How to Embrace the Indie Sleaze Comeback

As major fashion trends make their comebacks, the indie sleaze revival is one we're ready for. Imagine living in the era of MySpace profiles, Tumblr pages and disposable cameras and throwing on oversized tees with cardigans and ballet flats for a night out. The endearing nature of the indie sleaze trend is that it welcomes an imperfect, undone way to dress, embracing an unbothered attitude and approach to assembling an outfit. Garnering major popularity from around 2006 to 2012 and rooted in the 90s grunge-meets-free-spirited aesthetic, the trend has made its return—this time, through a fashion-forward lens, even approved by Gen Z. Thanks to designer runway interpretations and street-style ensembles curated by our generation's It girls, we’ve rounded up the coolest ways to master the indie sleaze movement for 2000s era nostalgia.




The Runway Approach

The attention-grabbing looks of the indie sleaze heydays were outfits that showcased skinny jeans or mini leather skirts, cropped rocker tees, and wired headphones—by the way, they’re back. The return to hipster style was first seen across the Spring 2023 catwalks. Interior’s natural balance of the perfect and imperfect—a tell-tale sign of the indie sleaze aesthetic craze—can be seen via distressed ball gown skirts and disheveled knit sweaters. Burnt-effect hemlines on ankle-grazing skirts were stained with mud for an amplified grunge aesthetic. Raw edges and unraveling details add a hipster feel to the chaotic-yet-simplified runway look. And, of course, not to be forgotten, the New York City brand pulled the entire outfit together with the indie sleaze trend’s signature accessory: ballet flats.

A key component of indie sleaze style is leaning into a look that feels messy and laidback, aka a return to the unpolished and unpredictable. Isabel Marant approaches the indie sleaze trend with a tasteful point of view and a free-spirited sensibility. The label’s latest collection focuses on moto-inspired, low-waisted micro leather skirts, oversized pocket details and midriff-baring, boho chiffon tops decorated with shimmering metallic embroideries. Hipster-y but also innately cool, Isabel Marant confirms the indie sleaze trend’s staying power.

Isabel Marant

The Edit

The Edit

The Edit

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The Street-Style Approach

If we were to look to anyone for current interpretations of the indie sleaze Y2K fashion trend, it would, without a doubt, be our generation of fashion It girls. When done right, a nonchalant mash-up of fashion-forward pieces—like this transparent blush set and oversized leather jacket—feels playful and unconventional. The lingerie-inspired set and skin-baring fabrics are offset by an oversized vintage leather biker jacket with floral embroidery details. Finish the look with a leather belt and distressed brown boots—extra points for pairing the shoes with knee-high socks for a truly rebellious look and feel.

Looking to try a simple and minimalist indie sleaze look? Dark-wash denim and a strapless white top never fails. Reminiscent of the vintage tube top style, this one’s slimming profile and silk texture make this day-to-night piece a versatile must-have while still looking somewhat polished. Yes, a vintage handbag and hot pink mules are an indie sleaze connoisseur’s go-to accessories, yet, a camera worn hanging off of the shoulder fits the fashion-clashing profile to a T. For those of us who lived during the original indie sleaze era—we’re talking to you Boomers and Gen X—the handy camera takes us back to that time before iPhones, TikTok and Instagram when flash photography flourished.

One thing designers, It girls and our editors know in 2023 is that crystal-embellished pieces are a must when stepping out. Leave it to Miu Miu to deliver the perfect glam-inspired indie sleaze ensemble with this viral set. The sparkly top and matching skirt are anything but boring and translate seamlessly into indie sleaze territory thanks to their low-rise fit and cropped silhouettes. Plus, this look ensures ample opportunity to show off your undergarments and bold accessories.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Bruno Grandl /

Photo courtesy of Daniel Bruno Grandl /

The Indie Sleaze Revival

There is no denying that we’re seeing the indie sleaze trend everywhere. Taking inspiration from the mid-late aughts, this provocative trend—that all of the Gen Z girls are obsessed with—is all about the art of mixing and matching pieces that may already be in your closet. Between ballet flats, distressed denim and leather textures, there is no “wrong” way to incorporate the indie sleaze trend into your current wardrobe rotation. So go ahead and grab those old wired headphones and throw on some early-2010 bops.


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