The return of Indie Sleaze
A little over a decade ago, hipster reigned supreme. These paragons of freshness could easily be discovered by their gold lamé American Apparel leggings, side fringes, Richie Tenenbaum headbands and tank tops with cratered armholes that plunge down to the hip bones. They were listening to bloghaus, an obscure musical genre that mixed indie, disco and rave. They read Hipster Runoff, a consciousness flow site run by a mysterious pseudonymous blogger named Carles. They often partied while dancing the night away to electro-pop groups with confusing names like New Young Pony Club and Simian Mobile Disco. The debauchery of an accompanist immortalized forever thanks to amateur flash photography uploaded the next morning. Although a famous New York Mark Greif’s magazine article, “What Was the Hipster,” said the archetype died in 2010, he hung on until 2012, when Macklemore released the honked hymn “Thrift Shop”, which effectively defeated the style of Columbus-ing irony, the novelty style to which designers of taste had adhered for at least half a decade prior. It was as if the kitchen lights had been on at 2 a.m., offering a brief glimpse of cockroaches scattering around the edges of the room before they subsequently disappeared.
Turns out hipster style wasn’t dead, it was just dormant. The hipster aesthetic, now dubbed “indie sleaze”, has been in demand for a comeback. Trend cycles have accelerated to such an extent that avant-garde cool kids are now idolizing an era that barely dates back 10 years. A viral TikTok from Mandy Lee, a Brooklyn-based trend forecaster, suggests there is an “obscene amount of evidence” that the aesthetic is returning, citing a paparazzi photo of Bella Hadid wearing wired headphones. But the evidence goes much further than that. Margaret Qualley suggestively basks in lacy socks for the latest cover of ManGirls magazine. (Cass Blackbird, a photographer who was in attendance for the first iteration of indie sleaze, took the photos.) Kirsten Dunst appears on the November 2021 cover of Architectural summary wear the half time clip of black leggings up to the ankle under a bohemian style dress. And on TikTok, users are singing the praises of “vintage” American Apparel.
“Indie sleaze seems very vague but also very specific at the same time. It’s American Apparel commercials, flash photography, Urban Outfitters, Ed Banger records, Nylon magazine and Myspace, ”says Ilia Espialidi, a 24-year-old Greek video editor who is part of a growing cohort of Gen Z obsessed with dressing like it’s 2008. how random and cheesy it is.
Esialidi’s daily uniform consists of dark wash skinny jeans, white granny socks, faux leather moccasins and an oversized graphic tee, accessorized with pearls, crossover necklaces or headbands. node. “I appreciate [wearing] things that make people skeptical at first or maybe even frown. The contradiction between being trendy and trashy is what makes this aesthetic such an iconic time in fashion for me, ”she says.
“It was an organic, free-spirited, carefree period, which I think people go crazy for,” said Mark Hunter, the Los Angeles-based photographer whose blog, The Cobrasnake, was one of the originators of the look. “When you look at my photos, people seem to be having the best time of their lives. They aren’t focused on the phone in their hand or posing for the camera. They basically live.
Indie sleaze is about “genuine pleasure and freedom,” echoes Lee. The period between 2006 and 2012 was the last on earth before it became normal to walk around with a small computer with a professional-grade camera in your pocket. No one dressed for the express purpose of being photographed, unless they were deliberately trying to climb onto the cobrasnake.The ineffable quality captured by the party photography of the time was a result of its candid nature. .
Much of the allure of freelance sleaze is pretty straightforward and obvious. The current revival of the Y2K style has reached its peak, making the 2010s the next natural destination for the cycle of the nostalgic trend to land. Plus, her messy, chaotic face is a noticeable rejection of the frictionless ‘millennial’ aesthetic that dominated the previous decade, demonstrated by start-ups like Allbirds and Everlane whose utterly indescribable designs have sanded down any indication of personal style. in a smooth, even uniform. area.
But the appeal also goes much further. Indie sleaze serves as a somewhat painful reminder of the last breath in when it was possible to envision a future unscathed from the ravages of late capitalism. Olivia V., a 30-year-old video editor from Toronto who manages the Indie Sleaze Instagram account, remembers spending most of that time attending grungy house shows where bands were playing in the basement. “I saw Grimes play for $ 5,” she says. Today, the prospect of a sandwich, let alone a Grimes concert, for $ 5 seems like a ridiculous fantasy.
In a sense, indie sleaze isn’t about a desperate urge to party with pre-pandemic abandonment, but longing for a world you could still live in cheaply on next to nothing. Thanks to rising inflation and a crazy housing market, cheap rents have overtaken Betamax or coal irons, a thing of the distant past. Even Macklemore’s 99-cent “leopard mink” would now cost at least $ 50 at the thrift store, if it wasn’t already grossed up to $ 200 by an enterprising depop seller.
The aesthetic also feels like a direct repudiation of the metaverse, which Mark Zuckerberg touts as the next stage in human development. If we are to believe it, the future of humanity is to sit alone in a room with a giant headset and “interact” with the world through a fully virtual interface. According to The New York Times, “The metaverse will prove to be yet another suffocating technological blanket, protecting humans from each other and from real-life sensory pleasures.” Indie sleaze says, “Fuck that,” and leaves the house without a cell phone to attend a DIY noise show in someone’s basement. He encourages the disciples to experience the world as it was before things became completely untenable, before exhaustion and hopelessness became part of the human condition.
Of course, there are a number of barriers to widespread adoption. The ironic and provocative attitude of VICE The magazine, which fed its audience with thinly veiled racism under the guise of ‘making a joke’, has turned into something darker as some former hipster backpacks like Gavin McInnes helped fuel the current rise of fascism. Conversely, the unchecked elitism displayed is simply not compatible with the current optimism of “letting people enjoy things”. While I think there is a point to be made for dabbling for free on things you don’t like, it’s an activity best kept private.
The next is that the style wasn’t that mainstream initially, so it’s hard to imagine today’s standards adopting neon purple unitards and fried peroxide hair as their preferred dress mode. The following is an admission of the more “problematic” aspects of culture, which should not be ignored.
Some critics suggest we should be careful not to glorify a time when sexual predators like Terry Richardson and Dov Charney were rampant. Mia Worthington, an 18-year-old indie sleaze fan from Tucson, says she’s heard people go so far as to denounce wearing old American Apparel because they see it as disrespectful to victims of sexual harassment.
Lee doesn’t quite buy into this argument, denouncing it as a “chronic online catch”. “When the trends come back, it’s not like the values are the same,” she says. “No one thinks that people who like to wear dresses from the 50s and 60s suddenly want to be housewives who are abused by their husbands.”
Instead, she hopes this revival avoids some of the more unpleasant elements of the era like lean bodies, uncontrolled drug use, and a seemingly endless enthusiasm for cultural appropriation. (Remember when people wore formal headdresses at Coachella? Sadly, that too makes for sleazy indie.)
There is no point in positioning the independent sleaze as a more “innocent” period in history, but it does represent a sharp form of resistance against the direction in which the world is heading. Remix of Klaxons. If the indie sleaze comes back, let it reign for a long time.
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