”It’s about a society in a free fall. On the way down it keeps telling itself so far so good, so far so good, so far so good. But it’s not about how you fall, it’s about how you land”, are the lines of French, cult Classic La Haine (The Hate).
Whilst the film is still very much politically relevant today, it also serves as an influence on modern streetwear and everything in between. A 1995 French drama, written, co-edited, and directed by Mathieu Kassovitz. The black and white film features three twenty-something’s and follows their struggles and listless routines to live in the banlieues of Paris. Following the death of an innocent migrant, a riot erupts in the suburbs of Paris and whilst attempting to come to grips of the incident, it doesn’t take long for the night to take a dark turn.
In 1995, the film received a standing ovation after being screened at the Cannes film festival in which Kassovitz was awarded the Best Director prize. The film, whilst still relevant today, received critical acclaim both in France and abroad and is recognised today as a cult classic. After only moments into the raw and captivating film, it’s clear to see why. Not only does it mark the historical divide of French suburbs, racial abuse and police brutality but there is also the music, fashion and lifestyle that creates a sense of 90s nostalgia.
21 years after its release, La Haine acts as an eye for the modern streetwear of today. The film is plastered with brands such as Carhartt, Lacoste, Nike, Sergio Tacchini tracksuits and Reebok Classic trainers. In a interview with The Guardian, vintage expert Kevin Soar explains why how “historically, the mid-90s were an interesting time in streetwear”, not least because, Soar says, “In the casual culture, there was a term called ‘upping’, where men would try and get the best Sergio Tacchini or Fila tracksuits”.
In one iconic scene, Vinz, Saïd, and Hubert are overlooking a balcony in Paris. Vinz in a fitted MA-1 over a Nike windbreaker, Saïd in a leather bomber and Sergio Tacchini tracksuit, Hubert cloaked in shearling, camo pants, and a Carhartt beanie. Take this scene and drop it into a 2018 version, nobody would know any different. The continued rise of 90s streetwear style will make recreating these looks not a problem.
“The current trend of mixing oversize shearling (fake and real) and camo is more military/dystopian/utilitarian than out and out luxe – or trying to be,” explains Christopher Fisher, head buyer at Oki-Ni, which has seen a sudden spike in niche streetwear. “Shearling-lined and sheepskin-style jackets have been one of our top-selling men’s styles for the past year now. Gosha will use fake fur, fake suede, fake shearling; it’s accessible, subversive, ambitious, with voice-of-a-generation styling, and more about the attitude and referencing than it is forward-thinking.”
When it comes to antagonists in the film, a violent cop wears a Notre Dame University jacket. The typeface used, typical of American college gear has been filtered its way down to both high street and high end fashion. In 2002, Raf Simons produced his Virginia Creeper” collection which used a nature-related theme, forest browns and nightly blacks, heavy and loose coats and NEBRASKA printed in a collegiate typeface across various crewnecks. Now, under the work of Virgil Alboh, Simons’ Nebraska design is tweaked under the Off-White label.
Let’s not all forget the Supreme x Lacoste collaboration from 2017 which clearly took design inspiration from the French cult classic with full French streetwear style tracksuits, with ‘full’ being the key word here. As other subcultures like the casuals generally only opted for track tops as oppose to the full tracksuit look, it was the B-Boys of NYC that really exported the look to the inner cities of Europe throughout the 80s with homegrown French Hip Hop sounds, 90s Parisian street culture and graffiti also playing a key role in the films influences.