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Why is streetwear obsessed with Ikea right now?

Blue and yellow oversaturation

Posted by Mitch Parker

Recently it feels like it’s hard to open your Instagram feed without seeing a new piece of “Ikea hacked” streetwear. The practice of reworking the Swedish retail giant’s iconic ‘Frakta’ bag has exploded in popularity lately, leaving us to ask the question: where did all this come from? And maybe even more importantly: can it stop now?

In January 2014 Australian designer Alex Hackett documented her latest creation: a bucket hat made from the iconic blue tarpaulin bag. It was one of Hackett’s many designs made by repurposing established products. Her label ALCH has since continued working with these materials: overalls from deconstructed Nike duffell bags, shorts from insulation material, jackets from postal bags, and more. It’s important to pay respect to Hackett as perhaps the first to utilise the ‘Frakta’ for streetwear but it’s more important to separate her from criticism. She was well ahead of the trend and working within a long-running artistic practice.

Flash-forward three years and another designer would be inspired by Ikea’s ‘Frakta’ bag. This time it was streetwear it-boy Demna Gvasalia, creative director of Balenciaga who announced the French luxury house’s latest bag: a striking blue leather tote retailing for over $2000. It wasn’t the first time Gvasalia has been inspired by the seemingly mundane, last year he debuted a red, white, and blue stripped tote that was equally as familiar. The response online to both Balenciaga bags was complex, with many questioning the necessity of appropriating products tied to the working class and flogging them off to the wealthy.

Perhaps the most recent turning point in streetwear’s infatuation with the Ikea aesthetic was a release by Los Angeles-based fashion brands Pleasures and The Chinatown Market, who  joined forces to create a cap from the ‘Frakta’ bag. Ever since this release it feels like Ikea fever has kicked in to overdrive. Timelines have since been flooded with “Ikea hacks” and no creation is off limits: shoes, robes, masks, and even underwear have since hit the web.

Surely this means we’ve hit saturation point and the days of “Ikea hacked” streetwear are numbered? To me it certainly feels like it’s already passing us by. Kind of like another one of Demna Gvasalia’s infamous creations… remember that month when fuccbois were taking photos in front of DHL vans? I can’t say I’ve seen much love for DHL lately, have you?

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