35 trends that came and went in australia
Acknowledging our unique culture, we examine the fashion and music moments we made happen in the land down under.
One of the many ambitious inventions courtesy of the decade of excess, the scrunchie was flamboyant cousin to the simple hair elastic. Consisting of a flourish of ruched fabric, anything was possible in regards to shade and pattern and decisions about whether to match or clash with the outfit were real.
The 90s were a big decade for chokers generally. Sometimes bejewelled and often made of velvet, they were a little bit of fabric that created a strong look. Frequently styled below a dark, matte lip with emphasised liner and wet look hair, chokers have been revived occasionally since, sometimes remarkably successfully.
Japanese character tattoos
Permanently marking yourself with the dramatic Japanese character for 'winter' instantly made you cool and signalled to the world that you were a culturally enlightened being of depth. Just like tribal tattoos they now signify that you're kind of old but probably once held your own on the rave's dance floor.
Cross Colours jeans
These were the oversized jeans with a conscience. Initially created with the message "clothing without prejudice" they were worn proudly by everyone from African American rappers to Australian university students all wanting to "educate and elevate."
Is there such a thing as too many pockets? Cargo pants were a big deal for a good portion of the 90s. Their utilitarian design made sense in the military - the context for which were invented - but army disposal stores weren't complaining when they were reborn as a go-to pant for fashion kids and middle aged dads alike. Cargo pants reached their potential-pinnacle in 2002 when Kylie Minogue wore them slung low with a white tank top in her video for Love at First Sight. Not only did hers have all manner of pockets and pleats but she wore them with a pointy yellow kitten heel. And a visible g-string.
Which leads us to our next trend…g-strings. So fearful were we of a visible panty line that underwear consisting of a sliver of fabric became a legitimate option. Occasionally revealed above the pants intentionally as a fashion statement but mostly accidentally, the 'whale tail' and Cisco's 1999 ode, the Thong Song provided the heady combination that lead to the movement's implosion and a welcome return to comfortable undies.
Hair gel and mousse
A good amount of both of these were shoved into your mane to create a perpetually wet-look and hair that was super crunchy and didn't move. Be thankful for innovations in hair care and the discovery of keratin-based serums people.
Country Road Bags
This was a big one with private school girls around the country. They were essentially your convenient, entry-level tote that let the world know you'd heard of fashion, even while your individualism was being stifled by your obligatory brown school uniform.
You'd invariably carry this affordable perfume-in-a-can around in your Country Road bag. Depending on what type of girl you identified with, you'd whip out the 'Godess', 'Rebel' or 'Love Story' in the locker room to conceal the smell of gym class or the odd naughty ciggie.
Bettina Liano Jeans
Bettina Liano was the queen of head-turning party wear in Australia throughout the 90s and early 2000s. Named the 'jeans queen' for good reason, there wasn't a skinny leg, flare, boot cut, hipster, high waist, exposed button or zip leg she didn't tackle. Always worn super tight, the jeans and their distinctive yellow tab littered high streets and nightclubs the country over.
Comfort should never be prioritised this highly over appearance but the humble fisherman pant was, at one stage, a cool-girl wardrobe staple. Wide legged, drop crotched and tied in the front, perhaps the only explanation is that they provided a seamless exit strategy from the rave scene. Thankfully they now been returned to the fishermen and hacky sackers for whom they were originally intended.
When DJ Larry Tee coined the compelling fusion of electro, new wave and synthpop that was being played in the clubs 'Electroclash', it really did seem like the coolest thing ever. With performers like Miss Kittin and Fishcerspooner as the genre's poster children, and songs like Emerge making everyone crazy, record labels excitedly began investing big dollars and fuelling the fire that burned so hot so briefly.
Granted, these are still pretty cool but there was a time when you'd wear these suede marvels everywhere, regardless of how you dressed. Raver, indie, jock, emo, if you wore runners, you probably wore the Clyde.
Baby G watches
Birthdays, bar mitzvahs, christmases and good job rewards often came in the form of the Baby G watch in the 90s. Produced by Casio (who also produced your maths class saviour calculators), we STILL can't afford a grown up watch, so maybe these need to make a comeback! Plus the running graphic guy was super cool.
Finding new places to pierce is difficult. There are only so many ledges of redundant skin on your face to stick metal through but the eyebrow became host to all sorts of rings and barbells at one point. Prone to painful recovery times and infections, it was a good thing it made you look like a bit of a badass at the house party.
Belly button rings
It makes sense that belly button rings were most popular at the height of the hipster (low-waist jeans) revolution in the 90s. They were essentially a tiny trophy rewarding you for a flat stomach that also identified you as someone who would have a banging time in Ibiza.
There's no need to draw attention to your feet. Please don't do this again. If you're ever tempted, remember Kate Moss's rule of 'removing the first thing that stands out when you look in the mirror' and take off your toe ring.
Diamanté hip chain belt
I like to think it wasn't Whole Again that made Atomic Kitten what they were, it was the diamanté hip chain belt. They managed to merge them into every outfit. The fully reasonable price point made these babies a hit across the country, despite looking completely tacky.
