Over the decades of watching how people dress in America, this question has preoccupied me. It returned to my mind with renewed intensity over the past several years, as aspirational consumption in this country has kicked into overdrive. This observation comes from various directions: watching kids on the streets of SoHo strut in their logoed gear, looking at my daughter’s boyfriend who spends his hard-earned money on Moncler and Yeezy, reflecting on my own dress habits since I immigrated to America at the age of fifteen. We are all disparate, but we have one thing in common – we have known what it’s like to be poor and we are from ethnic minorities. We have something to prove, namely our worth, to each other and to this country. In other words, we are aspirational.
The New York Times headline caught my eye: “Michael Alig, the Former King of the Club Kids, After Prison.” That news article and an inconspicuous plaque bolted on the wall outside the Cheim & Reid gallery on far West 25th street that I had somehow never noticed before got me thinking again about a little, but powerful photobook titled “Bound by Night” by Elegance Bratton and published, as his wont, singlehandedly, by Steve Terry and his Wild Life Press, who we have covered before.