Rick Owens Is for Olds

Anyone can wear Rick Owens, but, like Radiohead's Thom Yorke proves, it's best suited for older guys.

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Complex Original

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A new Radiohead video doesn’t usually attract my interest, because if I wanted to see rich, adult white men looking sad, I would just play Lemonade outside of a Trump rally in a Taco Bell trucker hat. But, the clip for the new single “Daydreaming,” which dropped today, did manage to grab my attention from a style perspective. It features lead singer Thom Yorke wandering around in a rag & bone bomber jacket and, notably, a pair of Rick Owens Ramones sneakers. It’s no surprise that someone who has been churning out widely-adored music since 1993 would have amassed enough cache to have designer gear at his disposal to wear onscreen. But, the sneakers do support a larger point that has been proven time and again: Rick Owens is for olds.

To be fair, Yorke is only 47, so he’s not exactly in the twilight of his life yet (although, no shots, throwing on some moisturizer every now and again would work wonders, dude). But, when compared to younger Owens fans like Justin Bieber and Chris Brown, there is an effortlessness to Yorke and gentleman of a certain age who rock Rick that simply can’t be replicated by the kids. 

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First, there's Rick himself. "Nobody looks better in Rick than Rick," menswear expert Nick Wooster tells me. Rick is 53. He may make some questionable choices—this is the same man who released a T-shirt with a photo of him getting penetrated by horse dong, don’t forget—but he understands what he needs from clothing. That apparently includes pockets big enough to hold a sandwich, as he once told Dazed, which is quite literally the most old man sentiment I have ever heard. What millennial do you know who prioritizes hoagie transport when shopping for new clothes? On the flipside, I bet we can all name a few guys over 40 who might think that’s a pretty strong selling point.

But, maybe Rick himself is a rare exception, a creative type who isn’t beholden to the same rules of dressing that bind those of us without giant statues carved in our likeness. A recent Reddit thread on the topic began with the simple question: “How old is too old to dress like Rick Owens when you aren’t Rick Owens?” The general consensus was there is no limit. “IMO you can pull it off at any age,” contributed someone with the username Bean-. “Rick is intended for older people,” another commenter wrote. “If you can pull it off then you can, plenty of older people have unique styles that they rock it just has to do with having a combo of the right look + body and confidence,” added stream-of-consciousness devotee GimmeYourTags.

That last point might be even more vital to Owens’ mature appeal than the convenience of on-person deli meat storage. Owens’ designs are avant garde enough to speak to someone with the confidence that only comes with age. Once you’ve reached a certain number of birthdays, you’ve usually settled into your own personal style. That automatically lends you enough credibility, so that, if you’re rolling around in an extra drapey sheath or a sleeveless parka, it feels like something you genuinely want to do. You don’t have anything to prove, unlike a young man, who may want to stunt in Owens on Instagram to inspire jealousy, or demonstrate how fashionable—or rich—he is. When Owens was asked in a Tumblr Q+A what he knew at age 52 that he wished his 18 year-old self had known, he wrote: “I wish I knew that I didn’t have to try to be someone else.” Preach, says every priest in the world, because they agree, but also because they are all old and already kind of dress like Rick Owens, too.

And let’s not forget that Owens has famously called upon older models when he wants to show off his wares. He’s sent senior citizens down the runway, and notoriously populated his Fall 2014 lookbook with models aged 60 to 93 and one visible geriatric penis. And you know what? They all looked badass, including that old schlong. If that isn’t an endorsement for who should be wearing Rick Owens, then I’m not sure I want to know what it is.

Young people do things intended for old people all the time, like drinking in moderation or going to a Lady Gaga concert. So, this isn’t to say you can’t wear Rick Owens until you’re receiving social security. But it is saying that you won’t look as cool doing so until you are. "I do think there is inherently something cool about a person who defies conventional wisdom and does something or wears something that is considered outside the normal age bracket," Wooster says, "if—and it's a big if—they look amazing in it." 

In the words of Reddit user Bean-, “Imagine an old dude in geobaskets and shit that would be dope if I saw a 50 year old dude in all RO I would be like this guys the shit.” Bean- may not know much about punctuation, but he definitely understands a thing or two about the perfect Rick Owens disciple.

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