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James Cameron Is the Poster Child for 2000s Dirt Bike Nostalgia

The dirt-bike aesthetic was huge in the late aughts, but is there any character less likely to bring it back than the 67-year-old ‘Avatar’ director?

If you were a cool kid at my rural middle school between 2006 and 2010, you rode dirt bikes. Without simply talking about dirt bikes all the time, which, yes, everyone did, the only way to signal this to your peers was through your clothing — namely, by wearing Fox Racing. The brand was so hip among us, in fact, that even those who had never so much as been in the presence of a dirt bike wore the brand, too. 

But while neither motocross or dirt biking have declined in popularity, Fox hasn’t quite held the same clout over the last decade. Much like skate brands Etnies or DC, who had their day in the sun as fashion symbols detached from the sport itself, Fox once represented a niche of the 2000s aesthetic that now seems unusually primed for a nostalgic return to the spotlight. And 67-year-old director James Cameron may well be the revival’s harbinger. 

For the last several years, photos of Cameron wearing the same Fox Racing long-sleeve shirt have repeatedly made the rounds. Now, with the first trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water debuting yesterday, the topic of Cameron’s fashion choice has circulated once more. 

This isn’t entirely a case of an older person attempting to look hip or otherwise having no idea what they’re wearing. According to a motocross forum thread from 2010, Cameron is both a fan and supporter of motocross racing, and he’s been seen in a wide variety of brands similar to Fox. Basically, Cameron is a rich man who enjoys dirt bikes and wants to dress accordingly, which is actually kind of cool and fun. 

Beyond Cameron, there are a number of other reasons to believe Fox will soon follow in the reborn footsteps of Juicy Couture, Ed Hardy and Von Dutch. At the very least, motocross brands may have a streetwear moment much in the way vintage skate brands have, dominating the listings of hypebeast reseller sites like Grailed. In 2018, some hints of this arose when Supreme collaborated with Fox for a lineup of jerseys, protective vests and riding pants, embracing Black subcultures that ride dirt bikes in cities in its marketing. Meanwhile, a less-brand specific wave of motocross inspirations hit high fashion in 2016, appearing in runway shows for designers including Louis Vuitton and Rag & Bone

There’s the middle school of it all, too. TikTokers like Luke Blovad and SexyLoner have proven that there’s something eye-catching and new about wearing the styles we once thought were cool but in recent years thought were cringe — for instance, faux-paint splatter prints and knit hats with cartoon characters on them that look like they’re from Spencer’s. In some ways, people are beginning to look at Avatar the same way

Even if only ironically, Fox Racing fits right in with this burgeoning late 2000s renaissance. And strangely, James Cameron might just end up as its poster child.