Fashion Is a Little Obsessed With Cartoon Characters – New York Times

“Nostalgia is a huge deal at the moment,” said Katie Smith, a senior analyst at Edited. “In the stories these products evoke, there is an escapism that’s reassuring, particularly in the current climate. The characters go through tough experiences but always come back to a good place.”

The names of designers involved in the Snoopy and Belle project read like a dream fashion week lineup: Calvin Klein, Diane von Furstenberg, Dries Van Noten, J. Mendel, Kenneth Cole, Tracy Reese, Rodarte, Dsquared, Opening Ceremony, Monse and Oscar de la Renta. The final two were added especially for New York.

Photo

Oscar de la Renta with two Snoopy dolls, both dressed in clothing of his design, in New York in 1982.

Credit
Susan Aimee Weinik/The LIFE Images Collection, via Getty Images

Both Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, the founders of Monse and the creative directors of Oscar de la Renta, were already fans of Peanuts.

“I bought Fernando a giant Snoopy book for Valentine’s Day,” Ms. Kim said. Mr. Garcia said his Instagram profile picture had for long been an image of Pig-Pen, another Peanuts character, until Eva Chen, the head of fashion partnerships at Instagram, asked him to change it. “The characters are so pure and mellow,” he said.

Ashley Biden, who designed a Snoopy and Belle pair dressed in aviators, hoodies, Dr. Martens (for her) and Timberlands (for him) for her social-justice-focused label Livelihood, said that Snoopy is a universally loved character. “Everybody in this group of designers remembers growing up with Snoopy and the cartoons,” Ms. Biden said. “Back then it was a simpler time, and the messaging, especially through cartoons, was about love and kindness and following your dreams.”

Krystine Batcho, a professor of psychology at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., said that nostalgia can serve a healthy purpose during times of change and upheaval. She said that transformational or transitional periods can be personal (a death in the family, a breakup, a career change) or shared (a terrorist attack, an economic crisis, an election).

“Nostalgia helps keep you connected in terms of your self-identity,” Dr. Batcho said. “It connects you to your own past through the continuity of self.”

When we wear symbols of nostalgia on our clothing, we make it easier to connect with others around us, she said. “Making it public is a way of saying, ‘We all need to chill.’ Everybody needs to take a deep breath and remember what is best, and the ideals epitomized by childhood, especially cartoons, where all the problems are solved by the end of the episode, where good and evil are easy to tell apart.”

For the designers who participated in the Snoopy and Belle collection, the motivation may have been much simpler. “A fashion designer has to be so serious because so much rests on the collections and how much perfume they’re going to sell,” said Jeannie Schulz, the widow of Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts cartoon. “The thing about Peanuts and Snoopy is that people can have fun with it. It allows them to be flamboyant.”

Mr. Garcia said: “It’s always fun to dress up somebody who you never associate with the brand.”


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