I’m a 90s kid with real-life reference to specific pieces of childhood nostalgia, and because of that adoration coupled with my generally unorthodox nature, I often fawn over the idea of what it might have been like to experience the 90s culture from a teenage mall goth club kid perspective. Today's counter-culture 90's children wish we could raise our teenage freak flag in the decade that started the grunge mentality. It is this nostalgic longing for such aesthetics that has ultimately led to an internet-based cyberculture that is responsible for taking samples of early 90s pop-culture and turning it into a completely new way of life, often through heavy use of different visuals and blogging platforms such as Tumblr. The 1990s acts as a petri dish for the reinvention of our fondest memories into new and inspired avenues of creative self-expression, especially in the realms of what we listen to and how we dress. It feels electrifyingly fresh, but is firmly rooted with impressions engrained from our past.
If I take this modality of thinking and pair it with my natural fondness for Japanese culture or various metaphysical philosophies, then I am left with an ability to more easily identify the origins of nu-goth, pastel goth, pastel grunge, kawaii grunge, seapunk, icepunk, slimepunk or any other internet-based subculture that resonates with my personal interests. They become much more substantial than any sort of casually accepted prerequisites, such as “having turquoise hair” or “wearing flower headbands”. It is more about the emotional connection that these different physical aspects invoke within the individual, not the generic emblematic portrayal of their respective stereotype. People who focus solely on the physical attributes of these niches do not grasp the bigger picture, and are doomed to rely solely on external sources instead of becoming their own.
It is really not surprising that many of these hashtag genres are dripping with heavy surrealism when you consider that most of the ideologies represented are coming from several individual's subconscious minds. It takes a lot of various images to be able to properly convey something as abstract as an idea or feeling. These subcultures represent a group mentality that is ultimately left open to interpretation by the viewer, in a manner similar to using various symbols to decipher your dreams. The imagery used in Seapunk triggered the inspiration for several other hybrid-genres to emerge under a separate sphere of influence with their own unique common interests, most notably Slimepunk. This also explains why so many of these tags are short-lived; their content is relentlessly evolving so rapidly, that a lot of the smaller niches have already switched gears before they had any real chance of gaining some sort of group momentum in the process.
What then, do we call this creative mutable entity existing within each of us, equipped with many names and such tremendous transformative power? Perhaps we simply call it inspiration, or happiness: something that is constantly sought after and always fleeting. Inspiration is perpetual, so we chase inspiration in hopes of finally capturing our happiness for good. What I do know, is that pastel things make me happy. Acid wash, DIY and attitude from cats make me happy. Mysticism, 90s Nickelodeon television shows and poorly-misguided celebrity decisions make me happy. If I can encompass all of these truths into one intangible sphere of influence, on top of transforming this force into a variety of material presence, then as long as I am draped in pastel, I'll really be covered in happiness.
