• Thu. May 30th, 2024

In defence of Maximalism

ByKatya Sanigar

Feb 10, 2023
Kim Kardashian at the 2017 Met Gala. She is wearing an off-the-shoulder white dress and looking away from the camera.

Maximalism is dying. What used to be a world that championed the public expression of individualism is waning – the promotion of eclecticism has now been usurped by minimalist monochrome and conformity. But what am I getting at here? And who, or what, is responsible for this shift towards a more uniform consumer culture?

Coined a uniquely Gen Z term amongst Twitter and TikTok users alike, ‘recession core’ refers to the parallels between an impending recession and the stripped-back approach pervading consumerism. Whilst, in theory, I do not take issue with the aesthetics of minimalism (although, personally, I prefer to take a more maximalist approach in the way I dress and decorate my room), I find the underlying implications of the trend much more sinister.

Economists have forecasted the likelihood of an economic recession in the US in 2023 being 70 per cent (Golle and Yoo); meanwhile, in the UK, we face an unrelenting cost of living crisis and surges in inflation. It is no longer acceptable for celebrities to flaunt their wealth when the average population cannot afford to turn on their heating. 

There is a clear correlation between this and many celebrities’ move towards relatable minimalism. Take, for example, recent red carpets – few celebrities were seen sporting necklaces, a rather weak attempt at being ‘relatable’. Whilst celebrities leaving their necklaces at home may seem small and insignificant, I believe that the notion of ‘recession core’ could snowball into a mindset beyond how we dress. 

We are already seeing the likes of Kim Kardashian and Rick Owens leaving their homes as colourless, barely decorated spaces. It’s easy to think celebrities don’t truly inform our spending habits, but that is simply naïve. Our consumer culture entirely centres around these celebrities and what they do or don’t deem necessary to live a happy, successful life, which we endlessly attempt to emulate.

But why is this harmful? Surely this new-found minimalism is a positive move away from logo-centric spending that most could not afford? Therein lies the issue. In reality, we have not moved away from designer brands, the logos have simply been omitted. By presenting themselves as relatable, celebrities have disguised their lavish lifestyles, whilst simultaneously promoting an aesthetic which seems attainable, but is not. 

A perfect example of this is Kim’s sofas that feature in a Vogue tour of her house. They don’t look like much, but, in fact, one section alone has a starting cost of $6,000. That is not very recession-friendly, is it? Celebrities should not be the proprietors of the new recession-influenced lifestyle when they do not experience economic hardships themselves.

In trying to recreate the lifestyle that this aesthetic promotes, our individual identity has been lost. Now, social media encourages us to assimilate into this ‘recession core’ mindset. I could even go as far as saying that this is reflective of an anonymous workforce identity; we have become one of the masses, simply following the trends that we have been instructed to. Minimalism at its core is not problematic, but the reasons behind this new wave of it are. We should be embracing our eclecticism, not living according to a celebrity whose own image is a façade of being down-to-earth.

Kim Kardashian Met Gala 2017” by Danilo Lauria is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.