In the midst of a street-wear resurgence, Alice Kelly investigates the return of 90s fashion.
“WHAT goes around comes around” isn’t a term generally applied to mom jeans and chokers, but with today’s high street store windows mirroring those of twenty years ago it’s difficult to find a phrase more fitting. The 90s are back in a big way, with those of us born in the era of Spice Girls and Clueless acting as the leaders of the movement.
The return of 90s isn’t limited to the runways; Netflix brought back classic 90s sitcom Full House, Neo-Nirvana grunge bands are being blasted on our radios and a Clinton presidency was a possibility once again. Fashion is as influential as it is reactionary, so it has had its own role to play in this revival. Resurgence of past trends is no new concept, but why has grungy minimalism returned to our wardrobes less than two decades since its debut?
90s fashion first emerged as a youthful movement, dabbling in rebellion due to its roots in gritty streetwear. Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen were pioneers in this “too cool to care” trend, introducing their new breed of effortlessly chic models such as Kate Moss, who became the face of the 90s era.
“Why has grungy minimalism returned to our wardrobes less than two decades since its debut?”
Grunge was sparked by the political climate of the mid-90s, after Reaganomics and the George Bush Senior administration had widened class divisions with tax breaks and federal deficit. Young people demanded change and rejected excess, as is evident in 90s fashion.
Today’s dungaree-clad youths are reacting to a similar political condition. Our style inspirations are no longer the rich, pre-Recession socialites Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, who dominated magazines with their Juicy Couture tracksuits and Louis Vuitton handbags until the 2008 financial crash.
90s streetwear, both then and now, is deliberately deconstructed and does not intend to boast wealth and status. Band t-shirts are the Abercrombie & Fitch of 2016 pre-teens and Adidas is as fashionable as Gucci due to the rise of the Sporty Spice inspired athleisure trend.
Rejection of embellishment and luxury has become popularised with the rise of youthful brands like Vetements or even Kanye’s Yeezys, favouring shredded and oversized items made from synthetic fabrics. Minimalism is not only necessary for economic reasons; it has become a trend in itself. The simple silk slip dress is the latest 90s trend to make its return, worn now by Kendall Jenner instead of Kate Moss.
“Band t-shirts are the Abercrombie & Fitch of 2016 pre-teens, and Adidas is as fashionable as Gucci.”
The result of this fashion era is the same as it was twenty years ago: the power has returned to the youth. It is trendy to be politically engaged, rejecting the stuffy conservatism of older generations in favour of a laid back liberal approach, and what better way to show this than in a personal style that fits the same description.
However, in the same way that a well-intentioned Cher Horowitz changed to the mean-spirited Regina George as the millennium drew to a close and the boom years came upon us, 90s fashion will inevitably leave us again. It’s difficult to determine the longevity of a trend but if it politics that bred 90s grunge, what does our current political climate forecast for the future?
Let’s just say that, despite its 2014 sale and closure, Juicy Couture has recently announced its capsule collection comeback… thanks Trump.