GRUNGE-The Modern Grunge?

In our weekly seminar our group discussed the existence of Grunge in the 00's. Was the music still alive? If so, where? How had the music changed? We also discussed it in terms of fashion. Was the anti-fashion statement now a popular trend? Who was/is wearing it?
These questions led us to consider the two current types of grunge we believe exist. "Modern Grunge"- the style of music may have changed, less angst, however still intelligent in-terms of composition and lyrics. We also thought about the fashion of these bands. If they weren't playing typical "grunge" or dressing in the standard look, then were they still grunge? I believe that if a band's passion is for the music and not the "band look" then they are likely to have to the same standards and the original grungers. I challenged this idea by going to a gig of a band i had never heard and new nothing about, an unsigned current band. Their music could be described as a mash up of folk, indie and acoustic. Not very grunge. However, their look would certainly not have fashionistas jumping out of their seats. Loose fitting jeans, converse and slogan t-shirts sum up the musical bunch. It was all about the music for these guys, just like it was for idols in the early 90's. There were no woes about fitting a generic "i'm in a band" look.
I believe there are still bands out there doing it solely for the music, even if they don't fit the grunge critique.

GRUNGE- Menswear


Fall Winter 2010 - 2011

Fashion seems to be on a consistent 20-year cycle. That is, each season the styles from approximately two decades prior can be seen interpreted on the runways for modern fashion lovers. So now in 2010, it's right on time for fashion from the 1990's to be coming back to the forefront of style consciousness.
There are a wide of variety of things that characterize the '90s, but one that stands out among the rest is Grunge. Twenty years ago the grunge fashion movement was fueled by a music genre of the same name, whose pinnacle icon was the moody rock star Kurt Cobain. Along with his band Nirvana, Cobain had an entire generation dressing in ripped jeans, dingy t-shirts, and nubby flannels.

Today, grunge has crept back into style, but the modern version has a more polished, "I've had a bath recently" appeal. Contemporary men are fusing the so-called metrosexuality of the '00s with the laid back casuals of the '90s. Stars like actor and musician Jared Leto epitomize this new age grunge.

So how do you get the grunge look?
Let's start from the top: The beanie is great for the cool temperatures of fall and winter, but wearing this style of hat isn't always about keep warm. To wear it grunge-style choose black or another dark neutral. It should fit kind of loose so that you can push it back to sit behind the crown of your head. This look was seen on the Fall/Winter 2010-11 designer runways. From left to right: Marni, Kris Van Assche, John Varvatos.

 Next, the quintessential grunge element - the plaid shirt. Although in the '90s it was almost always a flannel shirt, the modern take allows for lighter weights, like cotton and linen. No matter what the material, however, you should definitely try tying it around your waist. This move can take almost any outfit from plain the grungy in a couple seconds flat!
Tying shirts around your waist is so much associated with grunge style, that the shirt needn't even be plaid. Giuliano Fujiwara and Galliano do a classic take on the waist shirt, while Jean Paul Gaultier makes it extra clean and modern with a solid color tee.

As a general rule, nothing in grunge style should look brand new (even if it is) or freshly pressed. Ripped and otherwise distressed jeans fit into the style perfectly. The good news is that you can achieve this very affordably, by going at a pair of your old jeans with some scissors and a scrub brush. Another alternative is to visit your local thrift store. But if you’d like a high-end label and are willing to spend the cash, there are plenty of options from the designer runways. From left to right: DSquared2, D&G, William Rast.

Finally, your footwear is a big part of your overall grunge look. In the spring and summer seasons some well-worn Chuck Taylors or Vans will do the trick, but in the cold months you may want something to provide you with a bit more protection from the elements. Your solution: combat boots. Visit an army surplus store to see if you can find these at affordable prices. Otherwise, pick up a designer pair, as seen on the runways of (L to R) Ann Demeulemeester, Neil Barrett, and Dolce & Gabbana.

GRUNGE- The Face

GRUNGE-Lost in the modern mainstream?

