The indie sleaze aesthetic first emerged around 2008 and remained in style until roughly 2012. In the intervening years, it drew heavily from the 2000s party scene and flourished on websites like Tumblr and MySpace. Today, the style is making a comeback, making the rounds on TikTok and Instagram. Considering its current moment, indie sleaze could be the next big thing in fashion.
So what is indie sleaze? In general, the trend can be understood as a combination of a number of more specific sub-cultures, such as twee, scene, electro-pop and hipster. According to Vogue, “it’s a messy amalgam of ’90s grunge and ’80s flourishes, finished off with an almost pretentious retro look.” Visualize smudged black mascara, torn tights, Americana skirts and side-swept bangs. The epitome of chic was to look a little disheveled, like a party girl fresh off a bender that was documented in the iconic, provocative flash photo that defined the era.
Still, despite an undeniable nostalgia, those who lived through this era don’t look back on any part of the aesthetic with longing. Most look back at buns, mustaches and skinny jeans and cringe. However, indie sleaze extends beyond that. For a revival of this look, think more along the lines of the recent revival of maximalist and eclectic styles, with an emphasis on unique, personal touches. In fact, the more this era is examined, the more parallels can be drawn between that time and current trends that are on the rise.
Trend forecaster Mandy Lee recently made a video in which she described the “embarrassing amount of evidence” that indie is on the rise. In the video, which now boasts over a million views, she cites the resurgence of flashy, in-the-moment photos, the popularity of music mashups and a renewed interest in now-dated technology like wired headphones as evidence for her claim.
And she might be on to something. The Instagram page @indiesleaze now boasts over 98,300 followers. Additionally, Alison Davis wrote in the New Yorker about her premonitions of an impending “vibe shift”, commenting that “the new vibe change could be the return of early indie graces”.
Music also played a big part in the aesthetic, with names such as Yeah Yeah Yeahs, MIA, Bloc Party and Paramore dominating the playlists. Spotify recently released a new “Indie Sleaze” playlist featuring the era’s most prolific artists. We also see many of the iconic sounds of the time reflected in today’s hits, with Olivia Rodrigo and other pop artists playing with the wild and punk sounds of the era. Additionally, club and house music are also on the rise. Olivia V., who runs the @indiesleaze Instagram account, spoke about the resurgence of many of these genres: “I had a hunch that there would be a new interest in bloghouse and electroclash and new raves because of where we are in music trends. . ,” she told Thrillist. “It’s an aesthetic that hasn’t been revisited or well defined yet, which made it even more interesting for me to explore.”
Recycling trends is nothing new. The so-called “20-year rule” has been used to describe the rhythms of fashion, as styles evolve from being outdated and oversaturated to fashionable, usually in the span of two decades, enough time for everything to feel fresh and new. clouds throughout. again. Y2K fashion is the latest example of recycling this trend. The styles of the early 2000s dot-com boom have been back in business for some time now, with velor tracksuits, colorful sunglasses, oversized sneakers, pleated skirts, baguette bags and all the fun of the last millennium.
This revival falls in line with the 20-year rule almost to a tee; however, fashion cycles are not what they used to be. Because of social media, fashion trends are changing faster than ever before. Creators can now collaborate and build off each other, allowing new trends to emerge quickly and reach a wide audience in a short period of time. However, because social media has become so saturated with the “next big thing,” trends grow and explode very quickly, sometimes in just a few short weeks, shattering this idea of the “20-year rule.” Basically, considering this new, fast-paced fashion cycle, we’re long overdue for a “change of atmosphere.”
The origins of indie sleaze itself must also be considered. Often thought of as a response to the economic hardships of the 2008 financial crisis, the gritty and mischievous aesthetic of indie rock was, in a sense, a counterculture aimed at the recession itself. Without such a focus on designer brands and expensive pieces, style is more about an eclectic mix of layers, accessories and makeup that would pull a look together. It was a style that allowed 20-somethings of the time to explore their individual aesthetic without breaking the bank.
These conditions reflect today’s conditions, especially given the impending recession. Additionally, the glamorous, party-girl aesthetic feels especially appealing to those who spent the last two years under the restrictions of COVID-19. So think of this revival as a direct rebellion against the expensive and time-consuming “clean girl aesthetic.” Olivia V. reflects how this style is more affordable and accessible, allowing for greater creative freedom and individuality. “I can look good and not spend so much, either by saving or just putting together something simple but making it wilder with jewelry, stained glasses or hair. You may have recession roots! Breaking fashion rules was allowed and encouraged, in a sense. Many people have had their incomes hit during the pandemic and it may be a time when people embrace a cheaper way to access and put things together.”
So how can you start testing the indie drain waters? Don’t worry, you don’t need to use side bangs and skinny jeans. Instead, reimagine similar silhouettes and accessorize the aesthetic with a modern take. Think loafers, which have already experienced a resurgence, paired with slimmer, but perhaps not jegging-level pants. On top, try a cardigan but with a stronger twist, perhaps a bold pattern or interesting textile. For make-up, use a heavier hand on the mascara and don’t worry about getting your eyeliner perfect. With indie style, the beauty is in the imperfections.