With the popularity of Tik-Tok and other new social media platforms on the rise, it is inevitable that new trends begin to develop. But like the teen compulsory emo phase or that year everybody wore bell bottoms for a while, the latest trends are often influenced by past fashion. The younger generation, however, often doesn’t recognise their new style as the same. But to the 20-somethings who have a not-too-distant angsty past, the trends of VSCO girls and E-girls (and boys) look surprisingly similar. While the titles are new, these trends seemed to be pulled directly from the rotting corpse that is Tumblr.com. The blogging website didn’t always used to be the shipwreck of NSFW bans and harsh restrictions that it is today.
TW: Mentions of mental health, self-harm, depression and suicidal ideation
Back in the day, we all knew at least one girl in high school that ran a semi-successful Tumblr blog (probably with a soft porn side-blog hidden in the menu bar of their customised page). It was the place to go for any teen interested in an alternative scene; a place where we could explore our interests freely.
Before social media was largely monetised, we envied the Tumblr pages with personalised themes, followers in the 10 thousands and endlessly reblogged pictures of girls with braces sticking their tongue out the corner of their mouth.
The name comes from the editing app, VSCO, which has been around for a while but only recently rose into popularity. The general consensus is a VSCO girl is defined by certain brands and products.
Scrunchies have made a triumphant return, and those rope bracelets are all the range. Yes, the $2 Cotton On Foundation bracelets are back in style, the most popular being from the brand Pura Vida for about 10 bucks a pop.
Fjallraven Kanken’s are also still going strong, but while we used to use the iconic bag in soft grunge autumnal looks, they’ve now become a beach staple. Shell necklaces have apparently also made a comeback, which is less reminiscent of Tumblr and more like early 2000s Marissa from the O.C. They’ve also replaced pretentious quotes on pictures (remember ‘just girly things’?) and put the same observations in their captions instead.
While the trend of purchasing environmentally friendly products, like metal straws and reusable drink canisters has risen over recent years, the use has become even more popularised thanks to the VSCO girl trend. While Tumblr hipsters held out sparkle- covered plastic drink containers from Typo that said something about unicorns, the VSCO girl go for the branded Hydro Flask, which retails for around $50.
‘Extra’ drinks have always been a major trend on social media. Back in our Tumblr days, we were obsessed with boxed water, that weird blk drink and ironically (but kind of not) being obsessed with Pumpkin Spice lattes.
These days, the colourful frappuccinos we were obsessed with have evolved, turning into tapioca drinks and liquid in strange rectangular water bottles that glitters in the sunlight. Basically, the liquid form of Edward Cullen.
Of course, some aesthetics live on. The warm-toned, minimalistic cappuccino on the table remains a staple of Instagram feeds throughout the ages. That’s not the end though. The obsession with kawaii elements and pixelated graphics continues from then to now. As does the gender-bending silhouette, combat boots and beanies, no matter what the weather is.
And if it’s not identical, the trends certainly have a clear match. You could easily swap Birkenstocks for Jelly shoes. Gifs or Tik-Toks where teenage girls flutter their eyes and tilt their shoulders slightly (and that’s literally it) are pretty much indistinguishable. Keyboard smashes of asdfghjkl became sksksksksk.
Much of this comes from the new E-boy and E-girl trend, which does have its more unique touches. While we wore dark lipstick and Defend Pop Punk sweatshirts, the new “e” era prefers more colourful clothes, fake freckles and blush on their noses.
E-Boys and E-girls are the angsty teens; bright coloured hair and way too much black in their wardrobe is only the start of their similarities.
View this post on Instagram
What color is your hair? – – – – #aesthetic #aesthetictumblr #tumblr #pinkaesthetic #yellowaesthetic #blackaesthetics #redaesthetic #fashion #90sfashion #egirl #80sfashion #fashioninspo #fashioninspiration #80saesthetic #90sstyle #90saesthetic #retro #retroaesthetic #outfits #outfitinspo #look #lookbook #retro #vintage
They are comparable in that they’re both the ‘popular alternative.’ The community for misfits, but with aesthetic trends that are still kind of accepted by the mainstream. A big portion of both groups are probably feeling like an outcast amongst their school peers, but feel acceptance within online cohorts. The ‘popular online, but not irl’ crowd.
While the VSCO girl fashion trends are likely the same to what they wear in real life, it can be assumed that only a small proportion of this online community actually wear their heightened style in day-to-day life. I’m sure some do, but the vast majority will only use elements of the larger-than-life style that can be found online. Whether it’s the e-boy/e-girl or ‘baddie’ trends of today, or older aesthetics like scene, goth, pastel goth, Lolita or kei styles, the elements are primarily incorporated into more toned down, daily life looks.
Men’s alternative fashion trends seemed to have strayed even less. The band tees and greasy hair is still going strong.
Music has always been a huge component of these subcultures. While the music trends have changed, the popular and trendsetting artists are also often pretty similar. Artists like Halsey or Billie Eilish are today’s Lana Del Rey or Lorde. BTS garner the same reaction that did One Direction earlier in the decade, while Twenty-One Pilots fills the place that Bring Me The Horizon or Fall Out Boy did for us. Hardcore still remains the pinnacle of rebellion – the thing that adults can’t understand – but even that has changed from the pop punk or post hardcore scene that was popular a decade ago. Even so, each and every one of those artists are the sound that teenagers latch onto, the music they will define as saving their life.
Tumblr and certain aesthetics, like scene or hipster, allowed us to express ourselves during our teen years. It’s a time when we start to define ourselves, desperately clinging onto what some could see as extremes in order to feel like we belong somewhere. While we may feel a little more disconnected to the current trends, the same truth rings through. Teen trends today may have varying levels of appeal to us as 20-somethings now, but the same would have been said for those who went through adolescence a decade before us.
We’re not always to understand all of the trends that teens are obsessed with, because it’s not for us. Just as we defined ourselves with pop punk music and black and white Instagram feeds, this generation does the same with VSCO filters and dark pop. I distinctly remember self harm scars, black and white pictures of nooses and blood-filled bathtubs being a prominent component of my Tumblr feed. Tumblr helped express ourselves, but were we perpetuating our own depressive behaviours by sharing it online? Perhaps this is still the case if you delved deeper into the e-boy/e-girl community, but it seems as though triggering content isn’t at the forefront of this era, as it was in the past. Looking from the outside, I see a community of kids who still have the same struggles as we did, but are approaching it with a different light.
Just as we defined ourselves with pop punk music and black and white Instagram feeds, this generation does the same will VSCO filters and dark pop.
Feature photo: Instagram