1990s in fashion
1990s in fashion
Fashion in the 1990s was defined by a return to minimalist fashion, in contrast to the more elaborate and flashy trends of the 1980s. One notable shift was the mainstream adoption of tattoos, body piercings aside from ear piercing and to a much lesser extent, other forms of body modification such as branding.
In the early 1990s, several late 1980s fashions remained very stylish among both sexes. However, the popularity of grunge and alternative rock music helped bring the simple, unkempt grunge look to the mainstream by 1992. The anti-conformist approach to fashion led to the popularisation of the casual chic look that included T-shirts, jeans, hoodies, and sneakers, a trend which continued into the 2000s. Additionally, fashion trends throughout the decade recycled styles from previous decades, notably the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
Due to increased availability of the Internet and satellite television outside the United States, plus the reduction of import tariffs under NAFTA, fashion became more globalised and homogeneous in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Early 1990s (1990–93)
Supermodels and high fashion
• Throughout the 1990s, supermodels dominated the fashion industry. The top models of the 1990s were Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Eva Herzigova, Nadja Auermann, Christie Brinkley, Christy Turlington, Kate Moss, Carla Bruni, Tatiana Sorokko, Helena Christensen, Claudia Schiffer, Karen Mulder, Yasmin Le Bon, Nadège, Yasmeen Ghauri, Stephanie Seymour, Valeria Mazza, Carolyn Murphy, Amber Valletta, Shalom Harlow, Kirsten Owen, Kristen McMenamy, Guinevere Van Seenus, Alek Wek, Karen Elson, Elsa Benítez, Michele Hicks, Stella Tennant, Audrey Marnay, Amy Wesson, Maggie Rizer, Erin O'Connor, Kirsty Hume, Bridget Hall, Milla Jovovich and Tyra Banks.
• One of the most influential group of models during the early 90s was the Big Five, whose fame and social power allegedly surpassed that of many movie stars. The Big Five consisted of supermodels Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista and Tatjana Patitz. Whether booked as individuals or as an elite group, each supermodel gained worldwide success and had great influence on the fashion industry. Naomi Campbell was the first black woman to grace the cover of French Vogue, Time, and American Vogue's September issue. Cindy Crawford was the highest paid model on the planet in 1995 per Forbes. Christy Turlington was known for being a reliable model who garnered over 500 covers during her career and most notably, signed a contract with Maybelline for an annual fee of $800,000 for twelve days' work. Linda Evangelista was known as the industry's "chameleon" for her ability to suit a multitude of styles. Evangelista also infamously coined the phrase, "We don't wake up for less than $10,000 a day." Tatjana Patitz, the last of the Big Five, continues to be regarded as one of the "original supermodels" and even after her retirement, she remains in demand periodically by such designer houses as Jean-Paul Gaultier and Chanel. Later in the decade, Tatjana was replaced in the Big Five by supermodel Claudia Schiffer, who is one of the most successful supermodels in the world, holding the record for the most magazine covers according to The Guinness Book of World Records.
• Later in the decade, the rise of Kate Moss shifted the world of fashion when her entrance onto the scene turned the Big Five into the Big Six. Kate Moss became one of the nineties' biggest phenomena when, at 14 years of age, she was discovered at JFK Airport. Her waif-like figure set a new fashion standard that became known as "heroin chic." This was a pale and ghostly look that called for a stick-thin stature and size zero body. Due to Kate's extremely skinny frame, she was often criticised for allegedly promoting eating disorders as apparently evidenced by her shots for Calvin Klein. Reportedly, posters of Kate Moss were often defaced with graffiti that read "feed me"
• In the US, USSR, South Africa, Egypt, and Japan popular trends included bold geometric-print clothing in electric blue, orange, fluorescent pink, purple, turquoise and the acid green exercise wear popularised by Lisa Lopes of TLC. Typical patterns included triangles, zigzag lightning bolts, diamonds, lozenges, rectangles, overlapping free-form shapes, simulated explosions inspired by comic book illustrations or pop art, intricate grids, and clusters of thin parallel lines in contrasting colours for example, white, black and yellow on a cyan background. Many women wore denim button-down Western shirts, coloured jeans in medium and dark green, red, and purple, metallic Spandex leggings, halterneck crop tops, drainpipe jeans, coloured tights, bike shorts, black leather jackets with shoulder pads, baby-doll dresses over bike shorts or capri leggings, and skating dresses. Neon coloured tops and leg warmers were popular, together with leopard print skirts shiny satin or rayon blouses, embroidered jeans covered in rhinestones, and black or white shirts, leggings and jackets printed with abstract red, blue, yellow and green geometric patterns. In America, popular accessories included court shoes, cowboy boots, headscarves, slouch socks, Keds, ballet flats, and the penny loafers or boat shoes associated with the preppy look.
