Distantly unfashionable, unfashionably distant.

There’s an interesting piece in The Observer where Zoe Lazarus, a trend analyst, talks about stuff. The bit that stood out for me was this paragraph:

“The Germans are quite stylish now, but the Austrians and Kiwis are generally the last to pick up on stuff.”

Well, how about that? (OMG, how embarrassing!)

I’ve always thought that even though New Zealand is incredibly geographically distant, that modern technology, communication and transport would keep us close enough to the rest of the world to keep up with what’s hot and cool.

But now that I think about it, New Zealand does seem a little slow to latch onto trends.

Take the mullet, if you will.

I remember in 1995 when the second issue of the Beastie Boys’ “Grand Royal” magazine had an extensive feature article on mullets. This is thought of by many as sparking the mullet revival. It was very cool to mock mullets. Then once mocking mullets became passe, mullets then became fashionable and the ironic mullet was born. In 2001 when I was in Melbourne I saw a photographer sporting an ironic mullet. It seemed strange, yet cool.

Last year, on Space, Hugh Sundae let his hair grow into a mullet. This caused much merriment and confusion on the Space forums. Because, um, weren’t mullets meant to be uncool and wasn’t Hugh meant to be cool?!!??!?!

This year the Mint Chicks released a video for their song “Licking Letters” that included their drummer with an ironic mullet nestled on his shoulders. This also caused confusion amongst people who weren’t sure if it was hot or not.

Oh, poor, distant, backwards Aotearoa!

I think this slowness to latch onto new trends and ideas has to do with population. I reckon that for most of us we don’t try new things until a certain number of other people have adopted them before us. For example, when I was 17 and living in Hamilton I wore a pair of Levi’s 505s to school. I was the first in the whole of the non-uniform wearing six and seventh form to wear a pair of baggy trousers (and a friend told me that they were too baggy and obviously needed to be taken in), but I wore the 505s knowing that all the cool kids in Auckland had 505s on their arses.

Ok, so let’s say that an average person won’t adopt a new trend until, say 100 other people have done it first. In New Zealand that’s 0.000025% of the population (which is a pretty small percentage), however, in the UK 100 people is a piddly 0.0000017% of the population (tiny!), so a in country with a larger population, new trends and idea are adopted much faster than countries with smaller populations.

Meanwhile, Zoe the trend analyst says, “Flat tops will replace mullets – we’ve taken the mullet as far as it can go.”

Ok, so we should see the death of the mullet finally reach New Zealand in 2007. But by then I will be in Berlin, as it is one of the “new centres of creative and forward-thinking people.”

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