So 90s fashion. The 90s began on 1 January 1990 and ended on 31 December 1999, but culturally we often think of the 90s as a period that began with the revolutions of ’89 and ended with the terrorist attacks of 11 September.
The 1990s have seen as the golden age of multiculturalism. In this decade, with the development of the World Wide Web, the world has witnessed an incredible technological change.
It was the last decade of the 20th century and the second millennium. The first decade of the post-Cold War era.
To understand how fashion changed in the 90s, it is important to understand how society changed in the 90s. First in this article we will look at the social changes.
Secondly, we will be aware of the influences and how people felt during the 90s.
Finally, we will review the key subcultures and fashion trends that defined the 90s. If you read the article, you’ll know by the time you get to the end:
- What are the key events that defined the 90s.
- Which films were the most popular in the 90s.
- Which music artists were the most popular.
- Which subcultures flourished in the 90s.
- And finally, with all the above, you will understand what fashion trends prevailed in the 90s.
Important events include the reunification of Germany. As well as the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. Tim Berners-Lee created the first web server, the basis of the World Wide Web, in this year. In 1990 the world population was 5 263 59 000 people.
1990 in 90s fashion
Weary of the economic recession, people were looking for clothes on the market that would stay in style as long as possible. As a result, the wild shapes and colours of the 1980s were muted. Chanel remained the trendsetter in coat trends.
The last year of the Cold War, which began in 1947. It was the year of the collapse of the Soviet Union. In August the World Wide Web was publicly announced, the first website was created under the domain info.cern.ch. This led to the full global spread of the Internet in the middle of the decade, accelerating globalisation.
1991 in 90s fashion
Designers everywhere are focusing on the jacket as a key piece of contemporary dressing. Young people were drawn to denim jackets and leather biker styles.
The length of the skirt has once again become a central fashion theme. Many designers have designed longer skirts. The consensus became that there could be a long skirt and a short skirt.
Plaid patterns appeared in Oscar de La Renta suits.
1992 was designated as the UN International Space Year. On 26 January, Russia and the United States announced that they would stop targeting each other’s city with nuclear weapons. Camp David officially declared the end of the Cold War on 1 February.
1992 in 90s fashion
Black was the most popular colour in ’92, fashion became subdued. That year saw the debut of Marc Jacobs and Isaac Mizahi in the fashion world and they became widely accepted.
This was the year that animal print clothes became in high demand. Prints referring to tigers, giraffes and leopards appeared on t-shirts, shoes, bags, everywhere.
This year is the International Year of the World’s Indigenous People. On January 20, Bill Clinton is sworn in as the 42nd President of the United States. On February 26, a van bomb explodes at The World Trade Center.
1993 in 90s fashion
For a short time, interest in bell-bottom trousers and platform shoes is sparked. Fashion shows became extravagant. Fashion designers turned to Kate Moss, Claudia Schiffer and Christy Turlington. The ball cap became a popular accessory.
The UN declared 1994 the International Year of the Family and the International Year of Sport and the Olympic Ideal. At the 66th Academy Awards, Schindler’s List is named Best Picture. In April, Kurt Cobain commits suicide at the age of 27. In May, Ayrton Senna dies in a car crash.
On 26 June, Miscrosoft announces that it will no longer sell and support the MS-DOS operating system separately from Windows. Jeff Bezos founds Amazon on 5 July.
1994 in 90s fashion
Grunge style completely takes over the American fashion scene. Marc Jacobs and Versace have both developed grunge collections. During a visit to the US, Yves Saint Laurent was confronted by animal rights activists who criticised his dress with faux fur.
The UN named 1995 as the World Year of Tolerance and Remembrance of the Victims of the Second World War. The United States no longer provided public funding for the development of the Internet, which was fully privatised. The information age had begun.
1995 in 90s fashion
Most everyone wore ordinary clothes, like T-shirts. Women swapped short and long skirts as they pleased. The fashion buying public lost interest in high fashion. Expensive labels gave way to cost-saving labels.
Bill Clinton is sworn in for his second term as President of the United States. On May 11, IBM Deep Blue defeats Garry Kasparov, the first time a computer has defeated a world chess champion. NASA’s Pathfinder spacecraft lands on Mars on July 4. On 31 August, Diana is involved in a car accident in Paris and is pronounced dead after being taken to hospital. The first colour photograph appears on the front page of The New York Times on 16 October.
1997 in 90s fashion
The baseball cap is worn by almost everyone this year. Men, women and children. On 15 July, the fashion industry was stunned by the murder of Giovanni Versace.
