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What does it mean to be a rebel in the twenty-first century?

To find out, we may want to look back at the 1960s, when counterculture movements first used rebellious fashion to make a statement. Instead of resisting the rise of capitalism with tweets, revolutionaries used their bodies. This led to a period in which clothing could make a big political statement, yielding some wild and wonderful looks that remain iconic today. 

In essence, counterculture fashion was all about the rise of the handmade. Rebel fashion was more than a trend, however. It provided countless Americans with a way to speak out against injustice in the world while maintaining a sense of rugged individuality. 

Couldn’t we use a little bit of that today? What do today’s rebel fashion trends have to say about this moment in history? If you’re curious about counterculture history, then keep reading to learn about what made counterculture fashion so powerful. 

What Is Counterculture?

Counterculture is a movement started by people whose values are in opposition to (or “counter” to) the values held by the broader society. Usually, these cultural shifts begin with the younger generation, often on college campuses.

Americans coming into adulthood are eager to make their mark on society but don’t yet have a lot of power. That’s why these movements often begin with clothing and art, which young people can create themselves.

Essentially, counterculture movements allow young people to show social and political agency as they come of age. We can see the counterculture in action today in places that didn’t exist in the past, such as on apps like TikTok. 

The Hippies

The first counterculture fashion movement may have begun with the hippies in the 1960s. Young Americans were experiencing war for the first time and needed to find a way to express their opposition to the violence. They expressed values such as peace and love through protests, rallies, and music concerts.

The hippies believed that war was a capitalist endeavor. As a way of showing opposition, they frequently created their own clothing. This homespun aesthetic slowly became a cohesive style that has become a major part of fashion history. 

The Punk Movement 

The second most popular counterculture movement was the punk movement, which began in the 1970s. This was more or less an extension of the hippie movement, with the next wave of dissenters putting their spin on things. British culture was the main inspiration for the rise of Punk culture in America.

The punk movement was, foremost, anti-establishment. Punk rock was all about having a do-it-yourself attitude. If punks could shock the older generations with their style choices and “stick it to the man,” that was merely a bonus!

Vestiges of punk fashion continue today, with trends like chains, spikes, and patches for jackets remaining in vogue. 

Counterculture Fashion: Say It With Style

Even before the hippies hit the scene, we’ve been using fashion to say something about what it means to be alive at a certain moment in history. Counterculture fashion is like a time capsule of creative dissent. Take a look in your closet and figure out what you want the history books to know about who you were in 2022!

Before you make your big statement, make sure that you know what that statement is! Check out the rest of our blog for posts about what’s happening in the world today. 

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