Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
Subject: slacker
Culture: grunge 
Setting: alt-rock scene
Evolution1975 Anglo-American punk > Grunge 

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Young 2016 p175-176
"Grunge was the antithesis of 1980s greed. Generation X were the slackers depicted in Douglas Copeland's 1991 novel of the same name. They raged against corporate America and consumerism, and as Winona Ryder said in the film Reality Bites, 'they wonder why those of us in our twenties refuse to work an eighty-hour week just so we can afford to buy their BMWs. Why we aren't interested in the counterculture as if we did not see them disavow their revolution for a pair of running shoes.'"

* Mackenzie 2009 p118
"Grunge rapidly evolved from subculture to mainstream fashion in 1992.  It was mainly MTV's heavy promotion of Grunge bands, in particular Nirvana, that accelerated the dissemination of the look. ... Hollywood provided its own take with the release of 'Grunge' movies Singles (1992).  All of this was compounded by the media packaging and preoccupation with the supposedly disaffected youth of Generation X."


* Young/Martin 73-74
"While fashions in the 1980s represented the Reagan and Thatcher era of yuppies, power-dressing and Wall Street financiers in pin-stripes, braces and expensive watches, the 1990s shifted tack with the grunge movement. It was a style that was easy to wear; you could pick a check shirt from a charity shop or cheap clothing store and throw it on over a T-shirt. As grunge has emerged from the Washington punk scene, plaid was worn in the same DIY way as the punks of the 1970s, but with a skateboarder influence of practical flannel shirts and ripped jeans. Grunge was more wearable and less conspicuous than punk as you could blend into the background with a tartan shirt tied around the waist or layered over a T-shirt, and the plaid shirt demonstrated solid, grounded values as a working man's uniform. Ironically, grunge, like punk, soon swept into haute couture, with Marc Jacobs designing a grunge collection for Perry Ellis in 1993, which was heavily criticized at the time for creating a designer look from what was ultimately an anti-fashion movement."

* Mackenzie 2009 p118
"Grunge fashion had its origins in the Seattle-based music scene of the same name.  Characterised by its lack of polish or artifice as well as its affordability, Grunge can be read as a reaction to the yuppiedom and moneyed excess of the 1980s.  However, what began as the clothing of a counterculture rapidly spread to the mainstream and became the first major fashion development unique to the 1990s.
    [...] "A stereotypical Grunge outfit consisted of layers of dishevelled and mismatched clothing.  Men and women sported lank, long hair and wore plaid shirts, torn and cut-off jeans over thermal long johns with combat boots or Converse All Stars (canvas and rubber basketball shoes)."

* Young 2016 p176
"Grunge fashion was born from necessity and practicality, and rejected the aesthetics of conventional beauty. It threw together borrowed items, thrift store lumberjack shirts and cheap finds from the bottom of the bargain bin. In Washington they wore flannel shirts, jeans and long johns as cheap, utilitarian clothing for keeping warm in the rainy state. Pearl Jam's Jeff Ament said, 'It was partly function and partly what was laying around.' Musicians on the punk rock music scene looked like loggers or steel workers with their denim jackets and unwashed look that was quite different from the flamboyant heavy-metal style popular at the time. Up on stage in sweaty Seattle music venues they became sex symbols, with their long, unkempt hair covering their eyes or sticking to their faces with perspiration, heavy socks worn with work boots and flannel shirts tied around the waist. Soundgarden's Chris Cornell layered his shorts over long johns, a style worn by skateboarders, while Kurt Cobain, self-conscious of his small size, bulked himself up with layer upon layer of flannel and denim. His most recognisable items, a green jumper and a pair of patched jeans, were borrowed from close friend Lori Barbero from the band Babes in Toyland. 'His coat got stolen one night and I gave him that sweater that he wore all the time, a greenish, brownish v-neck,' she said. 'It had thumb holes because I'd been doing that since I was a kid.'"

* Cumming/Cunnington/Cunnington 2010 p96
Grunge  (F & M)  Period: Late 1980s onwards.  Loose fitting, layered clothing, ripped jeans and heavy boots worn by subcultural band members and copied by their followers.  Perceived as a junk shop or charity shop approach to dressing, rejecting commercialism in favour of recycling.  One of many movements in the 20th century which seemed to reposition fashion as a street-influenced business."

* Dirix 2016 p200-201
"[M]any popular looks and trends of the 1990s are framed as reactionary.  The vogue for luxury Grunge fashion is one such example.
    "In the early 1990s, Grunge (a style of music that emerged in the mid-1980s, often associated with Seattle bands, such as Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and, most famously, Nirvana) saw its cheap, vernacular styles bubble up into the mainstream.  Luxury versions of checkered flannel shirts, floral dresses, and combat boots were seen on the runway and featured in mainstream fashion magazines.  Vogue's 1992 Steven Meisel editorial 'Grunge and Glory' features pieces by Ralph Lauren and an $840 Calvin Klein dress, along with advice on how to layer.  On the runways, American designer Anna Sui offered striped maxi dresses and matching beanies, and at U.S. fashion house Perry Ellis (designed by Marc Jacobs) holed sweaters, silk slip dresses, and flannel maxi shirts were the order of the day.  The fashion press turned against Grunge-chic as quickly as they had adopted it, however, as they realized people were not going to spend large amounts of money to look like scruffy teenagers; Marc Jacobs was dropped by Ellis and production of his collection was stopped."