International Year of the Ocean. On 17 January, the Drudge Report reports on the alleged affair between Dill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Titanic wins 11 Academy Awards at the 70th Academy Awards. On July 5, Japan joins the United States and Russia as a space-faring nation when it launches a probe to Mars.
1999 is International Year of Older Persons. On 1 January, the European Central Bank is established and the euro is created. Shakespeare in Love wins the Best Picture award at the 71st Academy Awards. On 8 April, Microsoft’s share price rises, making Bill Gates the richest man in the world. The fourth Star Wars film is released in the US on 19 May. The Napster music downloading app debuts on 1 June on the internal.
Films that defined the 90s
Thousands of films were made in the 90s. Home video became popular and became a major factor in overall film revenues. It was also the decade of the rise of independent cinema. Independent studios flourished.
Thanks to CGI technology, Terminator 2, Jurrasic Park and Toy Story were made with computer animation and allowed for a whole new visual world.
Disney enjoyed a renaissance in this decade. It began with The Little Mermaid and reached its peak with the 1994 animated film The Lion King.
In the realm of action movies, Die Hard created the lone hero who takes on a terrorist holding hostages in an isolated environment.
Star Wars (1999)
Forrest Gump (1994)
Terminator 2 (1991)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
The Matrix (1999)
The Bodyguard (1992)
The World is Not Enough (1999)
Apollo 13 (1995)
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Musical artists who were influential in the 90s
In 1991, Queen frontman Freddie Mercury died of AIDS-related pneumonia.
The popularity of the boy band Take That, formed in the UK, led to the formation of other boy bands such as East 17 and Boyzone. The Spice Girls, a female pop icon, conquered the world.
A wide range of teen pop was created by the global success of bands such as Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. However, solo singers such as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera also started their careers in this decade and came to the fore in the 2000s.
Among the popular R&B artists:
Famous models in the 90s
The 90’s marked the beginning of a new era. The term supermodel became synonymous with the superstar. From the middle of the decade onwards, actresses, pop singers and other celebrities replaced models on the covers of fashion magazines and in fashion brand campaigns.
A return to minimalist fashion defined the 90s. In addition to ear piercings, the proliferation of tattoos and body piercings is a notable trend. Grunge and alternative rock music helped to bring the grunge look into the mainstream by 1994.
A casual, chic look emerged, consisting of T-shirt, jeans, hoodie and sneaker pieces. This became a continuing trend into the 2000s.
Throughout the decade, styles from the 50s, 60s and 70s were recycled. Fashion has gone global this year, thanks to the global spread of the internet.
The 90s promise a real fashion boom for fashionistas. Everything was accepted and allowed during this period. Designers are experimenting with new materials and technologies. Trends circulate again and again. People wear the clothes that come to mind.
90s fashion women
The first half of the 90s was dominated by supermodels. The fame and influence of supermodels was said to be greater than even movie stars. Every supermodel was a success all over the world. They have had a huge influence on the fashion industry.
Later in the decade, Kate Moss set a new fashion standard. It became known as Heroin chic. It meant a pale and ghastly look. She had an extremely thin physique, which often led to her being criticised. She was seen as promoting eating disorders.
Fashion photographer Albert Watson photographed a new generation of the best male models of the era, including Tyson Beckford, Tim Boyce and Marcus Schenkenberg.
A popular trend in the 90s was the use of bold colours. Fluorescent pink, bold geometric patterned dresses. Electric blue colours. Orange. Inspired by comic book illustrations and pop art. Popular accessories included cowboy boots, head scarves.
Sports bras and hoodies, shorts and t-shirts became part of the workout wearer. Nike and Reebok running shoes were popular. Tights and leggings worn over tights were common.
Grunge became fashionable with both sexes in 1992. It consisted of flannel shirts, ripped jeans and shorts. Oversized knitted sweaters and big boots. Long and baggy skirts and torn tights. The television series My So Called Life is a prime example of the popularity of grunge fashion.
Young women wore tailored skirts and trouser suits, short skirts or dresses. Bright fabrics such as satin and sequins became fashionable. Cycling shorts and T-shirts were to trendy wear.
For the over 30s, the women’s fashion of the 50s was back. Pencil skirts, cardigans and satin lingerie became fashionable. Brooches became a popular accessory, as did white gloves, sheer stockings, diamonds, sequins and red lipstick.
Women wore dark blue, grey or pastel skirts, blouses with shoulder pads, silk scarves and pointed shoes to work. In the second half of the decade, they wore more relaxed styles and muted colours.
Indian fashion influenced global media from 1997 until the mid-2000s. It gained increasing recognition. British and American fashion designers incorporated silk and Indonesian batik into Western clothing designs.
