What is the Indie Sleaze trend and is Gen Z adopting it?

2 February 2022, 14:54 | Updated: 5 April 2022, 17:07

The Killers' Brandon Flowers, Alexa Chung, The Libertines' Pete Doherty and Kate Moss
The Killers' Brandon Flowers, Alexa Chung, The Libertines' Pete Doherty and Kate Moss. Picture: 1. John Parra/FilmMagic/Getty 2. Danny Martindale/Wireimage/Getty 3. Andy Willsher/Redferns/Getty 4. MJ Kim/Getty Images)

By Jenny Mensah

This month has seen people examine the Indie Sleaze trend, but what exactly is it and are Gen Zs really getting on board?

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If you were growing up in the late noughties and 2010s, you'll know that some fashion choices were very much dependent on the Indie Rock era.

Bands like The Strokes had us buying Converse, Kate Moss was rarely seen out of denim hot pants, and a skinny jeans, deep V shirt and leather jacket combo were du jour among men.

This week, the era seems to have been coined as Indie Sleaze, with journalists and tastemakers predicting the return of the look among Gen Z.

But is Indie Sleaze actually a thing and are Gen Zs really jumping onto it? We delve into the trend and look back at some of its most famous purveyors as well as what the Internet thinks of its return.

READ MORE: Did Razorlight create "landfill indie"? Here's what Johnny Borrell said

What is Indie Sleaze?

Indie Sleaze is the latest take on the indie rock style of the 2000s and 2010s. According to Vogue, it "is a messy amalgam of ’90s grunge and ’80s opulence, topped off with an almost pretentious take on retro style" and it's apparently being adopted by Gen Z.

Pioneers of the original trend include The Libertines rocker Pete Doherty, supermodel Kate Moss, model, TV presenter and fashion mogul, Alexa Chung, an earlier iteration of The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers and pretty much any indie band you could name from the noughties. You can find more ideas on the era in this Instagram account dedicated to all things indie and sleaze.

The women would often be seen in tiny shorts, leather jackets, ripped tights, an oversized jacket, studded boots, fishnets, cowboy boots and more.

It-girl Alice Dellal was a definite Indie Sleaze forerunner:

The men would almost certainly have worn drainpipe jeans, converse or winkle pickers, blazers and band t-shirts, or tops with an incredibly deep V. And let's not forget the sometimes t-shirt, sometimes shirt and tie look, which could be swapped with a scarf and topped with some variation on a porkpie hat.

Was it even an indie night out unless you were wearing one of these accessories sported by The Libs' Carl Barat and Pete Doherty?

Carl Barat and Pete Doherty in 2003
Carl Barat and Pete Doherty in 2003. Picture: James Devaney/WireImage/Getty

What are people saying about Indie Sleaze?

A look through the reactions on Twitter shows on the whole that people are finding the Indie Sleaze trend rather comical, if not a little too nostalgic, since most of those who participated in the indie era are now in their mid 30s and 40s.

Mykki Blanco joked: "The kids are doing indie sleaze but like ain’t nobody risky enough for a real DEEP V NECK".

Others decided to share photos of themselves in their "indie sleaze prime".

However, this guy was dead against it, writing: "we do not need a 2010s revival nostalgia is a trauma response wtf is “indie sleaze”"

Who came up with Indie Sleaze?

According to Vogue, the trend was coined at the end of 2021 by Mandy Lee - a TikTok trend forecaster who goes by the name @OldLoserInBrooklyn. She said: :"I feel like with the indie sleaze subculture, 15 years ago, community, art, and music were so powerful – that’s what brought people together."

As for her prediction of how Gen Z will take on the trend, she said: "I think that specific elements, more so than the fashion, will become prevalent, as well as the style of photography, of course." However, the term is littered all over the internet, not unlike the term Indie Landfill.

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