I continue to be amazed at how so many of us love the 1990s. And yet, I (still) can’t help but feel a little territorial about the decade. I was a kid during that time. A certified ’90s child as I was born in the late 1980s. By 1989, my memories of popular culture began to take place and names like Madonna, Michael Jackson and Tom Cruise (yeah, I said it) were as regular to hear as “Mommy”, “grandma” and the names of my sister and brother. Back then, the music just kept getting better and ridiculous fads were always fun to partake in (I think I really only missed out on Tickle Me Elmo). I even remember that one time during gym class when my teacher played the “Macarena”, and awkward as fourth graders naturally are, we all attempted to learn the dance. It seemed for a time the ’90s would never end. Then they did.
Since at least 2013, there’s been a strong resurgence of ’90s-based or inspired products during this new age of popular culture that today includes social media formats where images of the past are also shared more rapidly. The ’90s influence is especially prevalent in fashion and beauty, where trends and ideas already recycle on the regular. For makeup, it’s all about emulating the puckers of the last decade of Gregorian calendar It girls in brown or deep, brick red colors. For fashion, it’s a bit more difficult to pick just one standout moment or trend as there were quite a lot. From the early to mid ’90s there are overalls from the GAP, the “jorts” of the late ’90s (here’s to the kids that loved NOFX and Green Day when everyone thought they were just weird and gross), Wrangler and Lee jeans, L.A. Gear sneakers (love), the brands that were adored by fans of hip-hop and artists alike like Karl Kani, Boss, Cross Colors, Coogi, and of course, the memorable and intimidatingly sexy runways of Gucci, Chanel and VERSACE.
So in bringing back styles of themes of the ’90s, has also initiated full-fledged ’90s capsule collections. Urban Outfitters has brought back a few, most recently with FILA and ckOne undergarments. Donna Karan re-issued some of her pieces from DKNY for Opening Ceremony last year. And there are small mom and pop stores, particularly in Manhattan and Los Angeles, that cater to the ’90s aesthetic in re-selling epic vintage gear from the all major sports organizations, and Nike, Adidas, and Moschino.
This year, two of what’s old is new again collections are part of joining the decade swing, as Nasty Gal got Courtney Love to co-sign an 18-piece wardrobe in her likeness. And Guess? has A$AP Rocky hawking selected pieces from their archives as a part of their own throwback gambit. But has the whole idea of a ’90s set gotten gimmicky? As times goes on, the one categorical group that’s going to clamor the most for these items are the ones that missed out on the decade. The Generation Z types, the much younger millennials that I’ve always known the iPod, but never the Discman. For older millennials such as I, we’ll always have a soft spot for anything related to the ’90s, but we’re particular about which bandwagons to hop in and that’ll continue to ride the heydays of our childhood. Just because today’s kids are wearing Air Jordans V is not a ’90s kid make! (Hey, it’s okay. Me spritzing myself with YSL Opium doesn’t make an expert on Studio 54).
I was definitely a little hyped for Love’s Nasty Gal offerings. I mainly insist of that because the fan in me still remembers discovering her band Hole and appreciating her rambunctious, cantankerous, legendary spirit of a rock deity after all these years. The entire set is based of off early ’90s Love, which means references to her Live Through This album era. So lots of babydoll dresses and lingerie-ticked everything. I actually found Love x Nasty Gal to be cute (that lace bodysuit is a major yes) and the silk material looked worthy via my computer screen. But the line is overpriced. A maxi dress costs $168 and a super cropped lace-sleeved top for $78. Damn! All that just to relive 1994? I admit a few pieces had my mouse swerving from size selection to the basket, but I was here for Love’s epic return with 1998’s Celebrity Skin. Do I really need a “Malibu Satin Slip Dress” to prove I’m still a fan girl?
Sophia Amoruso, the founder of Nasty Gal, did share with New York magazine’s The Cut exactly why Love was a sought-after collaborator, and her words were pretty cool: “Courtney’s a provocative person: she’s outspoken, she’s free, she’s wild, she’s a rock icon. She has a singular style. There are very few female musicians that you can look at and say, “I understand this person’s look.” In the age of the celebrity stylist, people who have their own style really stand out. She’s someone whose style has been borrowed by many high-end designers. She’s been a muse over the decades and never really taken credit for all of these inspirations she’s thrown into the world.”
For the Guess? and A$AP Rocky collection, the announcement came across a tad random as it seems most brands will sign up any celebrity popular at this given time in order to re-introduce themselves to a younger or newer group. Rocky fits that purpose for Guess? with his usage of the Will Smith approved word “jiggy” and his surprising rise as a fashion icon among the kids. He is the new or other Kanye in the fashion world of hip-hop based fashionable ones. During a press party for his line that included a room decorated as a basement and packed with ’90s memorabilia, Rocky told various reporters from
During a press party for his Guees? line (that included a room decorated as a basement and packed with ’90s memorabilia), Rocky explained various reporters from Hypebeast to NY Racked, his affection for the question mark label. Again, I’m picking a quote from an interview with The Cut, as they seem to get the best soundbites to credit:
“I think growing up in New York City, you get insight on all the urban brands, especially when you live between Harlem and the Bronx. I remember seeing Nautica, GUESS, Tommy Hilfiger and Polo, Cross Colors, all that stuff. I remember seeing all these brands and thinking, Man, nobody ever remembers Fila and all these other brands, and what they meant to hip-hop back then. So I was watching Menace II Society, and I remember rappers like Nas rapping about GUESS, seeing André 3000 and Wu-Tang members and whatnot, and Tupac in GUESS, it just made me feel like, these kids, they should know about it right now.
Rocky personally picked items from the Guess? vault of ’90s cool shit and that includes lots of everyday tees with the logo, with the major difference in detail being that the two “s’s” in Guess are written as dollar signs to reflect the Rocky thumbs up. Rocky is definitely right about how dope the brand was back in the day. I myself went out of my way to get jeans with the little triangle on the right back pocket. A t-shirt or jacket with the triangle logo was even better. My brother had an epic red Guess? jacket in the ’80s that he of course accidently left at a video arcade and it was got snatched real quick. (Pour one out for it).
I will be honest that the collection it certainly feels like a ploy to tie in younger fashion plates as again, it is mainly basic striped tees, with the exception of a super nice varsity jacket that’s calling my name extremely out loud. The collection is clean and crisp, but I see what Guess? is doing here. While Balmain got three supermodels of the ’90s (Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and, Claudia Schiffer) to model for their latest and always grown and sexy campaigns, Guess? also went the nostalgic route, but were a bit more hashtag friendly with it with Rocky as the spokesmodel, as they nod to the era of when using the Internet required a dial-up.
Both collections are fun and covet-worthy if you’re looking to give other fashion obsessed know-it-alls a run for their Yeezys. If other actual children and teens of the ’90s will oblige is up in the air, but let today’s kids have the first picks. After all, they did miss out. Now, I must return to my marathon of Doug, Ren & Stimpy and Hey Arnold! that’s currently all available on Hulu.