Tuesday, March 6, 2012

grunge and sportswear: the reincarnation

Rumi Neely of Fashion Toast and Balmain, spearheaders of what I am tentatively terming 'glam grunge' of the late noughties. The rest of the images in this collage illustrate grunge's new sporty rebirth, including shots from a recent Elle editorial. 

I was not that enamoured with grunge when it re-emerged back in 2008 with Erin Wasson and Rumi Neely of Fashion Toast spearheading the new glamour grunge;  all artfully ripped tights and silver rings, and smoky umber eye shadow and crochet jumpers just about revealing gorgeously -  girly triangle cupped lace bras. Maybe, it was all a bit too ‘Cali-surfer girl – goes –rockchick’, or just a bit ...well, glamorous to be wholly authentic for me. At the time I was so forcefully against the look, I refused to wear denim cut-offs for at least a year or so, despite their ubiquity (Susie even did a cut-off post, poking a little fun at the denim short explosion).

Grunge in its original incarnation, Vogue US, 1992, Stephen Meisel. 

 I think the notion of authenticity surrounding that particular incarnation of grunge was indeed, my biggest misgiving.  Trawling through hundreds of blogs and seeing every girl emulating Neely and Wasson and the Alexander Wang runway was exhausting and somehow didn’t ring true for me. I didn’t really want to dress like this. I did however, write a post mentioning how I perceived the grungy ripped – tight phenomenon to be a sartorial metaphor for downward economic spiral. In my overthinking – student of the liberal arts – looking for meaning in everything - way, I still stand by this to a degree, and especially because hey guess what!, grunge is everywhere yet again, apparently. 

While this outfit may not be grungy, take note of Susie's amazing Nike trainers. And lime so happens to be my favourite colour at the moment. 

But, it’s a different kind of grunge to the aforementioned ‘glam – grunge’ now. It’s a little rougher, a little less downtown and a bit more rough neighbourhood. It’s also a good deal more sportier which particularly interests me. This is not the ‘Lux Sportswear’ or ‘Urban Sporty Chic’ or whatever that surfaces in the pages of the Trend Edit every spring. No. This is actual sportswear. Baggy Nike t – shirts and shock resistant runners and baseball caps (particularly editorial fodder at the minute). Our economy is in a much worse state than it was back in 2008, there’s little glitz about this grunge. It’s not about Balmain studs and sexy Levi cutoffs, but about scruffy Converse paired with a granny - floral skirt and a grey zippy. And it all suddenly, feels much more real. Indeed, I am convinced that the noughties brogue trend is finally beginning to subside – there are definitely more girls wearing hardwearing boots and runners now. And my local Topshop has grey hoodies and electric blue zippies front of store. But the cool thing is this: a zippy or Converse or a grey hoodie will always be just exactly what it’s intended to be. There’s no ‘in fashion’ with these pieces. It’s a much more discreet fashion code – sure, one person sees a grey hoodie as a determined anti – fashion step for Topshop but the majority are just going to view that hoodie, as well, a grey hoodie (and hopefully decide for themselves that they need not fork out the proposed 40 euro for such a basic...).

Katie Jarvis in Fishtank.

Hooded zippy, Topshop. 

Shot from a recent shoot I styled. Baseball cap with converse and vintage sporty sweater. 

The term ‘sporty grunge’ is probably as silly and reductive as ‘glam grunge’ is. But simplistically, this is what grunge’s latest reincarnation is. And even though I am about as sporty as your lazy pet cat, I can’t help but like all this sporty tomboyishness.  I’ve always found sportswear an interesting concept in itself, especially if one considers in particular, working class partiality to sportswear branding and how it operates somehow outside fashion yet bound up in all these notions of wealth and status and consumer culture. And yet, here’s sportswear now – grey zippies and hoodies and loose t – shirts and runners and baseball caps –assuming a new role, some sort of by-product of our 90s’ fashion obsession.  And it’s fashionable and simultaneously anti – fashion (dangerous term, I know). But I guess, I kinda enjoy that ambivalence. And I am willing to admit that I like that these supposedly, unfashionable and practical and boyish sportsy items are now somehow fashion...whatever that may mean.


Michele said...


Eva said...

Great piece, love the pictures and Michele's pic and styling is fab! May have to dig out my baggy, grey addidas sweater :)x