Making a Statement: The Fashion of Heartbreak High
Carving a space for diverse Australian youth in pop culture, Heartbreak High first hit screens in the 1990s. Now, it’s back with a cast that reflects not only cultural diversity, but diversity of sexual identity, gender, and neuro divergence.
In an event of cosmic alignment, Heartbreak High has rebooted in the midst of a wider 1990s revival. Double denim, flannels and chokers have been having a moment, as have Y2K trends like low-rise jeans and velour trackpants. If anything, the most distinctive aspect of youth fashion in 2022 is its refusal to be defined. Gen Z’s fashion preferences combine cross-era aesthetics with DIY elements and a pious dedication to thrifting.
The main visual difference between the reboot and the original Heartbreak High is the heightened visual identity in the 2022 version. Reflecting modern teenagers, at least aesthetically, these kids have more conviction in a look, compared to their counterparts in the 90s. The advent of the internet as a social space and a styling aid has inspired teens to risk it all to pull off an outfit.
Experimentation with the fashion faux pas’ of the previous decades has allowed teens to embrace multiple styles rather than adopting only one. And just like in real life, Heartbreak High teens share accessories and clothes with each other.
Not only does Heartbreak High pay homage to the style of the 1990s, but also to the knack teenagers have for adding DIY elements to their clothes with the intent of making it look cool (sometimes just making it look really bad instead). Luckily, the fictional teenagers in this show get it mostly right.
Darren is a fan favourite, not only because they are sassy and funny, but because they bring their fashion A-game in every episode. From colourful durags, to corsets and crop tops with various cut-out and shredded details, Darren sets the bar high for fashion at Heartley High.
Quinni brought some desperately needed neuro-atypical representation to our screens. An autistic character played by an autistic actress shouldn’t be groundbreaking, but it is. Along with authentic representation, Quinni lent definition to the bubblegum-pop e-girl archetype with styles that are grounded in the goth subculture and injected with bright colours. Quinni loves eclectic accessories and unconventional make-up looks.
We all know an Amerie. She’s bold, confident, chaotic, energetic, opinionated, and determined. Her sense of style follows the same lines. Amerie uses basics as a blank canvas and builds a look on top of that. She loves a good crop top with high-waisted pants and double denim in eye-catching dyes.
Harper is rebellious but also secretive and evasive. She uses her style as something that empowers her, but that she can also hide behind. Harper’s style is grounded in grunge, with bold clashing prints as her signature look. She wears graphic t-shirts with patterned pants like it’s no big deal.
Sasha is smart, popular, forward-thinking and she knows it. But still occupies that familiar teen stage of being self-indulgent with little concern for others. Sasha’s sense of style contrasts the other characters as she embraces pink wholeheartedly and leans into feminine looks without trying to grunge it up.