F*ck yeah, Fluoro!: A 2007 Flashback

Ah fashion you fickle beast, how you’ve led me to do some terrible things over the years. Under the intoxicating opiate of group think, I’ve cut my hair into one of those choppy mullet ‘dos, trawled Canberra’s malls in a denim mini-skirt paired with oversized skate shoes and handed Supré 40 hard-earned, minimum-wage dollars for a pink, sparkly, elastic spaghetti-strapped dress to wear to the school social.

But while all these undeniably-horrible aesthetic decisions are, indeed, horrible, there’s one fashion event from my past that truly sets itself apart in the shame stakes: fluoro.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane. In 2007, fluoro came out of nowhere (well, the 80s) and swept Australia into a neon-drenched stupor which would quickly claim the dignity of too many young Australians. Sadly, I was one of the casualties. The stand-out moment of my relationship with the fad was a fluoro-themed eighteenth I attended, without a hint of irony, smack bang in the middle of that glorious year.

The photos from that party, aside from being a source of endless-amusement for my desk-buddy JackT, are a perfectly preserved time-capsule: offensively-bright pink, yellow, orange and green attire was paired with glowsticks (around the neck, wrists and looped through giant hoop earrings) and just as unnaturally coloured Vodka Cruisers. 2007 was also the year I came of age, which goes part of the way to explaining the craze. Fluoro, for the newly-18, went hand-in-hand with all things new and exciting: Festivals! Clubbing! Brightly coloured vomit!

“Fluoro, for the newly-18, went hand-in-hand with all things new and exciting: Festivals! Clubbing! Brightly coloured vomit!”

But fluoro attire wasn’t only donned by the fresh of face. It was everywhere. In ‘07, ITM’s timmac took a look at the fad at the peak of its existence.

“Fashion, my friends, goes in cycles, and the pack ‘mentality’ can sometimes be hard to resist,” he observed. “Like the homeboy of yesteryear and the emo of yesterday, Australia is today caught up in a whole new fashion trend, and it’s hard to miss. Yes, it’s fluoro.”

And the event that encapsulated it all? Parklife 2007. “On the national Parklife festival tour recently, this trend seemingly hit its peak when it seemed as though every second punter had at least one fluoro fashion item or accessory added to their attire.”

But then, fluoro disappeared just as quickly as it rose. The galleries of Parklife’s 2008 edition reveal little trace of the neon brights. By mid-2008, fluoro was relegated to Supré clearance racks, at half the price I’d purchased my own ill-fitting fluoro tank top for just a matter of months earlier.

“By mid-2008, fluoro was relegated to Supré clearance racks”

At the time of our first article on fluoro, one user commented: “I work at a menswear store on Sydney’s north shore, and 6 months ago, I was selling an intense amount of fluoro tops, for the simple reason, you stand out. Doesn’t everyone want to stand out a little bit?” I suppose it didn’t take long for me and my contemporaries to cotton-on to the fact that when you’re all dressed the same, no one stands out.

rage hats

There is, however, one place that fluoro lives on: America. It’s often said that the US is four or five years behind us when it comes to large-scale dance festival hysteria, and indeed the fashion that goes with them. Given that, it’s unsurprising that the US is currently in the grips of the same fluoro-stupor that I was a few years earlier – because sure enough, the photos from this year’s Ultra Music Festival are eerily reminiscent of those Parklife ‘07 snaps.

At the forefront of the US fluoro fad are “Rage hats” (because “raging”, apparently, is the hip American term for partying). Rage hats have taken fluoro – or ‘neon’, as they seem to prefer Stateside – one step further by complementing it with two other, similarly as terrible fashion fads: trucker caps and slogan clothing. The rage hats website offers a variety of slogan-clad fluoro head attire: “Dope”, “Dubstep”, “Wasted”, “Swag”, “YOLO” and the simple “Tits” are among the slogans to choose from.

If you were wondering why on earth anyone would ever want to wear a hat with “Tits” printed on it (surely, doing so is not conducive to actually seeing some), is happy to explain. “Attention ragers! Our trucker hats and neon sunglasses are the ultimate way to get noticed at parties!” it begins.

“If you plan on attending a music festival or concert playing electronic dance music, plan on wearing at least some rave gear! Rage Hats focuses on the party life of college, but also helps people stand out at raves! Dress in neon everything. Neon shirts, neon sunglasses, neon hats, neon bandanas! Rave’s are all about standing out, getting noticed and attracting attention.” Ah, of course.

So while fluoro’s moment in the Australian sun may have passed, it’s comforting to know that if nostalgia ever strikes, ships internationally. In the meanwhile, can I get a fuck yeah for fluoro?

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