Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design


Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design

First Advisor

Karl Aspelund


Neo-tribes are characterized by fragmented identities, noncommittal membership, fascination with style and image, and social connections between members. They are often confused with subcultures due to sharing characteristics with subcultures. This has resulted in the authenticity of neo-tribes to be questioned. The confusion between neo-tribes and subcultures could be from the lack of detailed study on the use of apparel and style in neo-tribe identity. Previous studies on neo-tribes have incorporated the visual of apparel and style, however; these studies do not focus on the logistics of identity creation and authenticity through apparel and style of its members.

This study focuses on members of grungewave, a neo-tribe that has origins in the 1990s grunge subculture. A pilot study, using images of grunge musicians, was conducted in order to understand the logistics of data collection and determine clothing components of grunge fashion. Grungewave bloggers were observed over a three-month period on Instagram and completed an online survey. The clothing components, captions, and tags used by the bloggers were quantified and categorized.

The results of the observation and survey assisted in the discussion of where neo-tribes fit in the fashion system and how their authenticity is perceived, the similarities and differences between neo-tribes and subcultures, and the logistics of identity creation through apparel and style in neo-tribes. The results and discussion are not representative of grungewave as a whole or all neo-tribes since there was a total of ten participants. Further research with a larger sample size or different neo-tribe should be done to contribute to this discussion.

The aim of this research is to understand authenticity of neo-tribes, like grungewave, through apparel and style. This research is beneficial to the fashion media in addition to sociologists and anthropologists who are trying to understand neo-tribes, online groups, and how authenticity is realized through identity creation.



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