Grunge fashions, inspired by the look of popular Seattle-based rock bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, were a fashion sensation of the early to mid-1990s. The casual street look eventually became incorporated into the designs of high fashion.

The term grunge was originally a slang term for the heavy guitar-based brand of rock music distributed by the Seattle-based independent record label Sub Pop. Once the Sub Pop band Nirvana hit the top of the charts with its 1991 album Nevermind, grunge suddenly became the hottest music style in the United States. With the music revolution came a fashion upheaval as well. Grunge style, a working-class look highlighted by the flannel shirts, combat boots, and ripped jeans favored by suburban teenagers, was suddenly seen everywhere. Nirvana posed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, while lead singer Kurt Cobain (1967–1994) and another grunge heartthrob, Eddie Vedder (1965–) of the group Pearl Jam, both received pin-up treatment in teen magazines. In 1992 grunge fashions came to the big screen with the release of Singles, a feature film about a group of slackers, or unmotivated, lazy people, from Seattle, Washington. Featuring 1980s teen idol Matt Dillon as a long-haired, flannel-clad, wanna-be rock star, the movie was a box office hit and helped popularize the grunge look.

The high point of the grunge style may have been the "Grunge and Glory" photo spread in the December 1992 issue of Vogue, the

Grunge rockers Krist Novoselic, left, and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana set the trend with their flannel shirts and ripped jeans. Reproduced by permission of © .
world's top fashion magazine. Designer Marc Jacobs (1964–) outfitted his models in $500 to $1,400 designer flannel and corduroy ensembles, supposedly representing a new style fresh from the thrift stores of Seattle. Jacobs followed that up with his Spring-Summer 1993 women's collection featuring over-sized flannel shirts, slouchy sweaters, and chunky army boots paired with floral print, vintage-looking dresses. The fashion line proved to be a commercial disaster, but few can deny its impact. For the next few years flannel shirts and other grunge staples could be seen on the racks at such mass-market shops as K-Mart and J. C. Penney.


Azerrad, Michael. Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. New York: Doubleday, 1994.

Clancy, Deirdre. Costume Since 1945. New York: Drama Publishers, 1996.

True, Everett. Live Through This: American Rock in the Nineties. London, England: Virgin, 2001.

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