In the early 90s when a couple of skaters and a graphic designer started Mooks, it was the coolest thing ever. Well made street wear with a sense of humour, the light globe with devil horns logo was hot property.
Poppy King Lipstick
At the blissful age of 18 Poppy King launched her line of cosmetics, Poppy Industries, and took the Australian make-up world by storm. Being the 90s, everyone had their favourite shade of matte lippy named after one of the seven deadly sins, contributing to her relatively short-lived multi-million dollar empire. It's all ok though as she's back as The Lipstick Queen doing what she does best.
The closest thing to magic in 80s, it was like the future had arrived. The Hypercolor T-shirt changed colour with the touch of your hand. The pigment was activated by the heat, but now, when you can order an Uber Luxe at the touch of a button, such things don't seem as exciting. But let's be honest, a Hypercolor will always have a level of marvel to them.
Dior Saddle Bags
So bad it was good. The Dior saddle bag became a true status symbol and one of the first It Bags of the 90s/00s. The bag has sadly seen its last sunset, but you gotta admit, it still kinda looks rad!
Butterfly hair clips
Once you had fried, dyed, crimped, curled, twisted and teased your hair, the finishing touches were springy butterfly hair clips. If it was good enough for Buffy...
The bane of any already ill-fitting school uniform across the country were the God-awful shoulder pads in the blazer, but before this, in the 80s, people wore exaggerated shoulder pads as a fashion statement. They even made a psuedo come back via Christophe Decarnin's tutelage at Balmain with the peaked shoulders.
Unless you're perusing the rails of Mothercare for a nice summer pressie for a beloved niece, no-one should be shopping for a halterneck top. Unless you're an impossibly lean and lithe model, or an American Apparel employee, but what's the difference these days.
In retrospect, Run DMC's lyrics really should have been "It's tricky to rock a kangol hat," because it was. The hip hop group were the only ones to do it with any finesse. While bucket hats are enjoying something of a renaissance, no-one has been able to perpetuate the classic Kangol since the golden era of New York's 80s hip hop scene.
Launched in Japan in the early 90s by a guy named Nigo, A Bathing Ape was all-cool-everything in street wear. With huge stores across Japan, the ape logo was a symbol of awesomeness and Nigo kept it real with a series of high-profile collaborations and by releasing music as Ape Sounds on the label Mo'Wax. Nigo is now co-owner and head designer of Billionaire Boys Cluband Ice Cream, evidence he be moving with the times.
It was 2005, you were reading SuperSuper!, listening to The Klaxons, Hadouken! and New Young Pony Club, and everyone was hanging out at Honky Tonks while the Bang Gang DJ'd. Much more than glow sticks and neon, the scene became a spiritual home for some hot design talent: Carrie 'Cassette Playa' Munden, Henry Holland and Gareth Pugh. Our prediction is that whilst slogan tees and liquid leggings aren't coming back anytime soon, the nu rave era of 2005-08 will remain a seminal fashion moment in our minds forever.
Body Shop oils
There was a time when every fashion brand and celebrity didn't release a ten-strong-signature fragrance line and during that time most people bought the Body Shop's small, round vial of Vanilla or Mulberry perfume oil to dab on their wrists.
Before the days of masterful colour jobs, we just had our local Priceline and hair mascara. A single electric blue streak took a disco outfit from good to legendary.
Skirts over trousers
Otherwise known as the 'skant' (skirt over pant) this trend is baffling. Truly baffling. Was it to protect against the draft the skirt would have given if worn alone? Or was it to have the option of whipping off the trousers at a moment's notice? The best had the skirt and trousers made out of the same fabric and stitched together so there was no changing your mind.
Australian surf wear
Beach culture is huge in Australia and the sun kissed models in the surf wear ads were blissfully compelling. Whether you were a Roxy, Quicksilver, Billabong, Rip Curl, O'Neill, Voodoo Dolls, Mambo or Rusty fan, don't deny the greatness of the moment you nailed the beach vibe and felt like Elle McPherson for a moment.
Known as a 'fanny pack' in America, the bum bag is undeniably convenient accessory which took off as fashion in the 80s. Often paired with a set of bike shorts, it's a look that in most cases we'd recommend avoiding. However, as with most things, there are instances where this same outfit rules. As with most things in life, it requires an innate understanding regarding your ability to 'pull it off'.
Mytiko pants were the uniform of cool mall girls in the early 2000s. They were very tight, very flared, and worn very low to show off your belly ring—and give the circling teenage boys something to look at. While some experimented with different colours, diehards knew that black was the only acceptable option. For ultimate, you can't sit with us, vibes pair with with Shell Toes, an MNG racer back tank, and a USA jumper.
Adidas Shell Toes
If ever fashion had a prodigal child it was Adidas Shell Toes. When they were being teamed with Mytiko's and smoking at the bus stop it felt like they'd never go out of style. But as our Top Deck dye jobs grew out, so did our love of looking like a disco dancing mafia rat, and we all swore we'd never welcome them back into our lives or closets. That was until Stan Smiths made their It-Girl return, and suddenly anything seemed possible. While they may be a throwback favourite of the front row, they'll always be a bad-girl shoe to us.