Pop-Punk is back in fashion



It’s 2003. You’ve just returned from a terrible day of college to learn that Evanescence’s “Bring Me to Life” has once again taken the top spot in the VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown. (You’re happy for Amy Lee, in particular.) After dipping into a sleeve of “Xtra Cheddar” Goldfish, you slip the “Freaky Friday” soundtrack into your Discman. You want Simple Plan’s “Happy Together” lyrics to be remembered by this Saturday slumber party.

Here we are, 18 years later, and I have never been so sure that the weather is a flat circle. Bennifer embraces all of Los Angeles again. The cast of “Friends” were once again paid millions of dollars to film a television episode. Travis Barker is once again on a bop in the charts.

In fashion, too, the collective dress code seems to oscillate between the Powerpuff Girls and Bratz dolls. People take this new millennium revival so seriously, in fact, that the besieged “whale tale” is back. But there is another aesthetic that arises among the almighty Gen Z who missed the year 2000 the first time around. It’s pop-punk, and it’s back, baby!

This is nothing new to the music world: while the genre has long been dominated by whites and men, a new generation of BIPOC artists – like Willow Smith, De’Wayne and Meet Me @ the Altar, to name a few – are reclaiming pop-punk and making it their own. Industry sweetheart Olivia Rodrigo’s poppy bite sound makes comparisons to Paramore’s Gwen Stefani, Fefe Dobson, and Hayley Williams, and not just because she sets a room on fire in a music video. (Very punk.)

As always, fashion is following suit. Pop-punk iconography makes an appearance on catwalks, on the red carpet, and of course, in street style (assuming Nobu’s grainy paparazzi shots count as street style, which they do) . This time around, pop-punk is more accessible than ever. It’s more than the studded belts and plaid mini skirts MTV once made, and it’s certainly more available than what once sat on the shelves of your suburban Hot Topic. Pop-punk can be whatever you want, it’s what punk, more broadly, sets out to be anyway.

When punk rock first emerged in the 1970s, artists sought to rebuke the excesses of traditional music and culture with anti-materialist styles. Simple clothes like t-shirts and pants became stylish to look used and even dirty, a far cry from the flash of disco that then possessed the decade. Vivienne Westwood is considered the model, and for good reason: her influence is indeed inseparable from the punk aesthetic as we know it today. But as New York-based design historian Sonya Abrego reminds me, this Westwood look isn’t the only iteration of the subculture.

“Punk was a street style that came from kids, so you saw a lot of vintage,” says Abrego, who specializes in the history of American fashion throughout the 20th century. “You’ve seen a lot of mixing of different eras and deconstructions done in a very individualistic way. It was Westwood and its popularity that made punk a little more uniform. But there wasn’t a unified look to it. It was very, very mixed up, and that’s what made it cool. “

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By the 1980s, a codified punk style had emerged: nails and spikes, bondage pants and safety pins – which, more or less, make up punk as we know it today. In the five decades since the Ramones’ CBGB debut, this style commercialized within an inch of his life. Step into pop-punk, which made even the craziest punk themes acceptable to suburban teens shopping in barren malls with names like “Shady Grove Court.”

“What’s interesting to me is that what we’re seeing now is almost citing the Hot Topic punk look of the 2000s, which was already deleted from a few generations,” says Abrego. “It’s distilled punk with torn white shirts, safety pins and little checkered kilts. These are always the clues, right? “

At least that’s how fashion interprets pop-punk. Marine Serre sewed her worries about creative exhaustion into punk patchwork pieces made from her now iconic corpses. Chris Leba from R13 stylizes post-punk basics with some of the subculture’s most recognizable basics like dirty high-top Converse and combat boots. Even Chanel – Chanel in tweed! – join us: Her Resort 2022 show featured fishnet stockings (unfortunately not ripped), punchy graphic tees, and chunky kohl eyeliner, sometimes all in the same look.

Those pop-punk clues are also on the red carpet: Dua Lipa’s campy BRIT Awards look served as an unofficial tribute to Ginger Spice with a Union Jack miniskirt and black thigh-high tights. And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the glam-pop-punk crossover of new-age pop-punk icon Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox and Travis Barker and Kourtney Kardashian from Blink-182.

Not all of these examples are strictly pop-punk. But they’re, at the very least, representative of “alternative fashion,” an umbrella term that encompasses a family of Y2K subcultures like mall goths and emo kids, and which have evolved from punk and represent similar anti-establishment ideologies. And right now, everyone – by that I mean Millennials and Gen Z – seems interested in sticking with Man.

“It’s awesome, isn’t it?” Says Cassidy George, a Berlin-based cultural writer who has written about the recent emergence of the emo subgenre for W in May. “Pop-punk appeals to that imaginary nostalgia for younger crowds, and then it actually triggers a loving nostalgia for the millennials who lived it. It unites the two and creates that intergenerational camaraderie above the excitement. . “

Millennials of a certain age may remember the pop-punk era of 2000 as materializing on emerging digital platforms like Xanga and MySpace. Naturally, Gen Z has their own take on TikTok, where pop-punk has been brewing since early 2019, when “e-boy” and “e-girl” styles started to gain momentum.

“By segmenting us based on what we like, the TikTok algorithm has brought subcultures to life,” says Agus Panzoni, a trend researcher who shares miniature versions of her own trend reports on TikTok, including one on pop-punk. “People develop and join online communities based on their tastes and interests, and these become the new trendsetters.”

If it seems like the pop-punk trend is rising fast enough, that’s because it is. TikTok is, literally, not your mother’s social network. So give it a try, retail is still hard at work wooing Gen Z, hoping to win their favor with Celine e-boy campaigns and Chanel fake lip rings. The pay is huge, after all: Gen Z has over $ 140 billion in purchasing power, and growing.

But the consumption habits and values ​​of Generation Z consumers differ widely from those of previous generations. Their personal style is driven more by individuality and less by status, which makes marketing luxury goods extremely difficult. This is especially true when trying to market pop-punk, which to Gen Z is more than a blingy Y2K revival.

“After a year that has shaken us socio-politically, economically and ecologically, it is logical that we turn to music with protest roots,” explains Panzoni. “Pop-punk is the tame version of punk rock, and in a way it suits a generation of activists who still fall victim to tech companies and all the mental damage done by social media.”

One key factor missing from today’s pop-punk is live music. The genre depends on the very act of getting together, whether it’s buying Warped Tour weekend passes or gathering outside your local thrift store, fishing to grab a T-shirt or seven band beaten. But the physical experiences return, and the concerts too. So while pop-punk thrives in a concert pit five feet from Pete Wentz, the aesthetic also transcends a specific era or place, a decade or a generation. You could say that pop-punk is forever.

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