Fashion: At Its Peak
By: Hadi Rahim and Jessica Hudnut
Modern society is dominated by pop culture. The last several decades can be clearly distinguished by what people chose to buy and wear. While pop culture is composed of a mix of media, consumer products, and beliefs, one of the most defining characteristics of a given era is fashion. A photograph of people dressed in neon workout attire can easily be placed in the 80s, while girls in skater skirts are a product of the 2010s. Fashion is set apart from the mass culture of an era for another key reason: it is driven primarily by young people.
With this in mind, we decided to take a walk through a local hub of innovation in fashion: Apex High School. It quickly became clear that, for many people, fashion isn’t just about following trends; it has a story to tell.
While many students don’t put too much thought into the way they dress, there is still a budding fashion scene at Apex High. Alternative and retro styles have become especially popular. Many students cite social media as their primary source of inspiration, particularly photo-sharing platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest.
These platforms expose people to different styles and, with features such as likes and reposts, allow people to see what’s popular. This democratization of the fashion scene has both positive and negative effects. On one hand, it allows people to actually decide what should be “in.” On the other hand, it can weaponize peer pressure; in high school, fitting in is more important than ever. Constant exposure to what is considered the “ideal” style both online and offline may make teenagers feel self conscious about what they actually want to wear.
For many people, fashion is more than a vehicle of personal expression; it can also be a product of the era. Maude Rowe, a junior, is one of many students who found time in the isolation of the pandemic to figure themselves out, finding a style that works for them.
In the wake of the pandemic, one trend in particular has grown to popularity among teenage boys: long, wavy, textured hairstyles. As salons and barber shops began closing down, many people went months without a cut and began to grow out their hair. The style became popular on TikTok and is worn by everyone from Timothée Chalamet to many of the male students of Apex High School.
Another student, Ian Daugherty, is less interested in modern trends. Instead, he opts for a style inspired by the fashion of the past, and he isn’t alone. Many students have developed unique styles that reflect nostalgia for previous eras, inspired by the 80s, 90s, and 2000s.
Retro fashion is popular not just among students, but among staff as well. Ms. Lasher, a Spanish teacher, creates her own, vintage-inspired dresses to reflect her personal style. She chooses to express herself even when it means going against the grain, something she knows many students struggle with. She also points out that the homogenous styles that many students choose to wear are not so much reflective of any kind of interest in fashion, but rather of the desire to blend in among peers.
While it is true that the majority of students dress for acceptance, Apex High School’s fashion scene is defined by those who choose to stand out: students who come to school with brightly colored hair, sky-high platform shoes, or custom earrings made with anything from Silly Bandz to Lego minifigures. As the decade progresses, one can only guess at which of these trends will solidify themselves as defining aspects of 2020s fashion.