I could stand opinionated on how ludicrous, sexualised and profane rave fashion is these days, but the styles are ever changing, even what being a raver stands for in its own right is incredibly fluid. So if I had to select but one unifying concept of rave fashion it would be that it is created by the crowd, for the crowd.

Raver culture beginnings can be traced back to the late 1980s and early 90s, becoming popularized in Britain by three DJs: Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling and Nicky Holloway. At least, they are credited for creating a scene where ecstasy enhanced the experience of letting one’s self loose in front of a live DJ.
Prior to such a time, the club scene was filled with designer garments and class – in which the wearer would stand idly by the bar in attempts to look cool. It was almost overnight that the fashion evolved through a dizzying assimilation of cartoon characters, Rastafarianism, the goth scene and ’70s psychadelic culture’ [3].

Lotus in San Bernardino, July 13, 1996 Michael Tullberg

Lotus in San Bernardino, July 13, 1996
Michael Tullberg

So I suppose you could call rave fashion an umbrella term, because the fashion is as ever changing as the culture itself. The image above captures some playful gear with the snap shot aesthetic. It is what loosely defines what was ‘in’ during the 90s, a style I can only describe as regressive. It was about animal costumes, pigtails, animal backpacks, and even pacifiers (to alleviate teeth grinding from the effects of e) with the goal to remove one’s self from reality [3].

I couldn’t possibly talk about all the transitions rave culture’s garb has gone through since its beginning, but I will say the purpose has shifted from liberating important human qualities, like expression of LGBT sexuality, shedding norms, and now as we reach the timeline of 2013-2015, it’s about enhancing the body’s sexual appeal [2].

Image by Matt Oliver

Image by Matt Oliver

It’s become about showing skin, sex appeal, and even the appropriation aesthetic. The use of Native American headdresses and sexed up stylised garments is culturally insensitive, however it’s used to ‘free the spirit’.
It’s not tasteful, it’s not even statement wear, it’s just liberating; to the point where fashion designers Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier’s second collection combined rave and fashion culture for MBMJ Fashion Week [1]. 

From Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier's "Hardcore Idealism" snow.

From Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier’s segment of MBMJ’s fashion show.

The fashion industry’s take on genuine rave culture hails the individual. Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier’s collection combined sleek silk dresses and separates coloured in the kitsch neon pinks and oranges. Cropped shirts were worn with baggy trousers and the outerwear options ranged from anoraks to cropped jackets. Steff Yotka, from Fashionista, described the looks as having “…a deep subversiveness that permeated the collection” [4].

Rave fashion is very much about the individual, so as for its representation in mainstream fashion I can only say it has been represented as such. My personal opinion is that it’s god awful, but it is always worth a look into to see why the garb is as outrageous as it is.



Andersen, Kristin. 2014. Rave Culture Influence on Fashion. http://www.vogue.com/slideshow/13263945/rave-fashion-photos/. Last modified 6 December 2014.

Grace Cerni, Mary. 2013. Why is Rave Culture Such a Disaster?  http://www.laweekly.com/music/why-is-rave-fashion-such-a-disaster-4170640. Last modified 1 October 2013.

Grace Cerni, Mary. 2014. The Evolution of Rave Fashion. http://www.laweekly.com/music/the-evolution-of-rave-fashion-4391090

Yotka, Steff. 2014. Rave on With Marc by Marc Jacobs. http://fashionista.com/2014/09/marc-by-marc-jacobs-spring-2015. Last modified 11 September 2014.