Summary: Grunge has always been a vibe. It is an aesthetic focusing on casual, mismatched styles, layering, and dark colors. Check out the history of grunge fashion that shaped the fashion sensibilities of the 90s.
Emerging during the mid-1980s, grunge fashion is distinguished by long-lasting and classic thrift-store kind of clothing. It is mostly worn in a loose-fitted, androgynous style that takes the focus away from the silhouette. While the grunge style started in the 80s, it wasn't until the 90s that it became widely popular.
The credit for grunge fashion becoming a hit among the masses goes to Kurt Cobain. The lead guitarist of Nirvana would usually dress in an oversized striped sweater, ripped jeans, and Converse shoes. The messy hair and overall unkempt look became widespread, and grunge entered the mainstream. Cobain was one of the biggest influencers of the grunge aesthetic. His style was a cross between male and female fashion, which has seen a comeback on the runways.
Spring Summer '23 shows at Paris Fashion Week saw a surge of designs heavily focused on androgynous suiting. While the latest fashion trends may be more chic and refined, even in an androgynous style, grunge had its appeal. It is particularly popular among teens and GenZ, who listen to grunge music and wear a grunge-inspired wardrobe.
The word grunge was used by the music industry for a type of music that had become immensely popular in northwestern America during the early 1990s. This term first took shape in 1972 but only became prevalent globally in the late 1980s. During these years, punk was on the decline, which made the youth of that time take an interest in grunge fashion.
While punk was against fashion, it still made a bold statement. On the other hand, grunge fashion was not supposed to make a statement at all. However, the ease and aesthetic of this style made it one of the most popular fashion statements of the 90s. Punk rockstars mostly wore ripped jeans, leather jackets, sleeveless shirts, metal accessories, dark clothes, and goth makeup. On the contrary, grunge musicians from bands from the northwest like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam wore ordinary and relaxed fits that gave birth to the grunge fashion mania.
Since its inception, the grunge aesthetic has been known for its effortless look. Casual, everyday styles that can be worn while running errands or even for brunch. Here are elements that determine the grunge look everyone is obsessed with.
Men's outfits in the grunge style usually included graphic shirts, Bretons, flannel shirts, cardigans, army jackets, cargo pants, and biker and leather jackets. Apart from these pieces, men's grunge fashion in the 90s included ripped jeans, baggy pants, heavy-duty boots, and clout sunglasses. Besides Cobain, celebs like Johnny Depp, River Phoenix, and Will Smith are good inspirations to chalk out a grunge look for the modern day.
Similar to men's grunge fashion, women's styles also had a lot of distressed and dark elements. Some classic grunge pieces of women's grunge fashion in the 90s would be graphic t-shirts and oversized plaid shirts. Apart from this, mom jeans, skater styles, and wide-legged denim were a rage for grunge getups. Chunky boots and skater shoes in suede and leather were a wardrobe must-have for anyone who dressed grunge.
While the trend of 90s grunge fashion may be over three decades old, today's designers are bringing back this edgy style on the runway. Grunge staples like shredded and faded denim, flannel button-downs, worn-out graphic t-shirts, and knitted plaid items were ubiquitous on the AW'22 runways everywhere. These pieces were paired with black combat boots and accessorized with choker necklaces, knit beanies, and chunky sunglasses. Since grunge fashion's emphasis is on loose and androgynous wear, it is also favored by non-binary fashion enthusiasts. As grunge fashion is known for its rugged and timeless aesthetic, it remains a popular choice among the younger crowd to date.
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