This story was originally published on Stuff
Fashion trends often define a decade. The 1990s had oversized flannel, the 2000s, Juicy Couture tracksuits and the 2010s had galaxy tights.
The typical lifespan of a fashion trend is 5-10 years, but with the rise of the Internet and social media, a phenomenon called ‘micro-trends’ has started to appear.
A micro-trend is one that quickly rises in popularity and falls even faster. The fashion cycle of a micro-trend is usually 3-5 years, signifying that trends no longer go exclusively from runway to rack, and proving the power of the Internet.
Participating in fashion trends, macro or micro, allows you to be part of a community or a collective. So in a time when everything is politicised, why not make a statement with your clothing?
As a ‘terminally online,’ self-professed TikTok addict, I wanted to examine some micro-trends that have been burrowing their way back into the mainstream brain.
Following on from the ‘Dark Academia’ trend of 2021, its perky, preppy cousin has come to play. Known for its neutral tones and vehement use of checker and argyle patterns it’s what the past may have called the ‘prep look.’
Light Academia differs however, in the philosophy behind the aesthetic. It involves an interest in literature, music, art, history, and learning. Light Academia themes are generally Eurocentric and classicist and has a heavy emphasis on Western architecture.
Quite androgynous in its essence, loose silhouettes are encouraged, but there are no real rules. White button ups, well fitting suit pants, sweater-vests and beige trench coats are staples. A nice sensible leather shoe completes the outfit and the use of corduroy, tweed or plaid is mandatory.
A prompt would be: something comfortable enough for you to wear while you browse rows upon rows of catacombs.
Another trend that has resurged on TikTok is the revival of the ‘Tumblr aesthetic’.
It’s time to pull out your old record player, pick up the ciggies again and wallow in self-despair... wait you’re already doing that? Sorry.
A social networking website extremely popular with teens in the mid 2010s, Tumblr’s signature styles of ‘Soft Grunge,’ ‘Indie Sleaze and ‘Twee’ have made a recent revival.
Since making a comeback, these trends have prompted intense and important discussions about the fatphobia that existed on Tumblr during this era, and how mainstream representations of these styles excluded larger bodies. However, it’s time to reclaim the cloth and enjoy reliving your teenage hood, guilt free.
What the hell is soft grunge?
As we start heading into ‘sweater weather’, oversized knit pullovers, knee-high socks and Doc Martens are all expected to make a comeback.
Soft grunge, also known as pastel grunge, stems from the original movement in the early 1990s. With noticeable gothic and kawaii influences, things like metallic combat boots, pastel hair and dark lipstick are able to coexist harmoniously.
Think: Band tees, black skinny jeans and denim jackets. Plaid is okay, but only in dark colours. Notable accessories include under-eye circles (the darker the better), heavy eyeliner and a book of poems.
Now Alexa, play The Smiths.
On the other end of grunge we have twee. A term synonymous with ‘vintage core’, it borrows the word from 1900s England and stems from baby talk and the word sweet.
The hipster aesthetic was popularised on Tumblr during the late 2000s and early 2010s. Staples of the style include colourful tights, oversized collars, bows, cardigans, blouses and hairstyles with fringes.
Certain objects have also become associated to the aesthetic like ukuleles, teacups and typewriters. Think Alexa Chung, Zooey Deschanel in New Girl or any Wes Anderson film character.
Twee has resurfaced during a time when body acceptance is more mainstream, which means there is a greater push to make this look more inclusive for everyone. So go out and buy all the quirky animal shaped bags, statement earrings and interesting hats that your heart desires.
A hybrid of the two micro-trends above, “indie sleaze” is also often called the ‘trashy hipster’ aesthetic.
Pulling from the ‘Kinderwhore’ movement of the 1990s, the bold colours of the 1980s and the indie music scene of the 2000s, it's an amalgamation of grubby, maximalist, and performative vintage.
Imagine: you’re about to go out to meet some friends at an artisanal coffee shop which turns into a bar come 10pm. Your handle bar moustache wearing, bacon loving boyfriend is DJing tonight. You can’t decide between your black disco pants or galaxy tights. Eventually you decide of on the disco pants worn with a graphic tee. You fix your side swept bangs and decide a neon pair of shutter shades would complete the outfit; you’re right.
If I just made you reminisce on good times, I apologise.
If committing to a whole new style doesn’t sound like you, then why not try out some trending pieces? Here are some hot items to keep an eye out for this year, according to TikTok.
Finally live out your superhero fantasies with the catsuit craze hitting the streets. Celebrities are rocking it in all its forms, with Rihanna in monochrome Mugler and Kim K in bright pink Balenciaga (with built-in heels!).
Form-fitting in nature, the catsuit is merely a canvas for lavish details and accessories like jackets, waist-bags or even capes. Depending on what you pair the suit with, you can dress it for any occasion. A catsuit a little too intimidating for you? Throw a blazer or a mini wrap skirt on top.
Winter is coming up, and we’re getting ready to bundle up. Balaclavas are in, and in a huge way.
Ditching the ugly black ski-mask of the past, people are getting creative with how they interpret the modern day version, with bunny ears, chains and even collars making the rounds. Notable reiterations include the ‘balacollar’ by Fly By Night NYC.
There has been discourse surrounding the treatment towards women who wear traditional headdress daily and influencers who use head coverings for fashion. What must be kept in mind is respect and the inherent privilege some have in being able to wear these head coverings without prejudice.
Going forward, love and understanding should be at the forefront of every interaction you have this coming season.
A traditional African accessory that consists of small glass beads on a string or wire, worn around the waist. They come in different colours and shapes, each representing a different virtue. They have been worn by women in West African cultures for centuries and represent a beautiful aspect of the feminine proclamation of self.
While I wouldn’t label these a ‘trend’, I do want to give recognition to the rise in the normalisation of cultural accessories lately.
It’s crucial to understand, respect and credit the original culture when participating in cultural appreciation. So run to your nearest Black-owned business today!
Gloves had a time and place in traditional society with rules dictating what length you should wear, how to style them and even decorum on how to take them off. Well, throw that book out the window because rules are made to be broken.
Not just for doctors, gloves have come back in all lengths, materials and fabrics. Pairing long gloves over long-sleeves, using gloves as a scarf and even glove dresses have made their way onto TikTok. So try your hand at them sometime!
This is a Public Interest Journalism funded role through NZ On Air