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The trailer for Blade Runner: 2049, the sequel to the 1982 cult favorite Blade Runner, was released yesterday. 2049 is about three decades away, the same amount of time the Nike executives were asked to imagine when dreaming up Marty McFly’s self-lacing shoes for Back to the Future II. These adaptive and futuristic shoes just became a reality that a regular consumer can actually purchase. So I watched the trailer with this in mind: What fashion did Hollywood envision for the year 2049?
All I got though was a marketing trailer to bring back the Made-in-America, buy-timeless-pieces trends we were fed in the early 2010s. The film’s star, Ryan Gosling, wears a handsome shearling coat and trudges through an apocalyptic desert in hiking boots that I could probably buy now at REI. At one point in the trailer, a couple of people shuffling past Gosling are shown carrying umbrellas.
Seriously? In the year 2049, you expect me to carry around an umbrella? In 2016, I already have shoes that can lace themselves, and in 30 more years we can’t come up with a better way to stay dry? If you haven’t seen the original Blade Runner, you should know that the movie is set in a universe “in which genetically engineered replicants, which are visually indistinguishable from adult humans, are manufactured by the powerful Tyrell Corporation,” according to its Wikipedia page. You must take me for a fool if you want me to believe that we can create robots “indistinguishable from human adults” but no one can develop a smarter shield from the rain than an unwieldy object that’s incredibly easy to leave behind at a restaurant and breaks nearly every time the wind blows.
It’s all the more disappointing because the first Blade Runner remains an oft-cited text of fashion inspiration, and it’s not hard to find reasons for that. This Bustle article listing the movie’s best fashion moments references the glorious power suits — which had a huge 2016 — and transparent rain coats — Valentino showed this style not too long ago! Maybe the full-length movie will have more moments of clairvoyance like this, but I’m not getting my hopes too high. Only because the recent run of futuristic movies haven’t depicted fashion I’m really jonesing for.
Take Spike Jonze’s Her, for example. In Her, an artificially intelligent operating system can fall in love and simulate sex with a mustached Joaquin Phoenix all while doing calculus, or something, with millions of other people. In spite of the amazing technological progress, the people of futuristic Los Angeles are still wearing button-up shirts and fucking khakis.
I’m picking on Blade Runner and Her, but they are not alone. Looper, a movie in which hitman are contracted to travel through time to find their victims, mostly stars Joseph Gordon Levitt and Bruce Willis in leather jackets. Divergent, a film set in future Chicago that puts its stars through immersive virtual reality experiences to find their “factions,” relies on a wardrobe of T-shirts and tank tops. The Hunger Games and its Lenny Kravitz-designed burning dresses is the real big exception here.
Last year, I spoke with VFiles founder Julie Anne Quay, who introduced wearables as a category in VFiles’s fashion shows in 2015, about what she expects to see from fashion just ten years from now. She spoke of T-shirts with embedded screens, tops that change color based on our mood or body heat, a watch that alerts your coat it’s about to rain so pods can pop out of the shoulders to protect you.
Quay’s vision is in stark contrast with what Blade Runner: 2049 director Ridley Scott expects to see, even though the VFiles founder was only asked to imagine life in the year 2025. Even now, we’re seeing breakthroughs: the aforementioned self-lacing shoes and sneakers constructed through 3D printing. Hollywood isn’t just ignoring all of the cool shit fashion should look and feel like, and actually do, in the year 2049 — it’s barely keeping up with the present.