Celebrities like Bella Hadid are already fans and the look is all over the Spring 2023 runways. Now, it's time to incorporate it into your wardrobe, too.
So far in 2022, we’ve seen a lot of regurgitated fashion trends cropping up from the early aughts. However, it’s not all blinding neon colors and skin-baring cutouts.
Sprinkled throughout the mega-pop-y aesthetics, reminiscent of girl groups like Play and girl-next-door solo acts like Britney Spears circa “Baby One More Time,” were the moody styles of high school "underdogs," translated through goth and emocore. It was only a matter of time before some variation of indie dressing would claim the spotlight once again — but “indie sleaze” wasn’t exactly what we were expecting.
If Barbie pink is the new black, indie sleaze is the new hipster. But whereas Barbie pink is universal and a constant throughout generations, Indie Sleaze is Gen-Z’s interpretation of the subculture that started in the late '80s/early '90s and made popular by millennials circa 2008.
“The Hipster movement had this ‘I don’t really try hard mentality (but is really trying hard to achieve that look),” wardrobe stylist and image consultant, Brandon Nicholas H. explains. The only main difference between then and now is, well, the generations. The Gen-Zers who first embraced the Indie Sleaze aesthetic weren’t trying to make a fashion statement; they were just putting more stock into experiences than they are material things.
Nicholas tells InStyle he has a sneaky suspicion that while the Indie Sleaze aesthetic has started gaining media attention in recent months, the vibe was coming through much earlier, dating back to early Covid times.
“Everyone decided to dress more relaxed and more carefree during this time,” Nicholas says. Now, people are incorporating Indie Sleze pieces into their wardrobes to purposely give off the effortless look.
Stylistically speaking, the so-called “rebellious” millennials of the early 2000s — who spent their downtime browsing Tumblr, creating MySpace albums riddled with flash photography, and listening to artists like Grimes and The Veronicas — were still piecing together outfits that, yes, rejected trends, but still looked fairly put-together. The everyday hipster looks consisted of metallic leggings and tunics, knit beanies, fedoras, and chunky, pastel-colored costume pearls. The upscale hipsters (think Alexa Chung and the Olsen twins) were donning designer skinny jeans, skinny scarves, leather jackets, and layered vintage pieces.
Indie sleaze is different in that it’s chaotic and messy; it’s mismatched and out of proportion. An example of an indie sleaze outfit would be a cropped rocker tee paired with a long, low-waisted maxi skirt, some white tube socks, black loafers, and a white oversized men's button-up as a jacket, complete with chunky headphones that engulf your entire ear.
Still, similarly to the 2000s, Nicholas tells InStyle “Indie Sleaze” can be as cheap or as expensive to channel as your budget allows: “Some brands that have really adapted to the Indie Sleaze vibe I feel are Urban Outfitters, Anthropology for the higher end Indie Sleaze, and even Target.”
Gen-Zers are big on sustainability and challenging the morals of fast fashion, so, likely, their wardrobes are also pieced together at thrift shops. (Though, for reference, if hipsters weren’t sporting old band tees and ripped leggings, you’d find them shopping at places like the former brick-and-mortar retailer-turned online store American Apparel.)
Indie sleaze isn’t just being peppered across racks of clothing at your favorite stores, though. Celebs have always dipped into the trend, but as far as 2022 inspo, Nicholas cites Bella Hadid as the “queen” of indie sleaze, declaring, “whatever she wears, everyone will wear.”
Artists like Demi Lovato, Billie Eilish, Debby Ryan, Lil Nas X, and BlackPink’s Rosé have also adhered to the aesthetic, and are a stark contrast to the renowned hipsters of yesteryear, like Kate Moss, Kristen Stewart, Nicole Richie, and Lindsay Lohan.