One definition of the word “alternative" means
employing or following nontraditional or unconventional ideas,
methods, etc.; existing outside the establishment. In
regard to clothing, the term alternative in summary means clothes,
footwear, or accessories that are not fitting within the current norm.
Alternative fashion is fashion that stands apart
from mainstream commercial fashion. This style is often worn by
youthful people that have no interest in fitting in with everyone else.
They move to the beat of their own drummer. These people are
generally not too concerned with what other people think of their
appearance. They dress in a way that is pleasing to their own
sense of style even if that particular style is not the trend at that
particular moment in time.
A good example would be
punk fashion. An even better example, would be wearing punk
fashion during a decade that punk fashion was not very popular.
The one downside to alternative apparel is the fact
that if enough people start dressing so that they do not fit the norm,
it is very possible that their new method of dress can become very
popular among other like-minded people. If many people start
dressing in a similar way, that method is technically a trend.
Therefore, there alternative style is no longer technically alternative
In general alternative, or 'alt,' fashion does not
conform to style trends of the times that have widespread popularity.
It may exhibit itself as a fringe style - extremely attention grabbing
and possibly more artistic than practical. The lifestyle can also
develop from anti-fashion sentiments that focus on simplistic
utilitarian motives. For example, grunge fashion is
largely based around comfort and availability as opposed to trying to
make a particular statement.
Alternative fashion includes the fashions of
specific subcultures such as emo, scene, Goth subculture, Hip hop, Heavy
metal fashion, industrial and Cyberpunk, however it is not limited to
Alternative fashion examples include the following
Heavy metal fashion
Elegant Gothic Aristocrat
Japanese street fashion
Traditionally alternative clothing, shoes and
accessories have been largely procured from independently owned
businesses, such as the boutiques found in bohemian and artistic
districts of large urban centers. Much of the clothing is also made by
the wearing. Consumers will often re-purpose existing clothes to
create a new and unique item. DIY fashions has long held an
important place in alternative fashion. Utilizing second-hand
clothing is an active concept.
Mainstream culture, particularly retailers and the
media, have often looked to alternative fashion for up and coming trends
and, increasingly, as an easy way to market products to a niche group
that may not be having its tastes supplied elsewhere. Some in the
alternative community view this as flattering and as a positive
expansion of what is socially acceptable, and easily available, fashion.
Others consider the involvement of mainstream institutions in
alternative fashion as a desecration of what the concept stands for in
the first place. It is sort of an insult for department stores to
copy the underground clothing styles.
When a previously non-mainstream style becomes
popular the core group of a certain alternative niche may be watered
down with dozens or even hundreds of individuals who are not genuinely
invested in the advancement of alternative culture or its precepts of
individuality and present an image of the subculture not at all related
to its traditional members' behaviors.
Alternative fashion is expressed, discussed, viewed
and proliferated through many of the same channels as mainstream
fashion, such as fashion shows, websites, blogs and magazines. The use
of these avenues in the alt community traditionally tend to follow
similar principles to traditional alt fashion itself - existing outside
of mainstream outlets, fueled by personal creativity. It is common for
projects related to alternative fashion to be independently run by
individuals or small groups and to be offered to the public cheaply or
free of charge. However, just as alternative fashion has been
commodified by chain stores some level of commercialization may exist
within outlets of alternative fashion seeking to exploit certain styles
as 'the next big thing' or taking financial advantage of customers with
The concept of alternative fashion will always
exist. Fortunately, the world will always have people that wish to
dress outside the norm. Thank goodness that the world has freedom
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