By: Bahar Orang
I recently bought a pair of a high-wasted jean shorts from H&M that looked as though they had been worn by a car mechanic every day for at least a month. They were wrinkled, frayed, and faded. I picked them up and thought to myself, “these are perfect!” and proceeded towards the cash register. Later that week I accompanied a very stylish friend of mine to a local Goodwill, where he purchased a gigantic jean jacket of the same quality and took it home to hack off the sleeves. The store was filled with young, hip, student-types – with girls looking through the guy’s stuff and guys dressed in fairly expensive items, looking through racks and racks of used clothing. A couple of Google searches later, I discovered that the number of North American resale stores was increasing by about 7% every two years.
The Great Recession era is one obvious reason for why people (especially debt-heavy students!) are turning to cheaper alternatives. But I was especially intrigued by the phenomenon because not only are people buying more used clothing, but new clothes are also being designed to appear used! It seems that 90’s grunge fashion is back – with faded denim jackets, boyfriend T-shirts, flannels, beanies, and chunky lace-up shoes. And today’s thrift stores are filled with donated clothing from the 90’s. It’s hard to tell however, what exactly inspired this recent trend – it feels far too simplistic to owe it all to a struggling economy.
The 90’s fashion was “anti-fashion.” It was about an “I can’t be bothered attitude” that allowed each individual to have their own unique style, with effortless glam and sexuality. The movement was born under Kurt Cobain’s “smells like teen spirit” anthem, with Kate Moss and Jonny Depp as its poster girl and boy. It was a way to detach from an uptight society and resist the status quo.
The style has been re-developing in downtown London for several years, and fashion designers are looking to street style for inspiration now more than ever. Thus, the difference between the 90’s and 2012 is that “grunge” can be seen in high fashion on the catwalks. Fortunately, it’s a style that’s about spending less and using personal creativity and individuality instead of money – which is why we’re turning to thrift stores. There’s often a twenty-year cycle that happens in fashion, and it appears that we’re in the midst of it – ripped panty hose, combat boots, maxi-floral dresses and all.