Teenage angst has paid off well—now we’re grunge and old

On factory-fresh grunge and 2016

The ’90s are back, if you weren’t aware, and while I appreciate some things from the ’90s (Seinfeld, denim overalls, Twin Peaks, big hair), I can’t help but feel that 2016 holds no place for grunge. I just don’t think there’s anything to be grunge-angry about anymore, you know? And while grunge apparel certainly had its day, that day ended when Tumblr and MySpace became the popular mediums for expressing how much one’s parents just don’t ~understand~ them—and that was a long time ago.

The grunge of yesteryear was a movement of self-invention and community. It was a rebellion against the glossed-out pop music and hair metal popular at the time. It said, “Hey, I get it. And I get you. We might be different, but that’s okay.” It welcomed imperfections and embraced the parts of life that weren’t so perfect. I can’t say I see this kind of mentality in today’s grunge reemergence—especially when grunge bands are few and far between these days and in a world where we meticulously cultivate our social media presence to only show our best.

I think the thing that gets me about this reemergence of grunge is that it’s not really even true grunge; it’s a sweatshop-produced image that’s supposed to make us feel nostalgic and edgy. Factory-fresh grunge is pre-ripped tights and “faded” flannel hot off the Target and PacSun racks, and it says a little something about commitment.

That is, committing to looking like you don’t welcome any responsibilities but will happily spend $50+ on a vintage-inspired denim jacket while sipping a Starbucks grande frappuccino (extra caramel, no whip).

Factory-fresh grunge is the equivalent of a gentrified Mexican restaurant that serves margaritas in wide-mouth Ball mason jars and is careful to not let any rogue Kerr jars slip in by accident. Nothing about it feels authentic. It makes you pause and think, “Hmmm. Something’s a little…off.”

Grunge wasn’t about an image, but this reemergence only focuses on the image and making sure it’s picture-perfect—there is no rawness present, and any blip of it lurking under the horizon is smoothed out with the swipe of an Instagram filter.

We live in an age where fashion trends aren’t as influenced by social movements as they once were, so ultimately you can and should wear whatever you want. But I’ll be throwing shifty eyes your way if you’re in your mid 20s and I see you sporting jelly shoes and a choker necklace.


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