As many may, or may not, realize the genre of grunge was never about fashion or presentation. It was originally the raw, and often totally filthy, expression of a generations angst and discontent with society and prejudice. The things they stood for were opinionated and in some cases even slightly admirable but with the grunge scene crossing over into mainstream and then fading out again but leaving traces of it’s style, have all the original values been lost?
If you stroll into any topshop, new look, ubran outfitters, all saints or H&M (and many more) it will only be a number of seconds before your eyes are assulted with an array of checked/fannel shirts - for both men and women. But where did this trend come from? It didn’t just appear over night, oh no. Flannel shirts and outdoor wear were a large characteristic of the grunge movement, especially as the musicians shunned expensive shows and presentations and just wanted to ‘rock out’, never being conscious of the fashion based desicions they were really making. So, when grunge went mainstream with bands like Soundgarden, Sonic Youth and Nirvana forcing their way into peoples lives and onto the airwaves in the late 80’s, the clothes they wore and the attitude they wore them with became readily available to the public. But as Britpop emerged, grunge was all but forced out of the mainstream just leaving behind a style as their legacy.Checked and flannel shirts became very big again a few summers ago, as they were marketed as ideal festival wear as they were easily paired with shorts or leggings. The wearing of these shirts at festivals still vaguely reflects grunge in a way, because festivals are a raw and dirty few days where people appreciate music.
But more recently another subculture has embraced some elements of grunge, such as checked shirts and Dr. Martens, as a large and almost signature part of their indentities and this subculture is the modern hipster. Congregating largely around the Shoreditch, Hackney and Hoxton areas of East London, Hipsters are an ever growing subculture who seem to be the evolved 2006 emo kids. Hipsters embrace metrosexuality the males are often very well groomed and well styled, as are the females. The hipster subculture seems to rely heavily on symbols and almost occult imagery such as the all seeing eye, nebulas, triangles and the st. peters cross. There is no real link to the grunge ideals in the Hipster subculture, just some elements of their style and attitude: for example a hipster male may pair a flannel shirt with a rolled up pair of chinos, a varsity jacket and boating shoes, the overall look will on the surface come off as very casual, almost just ‘thrown on’ but in reality it will be very stylized and thought out. Perhaps because of their emo past they feel they can relate to the angst of the grunge movement?
So if Kurt were still here today, do you think he would appreciate the over styled, material driven subculture who so heavily have relied on his identity to make their own?

GRUNGE- group opinions

"Grunge is something which i have always been well aware of due to my dad's love for Nirvana and the way that he would play me their music when i was younger and i never really took it nor did i really understand. As i've got older i've watched grunge fashion cross over into the mainstream and the highstreet and more recently a lot of the elements of grunge have been embraced by modern hipsters - turning a dirty unpolished expression of angst into a stylish and slightly pretencious statement about fashion, social standing and lifestyle and, personally, it's something i want to fully embrace and love to see out on the streets." Tahlia

To be honest this is the first time I have sat down and listened to any sort of grunge music and to be honest im not the biggest fan. Although I am not a fan of the grunge music I find the history of grunge interesting the fashion also. The fashion of checked shirts, ripped jeans and the cant be bothered look is a popular look and I was unaware after seeing this in the street numerous times that it linked to the grunge sub culture. So after researching grunge I feel I have learnt a great deal about a sub culture I knew existed but knew nothing about." Rebecca.

'When I was a kid, my sister and my brother listened to bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Screeming Trees, they had the whole grunge look and I've been influence by it all my life because of this. It was easy for me to distinguish a grunge from another style but I never kind of knew why. This project helped me to know more about the history of grunge, the music, and the style." Lucia

"the grunge sub-culture has always been interesting to me, stemming mainly from the music after being introduced to Nirvana by a friend a while back. I've always had a rough understanding of the fashion that accompanies the scene but this project has led me to learn further how it influences the fashion industry in a big way. Having leading designers such as Marc Jacobs creating pieces which fit in with the scene is really interesting to me and the people within this group consider themselves anti-fashion. Some of my style icons such has Mary-Kate Olsen and Alice Dellal have also been associated with the grunge scene too which may explain my attraction to it. I'm looking forward to seeing how this sub-culture still fits in in 2011 and especially in london." Kerry