Leggings and exercise-wear
• From 1991 on, sports bras, hoodies, Leotards worn as tops with jeans, a sweatshirt especially Champion brand over a turtleneck with jeans rolled up to show off their slouch socks were popular with young girls, teens, college girls, and young women in the UK, Europe and America. A common outfit was to wear a skirt, dress shorts, babydoll or minidress with black opaque tights, white athletic socks, and white Keds athletic sneakers. It was not uncommon to see mothers dressed right along with their daughters in white slouch socks worn over black leggings or sweatpants (especially heather grey colour), an oversized T-shirt, sweater or sweatshirt worn over a turtleneck, and Keds, Converse All Stars, or unisex aerobic, basketball or Nike Air or gold Reebok hi-top running shoes. A dressed up leggings outfit was leggings with an oversized v-neck sweater over a turtleneck, slouch socks, Keds (shoes) or Sperrys, and bangs with a headband band or ponytail and scrunchie. Leggings worn over pantyhose or tights with a pair of flats were also common. Leggings and slouch socks with oversized tops and casual sneakers especially Keds continued to be worn as lounge wear and everyday comfortable and fashionable casual wear until the late 1990s. In Israel, Britain and the US, Gottex swimsuits became popular among female celebrities Diana, Princess of Wales, Brooke Shields, and Elizabeth Taylor.
• In mid-1992, grunge fashion broke into the mainstream for both sexes. For younger American, Australian and Latina women, grunge fashion consisted of flannel shirts, ripped jeans, mom jeans, Doc Martens, combat boots, band t-shirts, oversized knit sweaters, long and droopy skirts, ripped tights, Birkenstocks, hiking boots, and eco-friendly clothing made from recycled textiles or fair trade organic cotton. A prominent example of the popularity of grunge fashion is the teen drama television series "My So Called Life".Grunge fashion peaked in late 1993 and early 1994.
Mid 1990s (1994–96)
• In 1994, grunge clothing rapidly declined as fashion became more feminine and form-fitting. Young women in the UK and America wore tailored skirt and trouser suits, short skirts and dresses, baby doll dresses, animal prints, hot pants, slim pants, bright colours (even in colder months), long and short skirts, and high heels. High-shine fabrics, such as satin, metallics, sequins, microfiber, vinyl, and silk became very prominent on both clubwear and work wear. The most common look among young women that year was the short black slip dress worn over a tight, undersized white T-shirt. Loungewear generally consisted of black Lycra leggings, large T-shirts, oversized sweatshirts sometime over a turtleneck, and baggy sweaters while at home or relaxing during the weekends.
• A very popular look among young women and girls from 1994–1995 was the "sexy school girl" look. This trend consisted of tartan minikilts, undersized sweaters, short slip dresses, baby doll tees, knee highs, thigh highs, miniature backpacks, overalls, tights, pantyhose, and chunky shoes. The sexy school girl look was prominently portrayed in films with female leads such as Clueless, Empire Records, and The Craft.
• Among women over 30, 1950s ladylike fashions made a comeback in the United States. This included pencil skirts, cardigans, girdles, petticoats, satin or lace Wonderbra lingerie, and fitted suits. Popular accessories that went hand-in-hand with this revival included brooches, white gloves, sheer stockings, diamonds, sequins, and red lipstick. For more casual occasions, women opted for lean capri pants, polka dot blouses, belted trench coats, 1940s style sandals, white canvas shoes, and leather jackets.
• Popular shoes and accessories during the mid-1990s in Europe and North America included loafers, Mary Janes, suede sneakers, mules, clogs, knee high boots, jelly shoes, go-go boots, black court shoes, Keds, silver jewellery, dainty earrings and necklaces, conch shell necklaces, berets, straw hats, floppy hats, gold jewellery, and hipster belts. Navel piercings had started to gain popularity around this time.
Late 1990s (1997–99)
• From 1997 onwards, many British and American designers started to take cues from the disco fashion of the mid–late 1970s. Particularly common were black or dark red pleather pants, animal print clothing, halter tops, metallic clothing, crop tops, tube tops, maxi coats, maxi skirts, knee boots, and boot-cut dress pants. By 1997, popular mainstream trends included tight shirts, bell bottoms, platform shoes, fleeces, cropped tank tops, Union jack motifs inspired by the Cool Britannia movement, and military inspired clothing, such as flak jackets with camouflage patterns.
• In the late 1990s, bright colours began to make a comeback in mainstream fashion, as a backlash against the darker tones associated with the grunge and skater subculture. Popular colours included plum, chocolate, and navy, all of which replaced black, which had become ubiquitous. Other fashion trends popular from 1997-1999 included glamour wear, high-waisted miniskirts, plastic chokers, knee socks associated with the school girl look, tight pants, slip dresses, turtle-neck sweaters, conservative chic, capri pants, high-waisted trousers, and cardigans.
• More formal styles intended for the workplace or special occasions (such as a cocktail party) included silk blouses in neutral colours or animal prints, tailored pantsuits and skirt suits inspired by the 1980s, collarless coats, and the little black dress, with or without subtle embroidery
• From 1998–2000, the unisex casual chic look gained mainstream appeal, with dark stonewash jeans, spaghetti strap crop tops, tracksuits, sweatpants, and other athletic clothing. Denim's popularity was at an all-time high in Europe, with designer denim jackets and matching jeans rocketing in prices. Other common, more affordable brands included Mudd, JNCO, and Evisu, a Japanese denim brand which launched in the 1980s. The most popular trainers were white or black and manufactured by Adidas, Skechers, Hitec and Nike. Running shoes with built in air pumps were popular among both sexes. Leather had largely replaced canvas, and soles were made of foam rather than solid rubber.
• In the US and Britain, popular accessories included large hoop earrings, shoes with rounded toes, flip flops, jelly shoes, rhinestone-encrusted hip belts, embellished slippers, beaded wristbands and lariats, Alice bands, pashminas, fascinators, gold jewellery, moccasin loafers, running shoes, jelly bracelets, bandanas, and novelty Wellington boots with leopard print or zebra stripe patterns.