This simple seeming trend gets pretty complex.
But where did this no-lens glasses fashion trend come from? Of all possible sources, the NBA player, Russell Westbrook, claims to have been the one who began this style (I think this is the same guy who wears a backpack to press conferences as a fashion statement in addition to his lens-less plastic glasses). It is my impression that anyone silly enough to claim the no-lens glasses trend for themselves is also silly enough to have actually started it.
But people in East Asia beg to differ, and it is widely claimed that the trend was started in the late 1990’s in Japan and quickly fizzled out. Last summer the no-lens glasses fashion was resurrected with gusto in Taiwan and Korea and then spread through East Asia before extending around the world to the National Basketball Association.
So I’m satisfied with the prospective origins of this fashion, but I still don’t know why kids are going in for a trend that not only runs against common sense but also what I was acculturated to believe is cool. Sorry, but glasses with our without lenses do not go down in my book as something to wear to benefit your appearance.
I’ve been going around China asking the teenage cultivators of this rather strange fashion why they’re wearing glasses with no lenses. To date, neither the men nor the women staring back at me through their big empty frames have been able to provide a clear cut response. They just give me a “Why wouldn’t we be wearing lens-less glasses?” sort of look and pass off my questions.
Getting nowhere in my street inquiries, I put some research into the matter. Among many spin off justifications for the fashion — such as the fact that no-lens glasses don’t fog up when exiting an air conditioned building on a hot day and how women can wear super long fake eyelashes with them — I surprisingly found a substantial reason for the trend:
“It makes my eyes look bigger,” a Hong Kong resident told the Wall Street Journal.
This desire strikes at the core of many fashion trends in East Asia. The youth of this region often go through no small ends to try to make their eye openings appear larger and rounder than they actually are. Some even get surgery to meet these ends, while others wear special contact lenses that push up on the eyelids. Apparently, these big, round lens-less glasses are another tool to alter the natural appearance of East Asia eyes.
Altering nature is perhaps the hallmark of fashion, and is often a prerequisite for “beauty.” Whatever is the case, by wearing these big plastic glasses without lenses, trendy kids are getting what they set out for: people like me looking at them in the streets thinking “What the fuck?”
This fashion does its job.
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