Are you a true 1990s baby? Well it doesn’t really matter if you were born within, long before or years beyond the decade. These ten years, and the trends that were spawned within them, have transcended across all corners of contemporary culture – becoming mainstays to the fashions of today. Thanks to the avid Depop-ers who have spearheaded a new generation of Bratz look-alikes, or the e-boys and girls devoted to the lewks served in Ghost World, a stream of brands we never thought would make a return have triumphed once again. From the Von Dutch cap on your head, down to the G-shock on your wrist and the formidable Sketchers on your feet – long forgotten 1990s staples have walked the catwalks of Paris, hung on the racks of Urban Outfitters and slowly, but surely, found their way back (or for the first time) into our wardrobes.
Though channeling the nineties is more about just throwing on a choker, a pair of low slung flairs or hip-hugging velour for that matter. The new generation of revivals are about capturing the zeitgeist of the era. No longer is the focus poised on jumping on the most popular trends of the decade. More and more people are plucking names out of obscurity and becoming invested in the cult of the brand opposed to riding the trends of yester-years.
Photo by Dexter Lander
One of which is Northwave. Acquired by Calzaturifico Piva back in 1989, the Japanese board brand became best known for their snowboard boots during the 1980s. Though trailing into the following decade, and the introduction of their first sneaker, is where the now-classic Espresso silhouette emerged. Blending the upper of a sneaker with the sole of a snowboard boot, the swollen, cartoon-ish shape of the shoe was like nothing of the times; extraterrestrial almost. Whilst chunky sneakers may have become something of a fad in more recent times, the revamp of the shoe released this year – now available in suede or leather – has given new life to the brand, with London menswear powerhouse Martine Roseeven producing a sneaker in a similar vein to the original Espresso silhouette. And if Martine’s into it, so should you be.
Another 1990s staple Martine has been invested in since her arrival onto the fashion circuit is larger-than-life jeans. How big is too big? Trick question – there’s no such thing as too big. One brand that have lavished in denim of epic proportions is JNCO, the LA based brand who super-sized the gams of teens across America throughout the decade. Dotted with graffiti-inspired patches (some located just above the rear like a tramp stamp), the mammoth silhouette was integral in shaping the nu-metal and Juggalos looks respectively. Whilst the re-launch of the brand has been met with some backlash surrounding the retail price of the jeans, you can nab yourself a pair on eBay for around £40.
Ahluwalia Studio SS20
Though many 1990s brands are recognisable across the globe, now certain names that were popular in select parts of the world are finding new life in new, designated areas. Invicta, an Italian outdoor accessories company were famed throughout the decade for their technicolored backpacks. So much so that in 1994 it was reported that 85% of the Milanese student population were currently or had used Invicta backpacks. It was an odd-ball moment then that during this past London Fashion Week Men’s, upcycling hero Ahluwalia Studio introduced her take of the Invicta Jolly model as one of the best accessories of the season – splicing the structure with eye-catching patchwork she pulled from dead-stock materials.
Another unlikely success story comes in the form of Berghaus. The classic-English outdoor company has become the mecca of on-trend fashion for the contemporary teenage scouser. Head to an Adapt Outdoors in Liverpool city centre and you won’t find many middle-age blokes shopping for their next walking excursion. It will be jam-packed with lads looking for the latest pieces to introduce to their wardrobes. Their hair overgrown with curls, their accent even thicker than their locks, they clad themselves head-to-toe in Berghaus. This year, the brand is going through a sort of a relaunch with the emerging of a new Dean Street collection, named by its original birthplace in Newcastle and celebrating their rich heritage by bringing back archival silhouettes. Colours are bright, silhouettes are slouchy and cool – it’s Madchester nostalgia all over again, refined for a new generation.
Photograph by Rosie Matheson
This second wave of nineties revivals isn’t about channeling the “look” of the era at all. Investing into the cult of a brand; some once popular, others more obscure, has meant these forgotten gems have found a new breath of life within today’s fashion context. The swollen denim once only worn by nu-metal fanatics across the states may now be spotted on a West London girl away-with-the-fairies on the Central line. Or the shell-suit Berghaus jacket once worn by your average countryside hiker is now cherished by your North West festival-goer. Looking to the past has never felt more of the now.