From 1997 onwards, many British and American designers used motifs from 1970s disco fashion in their designs. Leather trousers, maxi dresses and bell bottoms became common.
By the end of the decade, the bright colours were on the wane with the rise of the grunge subculture. For the workplace or special occasions, the trend was for neutral coloured silk blouses with animal prints, trouser suits and little black dresses.
From 1998 onwards, the casual chic look became popular. Janus reached the height of their popularity in Europe. Tracksuits sweatpants and sportswear were trendy. In the US and UK, hoop earrings became a popular fashion accessory.
90s fashion men
In the US and the UK and across Europe, high-waisted jeans came into fashion with matching denim jackets. Contrast collar polo shirts. Denim shirts and brightly coloured windbreakers were trendy. Tracksuits and sweatpants were also popular, as was the bomber jacket.
Flannel became popular thanks to grunge bands such as Nirvana. Flannel shirts of the 90s were padded and loose-fitting. A turtleneck worn under a patterned wool sweater was considered typical wear.
In the middle of the decade, 60s dresses and longer hair became fashionable. Brown leather jackets and velvet blazers and graphic patterned T-shirts became popular wear.
In 1996, the 70s became the inspiration for men’s fashion. Coats with faux fur trim, PVC leather or terry shirts were worn. This continued into the 2000s.
In the United States, the preppy look has become popular again. Rich young men wore khaki trousers, boat shoes and blazers.
Blazers decorated with monogrammed breast pockets or family crests were a typical look. In the 1990s, however, the modern preppy was more casual.
In 1992, oversized baseball jackets, baggy jeans, bomber jackets and sportswear became commonplace in hip-hop fashion. Industrial and military styles also became part of the mainstream. Sportswear became accepted from the middle to the end of the decade because of its association with rappers.
The Madiba shirt became popular in South Africa in the middle of the decade. African art gained increasing recognition. The influences were also evident at New York Fashion Week.
By the end of the decade, grunge had become obsolete. There was a revival of interest in more stylish clothes. Fashion designers Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren returned to the centre. Bright colours came into fashion. The film Swingers inspired the 1997 menswear trend. Blazers, black or red leather jackets and bowling shirts were in fashion.
In Europe, grey and dark blue suits were the dominant colours. Wide ties were typical. In America, more and more men began to wear smart casual and business casual suits. Bill Gates started this fashion trend. During the decade, black shirts, black ties and black suits also became a trend. The pea coat became a trend at the end of the decade, inspired by the movie The Matrix.
Subcultures of the 90s
In the 80s, the trend for new wave and heavy metal continued until 1992. Then grunge and hip-hop took over. It led to the decline of bright colours. Dark colours prevailed. Grunge fashion remained popular with skate punk until the end of the year.
Hardcore punk began in the 70s. It became very popular in the 90s. Brightly coloured spiky hair, long sleeves and black hoodies are typical wear for this subculture.
Plastic aesthetics, fetish fashions, PVC miniskirts and 1970s vintage clothing, retro sportswear, postmodern and sci-fi themes were all part of the rave subculture’s interest. They evolved from the underground, but were quickly taken over by the fashion industry. Tight nylon shirts, studded belts, platform shoes and fur coats were among the style’s favourite pieces.
Hip-hop and gangsta rap were in high demand. Influenced by music artists such as Mc Hammer, Tupac, Eazy-E. The trend, which started at the beginning of the decade, continued until the 2010s. Wide-leg jeans, bomber jackets, knee-length dresses and baseball caps characterise this look.
In the middle of the decade, the 1970s trend was revived by bands. Mod haircuts, sunglasses, denim jackets and striped shirts were back in fashion. The Union Jack motif, which was also used by the Spice Girls.
Goth peaked in popularity among American, German and British teenagers in the mid-90s. They did not want to be part of the mainstream. Black leather jackets, velvet blazers, long black hair, tight trousers, boots.
The conservative look of the 80s remained popular with wealthy teenagers in the US. Then they adopted elements of hip-hop fashion.
The 90s are a real treat for fashion lovers. It was a decade of huge social and technological change. The Cold War was over. And the internet was on the rise, giving rise to the emergence and power of globalism.
There have also been huge changes in fashion. In this decade, a wide range of consumers became disconnected from the iconic fashion designers of the fashion industry. Everyone wore what they wanted. At the same time, fashion shows became more and more show-like.
They almost reached the level of a Broadway show, where the audience thought that a fashion show was a fun thing to do, but not to be taken seriously. In the last decade of the millennium, technological advances and the information age gave rise to an aesthetic of its own, which lived on into the next decade, that of Y2K fashion.