X-Girl to E-Girl: Girlhood goes Global

The e-girl is one of the most pervasive internet subcultures we have today. But the e-girl didn’t appear out of nowhere - her origins lie in aesthetic styles which emerged during third wave feminism in the US. From the Riot Grrrls, to skater style, through to indie rock, soft grunge and emo, the e-girl is an aesthetic amalgamation of subcultures from the relatively recent past. In particular, the 1990s streetwear brand x-girl, founded by Sonic Youth frontwoman Kim Gordon and stylist Daisy von Furth, served as a blueprint for the rehashing and remixing of subcultural styles, the wearing of too-tight baby tees and general girl-centrism found in the culture of the e-girl.

In 1993, after a conversation with Beastie Boy and founder of streetwear brand X-Large Mike D, Kim Gordon teamed up with X-Large store employee and stylist Daisy von Furth to create a brand that girls like them - cool, streetwise New Yorkers - wanted to wear. The silhouettes were inspired by the mods, Godard Girls and motifs from men’s streetwear, fusing their feminine staples, like mini skirts and a-line dresses, with a no lycra ethos and perfectly-fitting jeans, all with a maximum price of $60. This, as the legend goes, was the beginning of streetwear made by girls, for girls.

In this episode Osman Ahmed speaks to cultural critic Biz Sherbert about the codes and conventions of the e-girl. Bleach London founder Alex Brownsell and Director of Special Projects at Marc Jacobs Ava Nirui discuss the influence of tumblr. Daisy von Furth and her sister, noise musician of Pussy Galore fame Julie Cafritz, explain the cultural moment x-girl emerged in, and Erin Magee, designer of MadeMe, emphasises the importance of x-girl for teenage girls both in the ‘90s through to the present day.

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