Last week I read that Pop-Punk Girl Summer is on the Horizon. It has something to do with Avril Lavigne, TikTok musicians, and Kourtney Kardashian sucking on Travis Barker’s thumb (Barker is also featured on Willow Smith’s new pop-punk song).
Pop-punk, or what I like to call slurpee-punk, may be back in style for 2021, but this isn’t its only reincarnation. The first pop-punk summer happened just before I started 7th grade (I remember going back to school shopping at Le Château, a slutty Canadian proto-fast fashion retailer that happened to be selling wide leg cargo pants and red plaid mini skirts that matched my Emily the Strange arm warmers). It was also pop-punk girl summer in 2007 when an army of rocker chicks ascended on a rented Hollywood mansion for Rock of Love Season 1; and again in 2009 when Venus X launched GHE20G0TH1K. My second pop punk girl summer extended from 2016 to 2018, punctuated by hot pink and black nails, skull and rhinestone-bedazzled belts, Demonia platforms (more goth but YKTV), and parties where everyone was wearing ripped fishnet tights, zombie contact lenses, and dog collars.
All this is to say that it’s always pop punk girl summer for someone. This is in-part thanks to sped-up trend cycles and what some call the end of fashion, but it’s also the result of a more basic instinct: the thirst to look different.
The first iteration of pop-punk was already a Postmodernist distillation of 1970s counter-culture aesthetics by the way of 90s grunge, a corporatized riff on goth and punk imagery neatly packaged into an alternative movement for pre-teens fresh to the concept of individuality and self-expression. Of course, remnants of authentic counter-culture lingered at stores like Trash and Vaudville (NYC), a mainstay for punks and misfits since the late 1970s. But those stores also became sub-cultural hubs for normies who thought that they could try on alternative lifestyles via too-tight TRIPP bondage pants (and who ended up being at least partially responsible for keeping stores like Trash and Vaudville afloat).
In Vancouver we had Cheap Thrills, a long narrow shop hidden among the clubs on Granville Street, filled with fetish wear, coffin shaped purses, and whatever else elicited a sub-genre of counter-culture at the time. For me, walking into that store in the early aughts was like entering some elicit club, a cliche escape from white suburbia that privileged girls love to latch onto. In reality, I was just another wannabe Avril Lavigne, complete with a Discman spinning System of a Down, a hot pink spiked leather bracelet, and blonde hair with turquoise streaks.
Last summer I finally lugged my stash of Demonia boots to Beacon’s Closet. The shoes were becoming a parody of themselves (thanks to Depop and Dollskill), and I felt too old to be running around in anything that resembled a costume. I kept a pair of Buffalo London platform sneakers (for emergency rave purposes), and ended up wearing them as snow boots when I unexpectedly had to return to New York this past February. I felt embarrassed stomping around the Lower East Side in the same shoes that adorned the twenty-somethings who recently made the move from Bushwick to Chinatown — but I still wore them (none of my other shoes had the right height or traction to make it through the snow).
In April, shortly after I had stashed the Buffalo’s in the back of my closet, I spotted a young girl at the McDonald’s on Delancey. She was in wide-leg JNCO jeans and hot pink Demonia platform boots — Chloë Sevigny meets Internet Girl. Her look was peak-Depop, but in the thaw of COVID winter it gave me a feeling of optimism, her chunky Hubba Bubba shoes reminding me of the thrill that comes with dressing to repulse, of why I once favored looks that embodied an allegiance to an imaginary underground.
Today teens on TikTok are giving themselves Myspace scene-era haircuts complete with swooping bangs and striped streaks. They mix up musical genres like memories, listening to emo, electroclash, and corny indie bands that were popular when they were just six years old. This nostalgia complex is nothing new, another iteration of me at age 12 listening to Nirvana on my boombox while I cried on the bedroom floor. But what happens now? When it seems like all we have is nostalgia for the past? Will future teens be mimicking TikTok stars and K-pop groups, dreaming of the days when the algorithms were less accurate? Or maybe it will just be pop-punk girl summer forever. I wouldn’t mind…
Poshmark Pop-Punk/Slurpee-Punk Wish List:
Vivienne Westwood Checkerboard Vans for someone with tiny feet: https://poshmark.com/listing/Vans-Classic-CheckerBoard-Slip-On-Limited-Edition-5fd4675abb5937745e61f14c
XL Sum 41 Does this look infected? tee (short queens can wear it as a dress): https://poshmark.com/listing/Vintage-Sum-41-Does-this-look-infected-10th-XL-601b1abdcb23aa3308623018
The ultimate TRIPP pants (my husband has a pair in black and green): https://poshmark.com/listing/Tripp-Daang-Good-Man-Pants-Size-M-Goth-Punk-Rock-608c5d5f7ec30c180e9436ce
If you’re fancy you can get the Vivienne Westwood bondage version… https://poshmark.com/listing/Vivienne-Westwood-Archive-Bondage-pants-5d9ba0a8b38f0a9cd18e56b1
I really regret not buying anything from Heather’s closet last year (especially her looks from Rock of Love season 1): https://poshmark.com/listing/Worn-Pink-Christian-Dior-shades-5d8664dd138e180c6f590f37
Nivana Unplugged in New York CD for emo posers who want to cry on the floor like me: https://poshmark.com/listing/Nirvana-Unplugged-In-New-York-5c3e744c2beb7961a6e71f24
*If you buy anything from the wish list you have to send me a fit pic!
Last look…a photo of Brytani Caipa, the ultimate gothic pop-punk who never let her aesthetic slip. Rest in Peace, Bryt.