5 Alternative Fashion Trends That Went Mainstream

Alternative fashion has proven itself one step ahead of the game many times over, with numerous iconic sub-cultural looks filtering down to the mainstream over the years.

Styles that were once synonymous with society’s sub-genre groups have now been snapped up by the masses and become an essential component of the fashion industry as a whole.

To celebrate all that alternative fashion has bestowed upon us, it is only right to acknowledge the main trends that have been warmly welcomed (eventually) by the mainstream.


1. Crazy Hair Colours

Wacky shades of hair were huge on the alternative scene during the 1970s punk movement and generally snubbed by the mainstream at the time. The Sex Pistols and Soo Catwoman were pioneers of fluorescent dyes and crazy colours, giving the punk subculture a clear form of identification. Nowadays, no one can get enough of rainbow locks!


This alternative look began to seep into the mainstream throughout the 80s with the likes of Cyndi Lauper sporting traffic light orange hair with yellow streaks.

But it wasn’t until the late 90’s that the look peaked, with celebrities like Gwen Stefani and Lil’ Kim working blue and purple hair respectively.

In recent years, bright coloured hair dye has really become the norm and is championed by mainstream public figures including Nicki Minaj, Kylie Jenner and Katy Perry.

ramones-464224_960_7202. Band T-Shirts

Back in the 80s, wearing band t-shirts was the way people identified other members of their tribe. However, over the last decade the “festival wear trend” has included band t-shirts in its repertoire.

The trend is now very much a mainstream one, with H&M offering a range of Metallica tees and celebrities such as Kendal Jenner showing off Slayer and Stone Roses prints.

3. Tattoos And Piercings

Gone are the days when a full sleeve would be gawked at in fear. Tattoos signified rebellion and rock n’ roll within the biker and hippie counter-cultures of the 1960s, flaunted by rock stars such as the Rolling Stones during the 70s, and merging into pop culture over the last twenty years.

Indeed, modern day celebs like Ruby Rose and Rihanna are sporting huge inked pieces, and the same goes for piercings. No longer synonymous with the 70s punk movement, the mainstream adopted the pierced look in the 90s. With a particular penchant for nose and tongue piercings, many 90s and 00s pop artists including Christina Aguilera and Pink were seen donning studs.

4. Dreadlocks


Dreadlocks are said to have roots in ancient times, where eastern yogis and sages would renounce all possessions (including their combs!) for spiritual purposes. More commonly recognised within the Jamaican Rastafarian community, reggae legend Bob Marley was the trailblazer for dreads in the 1970s.

The 90s saw dreadlocks enter the mainstream, and this trend has only increased in the last twenty years or so. Angelina Jolie, Whoopi Goldberg and a host of hip hop artists have all celebrated the ancient trend and inspired the popularity it now enjoys in mainstream culture.

5. The Classic Punk Look

Leather jackets, dog collars, tartan skinnies…the punk look was a key part of the rebellious 1970s movement headed by subcultural icons including The Ramones, Siouxsie Sioux and The Sex Pistols.

man-359045_960_720Rips, zips, studs, badges and other forms of distorted customisation were originally a political statement against the mainstream. In the early 80s, however, punk-chic hit the catwalk and nowadays the masses are still relishing in the nostalgia of the time.

Watered down versions of the trend have been favoured by pop artists such as Avril Lavigne and Pink during the early 2000s, while the catwalk still enjoys experimenting with edgy punk-inspired looks that never seem to go out of style.

What’s your favourite alternative-gone-mainstream look?

About the Author

Abby Williams
Belfast based author/writer specialising in entertainment, mental health and human interest.