SS23 Trend Predictions: The Grunge Era Is Back

The Grunge Era Is Back

Y2K nostalgia, downtown chic, Scandi neutrals - we’ve seen it all in the trend cycle over the past 12 months. And with 2023 Spring trends in full swing, it’s about time for fashion to loosen up a little. Incoming: grunge. 

As is the cyclical nature of style, the best looks from the ‘90s in fashion almost always come back around. And usually for the better! For this trip around the sun, it seems that the runways are favouring grunge once again.

Think ripped jeans, battered Chuck Taylors and all-plaid-everything, read on to see how the popular ‘90s aesthetic translates onto the 2023 catwalk.  

A Brief History

Popularised in mid-1980s, early-1990s Seattle (USA), Grunge clothes swiftly took off alongside American rock bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and many more. Thus, the grunge era of style, music and everything in between was born.

Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain in some of his more iconic grunge outfits: predominantly stripes, denim and plaid.

Whereas punk clothing focused on making a statement, the laidback, unkempt uniform of the grunge aesthetic was almost the exact opposite. 

Slews of flannel shirts, ripped jeans, converse and oversized sweaters became instantly synonymous with grunge fashion, in both menswear and womenswear alike. With a sprinkling of leather, slip dresses and Dr Martens, this paired-down vibe epitomised the cool laidback energy so sought after among ‘90s subcultures. 

After Cobain and wife Courtney Love cemented their grunge cult following with the more ‘thrift store’ facet of grunge fashion, several big-name fashion houses had of course taken note by the mid-1990s. Marc Jacobs paved the way with the first grunge-inspired collection for SS93 - to not-so-positive feedback. 

Perry Ellis SS93 by Marc Jacobs: (Left) Crop black cardigan, plaid midi dress and Dr Martens, (Right) Beige trench coat, flannel shirt, white sweater and cropped ecru trousers.

Marc Jacobs for Perry Ellis SS93. Imagery: Condé Nast Archive

Despite the critiques, the collection received rave reviews from the general public for its wearability and reaction to current trends. Consequently, Jacobs’ initial failure marked the next three decades of subtle grunge references throughout designer collections, season after season.

The Grunge Revival 

30 years on from Marc Jacobs’ first designer flannels and printed granny dresses disgracing the fashion world, we’re ready to welcome full-blown grunge back with open arms. 

Following a period of emphasised minimalism and ‘clean’ trends gracing our runways, wardrobes and ‘For You’ pages alike, the industry is reacting as it almost always does: in contrast. In other words, it’s time to rebel. 

So although the original grunge era may be a thing of the past, 2023 is definitely gearing up to put its modern stamp on the grunge legacy. 

(Left) JW Anderson SS23 Menswear, (Right) MM6 Maison Margiela SS23 Ready-to-wear.

JW Anderson SS23 Imagery: Daniele Oberrauch / MM6 SS23 Imagery: Isidore Montag /

SS23 collections across the board featured a swarm of grunge references, from subtle to all-out inspired. 

JW Anderson’s menswear anthology explored casual ‘90s fit denim, with grunge-esque rips and definite Cobain-inspired striped sweaters. Each look supposedly representing a ‘wearable moment in time’, Anderson’s collection nods to ‘90s themes throughout. From BMX handlebars to compact discs, he certainly brings the retro time capsule back to life. 

Continuing on the rough-around-the-edges theme, MM6 Maison Margiela debuted a whole range of moth-eaten ensembles, combining modern ballet-chic with grunge-reminiscent oversized cuts and distressed fabrics defining his dance-inspired collective. Perfectly combining grunge silhouettes with ‘80s-inspired Fame styling, this new approach to grunge influence feels perfect for 2023. 

“Grunge very much fits into the Y2K resurgence trend that has been popular for several seasons, especially among Gen Z,” said Steve Dool earlier this year, brand director of Depop. “The renewed interest in grunge across the runway reflects the sense of playful chaos we are seeing reverberate across the industry and will only continue to stoke more interest among young people.”

So if this season’s runways prove anything, it’s that grunge is most definitely back and is as cool as it ever was. Grab your leather boots, retro mini dress, choker necklackes and let the ‘90s renaissance do its thing. We definitely will be!

What do you think of this Spring trend? Are you ready for the grunge revival? Tag us on socials with your best ‘90s fashion looks! For more briefings on all things fashion, check out our ‘Fashion + Culture’ blog page for regular updates. 


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