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The Tumblr Days Are Returning - Are You Ready For Indie Sleaze?

Image taken by Talani Cooke

It doesn’t take much for me to feel nostalgic about my teenage years. Tumblr was life - and it was right before Keyboard Warriors realized they could harness their power for evil. My ‘Ask Me Anything’ was filled with strangers saying how I was beautiful because they loved my Tumblr feed - isn’t this wholesome?

My playlist was filled with the angst of early-days Sky Ferreira, Lorde, Lana Del Rey and Marina and the Diamonds - as well as a little bit of folksy music to prove I had a real ‘acquired’ taste in music (Alex Winston I still love you!). The Wombats and Arctic Monkeys also reigned supreme. Girls my age were frequently channeling Effie Stonem from Skins, Aria Montgomery and Hannah Marin on Pretty Little Liars - or the protagonist of any John Green book. Makeup was worn so intentionally heavy you were doing something wrong if you didn’t have a thick band of eye-liner around your bottom lid. Woolen patterned tights were worn unapologetically with suede cowboy-esque boots. Why am I taking us back to the prepubescent teens of the twenty-first century? Because Indie Sleaze is back, baby.

The recognition of the Indie Sleaze Tumblr aesthetic crawling back into our wardrobes (and way of life) was first identified by Trend analyst and Fashion writer Mandy Lee on Tiktok in October last year. In her video ‘Trend forecast: indie sleaze revival’, Lee explains the trend dates back to the early 2000’s-2010’s and combines the 80’s with 90’s grunge aesthetic.

Indie Sleaze is over-performative, provocative and spontaneous. Lee notes we can see it emerging through trends like “amatuer flash photography,” “out-dated technology,” and “mash-ups” of songs, many of which are already re-emerging on social media.

Celebrities are also getting in on the action - many of Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS recent advertisements have been channeling what Lee describes as the “provocative advertisements” of the era - and we are living for it.

So what does that mean for us? After two years of uncertainty and lockdowns, today’s Gen-Z are ready to experience some candid and spontaneous fun. I am excited to see how this will play out on social media as a stark contrast to the curated VSCO girl. As someone who never moved beyond wired headphones, I would like to think I am ahead of the “outdated” technology trend (I kid myself).

Drawing inspiration from Sky Ferreira, the Olsen Twins and Zoe Kravitz - I hope to see how some of the more memorable trends like messy and low-styled hair, bold lips and bold eye-make-up can combine with some of the more minimalistic styles of the preceding era like more natural foundations and highlighter.

I really hope we can trade the tackier accessories of Indie Sleaze (I was shamefully obsessed with oversized hair bows the first time around) - for the more minimalistic trends that have taken hold today - there is no such thing as too many miniature bags.

When it comes to clothing, I would like to see the combination of some iconic Indie Sleaze pieces, including lingerie-esque corsets and tops with Gen-Z’s staple piece of denim (baggy jeans, it is still too soon to talk about lowrise jeans, okay?). And we can already see how much we love oversized shirts - whether they be worn as a dress, shirt or jacket (AKA “shacket”). This may go hand-in-hand with the re-emergence of Doc Martens, especially with dresses, love of logo t-shirts, Converse,,s and chunky heel..s, as well as a newfound appreciation of tights.

As a selfish side point, I really hope Tumblr poetry makes a comeback (cue shameless Tumblr self promotion from 2013 - please. don’t. follow. me.).

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