The indie aesthetic has changed, here’s what you need to know
Monster Energy drinks, high contrast photos and endless individuality. Here is the truth about the latest Indie Aesthetic.
Since the beginning of pop culture, there have always been “individuals” who put their own spin on the latest trends.
Whether it’s the goths of the ’80s, the grunge kids of the’ 90s, or the kids of the 2000s scene, counterculture is one of the biggest indicators of cultural progression and a premonition of what will become “mainstream”.
For the 1920s, independent netizens ditched the arty accents and pastel minimalism of the 2010s, for something bigger and more daring.
Here’s what you need to know about the burgeoning “Indie-Kid Aesthetic” of this decade and what it says about the future of the Zoomer generation.
What is the Indie aesthetic?
First of all, what do we define as an “independent aesthetic” and how the heck has that changed over time?
The term “indie” derives from the idea of individuality and independence. In terms of aesthetics, this applies to the media you consume and the way you present yourself.
It is important to note that the aesthetic principles decided by the subcultures and the capital that these subcultures consume. As a result, tends to be reactionary to the environment in which this aesthetic is created.
For example, the unique “Punk” scene that developed in East Germany during the reign of the German Democratic Republic, a Soviet puppet state, arose out of resistance to the totalitarian regime in the East and a desire for “freedom” of Western democracy.
So, as style and socio-political motivations change over time, the aesthetic continues to be a reaction to the world around us.
The new Indie-Kids:
A lot of people have a different take on what today’s indie aesthetic is called to be.
Although currently referred to as “Indie-Kid Aesthetic,” the term is being challenged as more adults and designers begin to replicate the style.
The new Indie aesthetic was born recently, due to the growing popularity of TikTok (known as new-Tumblr).
However, it has fully solidified as a bona fide aesthetic amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Due to its popularization by Gen Z, the style is directly inspired by early incarnations of ‘Indie’ fashion and the early 2000s, but is seen as visually brighter, stranger, and more accessible as an under- culture.
However, due to the COVID conditions in which the aesthetic was popularized, it is also seen as a much more political, moody, nihilistic, and ironic movement than its predecessors.
So how do you get this lecherous “Indie-Kid”?
From a fashion perspective, the style is easy and inexpensive to replicate – centered on thrifty fashion, ethical consumption, and unisex appeal.
If there’s one thing Gen Z is starting to hate, it’s bigotry, neoliberal capitalism, and big business.
It’s also worth noting that independent fashion is meant to be genderless, flexible, and focuses on “the energy of the main character”.
Cropped tops, baggy pants / jeans, tartan tennis skirts, bodycon tops, polo shirts, platform boots or sneakers, as well as skate brands in general, are staples of this aesthetic.
In addition, tailor-made pPlasticine jewelry, bob hats, butterfly clips and bandanas are the must-have accessories.
Indie-Kid makeup is natural or shiny, sometimes with a thick blush on the cheeks and nose, thick eyeliner, or even something called “clown makeup”.
Hair can be worn anyway, although bright colors and left field dye jobs are also strongly encouraged.
Oddly enough, the Monster Energy drink is also a staple of the Indie-Kid aesthetic. Honestly, I don’t know why, but I have a few suggestions.
The multi-colored cans made by Monster Energy definitely fit into the gritty yet vibrant aspects of the Indie-Kid aesthetic.
But, more importantly, the drink has ironic connotations.
Since Monster Energy has long been associated with hypermasculine sporting events or heterosexual white incels (perhaps named Kyle), it makes sense for Gen Z to “own” it in a sullen, self-aware aesthetic.
But also… Monster Energy slaps a bit, though.
You’ll likely have seen images of the Indie-Kid aesthetic floating around online.
They are heavy on saturation, and the contrast is lowered. A reminder of the heavy saturation of 2000s cinema, these images often feature bedroom decorations, fashion, and silly things with friends.
Sometimes the grain or noise effect is added as well, which can be easily done on an iPhone.
However, the VSCO app also has some effects to achieve that perfect balance of frying, in Kawaii.
The key is visual intensity, while also paying homage to elements of meme culture and psychedelic artwork from the 60s and 70s.
Typically, if an A24 character wears it, posts it, or listens to it, that’s the Indie-Kid aesthetic.
But how did we get there?
The first creation of the independent aesthetic that popped up in the early 2010s, took on a minimalist fashion sense, had a darker color palette, and focused on being ‘arty’.
Today, we would also call it a “Hipster” aesthetic.
Many attribute this incarnation of indie to a reaction to the “decadence” of the 2000s, where technological advancements and global fusion saw a “futuristic approach” to music and fashion.
As a result, the Indie movement of 2010 saw people simplify their aesthetics and turn to the rustic charm of the past.
However, this aesthetic also recognized the new and rapidly growing world of social media as the first generation of digital natives reached adulthood.
As internet culture began to reach its youthful years, the desire for “authenticity” and a departure from commercialism also began to emerge.
The early independent aesthetic also centered around themes of art, normcore, and minimalism, as well as an emerging social awareness of feminist, POC, and LGBTQI movements.
If you were in the heyday of Tumblr (2009-2014) then you know what that first incarnation of Indie looked like.
This included skinny jeans, big jackets, group and branded t-shirts, grid pattern tennis skirts, little to no jewelry, “natural” makeup and a ton of shit flannel.
Thrift stores and recycling products have also become popular, along with a new interest in ethical consumption and simplicity.
Meanwhile, the moodboard aesthetic on Pinterest shows stripped-down architectural spaces, white marble statues, abandoned cityscapes, cigarettes, flowers, neon signs, and a ton of overly eerie quotes.
Does anyone else remember the grinding phrase: “Normal people scare me,”?
Needless to say, we laid it a bit thick.
The collaboration of the century:
Obviously, this current Indie-Kid aesthetic is an ironic love between the Indie of the 2010s and the mainstream of the 2000s.
Generation Z babies born in the 2000s are growing, and so is’only 90s kids will remember“Content permeated every facet of online culture in the early 2010s, we move on to the next decade – aided by TikTok’s interconnected algorithm.
Fashion alone has the same tinged ’90s and overall seamless look as it did in the early 2000s – with additional elements of hot fashion trends, like Mum-jeans.
But, as the second generation of digital natives, Gen-Z also grew up online, witnessing from afar the birth and death of the classic and artful indie aesthetic.
However, in a post-COVID, post-truth world, the “arty” aesthetic of the past has been replaced by softcore edginess. Soft pastels and monochromatic minimalism have been replaced by… excess and volume.
In essence, being the “arty individual” is so yesterday. Everyone knows that being the “main character” is where it is.