Confession: I lived part of my childhood in the nineties. I’m talking the early nineties here. While that still puts me at a fairly respectable age to still be relevant and hip-long gone are the days of crop tops and booty shorts. Did I ever really do that?
In any case, its been real interesting watch young fashionistas and fashionistos born in the nineties reinterpreting the looks-everything from electric florals to Blossom hats (not my favorite), to body con Alaïaesque curve hugging, to Madonna crosses to maroon lips and Doc Martens.
The fashion industry has followed suit on the plaid coattails of these kids. It comes full fashion circle: they get it from the street, recreate it bring it to the masses and the high classes (Marc Jacobs early nineties grunge), it goes out of style and then twenty years later comes back reinterpreted through the tiny round grunge glasses of an eighteen year old.
Whole business segments have taken off on this aesthetic. Sophia Amoruso is the owner of Nasty Gal, an online storefront and became and author with her memoir #Girlboss. At only 30 years old, she has built a fashion empire mostly on the backs of young women with an edge who are excited by the aesthetics of the Tupac and Nirvana era.
Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal in her signature style
The price points of Nasty Gal are aimed directly for this young but highly fashion savvy consumer. These are girls who follow fashion bloggers who want to look cool but also look like it was all their idea. Very different from how many of us lived through fashion in the nineties. When we were just trying to get it right, find the right pair of Vans, the acceptable amount of black eyeliner, the “I’m not trying too hard plaid.”.
The seemingly overnight success of some style bloggers with Instagram accounts that look like glossy magazines can be overwhelming. They become famous for their signature style and then get sent expensive designer outfits and have top photographers working with them. Then sometimes they lose the very element that made them famous in the first place- the true street style.
One young blogger as big as she has become (over 600k followers on Instagram) has been able to retain most of her signature aesthetic-an aesthetic that turns out to be an exciting mix of nineties grunge-glam. Her name is Luanna and her blog is called Lehappy (decidedly not grunge). Originally hailing from Peru, now residing in New York, her take on this iconic era is music centered, punky and grungy. However, as she is coming of age post-nineties there is a sweetness and freshness to her that comes through. The edge she refers to is a reverent, not angst filled.
The nineties as through the eyes of top style blogger Luanna from LeHappy
I’ve been left with mix feelings seeing the twenty year old girl in a Nirvana shirt wishing I would have tried harder to see them live, or wondering if its too late to get away with cut offs (it is). What does all this mean to the still hip 30 something? Can we revisit the era with a renewed eye?
The answer my lady and lad friends is YES. Its important to take style cues from these young fashion redux masters as well as slightly older girlbosses like Sophia Amoruso and mix it in with some good common fashion sense.
Recently I stopped a young lady at Starbucks. I wanted to hug her style I loved it so much. She somehow managed to mix Afrocentric touches (shells in her braids, African patterns) with elements of grunge and early ninties hip-hop. Not only that but she looked polished with a bold shouldered eighties blazer and pants. She looked like she stepped off of a Vogue curated set of A Different World.
Fabulous fashion from the late eighties/early nineties A Different World. From left to right, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Jasmine Guy and Lisa Bonet.
It turns out her name is Akua and she is the owner of an online Etsy shop called House of Aama. She was with her friend Lia, who had a different take on style mixing. Lia was more of the painter the loose artist with a crocheted top and bleached pants and beautiful natural hair. It was still a style so familiar, yet so hard to place. Some seventies, some eighties rocker with the bleached pants. This style is bold- it takes confidence to mix with this careful eye. It is an art form and one not impeded by whether or not this or that nineties element was cool. These ladies are so young, they have no idea that creepers went out of style twenty years ago (Akua was wearing a delicious pair) or that bleached jeans are not for the faint of heart.
Akua, (left) and Lia right from House of Aama
Which leaves lots of inspiration for a lady like me. To see the era I grew up in through new, fresh eyes and have options opened up for me. A look through Akua’s online shop shows lots of vintage finds and some original designs. Some of the pieces I know to stay away from (the aforementioned crop tops) but many items that can be glammed up and grown up.
Akua calls her look “afrogrunge” and says her style philosophy can be summed up with that phrase. Sounds right to me. Even better, it looks right to me.
On Akua: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HouseOfAama
On Sophia Amoruso and Nastygal: http://www.nastygal.com
On Luanna at Lehappy: http://www.le-happy.com