Crop tops, flatforms, dungarees, checks and the sporty aesthetic that has engulfed fashion over the last few seasons continues into this summer as the 90s take a stranglehold on fashion. In the streets and all over tumblr and store rails t-shirts emblazoned with logos and joggers seem to be having a huge moment. Party scenes resemble 90s hip-hop videos as if FUBU is still cashing in and TLC are still an R&B supergroup. Don’t be surprised if kids suddenly started wearing doo-rags again!
Stylist and former fashion editor Bee Diamondhead has noted the return of the 90s in fashion and says brands have been quick to embrace this with their offering.
“Rihanna released her first River Island collection last year and it was quite reminiscent of 90's R&B starlets Aaliyah, SWV, TLC and so on,” she says. “Lots of denim in dungarees and heavy two-tone baggy jeans, crop tops and the like are everywhere. We've also seen the return of the flatform and sneaker wedge with sports brands like adidas and Puma embracing that. I mean Miley Cyrus lives in her flatforms!”
“You see a lot of young girls these days in their denim cut-offs, box braids and extra long acrylic nails; all 90's trends that have made their way back.”
Sports luxe specifically, spearheaded by designers such as Alexander Wang has perhaps been the most visible indicator of just how strongly the 90s are the latest fashion obsession.
Flux Trends Senior Analyst Nicola Cooper notes that in terms of designer fashion, the trend can be traced back to 2012 and names like Alexander Wang are among the pioneering designers for what is essentially a throwback- something fashion loves indulging in.
“This year it has been seen on runways with mesh, initially favoured by Isabel Marant and was the fabric of choice on catwalks from Altuzzara and again to Alexander Wang with manufacturing details featuring exposed zips, nylon straps, d-rings and aeroplane clasp belts,” she says.
“As we know the 90’s were all about gyms, sweat tops, platform sneakers and hip hop. We are borrowing a substantial amount from the decade with the platform sneaker reemerging and prints by Jeremy Scott and Converse paying homage to cartoon icons such as The Simpsons, Mickey Mouse and South African designers such as Suzaan Heyns collaborating with Disney. Hairstyles such as the box cut paying tribute to Will Smiths ‘Fresh Prince of Bellaire’ oversized garments and limited edition sneakers being high level priority.”
Local designers are also dabbling in the 90s trend albeit with a local twist to suit the local consumer as buyer Felicity Spies notes. “We have definitely seen a renewed obsession with white this season as anyone who attended Cape Town Fashion week will attest to. White is very signature 90s,” she says. “However, there is still the signature sense of artistry, colour and playfulness in all our local designer collections. I think the 90s can sometimes take itself too seriously.”
Spies notes local brand Guillotine and their focus on bright block colour dresses and vests that can be paired with white jeans and chunky heels as an example of easy styling.
“AVANT is keeping it clean and elegant with black column dresses and white draped wrap dresses but even they could not resist introducing a juicy tangerine shade and a splash of metallic gold.”
But the trend is not limited to clothing. Piercings are the accessory of choice for cool kids from the Cape Town city bowl to the streets of Joburg.
“Young starlets are wearing chokers and getting lots of piercings,” says Diamondhead. “As much as parents hate them and they scare children away, the septum ring is everywhere. There’s also the multiple ear piercings which was huge in the 90s. I think as long as we have starlets like Zoe Kravitz, Kylie Jenner, Miley and Rihanna being so popular the trend should stick around for the next season or so.”
The nature of trends is such that other influences beyond just the runway and celebrity trickle down are at play. The 90s trend and the comfort factor that it brings with it is a reflection of this nature.
Cooper says the recession and global economic meltdown of 2008 fueled the trend towards a preference for comfort. With this preference comes the need for slightly casual dressing hence the manifestation of the sporty silhouettes.
“Post recession period with many people working from home: these individuals long for something comfortable to work in and in addition to this have the ability to represent a professional attitude should they want to attend a meeting,” says Cooper. “The combination of tradition sport silhouettes with high-end finishes and fabrics has therefore resonated soundly with this consumer typology.”
This article was originally published in the September 21, 2014 edition of the Sunday Independent LIFE...