Teen Dream Sequin Billy Crop Sweater
$378 from Wildfox Couture
Chiffon Sunflower Cut Out Dress
$33 from Go Jane
Stripey Sue T-Shirt Dress
$38.59 from ASOS
Wool Ear Hat
$19 from July Joy
Anti-Valentine's Day Insult Heart Candy Kawaii Sweatshirt
$45 from fASHLIN
Fun Fur & Dalmation Mini Backpack
$580 from Nasir Mazhar
All Blogs Tee
$26 from American Apparel
fASHLIN has noticed that a lot of insanely popular fashion bloggers have fallen into a similar trap. They resort to the Holy Trinity of footwear--Jeffrey Campbell, Brand Collaborations featuring Jeffrey Campbell (i.e. Wildfox, Black Milk Clothing, etc.), and UNIF (most notably the Hellbounds)—as the only seemingly feasible styling options in the realm of shoes. While Jeffrey Campbell is quite possibly a mad genius and beyond worthy of the amazing recognition that he has built for himself, his shoes are not the only existing form of acceptable footwear. There are so many artfully talented fashion bloggers who rely entirely too much on the credibility that these brands of shoes supposedly provide. In actuality, what they provide is a guaranteed likeability; the safest "alternative" choice in stereotypically edgy footwear that is presently available; the mainstream opinion of what rad shoes should be. Jeffrey Campbell's talent and creative ingenuity alone have ultimately guaranteed him the cult following that he so rightly deserves. His ability to recycle ideas from the past and infuse them into the present is what makes his shoes so interesting and highly coveted in the first place. My issue is not with Jeffrey Campbell's talent or popularity, but with these so-called 'pioneers of fashion' who have lazily conceded their own creative perspective in footwear over to a pre-determined sure thing. I use the word lazy because you cannot identify yourself as being a styling genius while simultaneously relying on a heavily talented designer 99.9% of the time for all of your choices in a particular area of your supposed proficiency. It demonstrates a blatant lack of effort that is the antithesis of what a fashion intuitive is supposed to be. You can have all of the creative stylings of Susie Bubble, but if you choose to water it down with redundant footwear, you might as well be holding up a sign that says,
"I DON'T CARE." The interesting thing is that most of these bloggers do care a great deal, to the point that some of them have made fashion blogging their career, or at the very least a vast majority of their day-to-day lives. So what is their excuse? Perhaps there is some sort of secretive allure or professional justification behind the idea of consistently wearing a new shoe from the same-old designer that fASHLIN simply has yet to fully grasp.
One particular brand of shoes that bumps creative ingenuity straight off the radar of mainstream popularity is the crazy Japanese-obsessed fun brand, Irregular Choice. Designer Dan Sullivan uses his love and knowledge of Japanese street fashion to create his typical over-the-top signature styles that vary anywhere between the slightly unusual to highly stylized pieces of wearable art. The overall diversity and range that Irregular Choice provides allows for a multitude of unique styling options that are sure to help create an unforgettable look. This is merely one styling alternative to help you get out of the habit of forfeiting your shoe selection to only one brand, and while both Irregular Choice and Jeffrey Campbell are wholeheartedly awesome choices, be sure to put in the effort and change it up every once in a while. Here are a few of our favorites from Irregular Choice below:
Finnish designer Daniel Palillo is injecting into the world of fashion a healthy dose of dark humor through his pop-culture meets cyber-occult design aesthetic. His typical creative devices while graphically bold are symbol oriented and relatively simple, with a heavy influence of animation paired with jarring text. Sharp contrasting colors, esoteric subject matter and a bit of whimsy are packaged neatly inside the silhouettes of clothing that looks like it belongs in a Spike Lee movie from another universe. Always a sucker for anything resembling Tokyo street style, fASHLIN puts Daniel Palillo up alongside the ranks of KTZ for a battle of who can do it better. From Daniel Palillo's website:
"Palillo’s universe is situated in a time after the Internet where new styles are developed from unidentified objects; created among gangs who communicate with an enigmatic language. Here, only shirts with words speak and caps with antennas listen. The end."
Holographic notions are no longer strictly reserved for club kids, cyber glam enthusiasts or your various government issued forms of identification. With #icepunk starting to pick up momentum in the music scene (think of it like post-witch haus), the same can be said for its insurgence into the realm of fashion. Icy-silver holographic pieces have steadily transcended across t-shirts, purses and other accessories over the past two years with a subtle nuance to 90's revival, but for the most part up until now were mostly derived from smaller, independent labels targeting an even smaller niche trend. Now that luxury designers like Proenza Schouler, Sigerson Morrison and Theyskens' Theory have each integrated holographic pieces into their A/W 2012 collections, it is safe to assume that an abundance of rave aesthetics will most likely be infiltrating a broader scope of the industry, leaving more viable options for Tumblr-specific genres to choose from than ever before.
