‘What’s all the fuss?’ you might be thinking. Clearly someone was not a frequent H&M kids enjoyer in the early 2010s. Sue Dempsey

On a cheeky day-trip to London I once again completed my regimented routine of pre-Westend-show shopping around Covent Garden. Traditionally, said routine consists of my sister and I frequenting Zara, Urban Outfitters and Brandy Melville, as we allow ourselves the very rare guilty pleasure of throwing our money at morally dubious fast fashion corporations. It’s one of the few occasions a year where a first-hand item might squeeze itself into my wardrobe, so my choices have to be precise, both for the sake of the planet and my bank account.

“Were we really travelling back in time this quickly?”

First stop: Zara. Aside from its usual luminous blazers and questionably-shaped tops, Zara was brimming with eyelet lace. Lace, you may be thinking, how cute and coquette. Don’t be fooled – less angelic than the usual sort, eyelet lace rather looks like someone brutally hole-punched your favourite blouse into vague flower shapes. On vintage blouses where the lace holes aren’t practically falling apart at the plastic seams, I admit there is a certain charm to the aesthetic. But in the polyester-mix slung over the Zara mannequin it did not pull me back in time to an archaic rurality, but rather to Topshop circa the early 2010s. One of the potential locations for my own personal hell – All About That Bass playing in the background on loop whilst I sorted through racks of grey T-shirts featuring alien emoji faces and unicorn inspired slogans.

If, like me, you desperately tried and failed to be cool in 2012, you may have purchased a quasi-cropped T-shirt with a horrendous hem of eyelet lace scratching the stomach. I’m sure there’s a photo somewhere on my mum’s phone with mini-me convincing herself she would be the next Vanessa Hudgens. I have to admit, seeing the design again made me feel a bit nauseous. Were we really travelling back in time this quickly?

The sleeveless tie up blouses of 2014 are threatening a return.Sue Dempsey

However, little did I know there was a much more unpleasant shock still in store – namely the next store on our list, Brandy Melville. You would think (horrendous one-size-fits-all policy aside) that aesthetically, Brandy Melville would be the most inoffensive culprit. Where can you go wrong in a monotonous sea of neutrals and coastal grandma knits? As I stood there overwhelmed by the pack of fourteen-year-olds buying lacey vests they could procure from the Tesco’s kids section for a fraction of the price, my sister turned to me with a shudder in her voice. “Look over there” she whispered to me in fear. Clutching my camis for dear life, I turned to follow her gaze. Lo and behold, it was a sleeveless tie-up blouse.

“The return of my tween wardrobe to the rails is one that terrifies me”

“What’s all the fuss?” you might be thinking. Clearly someone was not a frequent H&M kids enjoyer in the early 2010s. Or you too would be as horrified as I was. One glance and I was pulled back to awkward family holiday photos – my dad attempting to convince pre-braces me to smile properly as I sported a striped version of the aforementioned atrocity. Back in Year 6, such shirts held almighty playground privilege on non-uniform days. Tying up your shirt right could just about transform it into the allusive and scandalous crop top of your prepubescent dreams. Its difficult to pinpoint what exactly I hate so much about this design today. Maybe it’s wondering why anyone would want a bumpy little knot bulging over their belly button? Or maybe the real sin of the blouse is only the cringey-ness I associate with it. Or maybe, the blouse might represent some fear.


Mountain View

Perpetually dazed and confused: the threat of an indie sleaze revival

It’s rather alarming to see the items that were popular only ten years prior (and have since been damned to hell by every major fashion site) already begin to creep their way back onto our shelves. The cycle has grown so small that it is now barely a cycle at all. All must exist all at once available all the time for the moment some random influencer deems it cool again. No, I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy these items – I promise all my criticisms come from a personal place of self-loathing, not an objective truth. Just don’t buy a variation of something that fifteen year old you chucked into the “going to charity shop” pile for a reason. With shows like Daisy Jones & The Six re-inspiring new love for ’70s fashion (again? Did it ever go out – God knows anymore) I hope this reimagining does not see a Free People-esque revival of fast fashion fringe and H&M accessories as it did in 2014. The return of my tween wardrobe to the rails is one that terrifies me – both for the fashion industry, and anybody about to make the same fashion faux pas that I once did. My advice: if you could imagine that same look on a photo from 2014 Coachella, I would think carefully before buying.