Fashion After Quarantine, Improved or not?

By Adam Khan (‘23)




With the return of in-person learning and end of the hour on hour binging on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, etc. students have found new ways to express themselves with their clothes. From the return of bellbottoms to graphic t-shirts and baggy jeans inspired by previous fashion trends, students have found diverse ways to set the new trend of clothing for the school year.


Many students during quarantine have had time to explore new ideas from social media and reflect on who they were as individuals.


Senior Sarah Kasziba-O’Rahilly said, “What probably influences the way I dress the most are social media platforms. When it comes to vintage apparel, I look towards the 70’s era.”


To get a 1970/80’s look, girls can style with flannels or loose sweatshirts, with washed flared jeans. The Converses or the Nike blazers are always a good touch. For the boys, a decorated tucked-in button-down shirt along with straight jeans, or a corduroy fits well. The Nike Aair Force’s, Chuck Taylor 70, as well as the Reebok C85 Vintage are the cherry on top.


As for a modern look, a simple printed hoodie or sweatshirt along with regular jeans or sweatpants works for both genders. Local thrift stores or clothing brands such as H&M, Levi’s, Pacsun, Urban Outfitters, and Forever 21 offer accessibility to get the look you desire.


In a recent, non-scientific poll done on the Viking Vibe Instagram, 153 students were surveyed on whether they preferred modern/trendy or vintage clothing selections. 88 students said they preferred vintage apparel, with 67 students saying they preferred modern/trendy apparel.


Permanent Substitute, Mr. James Zinsmeister says, “People, when they are in a social setting, tend to dress better. As a result of students being away from school for the better part of the year, they got used to dressing a certain way. Some people choose comfort over looks, vice versa. The tendency to dress more casually has taken a noticeable hold. Casual dress taken to the extreme for some, in a style known as ‘poverty chic’.”


The idea of “poverty chic” involves students wearing distressed clothing, from ripped denim to patchwork jeans. The aesthetic had derived from quite literally the way people in poverty dressed, and became a rapidly growing revival trend in the early 2010’s thanks to mainstream media and more notably, the music industry.


Mr. Zinsmeister adds, “Ripped clothing meant two things when I was growing up, either your family did not care about you, or even worse, your family did not have enough money to buy you new clothes.”


Unlike today, ripped or destroyed clothing was something not sought after. Ripped jeans started out as just a result of over-wear and working-class people were usually the ones wearing them. Ripped jeans had only gained popularity in the late 80’s during the hard rock/heavy metal era. Prior to that, ripped jeans were mainly associated with the less fortunate.


Senior Hyma Gollakota says, “I feel like I have gotten more of an idea of how I want to dress. Definitely, compared to last year, my style has changed. I would have put on whatever I had, but now, I wear what I think looks best.”


Compared to school before COVID, many students could relate to the idea that they wore whatever was in their closet, like a basic shirt or skinny jeans. But progressively, as students have found a sense of style, the closets of many have been revamped for the latest outfits.


In the words of Tommy Hilfiger, “A trend happens as the result of a natural reaction to the customer's direction. But even though you may see a common trend, I think every designer has a different take on it."


There is also the term, “fast fashion” and the controversy surrounding it. But what is it? Fast fashion is a design, manufacturing, and marketing method focused on rapidly producing high volumes of clothing at inexpensive prices.


Fast fashion has its origins back in the 1960s, and since then, apparel companies make 53 million tons of clothes into the world annually according to reports from 2019. However, fast fashion has had a fair share of negative impacts on the environment, as many of the clothes become redundant in landfills. Many workers employed to manufacture these clothing are also underpaid and forced to work to their limits. The infamous “Nike sweatshops” may come to mind for example. Fast fashion has essentially caused more accessibility to buy clothing for consumers, and at a reasonable price.


Mr. Zinsmeister says, “Fast fashion is something I do not advocate for. The environment is a primary concern of mine. I would substitute the word “disposable” fashion instead of “fast” fashion. A lot of energy is taken into making these clothes, and one negative aspect is that if you are turning out millions of units, it’s not easy to recycle these clothes. Especially when you are not getting a large amount of wear out of them.”

As the youth set the hallmark for the decade’s fashion trends, it’s always beneficial to keep in mind where one is buying their clothes, and whether or not it is something they truly wish to wear long-term. In this way, not only can you match up something unique in your closet, but something you have a passion and way to express yourself with, whilst bringing awareness to the rights garment workers deserve.




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