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A Revival of 90s Culture

Written by Laila Musleh

November 11, 2022

The ’90s was affluent in fashion trends. It was a time when people refined personalities and styles through the music industry’s influence. Hip-hop and grunge broke through in popularity; The world of rap and rave, inspired trends beyond music taste, they subsumed into cinema and quickly defined the ‘90s fashion scene.

At the time, black hip-hop bands like Thugs-n-Harmony, and Boyz II Men were one of the first to parade the ‘90s hip-hop aesthetic. Black American style was forefronted by magazines, CD covers, and overall pop culture. The style was consumed not only by its creators but also by its devotees. 30 years later, in 2022, the ‘90s hip-hop aesthetic is surely being rebirthed into society, still holding great influence on the front lines of pop culture.


Oversized white t-shirts were one of the first ‘90s trends to orchestrate back into 2022. Baggy white T’s were originally an essential hand me down. Their oversized, plain, and long silhouette was looked down upon as second class. Ultimately, not voguish. However, until artists like Biggie Smalls, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Kendrick took center stage in the music industry, white baggy t-shirts began to dominate everyone’s closets. Suddenly becoming favored in fashion. Alongside oversized white t-shirts, baggy denim became mainstream. When MC Hammer released his groundbreaking ‘U Can’t Touch This’ in 1990, it shook a revolution in style and expression; the ‘Hammer Pants,” with a narrow bottom and loose rise, perpetuated an American interest in loosely fitted designs and fabrics that allowed functionality and self-expression. For that reason, baggy denim found its way into pop culture as a cutting edge trend.

Today, loose-fitting denim has re-emerged into trend. In the last year, people have gravitated towards shapeless silhouettes beyond denim. The baggy trend was reincarnated in response to Balenciaga’s, Chanel’s, and Celine’s inclusion of baggy styles in their fall/winter 2021 collections. Recently, celebrities deemed as the “basis of style,” of which include Hailey Bieber, the Hadid sisters, and Tracee Ellis Ross, have repped this trend, whether it was low-waisted dad jeans, or cargo-silhouette pants.


The ‘90s was also a time when sneaker culture acclaimed Nike as the epitome of shoes and style. The Air Max 90, released in 1990, hence the name, amassed a multitude of loyal followers for the decades to come. Later in the 90’s, Air Force 1’s were introduced to the public. They played a significant role in the ‘90s and 2000’s; take Nelly’s hit “Air Force Ones” which was released in 2002, as an example. Air Force 1’s, Air Max 90’s, and even Air Max 95’s were celebrated by hiphop melodically or visually. In 2017, Air Forces were reimagined by different designers of which include: Travis Scott, Virgil Abloh, and Don C. The purpose of these reworks was to connect the personal lives and identities of the designers with the classic, initial white-on-white appearance of the sneaker. In 2022, Louis Vuitton x Nike Air Force 1, designed by Virgil Abloh, was presented to the public. This new design captures the history and prominence of Nike’s noted shoe.


‘90s style was also famed for its leather jacket-wearing generations. Avirex, one of the prominent brands of leather jackets, was founded in 1970. However, the brand’s name came into recognition in the ‘90s when hip hop revolutionized American culture. Today, Avirex and similar brands like Pelle Pelle are perceived as luxury names, yet, at the time, leather jackets were merely street wear; luxury and streetwear played different roles in fashion. Not until rappers became the headlines of pop culture, did these jackets become renowned across the nation and beyond. Havoc from Mobb Deep even said, “Back then, an Avirex, if you had one, was a real fly look.” Biggie, Nas, and especially Mobb Deep were recognized for wearing Avirex leathers in their music videos. Earlier this year, Avirex relaunched a line reviving the ‘90s designs. Avirex leathers continue to be commemorated by the hip hop industry as Lil Tjay and Young M.A. jumped onto the new release.

Pelle Pelle jackets were designed by Marc Buchanan. He avoided selling his designs in department stores. Rather, he distributed his work across small shops in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Buchanan employed art on the jackets that maintained a unique sense of the brand. He steered away from following the leather jacket trends roaming across cities. Today, groups of leather jacket enthusiasts unite to celebrate Pelle Pelle day in December, an event focused on the history and prominence of the brand, and to show off the rarest of the Pelle Pelle varsities.


While hip-hop was redefining the decade through its innovation and influence, grunge found its way into trending fashion. Grunge became mainstream after the introduction of Seattle Sound in the 1980s;It was a marriage of heavy rock, punk, and rock ‘n roll. Nirvana’slead singer Kurt Cobain became the face of the fashion movement after the formation of the band in the late 1980s. By the ‘90s, grunge became a sweeping hit; Grunge was prized for its uncoordinated and offhand aesthetic. Kate Moss walked for Calvin Klien in layered-grunge. Anne Sui focused her collection for New York Fashion Week on funky designs, and Marc Jacobs carried on a grunge collection for the Perry Ellis show in 1993, eventually incorporating it into his own brand. Three decades later, grunge stables reappeared on the runway. In the Fall 2022 shows, shredded denim, music tees, combat boots, and grommet belts were included by Dsquared2, Givenchy, and Molly Goddard.

In the last decade, we’ve seen a reimergence of past styles. ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s have all been reintoruced to the fashion world and deemed as “current trends.” Considering ‘90s trends have been the recent headlines of fashion, one could easily assume 2000s and the decades to follow are to reapper. Our closets are truly in a state of flux, and no true trend ever goes into permanent hibernation. With that, the influence of music on our style should not be overlooked. As music genres gain popularity and followers, so does their aesthetic. Fashion and trends always align with the frontlines of our current culture.

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