Story and artwork by Caroline McNally
Jules Silverman is the ultimate champion of many things, but she holds one thing above the rest. Her eyes light up when she admits her favorite '90s trend.
"I love denim on denim. It’s incredible, I don’t know why it’s frowned upon,” said the sophomore creative producing major. Silverman adores the '90s, and yearns to bring it back in every facet of her life.
“It’s so nice to remember everything we know from our childhood. But I wish I could’ve been my age now in the ‘90s to really experience the culture. It would have been really cool to be in your teens and 20s in the ‘90s, and wear those trends.”
1990s culture is back, in a big way. Buzzfeed is filled with articles bearing titles like “21 Little Satisfying Things Every ‘90s Kid Did” and “27 Struggles That Were All Too Real for 90s Kids.” Users on social media outlets like Twitter and Tumblr often make posts with photos of toys or TV shows that were popular in the 1990s with the caption “retweet/reblog if you remember this, only true 90s kids will!” The pride in claiming you are a “true ‘90s kid” is unmatched. Megawatt grins spread across the faces of young people when their friends mention something from their childhood, or when someone tells them, “Your outfit is so ‘90s today – I love it.”
“I am all about nostalgia and remembering the good times,” said Silverman. She was born in 1994, and only has vague memories of some of her favorite 1990s tv shows, movies, toys, and clothing. Her favorite ‘90s trend is the lingo.
“I say “as if!” a lot,” Silverman admits. “Lots of stuff Cher from Clueless would say. And “oh snap!” is fun too.”
For the people born at the later end of the 1990s, the ‘90s culture resurgence is a way for them to relive the trends and culture they missed out or didn’t get to fully appreciate the first time around. They are nostalgic for the decade that passed too quickly.
Many fashion trends today revolve around items that first became popular in the 1990s: chokers, high-waisted pants and shorts, flannel shirts, Dr. Martens, oversized sweaters, and skorts, to name a few. Stores like Brandy Melville, Forever 21, and Urban Outfitters carry many of these looks and are generating sizable sales revenue from customers who are embracing the styles. The grunge look is back as well, which emphasizes the comfort and simplicity of the ‘90s that sophomore screen acting major Francesca Artalejo is welcoming with open arms.
“In the ‘90s, people didn’t wear that much makeup,” Artalejo said. “A lot of other stuff was simple too, like the comedy of shows like Friends and Full House. Our generation gravitates towards the ‘90s because it reminds us of a simpler time.”
The revival of pop culture from the 1990s is just as trendy as the fashion. Friends was recently added to Netflix, a Full House reunion was announced in April, and last fall, Disney Channel debuted a spinoff of Boy Meets World called Girl Meets World. Iggy Azalea recently emulated Cher from the 1995 classic film Clueless in her “Fancy” music video. Former N Sync heartthrob Justin Timberlake still maintains his heartthrob status today, albeit in a much more sophisticated way.
Speaking of N Sync, boy bands have risen in popularity over the past few years as well. Influence from ‘90s predecessors like the Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block is evident in the music of today’s bands such as One Direction, 5 Seconds of Summer, and The Wanted.
“I love boy bands from both decades,” said junior creative producing major Aya Lehman. “One Direction is influenced by the ‘90s, but doing their own thing. It’s a new twist on something older and classic, and I’m into it.”
So why is Generation Y, and the one that came after, so intensely drawn to the 1990s? Perhaps it’s that they aren’t ready to grow up and don’t know what to expect from the future.
“Even if you weren’t born in the 90s, there is this idealized version of that decade,” said Lehman. “When we were born, we lived in basically a different world than we do now. Technology has fast-forwarded. People are super nostalgic now, especially because what we experienced when we were growing up is totally gone. We are clinging to it because we are so scared. No one knows what’s happening or what’s coming up.”
Artalejo had some of the same thoughts, and added that she thinks Generation Y is under a lot more pressure than any generation before has been, and that the ‘90s remind millennials of a simpler and more comfortable time, because that’s when they were young and carefree.
“I can’t imagine what we are going to experience in the next couple years and I think that’s why we’re so nostalgic and why we want to go to that comfort zone where we didn’t have to worry about anything,” said Artalejo.
“We’re stressed out all the time and a lot is expected of us. I talk to my roommates about all the stuff we have to do and how sad it is that when we aren’t doing anything, we feel like we should be doing something. We don’t want to give ourselves a break even when our body demands it. I feel like more people our age are taking anti-depressants and we are bombarded with so many self-esteem issues that sometimes we can’t handle it. We subconsciously go back to the ‘90s because we were kids then and we didn’t have to worry about all this stuff. We believed in ourselves more back then.”
As the ‘90s kids grow up, hopefully they will find a way to keep the ‘90s in their hearts while still embracing the responsibilities of adulthood and the opportunities provided by current norms. There is comfort in holding on to pieces of childhood.
Clearly the ‘90s have been, and always will be, regarded as one of the most fun decades of our time. Just because the ‘90s are over doesn’t mean that millennials, or anyone else for that matter, have to let them go. All the things that they loved from the ‘90s can be applied to today and in to the future – style, simplicity, and happiness.