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From Goodwill to GrungeA History of Secondhand Styles and Alternative Economies$
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Jennifer Le Zotte

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469631905

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469631905.001.0001

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Connoisseurs of Trash in a World Full of It

Connoisseurs of Trash in a World Full of It

(p.214) Chapter Seven Connoisseurs of Trash in a World Full of It
From Goodwill to Grunge

Jennifer Le Zotte

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines the links between trash aesthetics, secondhand dress, and pop iconography, focusing on the myths and dismissals of the short-lived but massively popular music and fashion fad grunge. Whether dubbed retro, kitsch, camp, or trash, borrowing from the ideas and images of the past was an intrinsic part of the postmodern artistic landscape, and debates as to the worth of such reflexive borrowing raged. In the nineties, grunge style was often dismissed as an adolescent form of slumming—perhaps as a reaction to the profligancy of the Reagan years. But viewing grunge styles as simply reactive loses the social meaning embodied in the specific ironic posturing of nineties dress and music, views that preserved and sustained foregoing models of creativity and style at least as much as they upset them. Grunge was not just "the way we dress when we have no money," as designer Jean-Paul Gaultier sniffed disdainfully, but an elaboration on what secondhand aficionados had cultivated for almost a century.

Keywords:   Grunge, Trash aesthetics, Pop iconography, Secondhand dress, Retro/kitsch/camp, Postmodern, Popular music

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