Perhaps it’s the total lack of sun we’ve had during this joke of a summer that’s making “nu-rave” look like a bad fashion choice. Or maybe it’s just the fact that the look has become so mainstream that everyone from the Beckhams to Big Brother contestants has been spotted sporting a bit of fluoro. Whatever the reason, day-glo brights appear to be fading fast, with summer sale racks crammed with enough neon to cause temporary blindness. Even bands considered nu-rave-nobility are distancing themselves from the tag. With the trend fading faster than Klaxons’ fluoro skinnies on a hot wash, has the whistle sounded for the last time on nu-rave?
The fluoro trend emerged from a recent music scene which gained popularity relatively quickly amongst the youth of the UK, with bands such as New Young Pony Club, Hadouken!, CSS and, most famously, Klaxons leading the neon-lit way. The old rave atmosphere fused with indie dance-rock to create a new genre of music the NME christened ‘nu-rave’. The fun, colourful DIY style sported by nu-ravers quickly stood out from the generic variations on the ‘jeans and t-shirt’ look adopted by other indie bands. Over the next year the scene exploded, with Klaxons gaining the #2 spot in the album charts with their debut, ‘Myths of the Near Future’. Although almost unheard-of outside the UK, nu-rave has become a major youth subculture here, and its corresponding fashion trend, like so many before it, owes its existence to popular music.
Fashion and music have always crossed creative paths, from the sharp suits and parkas of the sixties Mod to the kohl-eyed, black-is-best style-mantra of the ‘Emo’ (another media-induced tag). Nu-rave is no different. Indie kids imitating the style worn by nu-rave bands took the look to next-big-thing level at gigs and clubs where a rainbow of 80s fashions could be seen on the dance floor. At first it was a look only braved by indie scenesters, but within months designers were using it as inspiration for their summer collections. The couture take on nu-rave saw fluoro mini-dresses, oversized t-shirts, bold skin-tight leggings and neon accessories on every catwalk, with Prada, Luella, Christopher Kane and Alexander McQueen trying to get in on the game.
The neon trend tied in well with the sport-luxe look showcased by other designers, characterized by stretch fabrics, futuristic silhouettes and silver in every possible fabric. These two trends merged on the high street, creating a style both wearable and affordable for the average ‘yoof’. Nearly every large fashion-chain with a young demographic soon released a flood of day-glo apparel and fluoro-tinged accessories. Topshop’s ‘POP’ range led the way with a whole collection dedicated to the nu-rave look, and even Tesco signed a deal with designer Katharine Hamnett to sell a range of slogan tees of the type popularised by bands such as Wham! and Frankie Goes To Hollywood. The Me Decade of bad taste, clashing colours, and synthetic fabrics was well and truly back with stores such as New Look, H&M and online fashion store Asos.com making sure we all looked like extras from a Duran Duran video.
However, the trend’s mass popularity may turn out to be its downfall as indie kids, designers and high street stores are already moving on. Although the nu-rave scene’s DIY ethics are producing a diverse range of creative subcultures and bands, those who first sported the look are looking for the next big trend, relegating the newly-reborn “Frankie Says Relax” shirts to the clearance racks. The couture autumn/winter collections are lacking any seizure-causing brights and instead are awash with rich purples and bottle greens which will take precedence in the coming months.
It seems that although the nu-rave music scene is flourishing at the moment, the fluoro-fashion that it gave rise to is dying a very mainstream, high-street death. But what should you do if you have so much neon you need to wear three pairs of sunnies just to open your wardrobe? Perhaps it’s a good time to pack away your hot pinks, say goodbye to those glow-sticks and leave behind the neon nightmare: fluoro is now as dull as our Scottish summer.