How Ukrainian Youth Dressed: Subculture Paradise of the 1990s. Photo Story

Olena Pobochii

With the advent of independence, Ukraine began to change extremely quickly. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, all the mainstreams of the West that had been inaccessible for many decades burst in. It was the finest hour for everyone who wasn’t afraid to express themselves. A lot of new musicians, artists, fashion designers, and other artists appeared in a few years.

In the 90s, Ukrainians lived as if every day was their last day. Firstly, it was because of the spirit of permissiveness after the collapse of the totalitarian USSR, and secondly, because of the end of the millennium, the approach of 2000, when rumors were circulating about the end of the world and the beginning of a new era.

This is the second story in the series. The first one was about Ukrainian fashion in the 1970s and 1980s.

Every Ukrainian man and woman was eager to be on trend. They read foreign and Ukrainian style magazines, watched idols on TV, and spent their weekend in clothing markets and second-hand shops, trying to catch something “brandy” or a brand-like Turkish counterfeit.

The top things were: bright leggings, jeans, t-shirts with famous bands’ logos, leather clothes, long trench coats, and for girls — bright cosmetics of all shades. At the same time, large sports brands entered Ukraine, which led to an entire market of counterfeits for those who could not afford the original.

Lviv youth of the 90s. Lviv

Family photo from Volodymyr Milchenko’s family archive

Stylish boys and girls of Cherkasy, the 1990s

Pay special attention to the bag with the Marlboro logo. Plastic bags were valued as a rarity at that time.

Newlyweds celebrate their marriage, 1993

Photo from the archive of Anastasia Syromakha

A couple on vacation in Crimea, 1993

Photo from the archive of Anastasia Syromakha

A t-shirt with Jim Morrison (frontman of The Doors) catches the eye. According to Anastasiia, such clothes cost 30 bucks in a music store in Kyiv – then it was a quarter of the average salary of a Ukrainian.

Fashionable youth of Lutsk, 1997–1998

Daryna Panas’ archives

A separate style was created by subcultures, which grew wider every year. Punks, metallists, Goths, rockers, rappers, ravers — Ukrainian youth tried every lifestyle in search of their identity.

Gothic rock band Komu Vnyz, the early 90s

Kyiv death/grind group Infected, the 1990s

Rock band Green Grey, photo session for OM magazine, December 1997

Pioneers of Ukrainian rap Vkhid U Zminnomu Vzutti, the second half of the 90s

Hip-hop band Tanok na Maidani Kongo, 1997

Vopli Vidopliasova band, photo session for the release of the Love single

El Kravchuk in the Halas magazine, 1996

Kyiv ravers, 1995–1997

Fashion at the cemetery, photo shoot by Arsen Savadov, 1997

Various events, such as festivals Chervona Ruta, Vyvykh and Tavriiski Ihry, played a big role in the life of young people. These were the occasions to listen to favorite performers, get to know the crowd, and, of course, show off fashionable looks.

Young people at the festival of alternative culture Vyvykh, Lviv, 1990

Artists and guests of the Chervona Ruta festival in Kharkiv and Kyiv, 1997

Participants and guests of the Tavriiski Ihry, Kakhovka, 1992–1999

For some photos, we sincerely thank the Amnesia media, which investigates the history of the development of all niches of Ukrainian culture.

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