In 1996, when I was in seventh grade, my mother told me I dressed like a homeless person. Although the '90s saw an economic growth in the US that had never before been seen or even imagined in any country in history (never mind the 80 other countries we smashed to smithereens on our way to the top), the fashion-minded youth chose to adorn themselves with baggy flannels, tent-like Stussy T-shirts, and ragged, snaggle-cuffed JNCOs of Herculean proportions, all teeming with lice and God knows what other breed of infectious bacteria due to a generational phobia of soap and water. I too fell prey to the widespread belief that the grunge look was incomplete without Birkenstocks and white socks. Shameful, I now know.
As we all know, fashion moves in circles, and this decade in particular is characterized by re-hash. At any hipster watering hole, you'll be surrounded by the vestiges of decades past, from articles that deserve their reincarnation (skinny ties and swing dresses from the '50s) to those whose 15 minutes of fame was 15 minutes too long (peasant blouses from the '60s, and as an aside might I add that Sheryl Crowe's downfall into "Soak Up the Sun" is not entirely unrelated to her parading around in tacky, clearance rack peasant blouses). Given that even the '80s, once reviled as the most hideous, distasteful decade in history in terms of clothing, are coming back in the form of checkered Vans and leg warmers, it is a pretty reasonable wager that the '90s will inevitably find its place in the sun once again.
Fortunately, flannels lost their appeal the day Kurt Cobain died, and have yet to be resuscitated, but the threat of a '90s resurgence is more present than one may think. In an age where one's hipness is determined by how many decades one can wear at once, it's only a matter of time before the '90s become "retro," and thereby cool. VH1 already has their homage to the good old days with their I Love the 90s series, and The OC is really just a re-embodiment of Beverly Hills 90210, including identical time slots. And if you look closely at Nike Presto sneakers, with their synthetic fabric weave, it is not too difficult to trace their roots to Aquasox, bane of '90s footwear and a morally reprehensible use of all-terrain technology.
But isn't this all a little premature? The end of a decade is like breaking up with a boyfriend, and it is easy to forego the ugly and only remember the good: Kate Moss, 48-hour raves, skateboarders, an economic boom, to name a few. But let's not forget how that good-for-nothing muttonhead had hairy feet, posted nudie pictures of us on the web (during the dot-com boom, obviously, when everyone and their mother was scouting the web for Internet pornography) in the post-breakup warfare, and incidentally, broke our hearts. So fine, bring back that Scratch 'N Sniff T-shirt, it kinda sounds like foreplay, and nobody will ever say that the '90s sucked for manufacturing quality party favors (ecstasy, anyone?). But don't forget that the '90s didn't always treat you well; in fact, they lied to your face and told you that polar fleece and windbreakers make a dashing combination. They also forced you to believe that mini-backpacks were inherently stylish vestibules for transporting your troll collection. Call me a counter-revolutionary, but one must tread very carefully (with non-Birkenstock-clad steps) when hunting and gathering in decades gone by.