Walk through the doors of any indie rock venue these days and you'll notice that high fashion — long seen as
the peanut butter to rock's jelly — has been replaced with a lower-level sartorial style: jeans and a T-shirt.
"Fashion as worn by rock musicians has slowed to a crawl," says David Wolfe, creative director at The Doneger Group, a firm specializing in fashion industry analysis. "I think it's no longer cutting-edge."
Today's up-and-coming rockers are inclined to agree. "Unfortunately, kind of a lot of what is indie rock is free of fashion," says Pasquale Timore, lead singer and guitarist for Boston-based band Keys to the Streets of Fear. "They just show up and get on stage in, like, a T-shirt and a pair of Levi's."
According to Ben Whitesides, lead singer and guitarist for Portland rockers The Joggers, his band is one of the least fashionable groups he can think of. "We're jeans and T-shirts almost all the time. That's sort of it." And The Joggers certainly aren't alone. The rock landscape is so overrun with the cotton-denim combo that the look has become a uniform of sorts.
According to many bands, this basic look was born out of necessity.
"I would say that our fashion sense is about what pants hold up the most to touring and doing laundry at crappy laundromats all over the world," says Nick Harmer, bassist for Seattle indie stalwart Death Cab for Cutie.
"You'll figure out that there are limits to things you can feasibly wear as a performer," adds Chantal Claret, lead singer of New York-based Morningwood. "You're in who knows where and you can't get a laundry machine for three days, and you say, ‘Oh, but I can wash this in the sink.'"
Stage styles also must be comfortable. "If you're wearing spiked heels and a miniskirt, you're not going to feel like jumping around and having fun," says Nicole Greco, singer and guitarist for New York-based Looker.
Money also plays a role in a musician's wardrobe. When just starting out, the costs of touring and equipment can far outrun any money that a band brings in. Fly (short for Butterfly) and Kite, Aussie-born identical twins from Los Angeles, spend most of their money on stage essentials for their band, Blonde on Blonde. "We spend money on guitars and amps," notes Fly. As a result, the twins refuse to shop for pricy clothes. "Seven dollars, tops, and that's pushing it," according to Kite.
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