A Counterculture Inspires Contemporary Fashion

Punk style is “in” this season and the punks can’t stand it.

Punk fashion and its origins can be traced back to the 1970s, where evolving rock music, anarchist principles, and a do-it-yourself approach collided and produced an intensely defiant counterculture. Today, artists and designers are constantly inspired by visual pieces of original punk culture. Punk rock’s earliest roots exist more within a lifestyle than a fashion category, yet contemporary clothing brands continuously borrow from the punk “style” to create a hybrid of garments that range from ready-to-wear to high fashion pieces.

Punk counterculture championed anti-consumerism and rejected conformity, which popular clothing labels ironically contradict by using punk styles and hand-sewn, hand-patched garments to inspire collections marketed to men and women. A do-it-yourself (D.I.Y.) mentality spun out from the punk lifestyle, but now, anyone can purchase punk-inspired looks from major labels, often at a significantly marked-up price.

From May 9th to August 14th, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City will house the exhibit Punk: Chaos to Couture, which examines punk culture’s influence on art and high fashion from the 1970s to the present. This season, online fashion retailer Moda Operandi, co-owned by Lauren Santo Domingo and Aslaug Magnusdottir, will feature an exclusive line of punk-inspired clothing and jewelry. Many celebrities have been recently photographed wearing fashions from designers like Marc Jacobs, or label Givenchy – all styles that are very of the moment, taking cues from punk fashion.



Photo by Givenchy

Today, contemporary fashion trends allow for a glimmer of the early 1970s punk lifestyle to exist in the mainstream, far from where original punks would have wanted it to be. You don’t have to BE punk to dress in punk-inspired garments. Popular and high fashion has demonstrated that punk today is a subculture of the past whose nonconformist appearance inspires artists and designers to recreate punk looks with a current twist.

Aside from punk, several trends from the 90s are also popping back up in high fashion. Styles we never thought we’d see again, such as the crop top, white eyeliner, the oversized plaid flannel shirt, and the logo sweatshirt are back—at least for the season.

For a peek inside an authentically punk shop, check out NYC’s Trash and Vaudeville, where punks have been shopping since 1975. Doc Martens and leather may not be in style next season, but they’ll always carry punk clothing here.



Photo from Trash and Vaudeville


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