How globalization shaped ’90s denim, for better and for worse – Sourcing Journal
The 1990s have the unique distinction of closing a century and a millennium, and their fashion is a window into the psyche of a pivotal period in history.
“The 90s were a very dynamic time, and many of us who lived in the 90s at any age think nostalgically about the fashions of that era,” said Colleen Hill, curator of the Museum at FIT.
The decade is explored in the FIT Museum’s upcoming exhibition ‘Reinvention and Turmoil: Fashion in the 1990s’ starting January 19. over the decade.
The exhibition is also an opportunity for the museum to show some of its new acquisitions, including a Vivienne Westwood corset with an 18th century printed Boucher painting, acquired from a second-hand dealer.
“It’s really the first time that [Westwood] printed a work of art on a fashion item and it’s an idea she pursued throughout the 1990s, just before a number of celebrities started wearing corseted bodices, which made some makes it much more of a fashion icon of sorts,” Hill said of the Regencycore ‘It’ Object.
Another item worthy of display is a donated Martin Margiela skirt that was paired on the runway with one of the designer’s famous seamstress bodices that already existed in the museum’s collection.
“These are the type of acquisitions that make you start thinking about exhibits based on certain themes, and in this case, we were getting a lot of good stuff from the 90s,” Hill said.
Denim is history, but not the “teenage” brands and trends that Gen Z are now relentlessly striving to control, Hill said. The influence of music on the fashion decade is also not widely explored. That will come later in an exhibit focusing on hip-hop’s impact on fashion.
Rather, the exhibition embeds denim pieces into the narratives that have formed over the decade. A custom denim jacket by Harlem-based designer Beau McCall is featured in the ‘Global Wardrobe’ section of the exhibit dedicated to ’90s globalization. As with most of McCall’s work, the jacket is embellished of buttons in the color of the Pan-African flag.
“Designers have always been inspired by other cultures, but more and more they were making clothes based on this interconnected global world,” she said. “With the rise of technology, the world has become smaller and other cultures have become accessible.”
While this change is exciting, Hill pointed out that it also leads to unchecked cultural appropriation. Case in point: a spring 1999 pair of Gucci jeans by Tom Ford, who is widely credited with reviving the essentially bankrupt legacy brand in the early ’90s.
The heavily embellished jeans, which allegedly referenced hippie and protest fashion of the 60s and 70s, sold for $3,900 in 1999, which Hill estimates at $6,000-7,000 today.
Women’s jeans sold out before they even hit stores. “These jeans were pretty famous, even in their day, and they’re still well known,” she said.
While the jeans are an example of how the luxury market began adding lucrative denim collections to their empires in the ’90s, Hill said these jeans in particular “look a lot like pearl and feather work. associated with the indigenous peoples of the Americas”. and Africans.
“It’s the kind of topic that didn’t come up in the ’90s, but…we see the references very clearly now,” she said.
“Reinvention and Restlessness: Fashion in the Nineties” runs until April 22 and is accompanied by a book of the same title, published by Rizzoli Electa and available at major bookstores. Written by Hill, the publication also includes essays by curator and writer Shonagh Marshall, MFIT Deputy Director Patricia Mears, and MFIT Director and Chief Curator Valerie Steele.