One of the most highly anticipated pieces this Fall was the drop of Hussein Chalayan's silver holographic spray on leggings. With his A/W 2012 collection finally available in expensive online boutiques, one might assume that the mainstream population would be geared more towards his geometric color-blocked pieces and tailored suit jackets. However, it was his silver holo leggings that completely sold out at Net-A-Porter for $965 before they even made it off the new arrivals page. Avid fans are practially foaming at the mouth and ripping their hair out in anticipation for Chalayan's matching holographic oxfords to be released, and who can blame them? They are almost as exciting as Miss Noir's Custom Lisa Frank Platform Creepers, inspired by Jeremy Scott's psychedelic Fall 2012 runway show. Perhaps the only disappointing factor about designer icepunk finds is the heavily inflated price point. Most snazzy young style enthusiasts we know can appreciate a more affordable alternative as compared to their luxury counterparts. With this in mind, Etsy is a great venue to not only support 100% handmade and vintage wares, but uncover a plethora of diverse styling options that won't leave you fashionably homeless. Check out some of the artisen options for holographic greatness this Fall below:
It can be difficult trying to discern how to reasonably incorporate rainbow colored pieces into your wardrobe, without looking like you accidentally left your fuzzy stuffed animal backpack filled with lollies at home. However, it is more than possible to easily integrate a multitude of brightly colored options and not come across looking like a candy kid off to their next rave. The trick is not being afraid to mix and match bold patterns, and knowing when to highlight pieces using texture and accessories. Once you get the hang of implementing these ideas, colors and patterns become less intimidating and infinitely more exciting. Check out the specs of our three outfits below:
fASHLIN has discovered its new personal favorite online shop for rebellious glamour at criminally affordable prices. Aptly named The CultLabel, this Singapore based shopping resource proudly hosts a plethora of alternative fashions and accessories that have developed somewhat of a "cult-like" following, only to be discovered that the pieces are actually redesigned copies or variations to accommodate individuals with a more modest wallet. We all have those distinctly coveted finds we pine over from various websites like NastyGal, Wasteland or DollsKill, but the magnitude of some of the expenses that a few of these pieces demand leave us simply that—admirers. However, The CultLabel has done us all a favor by designing replicas of some of our favorite alt-designer trends that are on point without skimping on quality control. Everything from Black Milk style skirts and leggings, to versions of Jeffrey Campbell's heel-less platform booties and UNIF style Hellraisers can be found intertwined with mineral rings and various nu-goth style tendencies. They even managed to re-create similar versions of the famous skeleton heels by Dsquared2, the skeleton hand ring bracelet by Delfina Delettrez, and Chanel inspired half-tint sunglasses.
New pieces are constantly being implemented every few days, as it seems the buyers only purchase a limited quantity in each style, which makes for a healthy rotation of trends at the peak of their popularity. Lets face it, nothing beats the real deal, but for those of us with expensive tastes and little money to spare (a depressing combination), The CultLabel is doing us a much appreciated solid. Hit up their website here, and check out some of their swag below:
"It's like wearing stilettos with a track suit, it takes guts." said Yo-Landi, explaining her interpretation of Zef fashion. "It's the ultimate South African style." Yo-Landi Vi$$er and lead vocalist Ninja (real name Waddy Jones) are the self-proclaimed Zef enthusiasts and masterminds behind the musical exploits of South African rap-rave crew Die Antwoord. Their obscene Afrikaans-laced raps are often paired with surreal imagery, like a music-video shot of Yo-Landi in a Pokémon costume exhaling butterflies. This deliciously futuristic new breed of kitsch is known as Zef: an ability to embrace both "white trash" novelties and gangster rap from the 80s and 90s era by successfully combining it into a singular modality. It takes a convergence of styles, and makes them feel both comforting and unexplored. You can almost recognize a sense of familiarity within the styling, but the pairings are too controversially mind-blowing and unlikely to have occurred naturally from any one entity, let alone an entire progression. In South Africa, however, that's exactly what happened.
