Revisiting Indie Sleaze, as It Happened


If The Cobrasnake: Y2Ks Archive had a subhed, it would be “Your Guide to Indie Sleaze.” Flipping through its delightfully chaotic pages is like cracking open a time capsule, or bearing witness to an unhinged showcase of the definitive trends of hipster style, as worn by some of its earliest adopters. Readers will find young Dev Hynes eating french fries in a beanie, plaid shirt buttoned all the way up, cardigan, and aviator-style eyeglasses, and the musician Peaches in a metallic, rainbow leotard. Elsewhere, artist Dash Snow lights a cigarette with a sparkler while wearing a fedora. The designer Jeremy Scott is heavily featured throughout, wearing everything from a pink, plaid fringe scarf and acid-washed denim, to a trucker hat and all-over-graphic-print hoodie.

Mark Hunter

American Apparel, skinny jeans, v neck cuts, striped shirts, chunky gold jewelry and cropped motorcycle jackets abound, as do fitted tees with ironic slogans (such as “this is not a photo opportunity”). This was the era of statement tights—colored, fishnet or floral, but almost always ripped—and statement frames—Ray-Ban wayfarers, shutter shades, and even glasses without lenses (a trend Hunter claims to have started himself, after he got Lasik eye surgery). “The overarching theme was rock n’ roll energy,” Hunter says. “Coming to a party half put together was more exciting than a fully snatched look.” Hair was shaggy and disheveled, bangs were side-swept and sweaty, and eyeliner was heavy, smudged and black. “There was an effortless it-girl vibe,” Hunter says, referencing his muse Cory Kennedy, who often wore “Chanel flats that looked like they’d been run over by a truck.”

Mark Hunter

The enthusiastic embrace of thrift stores, Hunter says, was a reaction against the “elite styles” that dominated the early millennium, epitomized by heavily bedazzled Christian Audigier designs, Juicy Couture tracksuits and Uggs. “This was long before the ‘Mackelmore goes thrifting’ song. The only people who were thrifting at that time were people who couldn’t afford new clothes and members of the creative community.” Particularly among the nightlife crowd, second-hand stores were mined for outlandish finds and pieces that captured attention and started conversations at parties. But what was previously seen as a quirky choice became, for many, imperative after the financial crisis of 2008, which further expedited the affinity for distressed and weathered clothing, and the return of ’90s grunge. “There was a functionality to the fashion,” Hunter says. “If someone spilled a drink on your outfit, it wasn’t terrible. It would just kind of blend in.” Nestled between photos of flip phones and coat check tags in the Y2Ks Archive are pictures of girls with grown-out “recession roots” and inventively styled mall looks, reminders that looking good and being the life of the party in Hunter’s world had nothing to do with the status of your bank account.


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