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?