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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Problem With Grunge, Punk + Fashion

Grunge is back. My inbox is stuffed with "new" Grunge "fashions", ready made for clueless, unsuspecting consumers. One slight problem. Grunge wasn't (and isn't) even Grunge.

Most people (and we are talking about musicians here) who have been categorised as "Grunge" in the past, don't even agree with the term.

It was a cynical attempt to make a music scene into a mass-produced, saleable commodity. Which, when you think about it, is what happens to anything that's actually good.

So, the powers that be turned an ANTI-FASHION movement into fashion. Impressive, huh?

And now I have to put up with items calling themselves "Grunge" flooding my inbox when Grunge doesn't even exist and the clothes didn't come from a second-hand store so they don't count anyway.

"Grunge" and "Punk" share common difficulties.

When the Sex Pistols broke, they didn't look like the version of punk we know today. So if they played at a punk pub with a strict "fashion" code today, and some dullard didn't recognise them, they wouldn't even be let in the door.

Here's a picture of the Sex Pistols in 1977:

They wore what was around. They held things together with safety pins because their clothes were falling apart, not because they wanted to make a statement.

The idea behind punk, before it was bastardised, was that anyone could be part of it.

If you were an outcast, a working class person, black, white, whatever, a person who didn't fit in anywhere else, you could go somewhere and actually feel like you belonged.

It didn't matter if you were wearing a sheet with two holes in it or a balaclava on your head and a dress, it really was, for a time, "come as you are".

Here is the multi-billion dollar fashion industry's version of punk:

"Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"
John Lydon (Johnny Rotten)

A lot of people who call themselves punks have strict rules. Is your Mohawk long enough? Is it the right colour?  Do you have one chain or two coming from your jeans?  How many studs on your jacket?  Fail any one of these tests and you might find yourself an outcast.

.....And this, ironically, makes you the punk of the group.

Do you see what I'm getting at?

Like my partner once said, "When you can buy it at Sportsgirl, it's no longer punk".


Pussy Riot


Avril Lavigne

Notice how it's not about the clothing?

And get stuffed if you disagree with me.  That's punk too.

So, too we see the problem with "fashionising" Grunge. I know what Grunge fashion is, if you must call it that, it's what I'm wearing right now.  Docs with holes in them (because I have owned them for 12 years and I haven't got new ones yet), jeans, a jumper.

Big deal right?

Because it's not about the clothes.

It's about music.

And you can't pass off a whole movement, philosophy, happening, etc, into a McGrunge franchise.

Sorry but you can't.

So here's an interpretation of Grunge fashion from the runway.  It's a symphony of flannel!!

If you really want to make a fashion movement out of it, get it right, at least.

Try this out, I'm sure it will sell really well.

Yeah, didn't think so.  So why even try?

We are surrounded by labels!....

As Kierkegaard (and Wayne Campbell from Wayne's World) said:

"Once you label me, you negate me".

Fads/Elitism/generationism/ageism, racism, sexism, and fashionism (yes, I just made up a word) adds up to buying into the corporate machine that started the whole mess.  Do you really want to be a part of that?

"Punk", and "Grunge" (maybe they're the same thing) is about expressing yourself.  Showing the world who and what you are no matter what others might think.

So....  Fine.  It's ok to buy "Grunge wear" if you want.  (I cringed even typing that)  But try to remember that these are invented concepts by the fashion industry and essentially mean absolutely nothing.

“Punk is musical freedom. It's saying, doing and playing what you want. In Webster's terms, 'nirvana' means freedom from pain, suffering and the external world, and that's pretty close to my definition of Punk Rock.”
 Kurt Cobain


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