NPHS Students Are Inspired by the Past

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The 90s are making a comeback in fashion and music

By: Aili Zissu, Staff Writer

The 90s are new again. Signs of the decade are everywhere, especially in fashion: crop tops, platform boots, and cargo pants. Music is on repeat–playlists are dominated by Radiohead, Nirvana, and Nine Inch Nails. 

“I don’t think it [music from the 90s] ever actually really died,” says Olli Chanoff, Managing Director of Programming, THE OFFICE performing arts + film. “I think what happened is that music is actually always evolving, and the stuff that’s popular is always a combination of things that happened before and new stuff,”

Iconic 90s songs like “About a Girl” by Nirvana being played in cars again

Chanoff, who presents 90s artists like Beck, Liz Phair, and The Violent Femmes, at performing arts venues to this day, says, “In the 90s that was the cutting edge stuff–the stuff that young people were listening to the most. And that stuff… guitar-based rock, I think there is a big resurgence of it.”

This resurgence of 90s music is especially big among today’s teens, and this is no coincidence. Anna Guido, a sophomore at New Paltz High School, says she got into 90s music because of her parents. 

“My mom showed me Chris Cornell’s solo album and I kind of became obsessed with it,” Guido says. “So I started to check out other bands that he was in.”

“People most interested in it [fashion] tend to be curious about the period right around or before they were born, because it’s not familiar or “been there, done that” to them.”

Alexandra Jacobs, Styles editor at The New York Times. 

This way to find music is a pattern among teenagers. Think about it: parents of today’s teens were young when the 90s were new. They’ve grown up, as many do, listening to their parents’ music, absorbing their favorites, and studies show that music from your formative years sticks with you. This means that lifelong music taste is solidified in your youth. For parents of current high school students, that was the 90s.

Like in music, patterns are easily found in the world of fashion. Fashion’s pattern, known to the world of style as the 20-year trend, is evident throughout history. Over the years, you can see the cyclical resurrection of previous styles, such as the increasing popularity of 90s fashion over the past decade. 

“There are a few identifiably ’90s styles like slip dresses, grunge and minimalism that are classics by now,” says Alexandra Jacobs, Styles editor at The New York Times. 

“Fashion is cyclical,” Jacobs explains. “People most interested in it [fashion] tend to be curious about the period right around or before they were born, because it’s not familiar or “been there, done that” to them.”

A pair of Doc Martens that are an example of the 90s fashion that is making a comeback in the school

This curiosity about a time experienced so long ago or never at all, in younger fashion enthusiasts’ cases, is reflected in music. 

“Certainly there is great nostalgia for a time before the internet and specifically social media,” says Jacobs. 

“It used to be that when you listened to music, you listened to the radio, or you put on a CD, but then streaming started, and suddenly you could access all of this music, and you could make your own music available to everybody. This changed the way people listened to music,” says Chanoff. 

With the 2000s came streaming and new technology, which in turn created a huge shift in the music industry as people utilized them to “make weird experimental things”. To sample, mix, and record music even at home. These new tools and new innovations shaped digital pop music, which took over in a big way, causing the 10-15 year time period in which it was believed that “guitar rock was dead”. 

But 90s rock is back, and 90s fashion is back, and as Jacobs says, it all boils down to this:

 “People miss a time when music and movies were really special and foremost in the culture and had to be waited for, not just one more thing that you streamed.”