The Evolution of Rave Fashion: 80s, 90s, and Today

Electronic music has evolved significantly since its roots in the 1970s. As it continues to change, to progress, to stand out, so does the rave culture surrounding it. EDM has long been a creative outlet for many fans, and electronic festivals have become a hub of self-expression. From animal suits to light up fluffies, denim overalls to rave one pieces, rave fashion has managed to stay true to itself while continuously evolving alongside the music scene.

blacklight rave clothing

In the 80s, techno, rave, and house music were born. Listeners were inspired by the new sounds, club-goers were inspired by the energy, and their clothing was inspired by a mix of the two. Raves made way into nightclubs and electronic music amplified the dance scene. Towards the end of the decade, you could find ravers wearing baggy and colorful clothing—clothing that was comfortable in the heat but also visually stimulating. Smiley faces, paisley prints, tie-dye, and other psychedelic images were go-to images on rave shirts. What’s amazing is that it doesn’t seem like too much has changed here. The early days of rave fashion have clearly inspired today’s: colorful tie-dye tees, for example, roused our tie-dye romper and the “bohemian” style of the 80s largely contributed to the positive nature of kandi.

tie-dye rave clothing

The late 90s became a time where even the electronic dance music scene was heavily influenced by hip-hop. Crop tops were paired with baggy sweatpants, wide-leg JNCO or “Phat” pants, and Adidas shoes. Graphic tees became most popular in this time, and have carried through to some of today’s best rave apparel. Yet the graphics have evolved since then, with processes like sublimation making rave tank tops and tees more enticing than ever before. It was the 90s rave scene that brought rave clothing to its next level. During this decade, cyber started to take over the dance floor and more and more people were wearing black contrasted with bright UV colors. Neon rave clothing and accessories are still popular today, only now we’ve replaced traditional glow sticks with more interactive, light up LED accessories.

As festivals like Nocturnal Wonderland and Mysteryland became popular, it was not uncommon to see ravers occasionally dress in animal suits or outfits influenced by their favorite cartoon characters. It was also not uncommon to see them accessorize with stuffed animals and pacifiers. As the millennium rolled around, more and more rave-goers traded in their baggy pants and converse for fun outfits that gave them the chance to act a little bit like a kid again.

rave gear

The growth of EDM has largely led rave fashion to where it is today. But rave clothing, in all its forms, has always made a statement. It has always followed the “dare to be different” mentality. While rave fashion continues to evolve, its inspiration remains the same. That inspiration comes from people who are wearing it. In the end, what people wear to raves is all about what they want to wear, what they want to be, in that moment. That is largely what raves, what electronic music festivals, are here to do. They allow us to escape from reality for a moment in time. They allow us to embrace ourselves—and who doesn’t appreciate that kind of self-expression?

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