Story by Shae Koharski | Multimedia Journalist, Video by Kennedy Dendy | Broadcast Reporter
’90s fashion was filled with mom jeans, fanny packs, scrunchies, overalls, platform sneakers, neon and much more. Does this sound familiar? Because this is what much of Gen Zs wear today in the late 2010s.
Many stores today sell the same pieces that were trendy in the ’90s because the wave of 1990s fashion is back. Whether it is around town, at the store, at a festival or even on campus, ’90s fashion has made a comeback.
Many brands that were popular in the ’90s died down for several years, but have recently come back. Brands like Levi’s, Fila, Chmpion and Tommy Hilfiger are rocking the runways again. A Champion hoodie, which wouldn’t have been considered fashionable two years ago, is selling for $69 at Urban Outfitters. Busy graphic tees are now being sold for upwards of $100. A quick Google search of “1990s graphic tee” comes up with pages of websites from modern stores that have recreated popular T-shirts. But to find an authentic ’90s garment, shoppers have to be willing to pay a hefty price.
Though the return of ’90s fashion might seem random, San Diego junior Rachel Iacoboni, an apparel design student, has a theory explaining the trend.
“Due to the pendulum swing in fashion theories that show trends coming back into style after a certain amount of years and with the ’90s now being almost 30 years away, it is the perfect timing for these types of looks to come back into style,” Iacoboni said.
The popularity of minimalist clothing in conjunction with similar themes from the ’90s explains the increased prominance of designers like Prada, Helmut Lang, Jim Sanders and Calvin Klein, Iacoboni said.
The classic Calvin Klein minimalist underwear set that took over the ’90s has made a splash today and has now been replicated by other brands because of its popularity. Coming in many different colors, the pieces have a thick band on it that say ‘Calvin Klein’.
Many brands have begun recreating ’90s garments. The classic mom jean is not just in Levi stores anymore, but in popular shops such as H&M, American Eagle, Topshop and even designer brands such as Gucci and Balmain.
San Antonio junior Melanie Moon is studying apparel merchandising and said she isn’t surprised about the ’90s trend coming back.
“There is a theory called Laver’s timeline, and it’s when a new trend comes and then about 20 years after the trend has come and went, it becomes amusing. So with ’90s style, it was a little bit nostalgic to ’70s.”
Beyond the natural coming and going of trends, Fort Worth senior Kennedy Franklin said she thinks music may also have influenced the return of ’90s fads.
“I think music definitely plays a huge part in bringing back ’90s fashion,” Franklin said. “Most music today still has that ’90s feel, whether it’s pop or R&B.”
Marshal senior Linda Allen said the rise of social media as a platform for influencers and celebrities has impacted the way our generation engages with fashion trends. Kim Kardashian West, Ariana Grande, Zendaya and the Hadid sisters are among those who have promoted ’90s fashion.
“I think social media has influenced the comeback of ’90s fashion. For example, Instagram influencers [are] showing off their clothes, reaching a wide audience. The main target is Gen Z and Millennials who are buying them,” Allen said.
Many have turned to thrift shopping in hopes of achieving the coveted ’90s look while avoiding hefty prices. According to a study conducted by ThreadUp, an online secondhand shop, more than one in three Gen Zers will buy secondhand in 2019. The same study also showed that Gen Z has seen a 46% increase of buying secondhand from 2017.
For San Antonio senior Shelby Hilliard, another factor contributes to her love of ’90s fashion: nostalgia
“We saw the ’90s as children, and how many times did you think, ‘Oh, I want to wear that,’ or, ‘I want to wear what my mom is wearing or big sister,’” Hilliard said. “So now we get to participate in the trends from when we were younger.”
Grandview senior Hannah Midkiff suggested another explanation for the trend: Younger generations prefer to avoid dressing like older generations.
“When the older generation starts to catch onto something, it’s not as cool anymore. Mom jeans are coming back because the mom’s now are getting into skinny jeans,” Midkiff said.
Malverne, N.Y., sophomore Kelsey Winters said whether or not the the trend will stick around is up for dispute.
“Fashions are evolutionary, not revolutionary, so they are always changing gradually. Eventually, I believe the trend will eventually go away since trends go out of style, but it might not because it depends on what the consumers want,” Winters said.
Associate professor of family and consumer sciences Dr. Lorynn R. Divita said either way, stores and designers manage to stay up to date with trends because of the cyclical nature of fashion.
“By understanding theory, shifts in evolution of fashion are not surprising to people who are in the fashion industry, which is why you see similar trends in different, unrelated stores at the same time,” Divits said.