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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.


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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.


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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.