"I really love the way that people wear their clothes and how they look like..Also I can say that the history of grunge is really interesting and the history of fashion too.But to tell you the truth I don't like this kind of music so much, I like Nirvana but I am not so big fun of them..Through the years I can see that some designers they are still using these kind of style and mixing their clothes even in the fashion shows.Finally I believe that sometimes I do use some of their fashion tips and mix it with my style..However, in general I like grunge and I find it really interesting as a subculture.." Joanna

"I have never heard about GRUNGE subculture before researching it for a Generic Fashion project.
It was very interesting to know something new for me for example that inspirators of that subculture were Nirvana and vocalist Kurt Cobain, bands Sonic Youth and L7. That Marc Jacobs and Calvin Klein also using that style in their works. After the research I understood one thing that GRUNGE is returning now and lots and lots of young teenagers who like a new rebel style comparing it with GRUNGE.
Moreover grunge style clothes not so expensive they are comfortable and durable.
I can’t say that after research I became big fan of that subculture but I like it and I think that it has a right to exist." 

"Grunge fashion can be seen as just another anti-fashion - a trend brought into the mainstream by an over-indulged generation X backlashing against society. However, to me, original grunge epitomises the look people are still trying to achieve today - effortlessly cool. Even though it had short lived popularity as a subculture it has certainly imprinted itself into modern fashion in an interesting way. I grew up in the 90s listening to my older brother play grunge music like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots, a genre which has a lot more substance than the mass-produced dance and RnB that fills our charts today, its a shame that we don't have a subculture that's on par with grunge today." Julia

GRUNGE- Fashion Shops

After researching how grunge began, I started to think about the link with fashion.
Grunge fashion was essentially a mix of punk ethic and outdoor wear. Hard, durable fabrics that didn't cost much and that you could wear for years. Essentially, the grunge look grew organically - there was no attempt to consciously come up with a style. The grunge look just grew into itself.

Layers, flannel shirts, anything plaid, tartan kilts, flowery cotton dresses, hoodies, ripped denim, baggy clothes, charity shop / thrift store clothes were their signature. 

As the Grunge sub-culture values themselves on rebelling against fashion, discussing what sort of shops could relate to their group becomes difficult.

-B Store is one of them, okay that it isn't a charity shop or cheap, but it has flannel shirts, ripped jeans and baggy clothes! 

-A second shop that sprang to my mind is Dover Street Market, specifically for their basement. This department stocks brands such as Supreme which are often related to Skate culture, however the line between these two styles is quite blurred in some aspects e.g. flannel shirts and bobble hats.  Although these clothes are highly priced, they give off a feeling of "refined grunge" to me.

-Thirdly, the Urban Outfitters mens department is fitting. Their loose fitting tee's and "Renewal" section could be suitable for this type of style due to their bulky jackets and worn pieces.

This has shown that this Grunge look is now very commercial and easily available... so what makes you a real Grunger?

GRUNGE-Transatlantic Trend

Although this sub-culture's roots are in Seattle, it still had an impact on what was happening in the UK during the early 90's. This disheveled aesthetic was passed onto the UK under the name of "Heroin Chic", characterized by the heavy use of Heroin in the early 90's. Users include grunge idols Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love who famously admitted to having this addiction. The public accepting this made the confession almost "fashionable". Being pale with sunken eyes then became a "look", a juxtapose to the glamourzonian models of the late 80's. This became a trademark look for a young waif-like Kate Moss in the UK, being thrown into the limelight by realist fashion photographer Corrine Day. Day was heavily criticized for  glamorizing drug use and anorexia at this time.

The breakthrough of independent music with bands such as Nirvana changed the music scene of the 1990s.  Seattle was nicknamed "the new Liverpool", leaving the UK behind in the music popularity race. Britain was heavily into the Britpop scene at this time although some bands such as Headswim managed to make UK grunge waves of their own. 


