Those of us who grew up as teens during the 90’s would agree that this was a great time for music no matter what part of the world you were in. But almost everybody would agree that the 90’s was a time for the most awkward fashion trends, particularly men’s fashion.
India liberalized its economy in 1991 and the country’s middle class reveled in this never before witnessed ‘ka-ching’ phenomena. I remember my father raking in moolah throughout that decade, every Diwali was sweeter and louder than the one before.
Foreign television networks exploded on CRT TV sets throughout the nation post 1995 with the introduction of Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act. MTV made the first inroads in the youth psyche with its colorful, clean, techy, vibrant visuals and smooth talking hosts like Nikhil Chinapa, Cyrus Broacha, Maria Goretti, Sophiya Haque & Shenaz Treasurywala
Those days MTV was sincerely interested in playing the best music from around the world. The Backstreet Boys made a big impact on the pop culture scene with their chart topping “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)”, many others followed – N’Sync, FIVE, 911, Code Red, Michael Learns To Rock, 98 Degrees, No Doubt, Westlife, All-4-One, Boyz II Men and many others.
The way that these bands had an impact on men’s fashion was that men did not have to restrict themselves to Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan or Akshay Kumar for fashion inspiration come Diwali or Raksha Bandhan. The Backstreet Boys and Guns N’ Roses were on everything from T-shirts to lunch boxes. Here lies the origin of some of the most cringe worthy school and college time photographs. I have no doubt it was a time of great confusion for the stylists of these bands and that confusion trickled down to the masses thick and fast.
Full sleeved & ribbed turtle necks! Can anybody ever forget them? I remember wearing them in Mumbai‘s sweltering heat and feeling sublime. Baggy jeans which were then referred to as ‘anti fit’ were a rage too, so were thick denim shirts. And if you were not wearing ‘anti fit’ jeans you were still wearing them high above your waist.
Everything that was impractical to wear in Mumbai’s humid climate was considered trendy. I remember cheap Tommy Hilfiger knock offs being immensely popular those days, any polo neck t-shirt with a pattern of unsightly vertical stripes and a small logo on the pocket was considered a bona fide and hence a must have wardrobe item.
Wearing white colored running shoes or hiking shoes by Woodland with formal trousers is a fashion faux pas that was commonly seen in every college campus back then. But no fashion crime can be bigger than the one I am going to tell you about – wearing socks and sandals with a pair of loose cargo pants was considered the epitome of coolness in every college and coaching class. A sandal brand that went by the name of Kitos was akin to what Crocs is today and people literally scrambled over each other to buy them from street side vendors.
Those were the days people! I sincerely wish I could go back and do it all over again.