The internet's obsession with aesthetics is excessive. From Balletcore to Whimsy Fairy Goth and Coastal Cowboy, they seem never-ending and impossibly niche. But in the aftermath of the Clean Girl and Matilda Minions, the Mobwife aesthetic emerges.
Inspired by a mix of 1980s Italian fashion and the style of classic movie mafia love interests, the Mobwife aesthetic is glamorous, chaotic and blurs the line between over-the-top and classy. The style primarily features leopard print, furs, leather, and knee-high boots. With its red lips, perfectly tousled blowouts, and designer bags, it dominates social media, from TikTok to Pinterest. The aesthetic has seemingly emerged out of nowhere and now defines the style. While it may not be as problematic as Lolita, which is tied to paedophilia, or Blokecore, cemented in violence and alcohol abuse, the Mobwife aesthetic comes with its own undertones and issues.
Fur has long been a status symbol — a show of money and style. While it started off as a useful by-product to make clothes thousands of years ago, the use of fur in clothing soon developed into a luxury, with rare and gorgeous fur pelts being a demonstration of hierarchy and social class.
But as society has progressed, fur has developed a problematic reputation as a cruel and superficial product due to its origins. Many animal rights groups have voiced their distaste for the practice, with PETA activists (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) even going so far as to throw paint on those wearing fur products.
As with many expensive and illustrious things, the fashion industry developed a cheap, synthetic alternative to the classic furs. Faux fur, as we know it today, came into circulation around the 1950s and has been a popular option for years, both for warmth and style.
But only in recent years has the environmental impact of this imitation fur been taken into account. Being a synthetic fabric, it is unsustainable and produces extensive microplastic pollution, which contaminates water and poses the risk of entering our food chain. While it may be a humane option, the environmental impact is just as important to note.
Similarly, leather, another staple of the ‘MobWife’ aesthetic, also poses ethical and environmental issues. Like fur, leather is an animal product and a by-product of the meat and wool industry — but it still requires the slaughter of animals. Annually, over 24 billion square feet of leather are produced, with up to 99% of it being a by-product. However, there are still concerns around the use of animal products as a fashion statement, and promoting this only contributes to the demand for more leather. Furthermore, the production of leather requires an extensive amount of natural and dwindling resources, such as water and energy.
As with fur, synthetic alternatives have been created: vegan or faux leather is made either from synthetic fibres such as PVC or plant-based materials. While on the surface, this may seem positive, synthetic leathers, which are most widely made from plastics, can still have a significant impact. Despite claims that faux leather production can have up to a third less impact on the environment than traditional real leather, there is still an issue with the creation and disposal of synthetic products. The fabrics can take years to degrade and, in doing so, release harmful toxins into the land or water supplies, which can have incredibly negative impacts and are not sustainable.
Plant-based alternatives made from raw materials such as pineapple leaves or cork are a more sustainable choice, but they still carry pollution issues in their manufacturing process. These alternatives are also often more expensive than the readily available faux leather we see in shops — most of which is made from synthetics and plastics, and can be harder to find in mainstream and high street stores.
The Mobwife aesthetic relies heavily on both fur and leather as part of its core style. Whether it is faux or vegan, the style promotes the consumption and wear of these products, all of which can be harmful. Those wishing to channel the style may not have garments that are deemed ‘right’ for the look and may rush out to spend money on fur or leather products without doing their research, possibly from an unsustainable brand, only to dispose of the product once the trend for this aesthetic dies. The idea that these animal products are still desirable materials to own normalises the practices that go into making the garments.
“Fashion trends come and go, but real fur – skin stolen from animals’ backs – has been laid to rest forever full stop. Today, all but an entirely ignorant or arrogant few reject this product of extreme violence. It’s worth noting that the most iconic ‘mob wife’, The Sopranos’ Edie Falco, is a vegan who wouldn’t be seen dead in fur,” says PETA’s vice president of programs, Elisa Allen. While the fur industry is on the decline, the burgeoning faux fur and leather industry pose their own set of problems, contributing to environmental pollution.
Furthermore, the Mobwife aesthetic promotes the violence associated with the Mafia — a longstanding criminal organisation. As TikTok influencer couple Santi and Dara pointed out in a TikTok video, the trend glamorises the criminal organisation and overlooks genuine violence. The trend is rooted in a lifestyle that, despite depictions in movies and books, is dangerous and illegal
When approaching any new trend or aesthetic, issues of sustainability, undertones, and influences can often be overlooked. Participating in these trends should be mindful, with products bought secondhand, and the influences and background of a style looked into before making new purchases. If you already have three fur coats in your wardrobe, there is no need to purchase a new one in leopard print just to fit the aesthetic. If your thigh-high boots have block heels instead of stilettos, you can still participate in the trend without buying the ‘perfect’ pair.
While the Mobwife aesthetic has a distinct style and a look, it is not a checklist. If you are set on incorporating the style into your everyday looks, you don’t have to buy a brand new wardrobe to do so. The most sustainable way to channel it is by using what you already own and adding a bold red lip.
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