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#Trending: (The Return of) Indie Sleaze

#Trending: (The Return of) Indie Sleaze

Emma Green

There has been a real interest in noughties fashion of late with trends like Y2K, Boho-chic and Twee making the rounds on both social media and on the high street. But no other aesthetic from the 2000s had a grip on my personal style quite like Indie Sleaze did though – and still continues to, to this day.

The term ‘Indie Sleaze’, coined last year by an Instagram account dedicated to documenting the trend, refers to the soft grunge meets grimy hipster look that dominated the fashion scene from the mid-2000s to the early 2010s. Coinciding with the popularity of indie music, social media platforms like Myspace and Tumblr and the blogosphere explosion at the time, the aesthetic was defined by a deliberate rejection of perfection, through adopting a dishevelled appearance, tousled bed hair, smudged make up and torn clothing. It was all about looking effortlessly cool – or like you’d just spent the entire weekend partying. 

The key hallmarks of Indie Sleaze style were a boxy silhouette, with lots of layering and neutral colours like grey, charcoal and cream. Some staple items included graphic band tees, long tanks worn as dresses, ripped fishnet tights, grungy baby doll dresses, plaid shirts, skinny jeans, biker boots, layered necklaces and a fedora hat.

Pioneers of Indie Sleaze fashion at the time included Sky Ferriera, Peaches and Pixie Geldof, Daisy Lowe, Ke$ha and Mary-Kate Olsen, but the ultimate poster child of this aesthetic was Effy Stonem, Kaya Scodelario’s character in the hit TV series, Skins – Euphoria’s Millenial equivalent. Effy’s ‘bad girl’ persona, coupled with her nonchalant, edgy style, had girls everywhere desperately trying to emulate her, including me. 

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The Indie Sleaze trend was seen as a cultural reaction to the Great Recession of 2008, with its focus on affordable fashion, adoption of outdated technology like polaroid cameras and record players and embrace of a party lifestyle as a means of escaping the bleak economic climate. It’s no wonder then that we’ve seen a resurgence of this aesthetic in the 2020s, as we continue to grapple with post-pandemic life and now, a cost-of-living crisis. 

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