In 2022, it seems we’re set to farewell high-shine lip gloss, piece-y tendrils and slicked-back hair in favour of loose, air-dried hair and wine-stained lips – at least, if social media speculation is correct. Dubbed ‘indie sleaze‘, the next trend in fashion and beauty recalls the days of digital cameras, Vitamin Water and American Apparel, like a veritable Tumblr time capsule.
Discussions about the impending resurgence of indie sleaze style first began on TikTok, when trend forecaster Mandy Lee (AKA @oldloserinbrooklyn) made a video noting all the clues that the prevalent fashion of the era – which began in roughly 2006 and concluded somewhere around 2012 – is set to eclipse our current obsession with all things Y2K.
Rather than the overtly sexy early Noughties style tribes – Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez – the indie sleaze period looks to the grungy, unaffected aesthetic of Alexa Chung, Chloe Sevigny and Mary-Kate Olsen. See Instagram account @indiesleaze for proof (and an addictive hit of nostalgia for those who wore denim shorts with sheer black tights the first time around).
The uncontrived looks worn by the likes of young Zoë Kravitz and other It girls that personify the latter end of the decade (think Cory Kennedy, Pixie Geldof and Alice Dellal) have already started infiltrate pop culture today.
So what does the impending indie sleaze resurgence mean for beauty? Let’s take a look at some of the most memorable hair and makeup trends from the time, when blogs reigned supreme and we all wanted to look like Effy Stonem from Skins.
Siri – queue up Crystal Castles and M.I.A.
After several years wearing barely-there shades of lipstick, followed by the current obsession with frosted gloss and mirrorball shine, the indie sleaze look trend will see us once again embrace bold lip colours. While neon pink and purple were both acceptable shades, red was often the most popular – and arguably the most universally flattering. The uniting principle? Application had to be insouciant, with a muted, matte finish that resembled a lip stain, and could only be reapplied in a dive bar bathroom at 2AM.
Hair was either poker-straight or almost entirely unstyled; there was rarely an in-between. Indie scene kids preferred messy waves that relied on the hair’s natural texture, either worn long and loose or with the lengths secured haphazardly at the back of the head (but never all pulled back – always leave the front sections to accidentally-on-purpose fall out and curtain the face).
Khol eyeliner was worn to excess, smudged both above and below the lash line to appear slept-in. Left on for several days and coupled with a few too many coats of mascara? Perfect.
For those that can’t quite handle the dishevelled look, indie sleaze also offers ample inspiration in the form of winged liquid eyeliner, à la Alexa Chung. Apply as one, long precise line with only the tiniest wing at the outer corner, cleaning up any mess mess (if you absolutely must) with a cotton tip.
The fringe was trés chic at the height of the indie sleaze era, but it wasn’t always in the form of full-frontal bangs. Instead, heavy bangs were chopped through the front of the hair, which could be worn forward for a lash-skimming fringe, parted in the middle like bottleneck bangs, or swept to the side when a heated mosh pit demanded as such.
A key way to hide sweat-soaked bangs on a night out? Secure them with a hippie headband, which true to the vintage, DIY vibe that characterised the era, wasn’t just limited to an actual headband. A ribbon, thin strip of leather or – as I saw (and admittedly wore) on many a dingy dancefloor at Melbourne’s premier indie sleaze disco, Click Click – a discarded dirty shoelace works just as well.
In the indie sleaze era, our brows were only just starting to recover from the over-plucking trauma we subjected them to during the razon-thin phase earlier in the decade – which perhaps explains our obsession with heavy bangs that effectively camouflaged our desolate arches. In 2022, ditch the pomades and stick to tinted gels and light-touch pencils for soft, subtle definition.
Couldn’t get your colour touched-up during COVID-19 lockdowns? Allow the indie sleaze trend to cover your tracks, courtesy of the period’s propensity towards grown-out hair dye. It wasn’t quite the delicately balayaged ends we all requested in subsequent years; rather the indie sleaze era was about colouring your hair and appearing to forget about it for maybe a few too many months.
Going for an all-out bleached blonde look was also highly requested in salons at the time thanks to Agyness Deyn, so sorry Gen Z – looks like platinum locks will rise above your ‘cheugy’ diatribe .