Seattle: What Is All The Hype! About?
Garmentory’s homebase of Seattle has a famously distinct vibe. A culmination of factors have collided to give the city and its surrounding areas a feeling of restless, unnerving energy. Be it the ceaseless gray skies, the lush nature creeping in from all sides, or the pervasive waves of transplants to a city that never really wanted guests...this place has built up a reputation. The hype around Seattle is as true today as it was 24 years ago (albeit a bit more techy) at the release of the aptly named documentary Hype!, chronicling the state of the city’s grunge music scene in that time. A large portion of the documentary focuses on the overall disdain the music subculture has towards becoming a commodified product, especially its adoption as the top fashion trend of the time. So it’s with that context in mind that I knowingly, cautiously unveil what’s inspiring our wardrobes as of late: grunge. It’s not just band tees and plaid flannel, I promise!
Despite this being the cardinal sin of grunge, I cannot help but to be influenced by the unconcerned cool of the documentary’s subjects. Bands like Mudhoney, Soundgarden, and (of course) Nirvana are exemplary of the scene’s look. Loose distressed denim with well-worn sneakers, striped knits, and utilitarian layers like thermals and flannel all make up the foundation for any good grunge-inspired outfit.
Perhaps even more interesting and aspirational than the outfits were the women at the helm of what was going on. Dawn Anderson, of the fanzine Backlash, conducted the first published interview with Kurt Cobain. And many of the all-women bands featured in the flick would go on to be pivotal figures in the riot grrrl music scene. Megan Jasper is interviewed in the documentary as a former employee at Sub Pop Records, the label cited as bringing grunge to the masses. Today, Jasper serves as CEO of that same label. She talks about the infamous prank she pulled on a New York Times reporter who called to get a story about the underground secret lexicon of grunge. And in true irreverent spirit, Jasper proceeds to give an extensive list of ridiculously elaborate—and completely fictitious—slang words. The New York Times was not in on the joke and ran the article. We. Stan.
If you, like me, enjoy slice-of-life portrayals of important moments in history that don’t just focus on the well-known elements (i.e. the documentary covers Cobain’s death, but it is not the central focus), then I highly recommend this one. And to pay homage to our city and the music that speaks to generations of disaffected youth, here are Garmentory’s grunge-inspired picks.