How dare he.
This week, Justin Bieber gave a big fat raspberry to anyone who values the principles of good taste. The singer and world’s worst monkey owner returned to LA after celebrating his second wedding to Hailey Baldwin at a North Carolina resort/former plantation, and—get this—the dude had enough audacity to re-wear a T-shirt he first put on last month.
Oh, and Bieber paired the Lichtenstein-printed purple top from his Drew clothing line with Crocs. That’s a visual assault on its own, but the offense becomes downright disgusting considering Biebs previously slipped the foam clogs “only a week ago,” as Vogue documented.
The venerable glossy took an optimistic approach to reporting on the fashion atrocity, titling its post, “What We Can All Learn About Justin Bieber’s Outfit Repeating.”
“Bieber’s outfit repeat should be applauded,” Vogue decreed. “A standing ovation, even!”
After detailing other very rich people who have deigned to put on the same swaths of fabric more than once, like Kristen Stewart and Tiffany Haddish, the piece ended with, “It’s actually quite a chic concept: Outfit repeating is simply a person showing some genuine love for a piece of clothing. And what’s more stylish than that?”
I’d counter: a closet full of expensive shit you wore for two hours once five years ago and are far too important to ever even touch again.
Just kidding, I am a non-famous plebe, typing this with hands covered in a brown sweater that I napped in last weekend. Perhaps surprisingly to Vogue, which had to pull a feel-good moral out of the sight of a man in an old T-shirt to understand the phenomenon of “outfit repeating,” I often do the same.
“But should celebrities?” our tabloids bravely wonder. Late last month, readers gleefully dragged Page Six after the gossip site published an urgent, breaking story: “Kate Middleton re-wears her blue Alexander McQueen coat for a fourth time.”
The Duchess of Cambridge purchased the piece in question five years ago; the coat I use every winter is older than her first-born son. I don’t blame Kate for re-wearing something that makes her look like a tall glass of Perrier (not complimentary tap) water. If it isn’t broke and doesn’t come from a fashion house that has recently done something culturally insensitive, don’t fix it.
But Page Six framed the royal’s decision to not throw it away as brave. “Kate Middleton isn’t afraid to re-wear one of her most-loved articles of clothing,” the story opened. CNN journalist Andrea Diaz tweeted what most were probably thinking: “It’s a $3,000 coat, I would wear that shit every single day.”
Meghan Markle, too, recycled many clothes on her recent 10-day tour of Africa. It’s hard not to draw conclusions the Duchess of Sussex did this to remind fans she’s the relatable, normal “luckiest girl in the world” they first fell in love with. (Easy to believe if you ignore the fact that her wardrobe for the visit reportedly cost nearly $5,000.)
People dubbed Meghan’s $824 Noni trench dress a “meaningful” choice to wear when meeting with Graça Machel, an advocate for women’s rights and Nelson Mandela’s widow. This is because a year ago, Meghan put it on for an event celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the anti-apartheid activist’s birth. So: outfit repeating is fine, as long as everything you wear has its own humanitarian theme.
In terms of sustainability, the fashion industry is public enemy No. 1, a Big Bad Polluter and case study in Americans’ love of all things disposable. Surely then, a magazine applauding a person for wearing something more than once comes off as quite tone-deaf.
There is more to being an eco-conscious human than wearing a coat that costs as much as some cars do four times in five years. The only thing we can “learn” from Justin Bieber “recycling” a T-shirt is that he knows how to do laundry.
Or—rather like Kate, Meghan and everyone else who wears things more than once—maybe he just likes the T-shirt. In the sense of wearing what is familiar, mood-enhancing, comfortable, and cherished, these celebrities really are just like us.
So please, let the man re-wear his Crocs in peace.