Although grunge came of age at the beginning of the 1990s, the rock subculture actually had its roots in the mid 1980s in Seattle, as an underground rock music style that mixed punk and heavy metal. It broke worldwide thanks largely to Nirvana, and flared briefly before burning out in the middle of the 1990s, but remains an iconic chapter in rock history.

The early grunge movement coalesced around Seattle independent record label Sub Pop in the late 1980s, and began commercially releasing singles and LPs by the groups.
This movement was not actually lead by Nirvana as many have said when they released "Nevermind" in September of 1991 but actually went back to other Seattle bands like Melvins and Mudhoney. It was due in large part to Nirvana and Pearl Jam that the movement came to the forefront of mainstream success.

Grunge is generally characterized by a sludgy guitar sound that uses a high level of distortion, fuzz and feedback effects. Grunge fuses elements of hardcore punk and heavy metal.

The style and the look of the called 'grunge' did not evolve out of a conscious attempt to create an appealing fashion.





Other important bands are Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, The Melvins, Green River, Screaming Trees, Sound Garden, L7, Seven Mary 3, Bush, The vines, Hole, The Gits, Tad, Mother love Bone, Skin Yard, Mad Season, Temple of the Dog, Fastbacks, Smashing Pumpkins and 7 Year Bitch.

GRUNGE- Social Attitudes

The scruffy fashion of grunge was symbolic of their general disenchantment with the state of society, discomfort with social prejudices and perceptions of Generation X. This is further exemplified in the lyrics of grunge music - typically angst-filled, often addressing themes such as social alienation, apathy, confinement, and a desire for freedom (bearing similarities to those addressed by punk rock musicians at the time). Music critic Simon Reynolds said in 1992 that "there's a feeling of burnout in the culture at large. Kids are depressed about the future."

This rebellion against fashion, however, contradicted itself as it hit the mainstream - as has happened to many sub-cultures before. When grunge became a 'trend', it became fashionable to wear flannel shirts and Doc Martin boots became popularized. Stereotypical items became mass-produced and stylized and the thrift-store shopping, unwashed hair idealisation that grunge had - of not conciously caring about creating an appealing fashion - lost all its basis - which could subsequently be a reason for its decline in the latter half of the 1990s. Grunge is now a source of inspiration for many designers and has become a popular modern look.

Original Grunge -


Stoke Newington grunge festival, 1993

Seattle Grungers

Modern Grunge -
Mary-Kate Olsen


Lindsey Lohan


The grunge scene of the 1990's was primarily known for it's music influences, rather than the fashion. This scene aimed to portray an "anti-fashion" aesthetic with un-groomed hair and a major disinterest in trends. This rebellion inevitably resulted in a new trend; Grunge. Characteristics of this look include checkered shirts, layered clothing and nightwear as outwear in terms of the girls.

This trend was even adopted by fashion designers at the time, such as Marc Jacobs. His Spring/Summer 1993 collection for Perry Ellis was heavily influenced by grunge fashion. However this radical look saw him dropped from the label. 

Marc Jacobs revived this look again in 1996, although slightly more refined. This look was once again revoked in 2010 by several fashion designers, making it still rather current. Alexander Wang's Autumn/winter 2010/2011 collection shows a heavy grunge influence with the use of greys and kaki colours and slouchy layering. Rag & Bone's collection at the same fashion week also had a grunge-esque look to it with chunky knits and oversized garments.  


Although this subculture was not listed, we decided it was a strong culture that has a lot of aspects that can be explored and developed further. These images are an introduction to the type of subculture we've decided to research.

Where Does Grunge Come From?

Grunge was born of the local Punk scene of the Pacific Northwest, most notably Seattle, Washington, in the late 1980s. It became popular following the success of the band Nirvana in 1991. At a time when Glam Rock and Hair Metal were popular nationally, a group of young Punk bands in Seattle began to experiment with an aesthetic that was less flamboyant. These musicians were influenced by a local band, The Melvins that played Heavy Metal with slower and heavier riffs. A local scene sprung up with this sound, as did the first Grunge record label, Sub Pop Records.

Who Played Grunge?

