Kurt Cobain

From Kurt Cobain to St. Vincent: The Evolution of Sunglass Styles in Alt Music

1 min read

As the saying goes, “style never fades,” and nowhere is this more evident than in the world of alternative music. From the grunge era of the ’90s to the avant-garde expressions of today, musicians have long used fashion as a means of self-expression, and few accessories have made as lasting an impression as sunglasses.

A grunge icon’s signature look

In the early ’90s, artist Kurt Cobain of Nirvana rocked the stage with his oversized, round aviator sunglasses. He brought a sense of nonchalant coolness to the stage with their effortlessly disheveled look. Their timeless appeal and association with rebellion, perfectly complemented the grunge aesthetic of the era, becoming a symbol of alternative culture.

Whether on stage or off, Cobain’s choice of eyewear added to his mystique and anti-establishment persona. His influence extended beyond music, making aviators a staple accessory for a generation of disaffected youth.


A new fashion-forward wave

As alt music kept evolving, so too did the sunglass styles worn by its icons. Artists like Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Jack White of The White Stripes began experimenting with more eclectic eyewear choices. Think bold colors, oversized frames, and quirky shapes—sunglasses were no longer just for protecting eyes from stage lights. They became a statement piece, a part of the artist’s visual identity.

Modernizing the classics

In recent years, alt music has seen a resurgence of retro-inspired sunglass styles, with artists like St. Vincent leading the way with her futuristic take on classic designs. Drawing inspiration from vintage aesthetics while adding her own avant-garde twist, St. Vincent’s eyewear choices are as bold and boundary-pushing as her music, reflecting a new era of experimentation and innovation in alt music fashion.

While aviator sunglasses may dominate the alt music scene, today’s artists are embracing a diverse range of sunglass styles, from vintage-inspired frames to futuristic designs. Whether it’s paying homage to the classics or pushing the boundaries of convention, sunglass choices continue to play an integral role in shaping the visual identity of alt music artists, adding an extra layer of personality and style to their performances on and off the stage.

Karol Kamiński

DIY rock music enthusiast and web-zine publisher from Warsaw, Poland. Supporting DIY ethics, local artists and promoting hardcore punk, rock, post rock and alternative music of all kinds via IDIOTEQ online channels.
Contact via [email protected]

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