When the unfashionable become fashionable

I was 15 when grunge hit my school. I was on 8th grade and it was 92'. Baggy jeans, plaided lumber jack flannel shirts, flowery baby doll dresses and combat boots. Two sizes too big and not fitting properly. All the cool kids let their hair get dirty and everybody was listening to Nirvana. (I wasn´t one of the cool kids. I wore peach colored tees, white trainers and light washed jeans with flower panels on the side. As the profile of jeans loosened up from the 80s carrot shape it was popular to widen up your jeans by sewing a panel to the side seams to make them straight.. I think it was the first clothes customizing I ever did.) Back then there was no internet or street fashion blogs. The only thing we had was (Generation One) MTV and teen magazines. Fashion trends travelled much slower then and they were more local. Either you were in or out, but the in and out depended very much on where you lived and what age you were. 

Grunge was never supposed to be fashionable, it was the unfashion, a style which was just adopted by the broke Seattle musicians because they had nowhere else to shop than Goodwill, a town that used to have a strong fishing and logging industry. Anybody could do it, afford it and it was comfortable. A perfect style. No rules, just mix and match (don´t wash).

I´ve always wondered about homeless chic and other high fashion versions of something that comes out of poverty. It is not a good place to look for references if you are going to make the clothes from silk and egyptian wool. That just isn´t right. Grunge is not a luxury style. Marc Jacobs learned this in 92 when he designed a Seattle inspired collection. It was highly noted by the fashion world but failed to sell out. Nobody gave a shit about brands back then and ecological issues were just raising their heads. Sweatshop labour was not an issue yet. But I´m sure Marc´s collection had some weight on how many young people noted and adapted the style. 

You know we are going towards some rough times when fashion bloggers are starting to do DIY projects and look up style references from early 90s. I just hope people are continuing with them when there is money in the bank again as mindless consuming is absolutely pointless. Early nineties were the time of depression, many lost their jobs and the kids could only dream of things like a new pair of sneakers or jeans. I had to get my first a job at 15 so I could afford to go to the movies and buy magazines and stuff. But we were happy, what ever we could not buy, we made ourselves. I wonder if I would be the same DIY person now if it weren't for those times? To me second hand has more value than new things. I still own only one designer garment and even that is bought used.

The one thing that flourishes in time of depression is creativity and DIY. This is why bad times don´t scare me. It shows the true colors in you and others. A man can be very resourceful when needed. I mean we have made it all the way from the caves to the apartment buildings.. So don´t worry if you can´t afford the latest it-thing. Consider if you really need it in the first place and if you do, look to your self for a way to create it on your own. And if all other things fail, just get dressed in the dark and wear it with pride. Just like they did in Seattle. A smile, good posture and comfortable shoes are a good start.

"Grunge & Glory"
Vogue US December 1992 by Steven Meisel
Featuring mostly grunge inspired pieces by Marc Jacobs (for Perry Ellis)

Outi Les Pyy

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  1. Grunge has got to be my favourite "trend" or whatever you call it. I agree with you about the calling for DIY and creativity and I love it too - it gives people a platform for being more individual, which is always great in fashion


  2. Having such a shit day, this post made me feel a little better. Even made me smile.

  3. i feel you... even though i`m ten years younger than you i think this crazy consuming and buying new shit all the time just doesn`t make any sense. shame that so many popular bloggers do not seem to think so. but this is a great blog! my first comment ever but been hangin around for a while and enjoying it. can`t wait to get my hands on your book, when is it published?


  4. Hi Meri. Glad you like it! My book will be out mid October. :)

  5. Not the biggest Grunge fan ever, but I did follow the trend a bit during the 90's. Mostly from a musical standpoint.

    The photos are gorgeous!

  6. So true, the best ideas and creations come out of working with a super tight (or non-existent) budget. Some of the funnest times I've had as a designer (ok they were stressful but incredibly creative!) were working within a budget that others thought to be impossible. It forces you to be more innovative than ever, and makes you realize how little you really need to survive creatively... and how many meals you can squeeze out of what seemed like an empty fridge!

  7. Aquarians, you just described how it feels for me to make my DIY book. Zero budget, empty fridge but maximum creativity! :D