Minimalist Or Just Dull?

Ian Svenonius calls out the new minimalist aesthetic of places like the Apple stores as a new form of snobbery:

The anti-stuff crowd invokes Buddhism and Communism-lite in their put-down of possessions and the people who “hoard” them. It’s supposed to be a sign of superstition, a hang-up, a social disease, greedy, sick. People who have things are derided as “fetishists.” Why would one have a record collection when all information is available online to be had by the technologically savvy? … Why should there be record stores, shopping areas, kiosks, video stores, movie houses, bookstores, libraries, schools, theaters, opera houses, parks, government buildings, meeting houses, et al? Public spaces, markets, and interacting with one’s surroundings are primeval, germy and dangerous. After all, it can all be done online.

Anna North expands upon this class analysis:

The idea of a vast anti-tchotchke conspiracy may strike some people as extreme. But others have begun to raise questions about minimalism’s class biases. At her blog Simply Fully, Taryn McCall notes that while she enjoys reading about minimalism online, “many of the most popular blogs that I read are written from the perspective of people who left high-powered, well-paid and benefited corporate careers for a simpler life and now have plenty of savings to show for it.” And, she writes:

“I am very aware that many people do without and receive stigma rather than praise. To them it is not called ‘minimalism.’ They live on very little, but it is not called anything because it is mostly unacknowledged, and when it does come up they are looked down upon as ‘lazy’ or ‘irresponsible’ (a feeling conveyed in even many minimalists’ posts). So I want to say what most minimalists are not saying: the benefits of minimalism depend in large part on where you start.”

Looking at what we wear, Lauren Sherman speculates that minimalist fashion has peaked:

Even a casual observer has surely noticed this shift toward the spare. “We are so overwhelmed with trends, bloggers and over-dressed looks that it’s refreshing to go back to basics,” says Melissa Moylan, women’s creative director at New York-based trend forecasting firm Fashion Snoops, explaining why we all want to look simple so badly.  Inspired by Céline’s Phoebe Philo, as well at Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen at the Row, and Raf Simons when he was at Jil Sander, this flavor of minimalism is less severe than what we saw in the ’90s. (Yes, the clean lines are there, but it isn’t completely devoid of pattern or color either. In fact, Philo’s brushstroke-heavy spring 2014 collection inspired some to call it maximal minimalism.) This not-so-literal take on the concept gives the wearer some slack, which might be why it has become such a popular look. …

But how many perfect tees and pairs of pleated trousers can we pack into our wardrobes? While there’s always a market for basics — not to mention a contingency of diehard minimalists — not every label with a “pare it back” ethos will resonate as strongly as Mansur Gavriel or Protagonist. There’s a fine line between simple and boring.