the lo-fi look




Lo-fi music started it all.


The musical genre itself is the pillar of lo-fi culture. The style’s characterizing features are purposely reduced sound quality, second-hand instruments, and fuzz– and much like heavy metal fans dress to mimic the style of their music, alternative music fans, revolutionaries, radicals, and anti-consumerists alike are drawn to none other than the lo-fi look to express their modern punk music taste. Fans have translated the trademark reduced sound quality into nostalgic styles from when our parents were kids, second-hand instruments into thrift shopping, and intentional flaws in sound quality into purposely distressed clothing- a do-it-yourself “FU” to consumerism that ties right into the rebellious ideology from the punk subculture of lo-fi.


The true wearers seek to express the rejection of superfluous spending habits that we all have, buying into the brands and the consumerist philosophy that convinces us that we need this season’s trends. This counterculture fashion statement espouses an independence from our modern addiction to societal structures by using existing clothes and outdated trends, much like the music genre uses existing technical processes in creating and editing songs. As an act of rebellion, lo-fi wearers found thrift shopping and do-it-yourself techniques. Who needs to buy into a corporation's $60 distressed jean jacket when thrift shops have $13 jackets with histories of Woodstock goers and cowboys written into the denim; or $100 skirts when thrift shops are ridden with colorful miniskirts from the 80’s?


Articles don’t necessarily match, which makes the style eccentric – and everyone loves it. Vintage basketball jerseys, Penny Lane fur coats, and duck boots were never meant to go together, but in the lo-fi community, the outfit is a testament to their rebellious attitude. Eccentricity is just another characteristic of the style that, at the time when lo-fi fashion was in its infancy, was a rebellion; in 2007, if you didn’t own Paris Hilton’s rainbow-colored Louis Vuitton purse and Britney Spears’ pink miniskirt, who even were you? Lo-fi was a rejection of this love-child-of-a-stripper-and-a-European trend, bringing vintage army jackets, boots, and flannel shirts into the equation. It offered society a grittier and more realistic perception of the wearer, not buried under blue eyeshadow and sequins.

Specifically, the fashion style features distressed denim, sport shoes, and quirky combinations that draw from hippie, beatnik, punk, and 80’s styles for inspiration. That original spirit of rebellion has evolved into old band tees and distressed denim with patches and embroidery – which even big businesses like Topshop, Vans, Adidas, and Urban Outfitters have bought into, attempting to replicate the fashion but failing to see the influences of it – hypnagogic vibes, true vintage clothing, independence from consumerist ideologies, and the counterculture community.


The replication of the lo-fi look by corporations corrupts the entire basis of the lo-fi culture by making the wearer’s rebellion of trends into a trend and negating the expression of anti-consumerism by mass-producing products in the style. True lo-fi fashion is an expression, not a collection, and therefore can’t be bought. But it’s OK– the punk expression will survive its current state of mass production and continue to evolve and thrive in the spirit of counterculture. ✉


article by: katy taylor

visual by: ink361

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