Everyone knows the ‘90s are back. But just like the faces in Face/Off, the trends might look similar, but the personalities are switched: the fringe is the center and the center the fringe. Here are 4 staples of the ‘90s alternative scene that are back but mainstream. And 4 mainstream mainstays appropriated by the subaltern.
Alternative to Mainstream:
Septum Rings used to be bulky, thick gauged bands worn exclusively by dudes who took a radically anti-Sam Goody stance.
As of 5 minutes ago, septum rings are back and everywhere. Exit chunky ball bearings and enter the slender hint of gold that offers the same exotic touch that used to be achieved with an extra dash of mascara.
In the 90s if you wanted to talk to hours, you wore Birkenstocks; and if you wanted to buy me flowers, you wore Birkenstocks. But if you were alternative you most certainly did not.
2. Wu-Tang T-shirts.
Wu Wear was originally worn by only the most fanatical rap nerds and members of the actual Wu Tang Clan. Now, however, the Wu Tang t-shirt is hotter than a Staten Island garbage fire, and it’s experiencing the same unfortunate trend that killed the Bad Brain t-shirt a few years ago: the tees are donned en masse by people who never actually listened to the band.
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The undershave was the hair-cut rubicon that every skinny weirdo had to cross to become fully alternative in the ‘90s. Today all that shaggy under-cut hair is tied up in 2015’s famous “man bun,” the tightness of which now complements the tight guns of the dude rocking it.
4. Hard Core.
In the ‘90s, there was alternative and then there was alternative and then there was soooo alternative that if anyone called you alternative you punched them in the face. These were the hard core kids.
I recently walked into a donut shop in Highland Park — the fastest gentrifying neighborhood in L.A./America/The Universe — where the donuts are all named after ‘90s hardcore bands, and I realized that pretending you used to listen to hardcore is this generation’s version of pretending you were at Woodstock.
Mainstream to alternative:
If normcore was truly norm-based it would involve a lot more Ugg Boots and Monster Energy Drink stickers. The truth about normcore (if it ever really existed) is that it is actually a simularcrum of a specifically ‘90s version of norm.
In the 90s if you wanted to talk to hours, you wore Birkenstocks; and if you wanted to buy me flowers, you wore Birkenstocks. But if you were alternative you most certainly did not. Birkenstocks traveled from the pre-millennial mainstream to 2015’s alt elite. They’ve become the footwear of choice for a bohemian crowd that would have been too alternative to wear them in the days when they were un-ironically paired with GAP overalls.
3. Backpack Purses
The first time I saw an arty millennial wearing a backpack purse at an arty party I almost pooped my pants with confusion. In the ‘90s women who wore backpack purses were the same women who talked openly about watching Friends.
Friends originally was developed to target people who found Seinfeld to be too alternative. But now Lisa Kudrow has become an underground cult hero and when Friends became available on Netflix all of Bohemia took note.