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Preserving Diversity: The Imperative of Defying Monopolized Fashion Trends

Sarah Bensetiti

Secretary



Photo via Glamour


The famous Misa Amane from Death Note and Nana Osaki from Nana left me utterly captivated by their distinct fashion sensibilities in every episode. The allure of their alternative, goth, and punk-inspired styles introduced me to a realm of self-expression I had long yearned for. I ardently aspired to one day see my wardrobe mirror the enigmatic charisma that they effortlessly exuded – however, prevailing beauty standards (oh, the famous galaxy wear!) had long suppressed the embrace of such edgy fashion. It was not until the onset of the pandemic that I finally found the freedom to fully explore and embrace these alternative fashion styles. And we should not let that open-mindedness disappear in favor of monopolized fashion.


One can barely fathom the exhilaration that surged within me as I witnessed the growing embrace of alternative styles. Perhaps I had spent my formative years in a rather close-minded milieu, where goth fashion was unfairly stigmatized as a pact with the devil, and donning an abundance of black attire was hastily labeled as an indicator of "depression" – as cringeworthy as that notion may sound. Consequently, observing the progressive acceptance of goth, alternative, and punk subcultures felt like an extraordinary liberation, akin to finally being given the freedom to unabashedly be myself


So, in the year of 2020, as I eagerly opened my Instagram, I often found myself, like many, irresistibly drawn into an endless scroll, captivated by a multitude of individuals who sported thick eyeliner, adorned themselves with silver chains and rings, and proudly donned the iconic Damned-318 Demonias. For the first time in my 15 years of consciousness, an increasing presence of alternative styles was perceptible. It was finally not damned to be seen like this – it gradually became more "normalized," thus diminishing the intimidation associated with adopting such a style of dress. And for that, I can especially thank TikTok.


The pandemic was awful, but the confines of isolation provided a liberating canvas for sartorial aspirations, allowing me and, perhaps many others, to finally don the clothing we had long admired, but never dared to wear. In this newfound space, I could authentically express myself through the garments I had so eagerly desired. Moreover, TikTok further ignited that longing, as it succeeded in turning into a trend what had previously been marginalized and stigmatized.


But as I observe the fashion landscape today, there appears to be an overwhelming fixation on relaxed monochrome 90s minimalism and the Y2K phenomenon. As a consequence, various styles like alternative, goth, punk, dark and light academia, cottagecore, fairy grunge, coquette, and many others begin to fade into the background. When we allow a single style or a select few to monopolize the red carpet and deem them as the epitome of normality and trendiness, we inadvertently alienate the rest. 


I hold nothing against the allure of 90s minimalism or the nostalgia of Y2K fashion. In truth, I harbor a deep admiration for all forms of clothing expression. Even if I may not personally embrace them, I wholeheartedly appreciate their charm when adorned by others. There is an undeniable beauty in the act of wearing precisely what resonates with your soul, as though each outfit unveils a beautiful fragment of your true self.


However, this is precisely why we cannot allow the prevailing trends to obliterate what the pandemic era had painstakingly cultivated: a newfound respect and admiration for all fashion styles, whether underground or mainstream. The open-mindedness in the world of fashion that marked the year 2020 was a source of solace, finally granting us the freedom to authentically embody the person some had long aspired to be. I thus refuse to stand idly by as this sense of acceptance vanishes into obscurity. After all, beyond these words, there exists someone yearning to be embraced for who they are regardless of their choice of attire – and they are entitled to that.


This article serves as a modest exploration of the significance of both the presence and the wholehearted acceptance of a diverse array of fashion styles. The more we marginalize certain styles, the more likely people adorning “underground” clothing are unjustly subjected to stereotypes which fuels the ease with which they are made to feel unaccepted. When my friend and I step outside in our platforms, bold eyeliner, and corset tops, we regrettably brace ourselves for disdainful glances and unwelcomed, inappropriate comments. Many of those I have encountered feel compelled to negatively comment on my attire, with some audaciously suggesting that I resemble a maid and owe them service (yikes!). Thus, by dressing in a manner that makes us feel most at ease, we paradoxically find ourselves feeling uncomfortable…


This irony underscores the importance of shifting our focus away from the monopolization of fashion styles. Instead, let us truly embrace fashion in all its myriad forms, recognizing it for what it is—an authentic expression of who we are. Never should such personal expressions be diminished to appease a fleeting notion of "normality."


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