Skip to content Skip to footer

Fashion but make it ironic: How irony shapes trends from the past

“Well yeah, I’m wearing it ironically,” is a quote we often hear from someone dressed wack. These bold friends of ours who make fashion statements outside the norm are not alone. Irony shapes trends more and more these days.

Starting around the mid-2010s, trends such as the dad hat, socks and sandals, chunky Filas, and Harley t-shirts began. Things for so long thought of as anti-fashion were being sported by Millennials and Gen Z.


View this post on Instagram


15. get well soon

A post shared by Tyler, The Creator (@feliciathegoat) on

I first noticed this taking place was when 80s metal band t-shirts started becoming a trend. Having been a diehard fanboy for Metallica when I was 16, I thought people my age were just as big of fans!

That dream was shattered when I would ask them their favorite album, and they said “I don’t listen to them.” At the time, that pissed me off.

Moreover, it got me curious: why did this become trendy?

Nostalgia cycles (in fashion)

Being that these fashion statements of irony are reminiscent of the 90s (what was considered unfashionable then), it’s a celebration of nostalgia.

The cycle tended to work every 20-30 years before the present. People born in those past decades come of age, and into positions to put it back into our popular consciousness.

Fashion is a major example of this in action.


View this post on Instagram



A post shared by GOLF WANG (@golfwang) on

But why the “uncool” parts? That’s where the irony comes in. Nothing is more 90s than irony. By dressing in what is stereotypically unfashionable then to the fullest extent, it’s more clearly a joke.

Meme culture playing on nostalgia plays a hand in this as well. Younger generations are seeing the trends and partaking.

Kanye’s hand in this

Kanye has been influential in many things, including fashion. When he released Yeezus in 2013, it bore a logo inspired by Metallica‘s. Since its release, his metal-inspired merch began selling like hotcakes.

While people who wore metal band shirts were normally seen as weird or low-brow, they’ve now become in demand. Metallica, themselves, collaborated with Urban Outfitters to make an exclusive t-shirt line. These shirts were inspired by Kanye’s bleached designs.

Still, in rap today, rappers dawn usually oversized metal band shirts, so it’s far from a dead trend. While some who wear the shirts may not listen to the band, that’s okay. I’m sure the bands aren’t mad about it.

With his merch, Kanye inspired popularity in the style, and interest in the music for those previously unfamiliar.

Irony shapes trends but you do you

Trends come and go and come back 20-30 years later, so don’t worry about being “unfashionable.” Dress how you like, whether for serious or ironic reasons. Who doesn’t love a funny t-shirt?

Live and dress your way, friends.

From jerseys to suits: 8 fashion trends that Jay-Z made hot

Jay-Z dropped 4:44, his first album in four years, and the world lost it.

By now, Hov is a certified legend. With over 20 years in the game, Jay-Z has set the standard for two decades.

But it’s not just his bars or his success story from the Marcy Houses of Canarsie that have made him the figurehead he is now.

Jay-Z was one of the first rappers to ever become a business mogul. He took his massive fan base as one of the most popular musicians of all-time and monetized his following, starting his own record company and clothing line.

The Roc-A-Fella founder didn’t just start trends on the music or business side, Jay switched up the look and aesthetic of hip-hop, multiple times.

Who started the big jersey trend? Hov. Who turned rocking t-shirts around their head into a mainstream style? Hov. Who made the “Yankee cap more famous than a Yankee can”? You already know.

But then he shed the baggy clothes and changed it up again.

Maybe all his time in the business world influenced his style, because Hov went button ups just when everyone was catching up with the baggy jerseys and fitteds.

Then he took it to the next level and just started rocking all black suits like a real fuckin’ mogul.

Over the last two decades, Jay-Z has changed what it means, and what it looks like, to be a rapper. He has changed the aesthetic, the attitude, and ways to make money as an MC. I mean there’s a reason dude is worth a reported $810 MILLION.

Maybe his last couple projects weren’t the greatest of all-time, but 4:44 is definitely a renaissance of sorts. It feels like a breath of fresh air as the ATL sound has become hegemonic over the last couple years (not that that’s a bad thing).

Shoutout Hov for real.