Originally, “Sub Pop” began to promote bands that shared a certain anti-glam aesthetic, often categorized by casual dress, ripped jeans, flannel jackets and an overall unkempt appearance and that played this new style of Punk/Metal. Early Grunge bands included the lesser-known Green River (whose lead-singer is credited with first using the term "Grunge"), Mudhoney and Mother Love Bone and the break-through acts Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam.

What Does Grunge Sound Like? :

The first generation of Grunge bands merged the heavy sonic intensity of Black Sabbath with the aggresive emotional swagger of Black Flag. Because of this mix of Punk and Metal roots, Grunge had a guitar-drenched sound; ample use of distortion, strong power chords and basic, melodic guitar solos were usually laid under simple, but tuneful, vocals. Always forceful in execution, always emotive in content, Grunge is often classified as a genre of Hard Rock.


The second part of our generic fashion project considers one of the huge contributing factors to modern day fashion; Sub Cultures. After thoroughly researching a variety of subculture, old and new, we narrowed down our favourite/most interesting subcultures to decide which to work further on.

Harajuku Kids_ Common name for the area around Harajuku Station in Japan. On a sunday, various groups of subcultures meet and socialize, many of the youths not conforming to one particular style. Harajuku has played a large part in many designers work for its influential fashion. The Harajuku Girl look could be described as a neon-cyber-goth, mixing bright colours with metallic shades. A group within this subculture are the cosplays, who dress up to imitate anime or other film characters.
Fashion_ fairytale, childlike, animated, cartoon -like, bright, eccentric, eclectic. 
Music_ I feel that Harajuku fashion has been brought more into light with the 2005 release of Gwen Stefanis album. Her dancers were known as the Harajuki girls which resulted "Harajuku Lovers" clothing and perfume under this idea. 

Grunge_ This subculture emerged in the early 90's with the rise in popularity of Seattle Sound.

This subculture based themselves on an anti-fashion trend, layering up and not caring about ripped or tarnished clothing.  It was not only popular in Seattle but also in the UK. Photographer Corrine Day was said to have promoted the "Heroin Chic" look when photographing a young disheveled Kate Moss. This trend has seen a recent revival in terms of its fashion aspect with fashion designers such as rag & bone and philip lim embracing a new grunge style.
Music_ Nirvana, Hole, The Smashing Pumpkins
Fashion_ Plaid, denim, hoodys, "kinderwhores", floral.

New Wave_ A backlash against the Punk movement in the 70's, New Wave music was a lot more electronic and synthesized. The music was less about attitudes and making a point, more about the technological sounds. Very similar bands to that that influenced New Romanticism.

Music_ Echno and the Bunnymen, Depeche Mode, Human League, Tears for Fears. 
Fashion_ Over the top, bright, eccentric
No Wave_ A short lived subculture influenced by underground performance art, music and film. The scene rejected the commercialized New Wave.
Music_ 8-eyed spy, the lounge lizzards, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks.

Country and Western_ Country music began in the early 1920s when folk music was taken one step further. Those who claimed fame, for having introduced folk music to the nation were now in the first quarter of the twentieth century introducing a slightly more sophisticated styling of the ‘hillbilly’ sound already made popular. While honky-tonks were filled with its fans, theatres were filled with fans of the cowboy songs made popular, again, in Texas and Oklahoma. The lyrics to the western sound centered directly on the pains and sorrows of life on the western frontier.
Music_ Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Jerry Red, Jimmy Dean. 
Fashion_ Checkered shirts, cowboy boots, denim shorts, tassels.

Rockabilly_ Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, and emerged in the early 50’s. The term ‘rockabilly’ is a portmanteau of rock (from rock&roll) and hillbilly, later a reference to the country music. Other important influences on rockabilly include western swing, boogie woogie and rhythm and blues. The influence and popularity of the style waned in the 60’s but during the late 70’s and early 80’s, rockabilly enjoyed a major revival of popularity that has endured to the present, often within a rockabilly subculture.
Music_ Billy Flagg. 
Fashion_ Quiffs, fitted dresses, full skirts.