Zef is the nasty, freaky, gleefully trashy underbelly of post-partheid white South African culture. Perhaps the most recognized band to fully embrace this identity is Die Antwoord, who single-handedly launched their futuristic sound and questionable fashion choices into the forefront of the Zef scene. Yo-Landi's iconic platinum locks appear to have been cut with a weed-wacker, creating a strangely evolved interpretation of the classic white-trash mullet. She is consistently seen showing off her tiny frame in metallic gold boy shorts and Pikachu tees, while her counterpart Ninja proudly showcases his montage of prison style tattoos and gold front teeth in nearly every photograph captured of him. In an interesting twist, the duo was featured in Alexander Wang's Spring 2012 T campaign video, and again brought a chunk of media spotlight to his recent Spring 2013 show by sitting front-row alongside Busta Rhymes, with Yo-Landi wearing a netted facial mask and Ninja sporting a 'ZEF' beanie and black hybrid jacket.
Zef is not without controversy, however, and the pair's eccentric taste has done more than raise a few eyebrows. Critics of the style suggest Die Antwoord appropriated the distinctive gangster style of the "coloreds", a term referring to South Africans of mixed racial origins. In an article written by the New York Times, "How dare a white band hit the jackpot by imitating a community whose own musicians were still largely stuck in apartheid-created slums?" A veritable pundit on such cultural matters, Rustum Kozain purported Die Antwoord as "Basically Blackface."
To individuals with this perspective of Die Antwoord's culture-blending persona, there are a couple of other key factors to consider. While the black majority of South Africa achieved political liberation in 1994, it was the whites who experienced their own form of liberation, through the power of creative expression in the form of the arts. The freedom to openly express or identify with their own sociopolitical viewpoints occurring in their own communities was and still is an entirely new privilege. Under white rule, Afrikaans art was heavily sponsored by the government and presented a rigid image of Afrikaners as upstanding Christians — a natural ruling class. After apartheid fell, white artists were free to explore a wider range of personas. Waddy Jones has sculpted, in Ninja, a persona of what embracing different cultural identities in South Africa might mean. The context in which Die Antwoord uses Zef is through the freedom of their own art form, and obviously many individuals do not yet appreciate South Africa's new found concept regarding artistic liberties.
Yo-Landi and Ninja refer to Zef as the ultimate style in both music and fashion, as well as an emerging South African subculture resulting from the apartheid being abolished. It is a healthy (if not radical) approach of taking both black and white kitsch from the early 80's and 90's, and having the freedom to express such a pairing through artistic expression and self-identification. Die Antwoord is creative without being aggressive, like Manson or Ramstein, and this is a key factor that is lacking from the American rap scene. fASHLIN appreciates that they are not only making fun of the industry, but of the rap listeners and of themselves. If anything, Die Antwoord's self proclaimed Zef mentality is the start towards a merger between any sort of racial divide in South Africa through a distinct appreciation of generic pop-culture and stereotypes. Now that the humanitarian rights of black Africans have been reinstated, any previously taboo subject matter should be open for creative discussion, especially the lighthearted topics relating to personal style and cultural tastes. Controversial or not, the ambiguous Zef mindset simply embraces a distinct flavor from both sides of the racial coin.
Psychedelic design duo Meadham Kirchhoff underscores nostalgic social movements from decades prior, incorporating everything from vintage kitsch to retro patterns responsible for their infamous culture-clashing designs. Lace, glitter and sequins have become a staple of their vibrancy throughout the seasons, as well as heavily designed ornate accessories with gaudy, linear tendencies. It feels like Meadham Kirchhoff takes note of style-misfits throughout the decades both past and present, and then infuses them with a current vintage trend they are obsessed with, resulting in an oddly familiar yet somehow futuristic appeal. In their Fall 2012 Ready To Wear show, disco was repackaged into recognizable silhouettes of 1990's grunge and classic English punk aesthetics. Instead of heavy leather jackets, they used puffy furs dyed in vibrant colors, some of which had been created to look like monsters with ferocious teeth. No matter the season, the models always have incredible hair in a plethora of colors and edgy chops, resulting in a new-age club kid appeal of some other time and place. Check out Meadham Kirchhoff's A/W 2012 RTW runway show below: