Fashion, Social Movements

Niche Groups in America Through Time: The 90s Grunge Kids

The Grunge Kids of the Nineties can be said to have had their birth as a backlash reaction to the Republican, materialistic and conservative values very prevalent in the 1980’s, especially espoused by the 80’s niche group, the preppies. They had a disdain for those values and a fondness for a fashion of anti-establishment message t-shirts and rumpled,messy multi-layered clothing. The idea was to dress to project a romantic image of living on the margins of society as a sort of F-You to establishment society. In truth, the clothes were often anything but cheap, with the rips, tears and holes present in the fabric purposely placed in all the right and strategic areas by the manufacturers. Additionally, the clothing was accentuated in many cases by the adornment of perhaps a nose ring or dyed hair of unnatural colors. In some ways, they resembled the hippie niche group of the late sixties and early seventies, but the difference being that they tended to project a much more pessimistic and angry type persona of the “troubled, sexy, misunderstood soul”. In fact, Kurt Cobain, of rock group Nirvanna was the epitome of this romanticized ideal. His suicide in 1994 cemented his celebrity pedestal status among grunge kid culture. Nirvanna became known as the most famous example of the Grunge sound, which was music often characterized by pitched dark emotion and fatalistic overtones. The Grunge Kids were particularly popular in the Pacific-Northwest cities of Seattle and Portland, but could be identified throughout the nation in almost every city.


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