The indie aesthetic first gained popularity during the late 2000s to early 2010s and reached the peak of its fame during the mid-2010s when it finally went mainstream. It wasn’t the only thing that went mainstream at the time. The mid-2010s were considered the “Golden Age of Tumblr”, a time when the platform had a ton of input on how pop culture developed. Like hello, wide-brimmed hats, high-low skirts, and The Neighbourhood’s Sweater Weather?
That said, what comes up must come down and in the age of TikTok virality determining what songs become hits (rather than AO3 fic tracks), a lot of the old trends have faded away. Except…not really? If the return of the 80s aesthetic and Y2K have taught is anything, it’s that fashion trends are cyclical.
And you know what’s back? The indie aesthetic!
What’s an Indie Aesthetic and Where Did It Come From?
Okay, the 2020s indie aesthetic is a different beast from its Tumblr-era counterpart. Tumblr’s indie aesthetic was heavily influenced by grunge and the so-called Tumblr sleaze, a style that in turn was inspired by 90s heroin chic. Because of this, the original internet indie aesthetic was dominated by dull color palettes. We’re talking black and white, white and beige, browns and grays, but mostly just black and whites. Remember those black-and-white grid patterns? That.
It’s no surprise that it’s making a resurgence under a different form. Even back in 2020, the Tumblr aesthetic was already showing signs of life, or rather, re-animation with posts from the 2010s resurfacing on Tumblr feeds.
In contrast, the new indie aesthetic from TikTok is influenced by the return of the 80s aesthetic. While it;’s been a while since the 80s aesthetic was “it”, its influence is still felt in the 90s and Y2K microtrends that followed, particularly in the prevalence of loud prints and bright colors.
The new indie aesthetic puts aside the tighter silhouettes of the old Tumblr indie aesthetic in favor of cozy, loose fits and bright colors. Regardless, the classics are still there if you know how to look for them. Bucket hats, Converses, ripped jeans, and fun hairstyles are back — except everyone seems to be braiding their hair instead of putting them in twin buns.
Components of the Indie Aesthetic
The new indie aesthetic keeps much of the same rebellious spirit as its older mid-2010s sister, but with a brighter palette and overall outlook on life. For the new indie aesthetic, a bright perspective on life is a form of rebellion in its own right – why wouldn’t it be when it feels like we’re living in economic tragedy after political tragedy after economic tragedy? There’s a component to it that feels like escapism, especially since the style is alternatively called “indie kid”, from the harsh realities of a post-pandemic world. But hey, you can’t really fault anyone for that.
The original indie girls would never, but the new indie kids on the block are breaking out their best patterns. Cow print, leopard print, daisy print. Whatever it is, it’s all fair game. Compared to mid-2010s indie which only liked grids, stripes, and checked prints, the new indie is here to have fun with patterns that vaguely remind you of the late 2010s 80s trend.
Neons? Pastels? Gemstone shades? You can mix them all together in the new indie aesthetic. If the Pinterest boards on this style are to go by, no one is following the old 2 to 3 colors only rule for putting together an outfit. As long as you can make the palette work, feel free to go crazy. Maximalism is encouraged in this new interaction of the indie aesthetic.
A Love of Music
A lot of subcultures back then and now are formed around music. A style and culture develop around it until you have a larger, mainstream sphere that only knows the subculture by its visual aesthetic and if you’re lucky, some of the ideas behind it. Either way, there’s nothing wrong with having fun with a style. If you really want to immerse yourself in it though, you can research indie aesthetic music.
Artists and bands like Beach Bunny, Clairo, Cavetown, Girl In Red, Chloe Moriondo, Videoclub, and the undying Mozart of internet subculture, The Neighborhood, all fall under this category.
Indie Clothes and Accessories for Your 2022 Closet
What? Did you think we’d leave you hanging? Looking for aesthetic clothes is easy, generally speaking, but not so easy when you’re hunting down styles of a specific aesthetic. That’s why we’ve done the leg work for you. These trendy pieces are affordable, stylish, and can be bought entirely online because if there’s one thing we Gen Zers seem to dislike across the board, it’s having to shop in person. How prehistoric.
1. These Comfy Trousers Go With Anything
GET IT HERE: Weekday Indy Slouchy Wide Leg Dad Trousers in Grey
Or at least it probably would go with just about anything. Imagine these paired with a colorful body suit instead of a white and dark gray ensemble. Add accessories, keep the white shoes, and throw on a bandana headband and you’ve got yourself a cute outfit for running errands with.
Plus, given its loose cut, you could easily adapt this to a 90s to Y2K inspired look.
The trousers are made of twill and a polyester blend so they’re quite easy to smooth out even if you don’t like ironing your clothes.
2. A Pair of Not-Martens with Cow Print
GET IT HERE: ASOS DESIGN Marver Lace Up Flat Shoes in Cow Print
In the wise words of Doja Cat, “B*tch, I’m a cow…I go moooooo!” These shoes take the usual low-rise Martens design that we’ve seen get rehashed in every aesthetic since the birth of Tumblr and give them a fun twist with a cow print. It may look a little too out there for you while it’s just on your screen, but imagine the possibilities! Cow print is basically your usual black and white with a bit more oomph. It’s can definitely be made to work. At the very least, it’ll be easier to pull off than cheetah print. Yikes.
3. Flower Doodle Shirt? Flower Doodle Shirt
GET IT HERE: Heartbreak Cropped T-Shirt with Pick Me Print in White
Let’s put the kid in “indie kid” with this adorable cropped shirt that has a flower print on it. It’s super cute because they look like happy little flower doodles but also pretty funny because of the “pick me” writing that makes you wonder if they mean a “pick me girl”. Very internet culture, if you ask us.
4. A Floral Charm Necklace That’s Giving Patrick Star
GET IT HERE: Weekday Lucy Charm Necklace in Silver with Flower Charms
Of course, no outfit would be complete without accessories which is where this charm necklace comes in. Sure, it’s not made of real silver but don’t the star-shaped flowers and green and pink color palette feel familiar to you? Kind of like a lazy but good-natured friend from under the sea?
This would look adorable with the “Pick Me” top because when you’ve already got flower prints, why not have flower accessories too?